Change, loudness and incomplete strategies: how to survive (and thrive) in a digital agency

Digital Man

Digital Man

A digital agency is a dynamic, fast-paced and frequently exhausting environment. Here, slick suits work alongside casual creatives — all meeting under one roof to work miracles for their clients. As a young creative in the industry, I have worked with some of the toughest, brightest and most bizarre individuals I have had the privilege to know…and grown every step of the way. Sometimes a keen instigator, other times a wide-eyed observer, here are some of the insights I’ve gathered as an employee in the digital marketing environment.

Change happens — make friends with it
And by that I mean bosom buddies — Facebook friends — sleepovers and hair braiding. In advertising, the ability to change, innovate and adapt quickly is what places an agency ahead of its competitors. Chances are, if you’re sitting at your desk delighting in how peaceful the week has been, there is something you’re missing out on. Whether it’s adjusting to the latest Google update or rushing in to rescue an unhappy client, there is always something more that can and needs be done. For some, myself included, change can be intimidating, irritating even.

Change is untapped territory, a risk, a step outside your comfort zone, a chance that you might fail. Deal with it. This is advertising — bat country — and if you don’t like change, swallow your ‘sighs’ with a Red Bull, smile and tell yourself you do. Eventually you’ll realise that while chaos may reign in the realm of digital agencies, boredom is a word we simply don’t use.

‘No’ is not a dirty word
It’s easy to burn out when you are eager to please. If you’re already swamped with work, the word “no” will protect you when a pair of headphones won’t. At a certain point, you may have to begin taking on projects strategically and using your monthly hours smartly. If you think a project could get done by another employee then it may benefit you to say no to that one. Alternatively, if a task comes along that you feel could further your career, you may need to sacrifice a little ‘me-time’ in favour of the bigger picture.

Rather be loud than forgettable
I firmly believe that confidence should never be confused with competence. That said, thriving in a digital agency means establishing yourself as an individual who has something to contribute. Put simply, most agencies would rather you be the employee who talks too much than the one who taps away at their laptop in silence.

Keep up to date with industry news and share new updates and articles with the office. Speak up and ask questions during meetings. Photoshop your colleague’s face onto the body of a twerking Miley Cyrus and stick it on the fridge — or don’t. Your brain’s already got you this position; now show your employers that you have something to say.

A strategy is never complete
A day in the life of a digital marketer would be much easier if they could bang out a decent three-month strategy for a client and sit back while the motor runs. This will not fly. From what I’ve experienced working as a content strategist, the job is never done.

Rather, continue to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts using tracking tools such as Google Analytics — see what works and what doesn’t. If you choose not to, it’s going to be one heck of an awkward conversation explaining to a client why you have spent their marketing budget on a stagnant strategy.

Email is an evasion
No one enjoys client or co-worker conflict — it’s about as fun as flu on a public holiday. Rather than spending a good half-hour crafting the perfect email response, pick up the phone and be a man!

If the conflict is occurring within the office, grab a cup of coffee and handle it face to face. At most, it will be a five-minute long conversation where one or both parties will brandish an injured ego and thus resolve the misunderstanding.



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