Jun 2020

When I first announced that I was joining Happy Marketer, I had mixed reactions from both sides — friends who are marketing leaders in brands thought I was way too old to slog it out in an agency; whilst new colleagues asked me (often with puzzled faces) about “joining the dark side”. It seems everyone secretly wants to move to a brand. After 17 years with brands, I was ready to embrace a whole new experience of agency life.

By the time this article is published, I would have been with the HappyTribe for close to a year. During this time, I made three learnings that I want to share with my marketing friends. 

Gleanings from the dark side

Your agency can only be as good as your brief. In my time with brands, I would speak to my agencies only about the specific projects that we were working on. This limited their solutions to what I had asked for. Now, I dig deep and ask my clients questions about their business. It helps that I am naturally curious and like to learn about various industries. Share more with your agencies — go beyond the brief.  With a deeper understanding, your agency would be able to give better ideas to solve your problems.  

You are not alone. As a marketer, I used to think that my issues were unique to my industry or company. After speaking to many marketers across industries and geographies, I realised that we face the same key challenges —  how to fuel growth in our businesses, delight our customers and track our performance. We should leverage our collective learnings, create forums to share ideas and innovate together.

Digital Marketing is more than buying ads. In fact, it is a lot more than advertising. It is truly the meeting of the Mad Men & the Math Men. I started out in marketing before Digital Marketing became a term and was lucky to have the opportunity to experiment with digital advertising, then social media, SEO and content marketing when they were introduced. This was a time when fancy buzzwords were de rigueur and every marketer would pepper them at conferences.  

These days, the elements of digital marketing have become individual to-do lists for the modern marketer. What I had failed to realise in the past was that the various elements of Strategy, Data, Creative, Media and Loyalty all worked together and were interdependent. You cannot build a successful marketing roadmap for your organisation, without at least considering each of these elements and their relationship in your marketing mix. It is not enough to simply tick off the checkboxes of paid media and having a LinkedIn account for your brand. 

Last thoughts

At a brand, you learn as much as your budget permits you to experiment. At an agency, the learning is limitless. The amalgamation of this learning is the value that agencies bring to clients. If you are a marketer, leverage on the knowledge that your agency brings. Ask them the hard questions and challenge them to bring their most creative solutions.  

I still see myself as a marketer, albeit one who solves other marketer’s problems.

Got a challenge? Reach out to us for a conversation.

Emily Han
Emily Han

As Chief Client Officer, Emily supports clients in their digital marketing journey by being a trusted advisor. 

With over 15 years of integrated marketing experience with some of the world’s most recognised brands, Emily has worked in a variety of verticals including travel, financial services, education and energy. Before joining Happy Marketer, she was previously Marketing Manager in Shell where she used social and thought leadership to reposition Shell’s Fleet Solutions business as a strategic business partner for clients. As Head of Kaplan’s marketing from 2012-2015, Emily transformed the organisation’s traditional marketing function for the digital economy by embracing performance marketing.