From “Green” to Great: Your First Year in a Marketing Agency

The Top 5 Things You Must Focus on in Your First Year

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

First, let me start by saying congratulations! Landing your first full-time marketing position is one hell of an accomplishment. It is no easy feat.

You have probably committed to countless hours of work and study to get here. You may have gone through some challenging, uncomfortable, or slightly awkward interviews. Or, if you’re like me, you spent your Friday nights browsing job listings online or chatting with over-zealous recruiters on LinkedIn before falling asleep to the sounds of conversion tracking instructional videos on YouTube.

But it's all been worth it. However you got here, you have been recognized for your efforts and your skills. You are officially a Digital Marketer.

Depending on your level of experience, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the new tools, systems, and company processes coming at you. But fear not my Green machine! This blog will cover the top 5 things that are going to get you from green to great in your first year at a marketing agency.

1. Mastering Your Mind

The first major skill that I am going to suggest you start mastering right away is your mind. Agency life can be tough on you and especially at first so we need to prep you in a couple of areas.

Common symptoms of imposter syndrome: “I am totally unqualified for this,” “everyone is so much smarter than I am,” “I have no idea what I am doing,” “how did I even get this job?”

Let me help you out by sharing what was once said to me: “you were hired for a reason”. Let that sink in for a second...Your leadership team chose to make you a part of the team because they can see your potential. Sure, you may not have everything figured out just yet and you definitely have a ton to learn but rest assured you were NOT hired by mistake.

One way to master your mind is to find your mantra. Mine is “Growth is made through discomfort”. Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed or discouraged by a situation I just remind myself that this is part of the process and that I will be stronger on the other side.

2. Organization

One of the greatest differences between an in-house position vs an agency position is the number of clients you’re assigned. At an agency, you will be working on multiple client accounts at the same time and often in different industries.

Multiple accounts mean a lot of one-off tasks and an assortment of analysis at any given time. To stay on track you need to use some sort of project management tool. If your agency does not provide you with a company-wide tool you can start with some of the more common options here:

  • Trello
  • Asana
  • Monday
  • Good ol’ Google Calendar

Whichever tool you decide to use, keep it organized and populate new tasks as they are given to you so nothing gets overlooked.

3. Keyboard Shortcuts

Part of your job is to be as efficient as possible. Learning keyboard shortcuts are going to help you achieve that goal. If you are using your mouse while in Google Sheets or Microsoft excel, it better be because you are looking for some new tunes on Spotify.

Keyboard shortcuts allow you to quickly manipulate data, navigate through a spreadsheet and do pretty much anything a mouse can do in a fraction of the time. Learn them early on and your future self will thank you!

Some of my most used are:

  • Create a bullet (Ctrl + Shift + 8) *Google Suite only*
  • Select All (Ctrl + A)
  • Navigate to end (Ctrl + Arrow Key)
  • Highlight to end (Ctrl + Shift + Arrow Key)
  • Copy Down (Ctrl + D)
  • Paste Values Only (Ctrl + Shift + V) *Google Suite only*
  • Add a Hyperlink (Ctrl + K)

4. Reporting

Odds are, if you were hired on at an entry-level position, a large component of your job will be reporting. Reports can come at various cadence depending on your client contract, but are most commonly conducted weekly, bi-weekly, and/or monthly.

Reporting formats will vary by company, but some of the more common reporting tools are Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, and Google Data Studio. It’s a good idea to get familiar with all three tools as they are widely used across the industry.

Reporting has two main functions:

  1. To reflect progress toward goals
  2. To reinforce your company’s value to the client

Always begin with these two things in mind. The client is concerned about how their money is being spent and what they are receiving in return. Your company will want you to reflect on the value of your expertise so that the client will want to continue working with you. You will then utilize this next series of questions in your analysis:

  • What? (what is happening?)
  • Why? (why is it happening?)
  • So what? (why is it important?)
  • Now what? (what are you planning to do about it?)

Anytime you uncover something of significance it is a good idea to answer all of these questions in your write-up.

5. Exposure

One of the biggest benefits of working at an agency is the variety of work you will be exposed to. You are likely going to be working on accounts in multiple industries, of various sizes, and with very different types of people.

Marketing-consulting is a constantly evolving industry that requires a commitment to continued learning. As such, you will be constantly challenged by new strategies, new analysis, new automations, and industry updates that make you think completely backward! (See Scott Ridout's blog post on consolidating match types)

This constant exposure to technical and data-driven thinking will begin to reshape the way you look at the work that you do.

Over time, through hard work and patience, your ability to recognize patterns, apply learnings, and create strategic recommendations will improve as you develop into a highly-skilled marketer.


As you begin your journey from ‘Green’ to ‘Great’, remember that it all starts with your mindset. “Imposter syndrome” is one of those things we all tend to go through at the start. While it may fade over time, it often occurs again and again throughout your career. But that’s a good sign not a bad one.

Just remember, you were hired for a reason and there was no mistake.

Remember to stay organized. When tasks start flying you are going to need a source of truth. Your project/task management tool is going to be your best friend and will keep you on track and on time.

Learn your keyboard shortcuts! Again, efficiency is very important in such a fast-paced industry. Saving a few minutes here and there will start to add up!

Focus on answering the right reporting questions. It’s very important to speak to client goals and not fluff up the report with unnecessary noise. Additionally, you are representing your company and the quality of your work. So let it show!

Your first year is going to be full of so many experiences, new projects, and tons of issues to solve. This is how you develop new skills and reshape the way you think.

Focusing on these 5 areas will give you the foundation you need to go from ‘Green’ to ‘Great’ in your first year. The more technical stuff will come with time but having a strong foundation is important for your growth process.

If you would like to get a jump on advancing some of your more technical skills or you’d like some help staying up to date on industry trends, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and visit the Seer blog for more great content.

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