Alarm bells were ringing. This was because my alarm was going off. I was getting up slightly earlier in order to grab a coffee with Jamie Peach, an SEO guru who has recently moved in-house. I silenced the alarm. Everything was going to plan.
Jamie has recently made the move to ASOS – the booming online fashion brand – having spent a good chunk of time on the agency side of life. I wanted to know how he was adjusting, how the working life differed, what he missed and what he was glad to leave behind.
The first big difference – often the case with in-house teams – is that a lot of the “SEO mechanics” are out-sourced to agencies. Whilst this leaves Jamie free to stay fully focused on strategy for the company, he has had to accept relinquishing a degree of control to agency partners to help get the job done.
We heard from Lucile in a previous blog that fashion was a fast paced environment and Jamie echoed this. Despite working at a frantic rate, the reality is Jamie does now work fewer hours and is able to dictate a healthy pace. “I had to re-learn what to do with my spare time. And I have stopped sending work emails at at all hours.”
Another pleasing development for Jamie is the lack of red tape that comes from working in-house. We have already learned that without the (admittedly necessary) middlemen involved when dealing with clients it is much easier to get ideas approved and strategy implemented. This is helped at ASOS because “our CEO is an enabler of innovation. Despite the size of the brand we are told to treat it like a start-up.”
There are things that Jamie misses however, one of which being the regularity of presenting. In his last role he was constantly pitching for new business and as a result saw some “amazing examples of how to sell an idea” and was tested in some high-pressured situations that expanded and accelerated his skillset significantly. The other thing that working in-house lacks is the diversity of work you find in an agency across many clients in different verticals. Now working in a global ecommerce company with no physical locations to speak of, one of the skills Jamie no longer uses is local SEO so his expertise here is stagnating. “It wouldn’t take long to get back up to speed though because I have good base of knowledge in the area already.”
On the other hand there are things Jamie is more than happy to leave behind about agency life, such as coming up with a great SEO audit only to see it “gather dust in front of a client” who is undecided or unprepared to implement it. Now in-house, he relishes being involved in the heart of the company with the ability to help drive it forward.
I asked Jamie about where he would advise working, in-house or agency? His answer again echoed both Andy and Gavin‘s. Overall his experience on both sides had been broadly similar with the differences that exist bringing both positives and negatives. You shouldn’t worry too much about whether it’s in-house or agency, “you should move based on the values of the organization and where it’s heading.”
By the end of our chat not only had I learned Jamie was a lovely guy and an SEO boffin, but also that he was a martial arts enthusiast. He had just returned from fighting in Thailand. He didn’t have any bruises or anything so I guess he won… I hope I haven’t written anything to offend him. Alarm bells have started ringing again.