Recently I’ve found myself using the term “big agency expats” to describe many of us at WTA.
What do I mean by that? Well … quite a few of us here have spent a significant portion of our careers at agencies with huge headcounts.
So what does that say about us? Well, right off you may be thinking, “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.” And I suppose there’s some truth to that. I’m grateful for my time learning the ropes and working my way up the opportunity ladder at large agencies.
But why have so many of us chosen to leave the behemoths for a more modestly sized gig? What’s the upside?
We like clients.
Oftentimes at enormous agencies, client engagement can become heavily “managed.” The client may have one or two agency representatives that run interference while the rest of the team is in the background, rarely heard and never seen. The client doesn’t see or talk to the people doing the work. Therefore, feedback is second hand at best, and often third or even fourth hand. Ever play “telephone?” That’s not the best method for building a campaign.
At WTA, we prefer that the people doing the work interact regularly with our clients. We hire carefully for more than a niched-out behind-the-scenes skill set. We hire the whole person. Sure, we look to see where they’ve been and what they know, but we also look into their eyes to see where they’re going.
We operate under the philosophy of “Hire great people. Give them what they need. Get out of their way.” As a result, we end up with amazing people who bring a high level of value to our agency. And we want our clients to know them.
Just as simple.
We like the work.
While everyone on our leadership team does some form of managing, we mainly strive to lead. Lead by example. Lead by work ethic. Lead by doing the work because we like the work. See how that works?
If you get too high up in an ivory tower with layers of reporting structure, it’s too easy to forget what it’s like in the trenches. And there’s life going on in the trenches. Good life. That’s where change begins. Where breakthrough emerges. Where decisions are made and risks taken. Innovation happens in the trenches.
That’s why you’ll see Blair, our media director, preparing channel recommendations for a QSR client one day and looking at new promotional options for a higher education client the next. Because, Blair is skilled at many things, but he’s first and foremost a media planner. And, lucky for our clients, he loves to plan. Every WT Media account has Blair’s fingerprints on it. Same with our creative department. Same with account service.
So it’s the expat life for us. As an agency, we’re focused on our clients and their work. When we do that, everything else seems to fall into place. No politics. No red tape. So if you’re a marketer who wants to create a breakthrough brand, puts a premium on creativity and is willing to take risks, this kind of agency life just might be the right kind of agency life for you.