At Make Happy, we like to think of ourselves as a boutique agency, the independent coffee shop of the marketing world, that is swamped by huge Starbucks agencies. Small agencies do not always have the same allure of larger ones, with big-name clients and serviced offices and free smoothie deliveries, but there are some huge incentives to work at smaller agencies.
1. You’ll become a chameleon
Life at a small agency is nothing if not fast-paced and diverse. Your job title will come to mean very little, as you fill the roles of account manager, copywriter, graphic designer, media buyer, secretary, cleaner and dog walker. And that’s just a Monday morning. Your skills become incredibly diverse, which also enables entry-level marketers to get a really good idea of where they want to specialise and fast. It also adds many more strings to your marketing bow, meaning you can backflip into any role in a marketing team where there might be gaps.
2. You’ll learn 1000% more quickly
A slight exaggeration though this may be, you can bet you’ll be doing more by month two in a small agency than just monitoring the four Twitter accounts you’re in charge of at a large firm. Solo account management comes quickly, and before you know it, you’ll be planning brand strategy and implementing it all by yourself. Look at you! Another unrivalled bonus of small agency life is teaching time. Being in the same office as your company CEO, and colleagues who have worked in the industry since before you were born is invaluable for personal development. Being able to mercilessly follow their work process like a hawk means you can absorb their skills, approach and process quicker than a sponge in a puddle. Can you strategise? Yep. Can you take a new client brief? You betcha. Can you manage every element of an account? Try me! Consider yourself ahead of the pack.
3. You bond. Rapidly bond.
Getting to know everyone you work with on a comprehensive level is invaluable. Learning how your team members work and their skill gaps helps everyone work more efficiently. Knowing when your head of digital will miss a date off of a media plan or knowing that your strategist is terrible with names enables you to plug those gaps really quickly, making you a much better-oiled machine. Hours and hours are lost in lousy communication between teams in large firms who don’t know each other’s methods. With large teams that rarely interact, some things get lost in translation. Well, at small agencies, you’re all polyglots in each other’s language.
4. The stress is high, but the reward is higher
Being solely liable for the maintenance and smooth running of an account can be a daunting task when you’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the marketing world. Much of your time will be spent figuring it out as you go along. However, once you do figure it out, there’s no better feeling than knowing you singlehandedly navigated a stroppy creative, a missed deadline and an expectant client, all by yourself. Small agencies are not for the fainthearted. It’s a climate of initiative, proactivity and to-do lists. You better get up to scratch, and quickly.
I for one, wholeheartedly recommend working in a small agency, at the start of your career especially. It’ll armour you with an unshakeable work ethic and pro-active attitude.
Who wants free smoothies anyway? We’ve got tea and biscuits and a dog. That’ll do nicely.