Client-Side Marketers vs Digital Talent Agency Side Marketers
digital talent agency recruiters

Marketers at any degree need to be innovative thinkers and masters of their domain. But given how quickly marketing is changing and evolving, it’s challenging trying to find what type of marketer your business requires. The process can be resource intensive and unfamiliar-marketing recruiters can guide you in your search.

One of the primary considerations you need when choosing professionals to join your contingent marketing workforce on an interim basis is their background. Marketers can develop their career paths within corporate marketing departments elsewhere third party as consultants, at digital talent agencies or other vendors.

We’ve found that marketers hailing from the agency world tend to have some distinct traits that make them very well suited for some contract marketing jobs, and potentially less naturally equipped for others.

Of course, these are general trends that we’ve seen among the thousands of professionals from all backgrounds over the last 20 years. They don’t perfectly describe every marketing professional with a certain kind of experience. Many marketers have worked on both sides and may have a mix of traits. Still, it’s enough for us to make recommendations to clients on what to look for when seeking out talent through marketing staffing.

The key to consistently great marketing is getting consistently great marketers equipped with the skills, mindset, and attitude your business needs. The next time you connect with your marketing contract recruiters or digital talent agency with a new order, take these factors into account when describing the talent you need.

Feel the Power of the Agency Side

digital talent agency staffing

Media often romanticize the day to day life of agency professionals. You’ll see a hip team of geniuses brainstorming and bouncing ideas off each other in a conference room, or slick executives like Don Draper pitching perfectly polished campaigns.

The reality usually isn’t so glamorous, but there’s a hint of truth to those depictions.

Agency environments tend to be distinctly different from their corporate counterparts, and that rubs off on the professionals working there. We’ve seen businesses of all kinds make use of that–even massive Fortune 500 brands.

You don’t have to be a digital agency yourself to appreciate the value of talent pulled from this world.  Our marketing recruiters have noticed several common aspects of agency-side marketers that impact the way they approach their work:

Company Culture

Culture greatly affects the quality of an individual’s output and the way they interact with others. Agency culture, at least among the top-performing ones, is dynamic, creative, active, and collaborative. There’s a strong sense of team unity and identity. As Aimee Buchanan, Managing Director at OMD Sydney shared, “the strong agency culture, and the entrepreneurial spirit of being ‘in it together’ keeps many of us firmly planted on this side of the fence.” 

If your organization already has that kind of energetic, collaborative environment, then it makes sense to bring in professionals who are familiar with it. But maybe your marketing operations fall short, and you’d like to make a culture shift in that direction. In that case, an injection of fresh, bright talent from the agency world might be just what you need to help bring new life to your own culture.

Work Ethic

There is much variety on the agency side. Marketers here are no stranger to simultaneously working on different projects, often with multiple clients, in a fast paced environment. If you need someone comfortable with juggling many different responsibilities and serving multiple brands or business units, an agency marketer might be just what you need.

Catalyzing Innovation

Agency marketers are constantly exposed to different projects, clients, brands and strategies. That gives them a lot of exposure to creative ideas, and insight into tactics that do and don’t work. Jeff Jones, CMO at Target, believes,you learn how to flex your mind across a whole lot of different topics during the day” with an agency background.

That diversity of innovation and perspective is translated into better productivity. If your organization struggles with producing new ideas internally, or changing from doing things “the way they’ve always been done,” marketers from agency backgrounds can bring a badly-needed spark of innovation.

Project Management and Accountability

Marketing as a whole is becoming increasingly project-based. Conveniently, that’s how most agencies have already been operating for years now. Many agency marketers will possess direct project management skills, or at least have experience working under popular project management methodologies like Agile. These professionals will also have high accountability for recording work hours on each project and keeping track of how much time is devoted to each project. That’s convenient if you’re bringing them in on a contract basis, since they’ll be no strangers to completing time sheets and accounting for their time spent.

Caveats and Potential Drawbacks

contract marketing recruiters choices

Of course, you shouldn’t assume agency talent is the superior choice in all occasions. Agency talent is used to a dynamic environment where beer taps and Lego stations in the work area are common, and transitioning away from that isn’t always easy. Before committing to the idea of choosing a career agency marketer, keep these factors in mind:

  1. Agency talent gets accustomed to constant exposure to new projects, challenges and ideas. They may struggle and get bored if you need them working on one responsibility, with one brand, every day. That could lead to lower quality of work and higher turnover.
  2. As collaborative as agency environments are internally, they still tend to be insulated from the rest of a company’s operation. They don’t have to deal with other departments and sometimes have a narrow perspective of business. If they’re dropped in a role where they suddenly have to take your Sales, Product, Customer Service, and IT teams into account, they could get overwhelmed.
  3. Most agency professionals are highly specialized in a small area of expertise. They’re good at managing projects within that domain and optimizing results, but are often slow to adopt a broad responsibility for big-picture marketing KPIs and outcomes.
  4. Most agencies tend to have casual, relaxed environments when it comes to business customs, communication, dress, and workflow. If your organization has high standards of professionalism and a more rigid corporate structure, a life-long agency marketer could be slow to adjust.

Additional Reading from a Digital Talent Agency