The Future Looks Big For Small Agencies

10 years ago, the size of your agency carried a lot of weight in the advertising industry. I can tell you at our mid-size shop there was a lot of creative counting being done when detailing the staff size in new business proposals. Often, family members and friends found themselves penciled in as agency employees during big pitches. And if the client was making an on-site visit, seats were filled with anyone who could peck on the keyboard and look busy for an hour. This included interns, vendors and sometimes complete strangers who happened to pass us in the hallway at the wrong time. Bigger was definitely better.

Today, bigger comes with a lot more baggage. Perceptions and expectations have changed. The biggest agencies are expected to be the most expensive. The claim of being able to deliver all marketing services under  one roof no longer shines of great convenience and instead smells of assembly line quality…efficient but also very safe and expected. Bigger is no longer synonymous for the best. Today, the best advertising (greatest value, greatest work, greatest results) is being done at the smaller shops. What’s behind this power shift? Two closely related factors: 1) Global Networking 2) Best of Breed Partnerships.

Global Networking
Through developing partnerships around the country and even the world, a smaller shop can create a stockpile of premier service capabilities for its clients. What gets pulled from the shelf is determined on a per-project basis. Today, technology makes these vendor collaborations more comfortable and more effective than ever before. It’s still critical that the agency develop the relationship depth with its vendors that includes shared values and vision for work quality. Building that level of trust is required. But putting a person in every service area you plan to offer clients on your annual payroll is not. The make-up and established relationships of smaller agencies have put them in the best position to excel today and tomorrow.

Best of Breed Partnerships
Small firms don’t claim to be one-stop shops. In fact they embrace the fact that their size requires outside collaboration. 10 years ago this was a clear negative. Today it’s a cool characteristic. Before it was seen as limited. Now it’s seen as adaptable. Small agencies have this “insertable” feature that allows them to plug in best of breed specialists on a per project basis. They transform project teams regularly to bring clients exceptional results. There is no settling for “this is the best our staff can do.” Instead the thought process at a small agency is “what’s the premier team we can put together for this particular job?”. When it comes to best meeting a client’s specific needs, it seems small agencies have a big advantage. And this advantage has become more obvious within the industry.

The small agency model makes good business sense. And, today, it’s consistently delivering the industry’s leading work.

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