When it comes to hiring an agency there is a wealth of choice. From large ad agencies, to smaller ’boutique’ agencies and every size in between. But what can smaller, boutique agencies offer that would make them a wiser choice for you? Below are the top five reasons why you might consider hiring a boutique agency.
“When hiring an agency look for one that aligns with your company’s values and vision, the best partnerships are formed on a basis of trust and common purpose. Remember, bigger isn’t always better.”
1. Direct access to top-level executives
Generally smaller boutique agencies are started by top-tier, senior talent in the industry. These talented people decide to open their own agency after ‘cutting their teeth’ working in the industry for other agencies. Due to the smaller size of a boutique agency, these owner/operators are likely taking an active role at the project level. By comparison, in larger agencies it is not uncommon that during the pitch stage clients are courted by the senior-level “A-team” only to have them replaced with the B or C players once the client has been won.
2. More likely to take on smaller companies or projects
If you are a small-to-medium sized business, it can be difficult to find an agency that will work with you. Larger agencies are often not equipped to take on smaller projects or companies because their business is based on long-term retainers with high volumes and budgets. Plus, if a large agency does work with a smaller client, the small client is generally of lower priority than their big business counterparts who simply have more money to spend. It’s not ideal to be the small fish in a large pool.
Contrast this to a smaller, boutique agency that regularly works with clients of all sizes. Generally boutique agencies have one or two larger, foundation clients, and then a larger volume of small-to-mid-size clients and projects. Because it’s common to work with clients who have a small (or non-existent) marketing team, these small agencies become an extension of the marketing arm of your business.
3. Less expensive
Smaller, independent agencies are quite simply less expensive than larger agencies. As an agency grows, so does the overhead costs needed to run it. This in turn drives up the hourly/weekly rates.
In addition to higher rates, the larger the agency is the more people who will be involved in your project. This means more people booking time to your project. Picture a meeting with your agency partner. Its not uncommon for larger agencies to bring 4-7 people to a meeting each representing a different discipline. I have been in meetings where there are three people who all have different titles of Account Manager. Each person in the meeting is booking time against the project and thus driving up project costs. People who work for smaller agencies tend to be more cross-functional requiring fewer people on the project, resulting in less time booked.
Finally, independently-owned agencies are just that. Many of the largest agencies are owned by holding companies. This is the Big Business side of agency life, and it is driven by the bottom-line.
4. More personalized customer service
Just like a boutique hotel offers a higher level of customer service, so does a boutique agency. Similar in nature to direct-access to top executives, smaller agencies generally have a closer relationship to their clients. A small-to-medium sized client can be a big deal to a smaller agency, meaning a higher level of service and commitment to your happiness. Look for an agency that feels like a true partner in your business — one that is sincerely invested in your continued success.
5. Faster and more nimble
Although all agencies have internal processes to initiate and execute on projects, smaller agencies tend to be more nimble and have less bureaucratic red tape. This allows them to take on projects of all sizes and to move through them quickly. Cross-discipline employees also allow for work to be completed with fewer hands involved. With a smaller agency you can generally expect faster response time to your inquiries, and the ability to take on projects that have condensed timelines.