Surviving an agency life is not the big part. Being able to sustain the drive to function equally passionately with all clients is. Some observations:

a) You Are As Good As Your People

Trust this one to be proven every single day. Some of the times when I realized this gospel to be true were:

  • Demanding situations like urgent work demands, edits, reviews, rejections, disappointments.
  • Times when I goofed up and delivered sub standard work (Yes, that happened 2-3 times)
  • Bursting of ego moments – When I thought that our work was awesome but client didn’t think as much
  • Grammar Woes: While typing replies or reporting emails or follow up emails
  • Language, word choice, sentence framing
  • When designing proposals, PPTs and having to decide what goes in and what should be left out.
  • When you want to make commitments to client and are not sure if you should promise something or no.
  • In all such moments your team can make it or break it.

b) Pitch Presentations:

Brands these days are looking for something beyond the rhetoric. Some of the expectations of brands that have grown more and more important:

  1. Size of the agency or Number of employees
  2. Kind of projects handled previously
  3. Whether you handled projects in client’s domains
  4. Personalised Solutions
  5. Linear Thinking

If the size of the agency is too large then there is a perception that the agency is too large for the client. And if you are too small, then your agency may not be the right fit for the client at the moment.

c) Partnerships:

Whether your agency works directly with Facebook teams and whether you have direct access to specialised skill sets (in house or partnerships) is something that some of the brands I worked with and some of the marketer friends from various brands want to know in advance before they sign on an agency. This varies in importance though from person to person.

d) Performance Numbers:

I believed – until now – that once you deliver numbers you are safe. Not quite the case. Turns out that clients care for finer aspects such as whether you responded to their emails politely and promptly and whether you took initiatives on own or after the client has asked.

Being proactive is extremely important to brands and I cannot stress the importance of this aspect enough. Performance results are a part of your delivery, not the end game.

e) Self Learning:

Your team has to take the onus of learning on themselves. If they wait for your instructions, your help, your guidance then god save you and them. This world of marketing is cut throat and you can be politely replaced unless the team is expert in teaching themselves.

f) Underpricing:

The most crucial and often confusing part is how much should you really quote? Underpricing is a problem. It is a menace and it is ugly. It is hurting the advertising and digital marketing business a lot.

Quotes by some of the agencies and freelancers received by some of my clients and friend’s brands have started from 10,000 per month for social media management.

Bro, can you help me understand how can you manage to churn out quality and customized marketing messaging in your creatives in that rate?  How can one afford to engage a seasoned marketer or a required experienced skill set to guide the marketing efforts for a brand in such costs?

The result is obvious – Templatised Monday Motivation based social media marketing strategy applied across brands enforced on the marketers by their agency’s “strategy”.

Brands need to wake up to this and realise that quality comes at a cost. It does not come cheap and if you are being offered something that is dirt cheap then please do not rely heavily on your marketing efforts to generate results for your brand.

These are just some of the hard learned observations from my agency life and in some cases we have learnt those bitter lessons. I wanted to share these without holding back with all the marketers out there. It is not a world of competing agencies, it is a world where multiple agencies co – exist and can help make the marketing eco system better.

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