I Jumped From Client Side to Agency Side. Here’s What I Learned

“We’re going to put your writing skills to the test,” says Doug, my new creative director. As my facial expression freezes out of fear, he presses on. "Write about your findings on what it's like to be a client of Ivor Andrew, and then to start working for them.”

Easier said than done was the thought going through my mind. I flashed back to the days I watched my father play his guitar, and then handed it over to me. "Here, you try.”

So here we go. 


One year ago, I started my job as Technical Content Manager at Ivor Andrew. In the 22 years prior, I worked for a Japanese machine tool company that manufactured vertical and horizontal machining centers and sold them here in the States. Over those 22 years, one of the tasks I handled was their marketing. It involved having to create materials from catalogs and spec sheets to tradeshow booth designs and event management, plus the launch of their website.

It didn't take long for me to realize it wasn't something I could tackle on my own. With limited skill and time, I had to reach out to partner up with a marketing agency, which ended up being Ivor Andrew, known as Boost Marketing at the time. It was my National Sales Manager who recommended that I work with Keith Booton (someone I'd known previously thru other channels—I mean, come on, I'm gonna remember every white guy who speaks Japanese). Keith and I were of the same generation with a similar outlook on creative ways to represent a brand in the somewhat stale machine tool industry. Fast forward a decade or so. I was reaching a point where a career change was something I was seriously entertaining, and if I wanted to learn something new, now was the time. I wasn't going to wait until my stubborn head flashed error: cannot compute. I made the jump to the agency side and joined Ivor Andrew.


After a year of countless U-turns because I was mistakenly driving to my old employer’s office (habits are hard to break, man), I can say I've finally adapted somewhat to my position here at Ivor Andrew. That "learning a new thing" I was saying earlier? Again, much easier said than done. But I have picked up on a few things.

In summary, if you’ve never been on the agency side, there's more to it than you think.

Think of all the taglines, promotional videos, print pieces and logo designs that have caught your attention. I failed to notice all of the creativity that goes into each and every detail, the thought processes behind the work, not to mention logistics required to create seamless navigation over a solid brand.

Take, for example, a one-and-a-half minute promotional video. You see great imagery, hear a great soundtrack and a great voiceover telling a compelling story. I now see hours of shooting, lighting techniques, the need for grips—not to mention the careful editing and reviewing process that’s required to get to that final 1:30.

I'm sure you have a couple brand taglines that are forever etched in your mind. I now know that they are a result of a careful brand audit that involves deep interviews with some rather out-of-the-box questions. All that research is analyzed and condensed into a promise or call to action—just a few simple words—that is all encompassing of that company.

The importance of social media presence today is another. Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram are mandatory, and who knows what else is coming down the pipeline. Being educated on what platforms would be best suited for your brand, and creating the content that is tailored for each platform, is something that is carefully thought out as well.


So, making the jump from being an I/A client to working for them has given me the opportunity to see the mechanics of how marketing works in a non-textbook kind of way. 

It's similar to the time I took that guitar from my dad and actually "tried.” It’s stuck with me for over 30 years. Let's hope this sticks, too.

Time to wrap this story up. Once I do, I'm on my way to my former employer to sell them on a social media package from the agency I used to work with, but currently work for. 


You can’t make this stuff up.

— Dan Katayama