7 Key Differences between client side and agency marketing roles

7 Key Differences between client side and agency marketing roles

01 May 21:00 by James Walton


We often get candidates coming through our doors having worked client side for many years, wanting a move to an agency, and visa versa. The transition can be seamless, leading to a successful and rewarding career change. But there are significant differences in a role within a agency compared to an in house marketing team. To help you make the right decision, we’ve listed, what we feel are the ‘7 key differences between client side and agency marketing’ that we hope will help:

1. Hours

We’ll start with the obvious one. I’m sure most of you are aware that a role within a marketing agency usually requires much longer hours than that of client side. Although, I’m sure there are times when you need to work over for an industry event or meet a deadline, if you’re working client-side you’ll be doing a 9-5 role. Whereas the demands of agency life and competition will see you doing considerably more hours.

Thinking Point: If you like routine and getting home in time for Hollyoaks (Emerdale, Corrie and Enders!) and you expect to be paid overtime, you’re probably better off client side.

2. Pace

Following on nicely from hours, it goes without saying, life in an agency is generally a fast-paced affair. With various clients to look after, usually a large team to work with, various levels of management and clients involved, it’s GO, GO, GO!

Client-side is comparably calmer. And it makes sense. You’re working with one brand or company, the team is likely to be much smaller and you are predominantly ‘the client’, or working next door to the decision maker, which can make things, like the approval process, slightly easier (most of the time anyway!).

Thinking Point: This all comes down to personality; are you the kind of person that gets a kick out of demanding schedules (and clients to boot!), or do you produce your best work in a calmer environment?

3. Range of brands and products

Working at an agency will see you working with a mixed bag of clients and brands, giving you the opportunity to soak up all sorts of knowledge across a diverse portfolio.

Working in house gives you the opportunity to live and breath one brand, so you can be fully immersed in that company. You’re not juggling numerous brands, audiences or demographics, so you can keep your focus and expertise in one industry.

Thinking Point: This can be the deal breaker for many candidates. Some people love the idea of working with one company. Keeping things simple, getting to the root of the brand workings and specialising in one area. To others the fast-pace is what gets them out of bed in the morning.

4. Control VS Creativity

It’s often the case that a company will have an in-house marketing team, as well as employing an agency. The in house team provide the briefs, manage the budget and often deal with the day to day running of the brand. Ensuring brand guidelines are kept and deadlines are met. Leaving the agency side team to come up with and deliver the creative solutions to meet the brief.

Thinking Point: Do you want to be the controller or creative?

5. Career Potential

As with any fast-paced environment, the turnover of staff within an agency is higher, meaning there are more roles available and, more often than not, better chance to rise to the top quicker.  However, the roles are sought after and competition to get the best positions is fierce.

Client-side positions don’t come up as often, so the positions get snapped up quickly when they do come about. Especially for high profile companies.

Thinking Point: Here it really comes down to the waiting game. Either way, you could be waiting a while for the right opportunity to come up, but the big agencies grow at such a pace that the wait is relatively short. Client side roles are fewer because people tend to stay in the position for longer.

6. Money, money, money!

Client side out trumps agency here by miles. Not only is the pay usually higher in house, but when you take in to account the extra hours you work within an agency that difference becomes even bigger.

Thinking Point: Errrr, the money!

7. Office environment 

Agency offices are made to be vibrant, energetic and creative places to work. There’s always lots going on and with more people comes an increased volume of noise and hustle and bustle. Compared to client side where it can be more corporate, depending on the nature of the business.

Thinking Point: Do you work better in hustle and bustle or are you better placed in a quiet, more focused setting?

If you’re thinking about a move from one to the other and would like further advice, please don’t hesitate to contact our experienced recruitment team, who will be able to talk through your individual circumstances to work out if the change would work for you.

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If your mind is made up and you’re looking for that next big break, register your details with us and we’ll be in touch.