The 10 Principles of a Marketing Agency No One Tells You About

I’ve spent a few years in some great agencies across the North West - none as good as ICS-digital, obviously - and it is here that I really developed my skills, digitally and kitchenly, and most importantly learnt exactly how a good agency should operate. I wanted to put down the key principles to succeeding (and surviving) in a marketing agency, looking at how you can make sure you’re getting the most out of your time there but also how to make sure how you’re giving them everything you can. Here are the 10 principles of a marketing agency that no one tells you about.


If you’ve been averse to snacking at your desk, get over it. (Unless your agency has a super strict desk-eating policy.) Sitting at your desk all day can be bad for not only your physical health but your mental fatigue. It has been proven that not only does offering snacks in the office attract top talent, it brings people together. It shows appreciation and it tries to lead a more focussed, productive and happy team. Not only this, especially if you’ve got a hell of a busy day, snacking encourages necessary breaks and keeps your energy levels consistent to aid concentration.

Making Friends

They say the key to a happy life is filling said life with likeminded people who share your passions. That’s why it’s so important to not shy away from networking, meeting new people and social outings with your work colleagues. You’ll create stronger bonds with team members, develop trust and inspire collaboration, as well as potentially make a few new business leads.

Enjoying a drink or 5

We aren’t encouraging drinking. Far from it. You can have a thirst-quenching soft drink if alcohol isn’t your thing. But what we are encouraging is socialising, networking, debriefing, relaxing and ending the work week with colleagues or new contacts. It’s a great way to do business. Blur the lines between socialising and business meetings and remove the separation between work and play.

Your degree grade isn’t as important as you’re made to think

Let’s say you have the finest degree grade possible, from the finest uni, from the finest city in all the land. You’ve nailed it right? Maybe not. If the people who will be working with you daily don’t relate or “click” with you on a personal level, the chemistry just won’t work. You’ll most probably be spending more time with the people you work with than anyone else. Obviously, an agency wants the strongest talent possibly available, but it’s often a person’s characteristics, willingness to learn, personability and development opportunities that will secure you that job. Not how many GCSEs you managed to get.

Being able to master an Excel spreadsheet

This isn’t a joke. NEVER underestimate the power of being able to know your way around an Excel spreadsheet. Whether you know how to smash out your formulas, or you’re a pivot table whizz, if you can help anyone out with an Excel problem, you will be the hero of the day and most likely be able to call upon them the next time you need a little assistance.

Be a unicorn

A fairly new term but one I love none the less. A “unicorn” is someone who has a strong marketing understanding, as well as good knowledge of SEO and technical processes. Being able to manage, update and look after a website, as well as being able to act like a PR and get those important contacts and get your content seen, is a match made in heaven. Essentially, never be afraid of trying something outside of your comfort zone or job role; you could find something you love doing and who knows, you might be damn good at it.

Remember how everyone enjoys their coffee

Do you like a brew? Who doesn’t. Never underestimate the power of bringing someone a cup of coffee. Whether they’re busy as hell and simply don’t have time, or if you just want to be thoughtful, you can call on this favour for your own brew needs or maybe something more.

Learn to enjoy Love Island

If you don’t watch Love Island, I am fairly certain you will be miss out on the majority of desk-based discussion. Yes, everyone hates Megan.

Communication is key

No one likes surprises. This is something I learnt from my first ever placement back in uni all those years ago. Let’s say you haven’t managed to get a piece of work done, you’ve lost all the work you’ve spent all week on or you simply don’t quite understand what you’re meant to be doing - just ask. It’s a waste of time sitting and stewing, not being fully certain of the next steps. Ask for help, even if you just need to double check you’ve understood everything correctly. It shows integrity and attention to detail, which are great traits to have.

Stupid questions don’t exist

Ok maybe there are some stupid questions in the office, (such as “does anyone fancy take-out?”) But, overall, NEVER be afraid to ask a question. Even the most senior, most experienced, most talented and inspirational marketers ask for help. There is no shame in not knowing everything. Never be too proud to ask for help; people will want you to be performing as best you can and asking for help is never something to shy away from.