It’s not surprising to find that the broad task assignments and fast-paced nature of agency work have groomed social media experts to prosper on the job. But an experience at an agency enriches the skill set of any person in marketing and business? Here are three reasons why signs point to “yes”.
Improved Customer Focus: You won’t love every client, but you’ll still have to be their advocate.
It’s common for agencies to be hired to complete work that’s not exactly sexy. Recognized for their technical expertise in a specific vertical, an agency’s affiliation with a contracting organization could be considered akin to the “friends with benefits” relationship; the agency has something the hiring company needs (competence) and the agency is willing to leverage that competence for something they need in return (financial compensation).
That doesn’t necessarily mean the two organizations are a match made in heaven. Nimble agencies may grow impatient cutting through red tape when making decisions with major corporations. Likewise, conservative corporations may be put off by agencies’ innovative—but untested—solutions and recommendations.
“In social media you constantly have to fall in love with the problem, not the solution,” says Adrian Parker, Vice President of Digital Marketing at the Patrón Spirits Company. Parker joins 26 other social media pros in the industry thought leader Jay Baer’s ebook, Social Pros All-Stars: Career Paths & Tips from 27 Big Company Social Media Professionals. “It’s easy to be biased by tech trends and software solutions that distract from the real focus: delighting customers.” Staying focused on the overall goal can make even the most challenging clients easier to work with.
No matter how much friction exists between the two organizations, contractual obligations still must be met. That means setting aside personal conflicts or differing corporate philosophies and focusing on delivering the exceptional results you were hired for.
Enhanced Research Skills: You won’t know much about new clients’ industries, but you’ll figure out where to find reliable sources with streamlined information.
Some agencies cater to specific industries, but many do not—especially in the cutthroat world of digital marketing. How can you be an advocate for your vastly different clients if you don’t understand their products, their customers, and how the former solves problems for the latter?
It’s not practical to expect the client to provide you with everything you need to know. Not only might they have a biased view of the competitive landscape, but they could also offer a deluge of internal information that’s not helpful to your tasks at hand.
Agency research teaches you to quickly extract relevant information from a variety of sources (client, trade publications, user forums, and databases) to obtain a holistic understanding of the industry. For social media professionals, research on the fly is a critical skill—and using it for clients is one of the best ways to hone it.
Overcome Adversity to Change: Agencies’ ever-evolving client base means processes, tools, and deliverables are always transforming.
The only thing you can count on when working for an agency is that you can’t count on anything. Clients can come and go at the drop of a pin. New internal talent is acquired and seasoned veterans move on to new ventures as often as the seasons change. Innovation is constant. New processes are created every day. Creativity is the fuel that powers the entire organization. With established social media platforms changing constantly and new platforms launching every year, learning to master each new challenge is a must.
The natural state of an agency is chaos until procedures are put in place to minimize disorder. Even then, uncontrollable external events will always mandate that employees think fast and stay ahead of the game. Change isn’t an inconvenience for agency employees; it’s a way of life.
Has worked for an agency helped make you a better social media professional? Tell us how in the comments.