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Digitally speaking - switching from agency to in-house

20/06/2014

Having spent five years agency side and then made the switch in 2012, hopefully I can debunk some of the myths.

Let’s not pretend that it’s not a big decision. Agency marketing really is a lifestyle choice and I can still remember that overnight, I suddenly had agency friends that were now potential suppliers and partners. It was the equivalent or switching football teams, codes in rugby or worse still Android for iOS.

  • Work/life balance

I’ve never lived and worked in the same county so this has never been one of my fortes. However the hours are more sociable, albeit still demanding, and once you have built strong relationships with your stakeholders there are fewer false deadlines.

  • The pace

In-house marketing has the stigma of being slower paced, but there are a lot more factors and considerations that shape your marketing priorities. Using a quote from Alan Townsend (Senior Vice President Sales Readiness and Business Operations EU at Monster Worldwide): “Agencies see the best side of their clients’ businesses, not all of the internal frustrations.”

  • Managing your time without timesheets

My previous agency MD will confirm that I treated timesheets like I was back at school doing homework on the bus. So whilst it felt liberating, it did leave a void in my daily planning. Even without time sheets I am very aware of my output, understand how to communicate this internally and still view each and every project in terms of £s, which does give me a more realistic take on ROI.

  • Can you be an internal expert?

Absolutely. Being immersed in the business you’ll discover knowledge gaps on a daily basis, help address key areas that require development and focus on what really matters.

  • Relationship building

Instead of having the agency as back-up the focus is on building my own personal brand. The difference is that I now have more ownership, the approval process is direct and I am responsible for gaining the trust of my key stakeholders or things simply won’t happen.

  • Long term strategies

For me this was the deal clincher to move in-house. I have been able to focus on slow burning projects and establish strong foundations and very rarely have to justify quick win ROI, something that has been a breath of fresh air.

That said it can be a little frustrating to have a fantastic project that doesn’t quite fit the businesses needs and not be able to sell it to a competitor!

  • Being the client and working with other agencies

The general feedback that I get from my key agencies is that I am a lot more understanding of issues, very demanding and probably more astute at questioning why things are being done in a certain way. I’m sure I’ve caused a few account directors sleepless nights.

  • Moving back to an agency

Whatever happens in the future I feel that I am a much stronger marketer for having been on both sides of the fence and I’m very happy to have made the move. You can ask me the same question when I’ve spent five years in-house!

If you have any other myths that you would like debunking you can tweet me @richard_turrell or connect with me on LinkedIn.