When it comes to finding an advertising agency that will work for you – really work for you – big isn’t always best. While the largest agencies will be quick to tell you about economies of scale and range of services, they probably won’t be quite so open about the far higher cost of using their services or the advantages that you’ll find when using a smaller agency. The secret to uncovering the best agency for your business is to ignore size and concentrate on need.
How to pick the right ad agency
Choosing the right agency will be one of the most important strategic business decisions you will make. You’ll need an agency that is going to treat you as more than a meager number. You’ll want to know that it and its representatives have a real desire to see your business reach for the stars. The best agency is the one that really wants to get to know you and your business: a partner rather than a hired hand.
You should also be concerned about how it will work for you and with you. Ask about how the agency plans to identify prospects and its strategy for the promotion of your business. Examine how it plans to target potential markets, and ensure it has a strategy plan and not simply a list of marketing projects.
Even the largest advertising agency may outsource some work where campaign size and complexity dictates. Make certain that your agency has the contacts and management approach to handle all your needs.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for examples of work that agency executives assigned to you have undertaken, completed, and managed. Ensure portfolios and samples are media specific: if you require a television advertising campaign, evidence of excellence in running a national newspaper advertising campaign probably won’t cut it.
Limitations of size
A large advertising agency has more employees and resources than smaller agencies. Technology is closing this traditional advantage, though. Even the smallest agency can reach the furthest market now.
Large agencies tend to have experience on their side. However, this is no guarantee that your account will be handled by experienced executives: large agencies also have large numbers of junior and inexperienced executives which need ‘blooding in’.
While the larger agencies may keep an entire advertising campaign in-house, smaller agencies may have to seek partners to meet strategic targets for you. However, what this often means is that a small agency’s clients benefit from using outsourced boutique expertise.
How smaller agencies win
It’s no surprise that many smaller agencies are founded by disenchanted executives that once worked for larger firms. At the larger agency these employees become stifled by convention, unable to benefit from flexibility. A large oil tanker takes three miles to turn; a purpose built racing yacht turns on a dime.
Executives at a large agency become embedded in the strategy of its business rather than that of its client. A smaller agency’s more flexible culture makes for more creative freedom, while focusing on the needs of the client rather than the balance sheet of the employer. Executives at a large advertising agency are often locked into the creation of deliverable’s which it has proven with its last two dozen clients. Smaller agencies look for the unusual angle that will separate its client from the herd.
If you want an advertising agency that can produce a global campaign in double quick time, then a large agency will probably deliver better. But if you want an unencumbered marketing strategy with an advertising agency which values you and your business as if it were part of its own family, then a smaller agency may be your perfect partner.
How to benefit from the advantages of a boutique agency
A boutique agency really can give you more. However, to ensure this is the case you still need to pay heed to the basic questions you need to ask of any advertising agency:
- What experience do you have?
- How do you see an advertising strategy working for us and our product?
- What extra creativity do you bring to the table?
- How will you use your expertise to create a bespoke marketing campaign which will move us ahead of our competitors