Why smaller agencies stand tallDecember 14, 2015
Start-up agencies often launch on the premise that clients would get big agency thinking and creative but without the big agency fees and that the senior agency owners would be actively involved in the daily running of every account.
Sounds like a compelling argument to me but why do so many big clients choose big agencies?
Is big really best?
Big clients tend to choose the “safety” of big agencies because they think a bigger agency will deliver a bigger creative idea, or strategy. In reality big clients work with small teams in big agencies. So is big really best?
Or in this constantly evolving market, is there a bigger role for smaller agencies? Do the smaller agencies possess desirable qualities that the fat cats don’t? Here is a list of important credentials that smaller agencies get right:
Do clients really believe the bigger the creative department the better the creative idea?
In reality the creative departments in bigger agencies are layered with more juniors at the base and few seniors at the top. The bulk of the creative work moves up the structure not down the structure meaning juniors get first crack at the big clients work.
That’s why it takes so long and costs so much to get an idea out of a big agency.
The creative director at a smaller agency was most likely the creative director at a big agency running a large team.
Be it overseeing the project personally, or working on some aspect of the project for the client, a smaller agency creative director they will often be present, which is reassuring.
This cannot always be said for the bigger agencies, as some of the work could be handed out to a team member that was nowhere to be seen at the pitch or briefing process, so the client is unaware of what quality of work these members will deliver having never met with them or dealt with them closely.
Nothing grinds a client’s “gears” more than an account team structure with more people than the Mars mission. Seriously most group account directors have no idea what’s going on and only get wheeled into a meeting every so often while the account directors, managers and most likely the account executives run the business.
In a smaller agency the top account person is also a principal of the agency and therefore big clients can expect their involvement in the daily running of their account. Dealing with an agency principal in a smaller agency also means no client will ever feel like a small fish in a big pond.
Overheads and fees
Big agencies have massive overheads! Having an entire team in house means someone has to pay for this overhead. Typically, this cost is passed on to the client. So this leads to the next question. Should big clients be sceptical of smaller agencies that outsource? In my opinion, it should not be an issue.
A smaller agency brings in the external resources it needs at the time the work needs to be done. The external resource is as talented as any full time big agency team but used cost effectively to minimise agency overheads. The work is always overseen by the experienced agency principals so a big client benefit includes niche experts coming together to provide a top service at a cost which is always highly competitive.
- Here are the benefits and why smaller agencies stand tall
- Lower costs (overhead)
- No junior staffers
- No bureaucracy with several layers
- Less likelihood to over-promise and over-bill
- More ROI
- Consistent creative and account management. Less agency churn!
- Never feel like a small fish in a big pond.