7 Times It’s Smarter to Hire a Small Agency Over a Large One

If you’re considering hiring an agency, you’ve got a lot to think about. Deciding on an agency can be a really demanding undertaking, especially if you’re not sure what you’d like that agency to do for your business.

The first question you might ask yourself is what kind of role(s) you want the agency to perform to achieve the business objectives.

A natural misconception is that bigger is better because of the resources available spread across the big agency. Unfortunately, many companies do not understand that the size of the agency is less an indicator of performance than who is going to be on the account every day.

So before you make the decision to hire an agency, consider these 7 situations where a small agency may actually be more valuable to you than a large one.

1. When you want to work with an agency’s “A-Team”

Large agencies may have an infinite number of employees working in specialized roles within separate departments, all overseen by separate directors. There are a lot of “cooks” involved in the management process at large agencies, which can sometimes result in a finished product that’s more watered down by processes than it is groundbreaking.

Smaller agencies tend to keep a mighty team of associates highly experienced and who enjoy creating and executing the client strategies…

Keep in mind that because the work and resources at a small agency can vary drastically from project to project, these team members are exposed to considerably more information about the client needs and receive a lot of exposure to senior staff and leadership on every campaign.

They are thinking across a broad range of projects and campaigns and what worked for each type of business previously. Rather than simply centering on his or her specific role within the company, associates at small agencies have to be more nimble, flexible have more creative freedom, and, above all else, are focused on delivering a project that aligns with your vision.

2. When you’d like to partner with a small agency’s top level

When working with a large agency, you may meet their c-suite once or twice, but after that, you’ll probably deal almost exclusively with an account team who may not even be familiar with your goals.

At a smaller agency, however, it’s always in the company’s best interest to keep you in close touch with the principals of the company. In the world of small agencies, success is heavily dependent on meeting client targets, and your success is their success. So a small agency’s CEO or President isn’t just an agency partner; he or she is a business partner who shares your same goals and is involved in your day to day activities.

3. When you don’t want your business to become lost in the crowd

To put it bluntly, a small agency depends on your business. Due to their size, most small agencies will intentionally limit the number of clients they take on, so they’ll go the extra mile (and a half) for the clients they do have. It won’t be difficult to make a quick last-minute change before an event, for example, when the agency’s CEO is just an email away.

Large agencies, on the other hand, may limit the scope of the work they produce based on the structure of your agreement with them. Because your business may be just one in a sea of other accounts, many large agencies adopt a “you get what you pay for” policy, meaning that the deliverables the agency promises will be produced for you . . . and anything additional may not make it onto their schedule.

4. When cost is a factor

There’s no question about it, big agencies come with big price tags. That’s because agencies with hundreds of employees need to account for hundreds of hours of overhead costs, not to mention the time of their executives.

A smaller agency with fewer employees means lower overhead costs, plain and simple. Add in a small agency’s flexibility, their ability to offer you individual attention and close access to company leadership, and you get value that those big agencies just can’t match.

5. When you need flexibility

The rigid structure of large agencies means that any given project goes through a tedious production, creative and administrative process that generally creates unnecessary delays and high overhead costs. These barriers don’t lend themselves to delivering great work in a timely fashion, especially if you need to make changes quickly.

Smaller agencies have forced to develop efficient and effective client work flows for faster turnaround times with streamlined communication between everyone involved in each project. In a smaller agency everyone is a priority. The systems and processes help make that a consistent deliverable.

6. When you need to solve industry-specific problems

While large agencies have a specific set of deliverables in mind for their clients, small agencies will adapt to each client and each project. This can sometimes lead to the creation of specialized tools or services to help meet a unique need.

For example, when a former client in the retail industry needed an easy way to track the sales performance of specific products in their ad circulars, our agency developed RICON, a web-based application that gave them the power to seamlessly access their historical retail data and make better ad planning decisions in the future. Since then, we’ve even been able to tailor that system to meet our other clients’ needs as well.

7. When you want an agency to value you

It may sound simple, but in many ways, it’s immeasurable – your business just means more to a small agency. That’s because you are the agency’s primary focus, whereas at a large agency, your business may be simply another number.

A small agency places as much value in achieving results for your business as they do for any of their other clients, no matter “how big” you are or how much of their business you account for. You’ll get to know the people in the agency, maybe even a little too well during busy seasons. Being a client for a small agency means, in many ways, becoming a part of that agency’s family.

Regardless of the type of agency you plan to hire, it’s more important to sit down and consider your business’ needs than it is to consider the size of the agency and clients they’ve served. It all boils down to this question: what do you want out of an agency?

Factoring in the prospective agency’s level of expertise, geographic location and past work are all important considerations in the short term, while, ultimately, an agency thatunderstands the needs, objectives and struggles of your businessare important in the long term. If you’re looking for a partner to efficiently produce work that aligns with your long-term goals, a small agency might be your best bet.

Still have questions about how a small agency can help meet your needs? We’re a small agency ourselves! If you’ve got a project in mind or even want our input on a few ideas, just get in touch with us!