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So, you’re thinking of a career in Digital Marketing, because it’s advertising and advertising is fun, right?

Think again young padawan, it’s damn hard work too!

In this article we will discuss a few things you should know before you jump down the rabbit hole.

1. Creative? Pfft! . . . well, not all-the-time!

Digital Marketing is the future, and many businesses are only now realising the benefits of online advertising through platforms such as Facebook, Google and Instagram, or even just having a great website.

Others, that were “early adopters’ are looking for a new vibe to keep them relevant. Great yes?

Well, yes…and no… if you are on the wrong end of the agency floor.

YES – There is plenty of work out there.
YES – sometimes you land the client of a lifetime. But…

What they don’t tell you in the interview, is that as a junior and sometimes even as a senior, you’ll be building websites and campaigns for Joe Soap’s tyre store and Suzie’s Laundromat until the cows come home and you’ve “earned your stripes”.

This being said, if you are one of the lucky few who work for the bigger agencies, you get exposed to some magnificent brands and get to create work that you’ll be proud of for the rest of your life.

In the beginning though, flower shops and tyre stores it is. . . as it has to be I suppose and that’s what most millennials often struggle to understand.

2. Some clients can be “the devil incarnate”

So, this job lands on your desk, it looks awesome, you get to develop the campaign from concept to completion, and you have mind-blowing creative ideas. WOO HOO!

You meet the client’s marketing team, they love your concept, you’re home free! BEST JOB EVER! The project starts, everything down to the last custom icon is a labour of love, you work 12 to 15 hours a day for 6 weeks without breaking a sweat. THIS IS GREAT!

The client’s marketing team gives you fantastic feedback all the while, Jumping Jitterbugs, you even make deadline with a few days to spare (virtually unheard of – but this is a fantasy – let’s go with it) This thing is going to rock their socks off!

You upload the artwork to the proofing platform, send the links, check the copy, dot your I’s and cross your T’s. READY TO ROLL! This is award winning stuff!

And this, young one, is when you realise…Some clients can be “the devil”! Maybe not on purpose but that’s certainly how you will feel.

This is when you meet the client, the REAL client (the CEO / Marketing Director / Owner) who doesn’t know you exist because his/her team have not (for some reason) had time to showcase project progress.

So they have never seen your concept or artwork or had time to digest the rationale behind it. 7/10 times your “award winning concept” goes straight over their head.

  • They don’t get it – therefore nobody will get it.
  • It’s too far-fetched.
  • The concept is too advanced for their audience.

Well, holy cow Batman, that hurts like a kick in the petunias.


SHOCK – The paralysis that follows hearing the bad news.

DENIAL – “surely not, there must be some mistake” You go back to the brief it says “out of the box, something that sets us apart”

ANGER – you completely lose your marbles and fall face-first into a vat of tequila

BARGAINING – You try to find a work-around “how can we crowbar our concept into their “been there, done that type of industry idea”)

DEPRESSION – You hit rock bottom and it’s very hard to motivate yourself but it’s paid for work so you have to put on your big boy/girl pants and find another gear.

TESTING – You look for alternative solutions and a way forward that suits the client’s vision.

OR you find articles that prove your point and present this to the client. (This hardly ever has the desired result, but what the hell? It’s worth a shot – depending on the type of client, of course.)

ACCEPTANCE – Okay, it’s not going to fly … you’ve made your point- but the wings have been clipped indefinitely. Now we move along, swiftly.

(If you work in my office, you move along singing “LET IT GO” loudly and without shame.)

Now, we settle on a slightly less boring version of the concept the client has signed off. Sometimes, the campaign does not have the effect the client was hoping for and, of course, client then looks for a reason . . . often that reason is the agency or another supplier.

Always remember this: when something doesn’t work out there will be blood – it’s good to make sure you always have your meeting and communication records in order to defend your position (should the need arise).

c’est la vie, that’s agency life.

 3. A large portion of the population lack vision, or bravery to push for “new”.

This sounds harsh, I know. However, give it 6 months, you’ll agree.

The reality is the client is not always right. As much as possible it is our job to provide guidance but you are not going to win every battle . . . in fact you are going to lose many.

But, remember, you are the EXPERT, you shouldn’t be afraid of telling a client when you believe they’re making a mistake.

At least you will sleep a little better at night.

 4. OF COURSE! There are a lot of great clients too.

If you are lucky, you’ll get a few clients that are rock stars (sometimes even literally).

They understand their business, they understand what needs to be done and they allow you to do your job.

Those are golden. Don’t stuff it up!

5. Burning the midnight oil.

If working in a dark office, with nothing but the light from your monitor and cigarette smoke to keep you company is your vibe, then a creative agency is the place for you! (okay maybe not the smoke indoors so much).

Don’t get me wrong, there are company social events, or complimentary gifts, that makes it all worthwhile again, but prepare yourself for copious amounts of coffee, stiff limbs and becoming family with your colleagues because you’ll probably never see your bed as much as you’d like to.

I exaggerate, of course.

All this being said, advertising is still fun. Coming up with concepts and arguing about relevancy with your new fam is awesome, as long as you stay true to your own creativity, and find inspiration everywhere you can, you’ll be fine.

If this article hasn’t  put you off and all this sounds exciting and fun, that’s great!

Remember, we’re all in this together and creativity is always just one moment away, if you know where to look.

Being an artist, in any form, is never easy…. But man, what a reward.

Sometimes… (Just Kidding).