The client vs. agency debate

August 10, 2017

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Historically, agencies only usually take ‘agency people’. Over the years we’ve asked, why? Surely agencies want to have some employees with client side experience? Have a mixed team of individuals with a few thinking like a client?

Today, the landscape is changing and agencies are taking on more client-side marketers – Harvest included.

So if you’re considering making a jump in your career, here’s some differences between being client side or working in an agency to help you decide whether to make the switch.

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#1 Pace

Dependent on your position client-side, it can be easy to start lacking knowledge. If you don’t take things into your own hands and keep up with your own self-learning and industry trends, you have the fear of being left behind. Especially since we work in an innovative industry which is fast-paced and changes so quickly.

Yes, agency side can seem very daunting at first because it is a completely different way of working, with different processes and sets of skills. But you can absolutely guarantee that you’ll be at the top of your game for industry knowledge and expertise. Some agencies have a budget for training courses and industry conferences so you’ll be completely in touch with what the leading experts are talking about. Ensure you ask if they have a budget for this at interview stage.

The main difference about agency side vs. client side is that you have to get your head around the work and service you’re providing on a daily basis. At an agency, it is all about your clients not you. But once you’ve cracked this way of working there will be nothing stopping you.


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 #2 Environment

Life in an agency can be uncertain at times. With various clients to look after, on some occasions you will work longer hours than your average 9-5. Since we’re here to service our clients and do the best job we can, overtime is expected.

If you prefer having a solid weekday routine, I’d consider whether agency life would disrupt your day-to-day life too much. Although some agencies, like Harvest, offer flexi-time so you can work around a routine that fits best for you.

It’s also a very sociable environment and we always like to have a beer on a Friday afternoon. There’s a real buzz in agencies which is sometimes missing in a (corporate) client-side environment. Since agencies are usually larger than a client-side marketing team there’s a great atmosphere, one which we like to celebrate at the end of every week.


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#3 Career progression

In general, roles in an agency are based on ‘specialist’ expertise rather than doing a bit of everything like client-side roles. So if you’re looking to make the jump into an agency, think carefully about your values and what matters to you. Also consider your strengths and weaknesses, especially in terms of hands on experience.

For instance, if you have never got your hands dirty with PPC campaigns, then sliding into a specific PPC role might be difficult. You really do need to know – and like – the ins and outs of the team you are looking to be part of. Since it all comes down to the numbers, you need to be on it. Just as we do at Harvest, there’s no stone to hide under!

But don’t be afraid to take the leap, like I said agencies offer training as they want you to be the best marketer you can be. Even if working in an agency just fast-tracks your knowledge so you can go back client-side, be the boss and challenge everything.

Does agency sound like your cup of tea? If you have an aptitude to learn and thrive off learning fast, then an agency role could be for you. Got the buzz and want to be part of our team? Get in touch at, or check out our current vacancies.

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