Dear House Rules,
We have a small full-time staff, augmented by a wide variety of freelance business partners with whom we have ongoing relationships. As a smaller shop, can we turn our size from a potential disadvantage to a definite benefit when working with larger, more established clients?
Do we need a bigger boat?
Dear Bigger Boat,
Remember watching “The Wizard of Oz” when you were a kid (or with your own kids?) The Cowardly Lion, singing about all the other creatures that seem brave, asks: “What have they got that I ain’t got? Courage!” It turns out, of course, that he had courage all along (oops – spoiler alert!) It’s easy for small agencies to feel a bit inferior compared to the huge staffs, impressive technological wizardry, and super-streamlined processes of the “Big Guys” among ad agencies. However, you’ll find that your small size is actually your secret weapon. See how below!
As a small agency, you’re sure to know how important it is to maintain and grow your networks. With a “stable” of excellent web developers, graphic artists, specialty-area writers, and project managers, you can quickly increase or decrease your staffing levels as required to fit each assignment that comes in. Larger agencies can’t do that – and as a result, all of their clients must pay to maintain the agency’s large staff numbers, even if they aren’t all needed.
- Personalized success (1)
Although the idea of ‘work hard, play hard’ is an easy generalization to apply to the creative industry, it varies based on the size of the shop. While larger agencies can spring for stadium boxes at ball games and lavish holiday parties, smaller agencies tend to really personalize their appreciation for individual staffers. Comp days for exceptional work, fun little contests, recognition of talents outside the agency (is someone an expert horsewoman? A saxophone player in a jazz band?) You really know your people – and they know you do. That matters more than you may realize. Many agency employees are “refugees” from either the corporate life or the Big Guy agencies, and bring extra enthusiasm and appreciation to the table when you take that small additional step to recognize their contribution.
- The right tools for the job (1)
One of the big differences between large and small agency side operations is the ability to acquire specialist software or hardware. Rather than the end user needing to fill out multiple forms and gain several signatures before waiting and hoping for months on end, in a small agency, the end user can just send an email to the head of the agency explaining why the particular piece of equipment is needed – and a decision is forthcoming in days. If it enables the agency to better meet its clients’ needs, that’s pretty much the only argument that need be made.
- Agile = fast (1)
The speed at which your average small agency operates, compared to one of the “Big Guys,” is truly one of the biggest differences you’ll find between the two. Since a smaller agency is less likely to have dozens of clients, each client is precious, receiving one-on-one attention from the top down. Smaller agencies over-deliver – routinely. They don’t just meet client expectations, they exceed them – routinely. Turnaround times are almost always shorter than larger agencies can match, not just because of the people but also due to the inherent structure, process, skills and agility. As an example, many smaller agencies have strong work-from-home models in place that allow their staff to get a client’s work done at night, on the weekend, or during a blizzard.
When the client calls, creativity and work ethic ignite.
As a small marketing agency, Xavier Creative House knows first-hand how beneficial it is for clients to employ flexible, agile experts for their traditional and digital promotions. We have helped dozens of clients accomplish seemingly impossible tasks simply because we are a small agency. So the next time you wonder what you could possibly have that the Big Guys don’t, just remember: there’s no place like a small agency.
Reference: 1. https://www.nomensa.com/blog/2017/agency-culture-versus-client-side. Accessed November 7, 2017.