The Responsibility of Agency Work

"Agency work is great. It can be stressful, frantic, and bloody hard work - but I don’t think I’d ever go back the other way and be an in-house marketer."

Rob Fellingham from Sonder Digital - Headshot

Rob Fellingham
Marketing Director

An opinion piece from our very own Mr F about working for an agency in 2020.

When I partnered up with Rob Swan and joined him at Sonder 3 years ago, it was just the two of us with a handful of clients and a truckload of nerves as to whether we could make things work. We’re now a team of 6 (soon to be 7) with over 150 clients across the UK - safe to say it’s been a pretty sharp learning curve about agency work, but I think we’ve done a pretty decent job and the ride has been epic. 

Ilustration of a marketing agency at work

Agency work at its core is about providing value. For businesses of any size, the choice is the same: you either run your marketing in-house and do it yourself, or use an agency like Sonder to do it with you.

The aim for us is to plug the gap and provide a level of expertise that would take a lot of time and money for businesses to replicate. In order to do that, we’ve got to be exceptionally good at what we do.

That naturally brings a certain amount of pressure - but a good kind of pressure. The constant need to get ahead of the curve or get better results for our clients is what makes me tick.

There’s an expectation from clients that stems from being the standalone experts in our field - how can they get more sales, what’s going to drive more traffic, what should they be doing differently? We’re employed uniquely to solve those dilemmas, no other reason.

It’s like a bomb timer ticking down and we’re the only ones who know which wires to cut. The annoyance is those wires change colour and length everyday under the guise of an algorithm update… (that’s an SEO gripe, don’t worry if I’ve lost you there). I digress.

That pressure is the kind of thing that leaves you wanting to send yourself an email note at 1am... if client X just changed their button colour to a slightly deeper green on this page - I bet they’ll get more sales. Sad, but true.

Creating Trust

Trust, authenticity and passion. So, a pretty sad part of the online world and what we do is that there’s an element of suspicion. Bank fraud, phishing sites, those spammy emails that promise to rank your site at the top of Google for $10, it all builds to an inherent suspicion that the web is a place where you’re going to get ripped off. So people proceed with caution.

Scam in scrabble tiles with a dollar on top

Computers, phones and the web have developed so incredibly quick, generally speaking there’s a multi-generational gap between those who are competent online and those who really need some help. It’s amazing just how much of our work leaks into computer support or online help in general, even though it’s not what we do. But that’s the thing, it’s nice to help and it builds trust.

With that in mind, it’s a pretty cool time to be an agency as so many companies need that help online. I do wonder what the landscape will be like in 20/30 years time when the current generation of teenagers are business owners - will they outsource quite as much?

People like Working with People

People like working with other people. When people are buying something from Amazon, you’re buying the product and you know what it’s going to do. When you work with us, you’re buying into the people. 

Wherever possible we want to showcase that passion and authenticity - I find face to face meetings are brilliant for that - or in the current climate the next best thing, Zoom meetings (definitely reached a point of Zoom fatigue though - bring on face to face any day. Anyone else?!). 

The Sonder team at our latest team day
The Sonder team at our latest team day

There’s no hiding behind emails or computer screens, here we are - it’s me personally, I’ll be the one trying to make a difference to your business so you can hold me accountable. 

When we meet people, we get a real feel for their business and the lives within it. And they get a sense of us as real people too.

It places a sense of personal responsibility on what we do, it’s not just monotonous work for a company that ‘has to get done because it’s work’ - it’s key decisions that could make a hell of a difference for that company’s bottom line.

That’s actually why we prefer to work with businesses within an hours drive of us.

I think a large percentage of companies underestimate how important online is to them. Take a high street store selling homeware products… their culture and brand is so clearly set within the confines of that store. A lovely storefront, the music that plays, the mannerisms in which the staff interact - all coordinated perfectly for those that visit the store. All of that needs to somehow get relayed online, on a screen, to a potentially national audience. Thousands more people will see the website and their online advertising - so just how that process takes place is so important. 

That’s the responsibility that we thrive on… it’s what creates the buzz.

Pressure can burst a pipe, or pressure can make a diamond.

Posted by Rob Fellingham on November 30th 2020

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