I started my grown-up career – my post-college career – working in-house as a social media manager for a Fortune 500 company. For two years, I ate, slept and breathed the brand and all of its extensions, planning out social editorial calendars, responding to customers via social media, working with vendors on promotions and handling crises as they arose.
Now, over a year into being on the agency side of things, I’ve had some time to compare and contrast. Here are five big differences I’ve found between working in-house and working for an agency:
As an Account Executive at Marketing Mojo, I work with a variety of clients on a day-to-day basis, ranging from livestock feed to cloud computing to household appliances. Each client has different needs and different goals. The variety keeps me on my toes. As an in-house person, I focused on one client and one segment of that client’s marketing goals. While I enjoyed the work, I felt siloed and as though I were becoming hyper-specialized in one area of marketing, versus using my skill set across several points.
I’ve found that clients see Marketing Mojo as the authority on the services we are brought in to provide. Which makes sense – we fill a gap that was missing from their own marketing teams. Our opinions are valued. In-house marketers, as I mentioned above, get siloed into one area and lose out on becoming skilled elsewhere, therefore have to look outside to assistance – which is how agencies come aboard.
Here at Marketing Mojo, we have a foosball table that provides a good break periodically. We are relatively casual around here, wearing jeans and t-shirts to work and taking advantage of the couches in the lounge to work for a while. There are no cubicles around here, just open space and lots of windows. In my experience, in-house positions tend to be more traditional, with cubicles and a business casual dress code. There definitely wasn’t a foosball table during my time in the corporate world.
As in in-house marketer, I was able to get approvals relatively quickly. I had the advantage of developing relationships with the legal team and the IT team, which helped with pushing through contracts and security checks. On the agency side, we often have to wait for client approval – which in some cases, can take some time as it’s pushed through various levels of approval, delaying our launch dates or projects that we believe will benefit SEO. The delays experienced at an agency can, admittedly, be frustrating from time to time.
One of the biggest assets I’ve found being on the agency side are my co-workers. When I run into a new problem or have a question about something going on with one of my clients, I can turn to one of the other account executives who may have dealt with a similar issue. I can ask our developer for advice or put my head together with our designer to come up with a solution. In-house, I was also surrounded by smart people, but they were smart at their jobs, leaving me to Google questions and ask the experts on forums.
There are pros and cons to working in-house versus working for an agency, and each person is different on which they prefer and why. For me, I prefer the agency side for a number of the reasons listed above, but especially because of the variety I face on a day-to-day basis.
Have you worked as an in-house marketer and at an agency? Which did you prefer? Tweet me @Sarah_Wyland or leave a comment below!