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  • Writer's pictureChris Green

5 Ways to Further Your Agency Career

If you are one of those lucky enough to be starting your agency career, these questions/statements are going to be some of the quickest ways to help you learn & progress outside of your day-to-day tasks. These elements add value to the agency, they give some direction to grow and will make your own progression far easier.

But these aren't just for those early in their career, I think they’d provide value for most digital marketers looking to advance and grow.

“I’ve been learning x language/skill in my spare time”

Demonstrating additional learning which can be applied to your day job is a really important thing to do. We can assume this is common-sense and that everyone does it - but I'm not convinced this is the case in most teams. Take the opportunity to share that you are doing this with colleagues and managers when it is useful.

Learning a new language can be really powerful for speeding up internal processes or making you more effective. Don’t always assume your boss/manager will know how this is applicable, so maybe suggest to them what this new skill has (or will) enable you to do - just to make sure they can see it too.

The Benefits Behind Doing This:

  • Learning adjacent skills (such as Python, R, MySQL , JavaScript, HTML, CSS)

  • Building the ability/capacity to do more with existing client time

  • To eventually offer services or a better quality of service which increases the value proposition of the whole agency

But don’t think of this learning as just benefitting your current employer or for the next position you are aiming for - learning new skills like this is investing in your future too! This is the greatest ROI item on this list for you.

“I’ve been reading X/Y and I’d like to try something differently”

Given that digital marketing (not just SEO) moves quickly, reading on current trends - especially those relevant to your day job - is essential. As I have already hinted at you would be wrong in assuming that everyone does this.

Just highlighting that you’re reading things and sharing on social media isn’t enough, if you can demonstrate why and how you’d apply the findings, that shows real value. Find some key sources of information that are widely trusted and look out for the ones that are the most appropriate or likely to impact what you are working on.

The Benefits Behind Doing This:

  • You are making it clear you are looking to grow, learn and improve

  • You are demonstrating reading/interest beyond the day job

  • The fact you’re wanting to challenging an existing process (in the right way) is a key point of continuous improvement and will help you stand out

  • You have found a flaw which you are trying to rectify - this may have been missed/over-looked by someone else

Whenever you are pushing against an existing process or practice you do need to do it the right way - i.e. constructively - but wanting to improve something and having the reading to back it up is a big win.

“Can I get the budget to build a test site to try something?”

You can learn so much from testing and experimenting - but client accounts aren’t always the best place for this. Assuming you are able to say why a test is worth conducting and what the potential it could bring, any agency would be daft for not at least considering it.

The Benefits Behind Doing This:

  • You can practice what you preach on a live site where you couldn’t otherwise

  • You are conducting R&D which could benefit your clients and agency processes

  • You have the potential to learn adjacent skills to your day job (HTML, CSS, PHP etc), which will make you better at what you do

Just remember, budgets aren’t finite and if you can’t express why it is beneficial to run a test, don’t expect someone to give you money to go off and do it. That said, assuming you aren’t asking for thousands of pounds suggesting that these costs come from your own personal development budget can smooth things over.

“I want to be involved in the pitching process”

If you haven’t been involved in pitches - especially larger ones - there’s a lot you are missing out on. But you won’t always know what that is until you’ve seen it.

The more experience you have at pitches - and what makes one successful - the greater impact you will have on new business which is a huge driver for agencies.

Some businesses will look to involve the wider team in pitches as part of their training - which is great! - others may not do that automatically. This doesn’t make those bad people, you may just need to give someone a nudge.

The Benefits Behind Doing This:

  • You get to see what is asked for as part of the pitching

  • You will get involved in putting together a large strategy

  • You’ll likely need to pull together projections

  • Finally, you’ll get closer to the pitching process, rehearsals and general pitch-craft that takes place

Pitching, presenting, forecasting & building strategies are all skills of senior SEOs and Heads of Service. If you are aiming for a role like this in the future, then even shadowing a pitch (i.e. being along for the ride) is an amazing opportunity. Just be conscious that pitches themselves can be stressful and are full of ups and downs. But it’s all part of the training!

“This account is award-winning material because ________”

Highlighting a (genuinely worthy) campaign as award potential is a very smart move for so many reasons - agency marketing, self-esteem, team moral and so on.

Being tuned in to good results and learning to recognise your own hard work on accounts is pretty important for thriving in an agency as it can help smooth-out some of the harder moments too.

The Benefits Behind Doing This:

  • You are obviously calling out the great work of you/your team mates

  • To present this can you’ll have needed to demonstrate analyst skills to find the stats

  • You will have demonstrated your knowledge of goals/objectives of the campaign and framed performance against these (key to winning award entries!)

  • An award entry - even if you only get short-listed - looks good for an agency

  • You’ll be making friends with the Marketing Manager in the agency because finding award entries when you’re not part of the campaigns is hard work.

Some people aren’t convinced that awards are worth the time/effort, but most agencies recognise the benefits. There is nothing like gaining recognition for something you’ve been involved in, on a personal and professional satisfaction level.

Wrapping Up

All of these questions/statements display something else which can be great for you and your career - that you care enough to change something.

That may seem small, but it’s not a given for everyone. I found that my time in agency passed quicker & more fruitfully because I really wanted to progress myself and drive the team forward.

Remember though, just asking these questions or stating your intent to do some of these things is not enough on its own. You need to do what you said you would and then feed back into the business.

IF you can do this - and do it well - then you are going above and beyond to show your value which will benefit yourself and your workplace too,

These are not things you have to do and I am an advocate of having a healthy work-life-balance, but in my experience these questions and what sits behind them will differentiate you and help you progress.


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