Client-side to Agency


Jon Harper

Industry News

After working several years in various in-house marketing positions, 2012 saw me jump across from client-side to agency-side. Although not necessarily a usual choice, I certainly wouldn’t look back!

I remember an old boss of mine warning me never to work for an agency. I distinctively remember the memory, sat in the passenger seat of her Toyota Supra and her words of wisdom: “Agencies make you work every hour under the sun and don’t reward you for it,” she warned. And to be fair, working alongside certain agencies in the past, I can understand why she advised me to steer clear.

It’s something that has always stuck with me and made me hesitant. Granted, working in an agency environment is hard work and often demanding so isn’t for everyone but you can definitely see the rewards – especially when working for the right company and in an online environment where results can almost be seen instantaneously.


Working in an in-house B2B marketing department definitely helps the transition – as I’m sure B2C would have its benefits also. Being in-house taught me a lot about customer relations, juggling separate client tasks, time management but mostly about account management.

It also gives you a good understanding of how agencies work. All are valuable transferable skills. For me personally, moving into search rather than another marketing field was a natural progression when switching to agency-side.

client side to agency

Although the company I previously worked for wasn’t predominantly online focused, modern day search takes elements from both offline and online marketing. Press based PR, marketing strategy and planning and consumer focused literature design are all easily conveyed across to online mediums.

On the flipside, agencies usually prefer someone who has worked in an agency role before. This has always been somewhat confusing for me to comprehend. Working in an in-house department gives you the bigger picture. You appreciate how all areas of the business work, not just the marketing department but various departments, and seeing how everything has a knock on effect which in turn makes you appreciate what you do influences decisions throughout the whole company.

It also makes you realise what senior management and board members perceive agencies as – a lavish cost or a valuable extension – helping you understand what pressure marketing and ecommerce departments are under and therefore how important an Account Managers decisions are.

Account management is both challenging and rewarding – especially in an ever evolving industry such as search, in an ever expanding company such as Search Laboratory. When I finally got the courage to leap across to agency-side, it was quite obvious that Search Laboratory was the right choice. The opportunity to work on some major brands in a company that looks after its employees and could progress my career was a no brainer.


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