5 Do’s & Don’ts for Marketing Agencies

Marketing agencies are constantly competing with each other. With thousands of other agencies who all offer similar capabilities ranging from social to digital to print, standing out is a must to attract big name clients and talent. Unfortunately, many marketing agencies are struggling to keep up with the competition.

While the do’s and don’ts of agency life vary across the board, I think there are a few basic ones that everyone can learn from.

#1 – DO emphasize your corporate culture. Nowadays, cultural fit is huge among marketing agencies, especially if you’re trying to attract talent beyond people who are already living locally. What are the people that work here like? Who are they and where are they from? What do they do for fun? Answering these questions while telling your agency story sets yourself up for success. Potential employees want to be a part of an agency where they can see themselves fitting in. The last thing you want is to bring on a team member who only stays a few months because they don’t feel that the overall corporate culture is a good fit for them.

DON’T try so hard to talk about your culture that it feels forced. Your corporate culture should speak for itself in a natural way. For example, Instagram is the perfect platform to showcase your culture without it feeling forced. Posting pictures and videos of events, happy hours, and daily office life can paint the picture of your agency for you without you having to explicitly say how great it is. Plus, if your employees are happy, chances are they’ll talk about how great the culture is on social too. Bonus points.

#2 – DO be transparent about your capabilities and clients. Agencies should be straightforward with their strengths and weaknesses, especially since different ones have different areas of focus. Solidify your capabilities, and have case studies on hand to reference as examples. This gives both potential employees and clients a better idea of the type of work your agency does, and will enable them to better decide if they think they’re a good fit.

DON’T over exaggerate. Stretching the truth will only come back to bite you in the end, and likely leave both your employees and clients unsatisfied. Overstating your agency’s talent and client base gives potential employees a skewed perception of who you really are as a company and the kind of work you do. If these individuals do end up working for you, they may end up disappointed when they discover the reality of your agency’s inner workings, and leave as a result.

#3 – DO allow for flexibility. Naturally, your agency should be confident in your employees’ work ethic. If that is the case, there’s nothing wrong with allowing for some wiggle room. In fact, a flexible working environment can actually lead to more productivity. A good work / life balance is difficult to achieve, but if you make it a priority, your employees will thank you.

DON’T let flexibility lead to a loss of control. A flexible work environment is a blessing, but monitoring it is key to understanding if it works well for your specific agency structure. Flexible work environments should never lead to a lack of control over your agency. It’s a process of trial and error; you have to see what works best for you and your employees. Flexibility can’t work on its own – it needs structure as well.

#4 – DO invest in employees who are passionate about what you do. When hiring employees for your agency, talent is important, but passion is also a driving force behind work ethic. Sometimes a person with great experience isn’t passionate about what he or she does, which can lead to issues down the road. A potential employee with that extra spark or interest in your agency’s clients, mission, and / or capabilities can go a long way. Never underestimate it.

DON’T hire employees who aren’t present online. If you’re a digital agency, it doesn’t make sense to hire someone who isn’t at all present online. Having social media accounts and pages show a genuine interest in the online community, which is extremely important to understand if you work at a digital agency. In my mind, you can’t work in the digital world if you don’t live in it yourself.

#5 – DO focus on team building. You can’t expect your agency to work together flawlessly right off the bat. Assemble teams based on experience and compatibility rather than just what might be most convenient at the time. Host agency-wide opportunities for your employees to get to know each other outside of the office. This will allow them to be more comfortable with each other when they are at work, which will help alleviate awkwardness and lead to better communication.

DON’T let your agency get cliquey. Work friendships are inevitably going to happen, but don’t let them become cliquey and intimidating. Encourage your employees to be open and accepting of each other and new hires. There is nothing more daunting than being the “new person” in an office where everyone is already friends and doesn’t bother to get to know you.


But hey, you don’t have to listen to me… After all, I don’t have my own agency, I just work at one 🙂


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