One of the greatest ad campaigns of the 20th century was developed in 1959 for Volkswagen. Think Small. It was a campaign designed to fight against the prevailing thinking that bigger (and more expensive) was better. The ad made it clear, “Once you get used to some of our economies, you won’t even think about them any more. Except when you see the benefits.”
But when looking for a marketing and creative partner, many growing organizations get caught in the same “bigger is better” mindset. Whether it’s name recognition or unfamiliarity with the options, companies too often believe that a large agency can serve their needs better than a boutique agency. While that may be true if you’re developing a national ad campaign or introducing a brand to an international audience, in many (if not most) cases a boutique agency is the better choice.
What is a Boutique Agency?
Well basically, a boutique agency (like P2E) is a smaller agency with highly qualified staff that offers a broad range of marketing services –planning, marketing, branding, design, copywriting, web & social media. And, boutique agencies can offer some of the same specialized services as a larger agency, such as market research, videography, and strategy development, by managing relationships with other area experts instead of having those services in-house. This means lower overhead - and lower costs for you the client.
A boutique agency also tends to keep its client list short, and can be selective about the types of clients with whom they work. That more personal attention creates a partner relationship that often results in the ability to address needs quicker and design individualized campaigns that stand out for their creativity.
We know that organizations have different priorities and expectations from their marketing agency. Here are five compelling reasons to consider a boutique agency:
1. Cost Savings
One of the most obvious benefits of working with a boutique agency is lower overhead. Boutique agencies often have small staffs, occasionally even working from home offices. Large agencies have to keep in-house staff to address client needs. That larger staff requires larger office space (rent & utilities) and benefits to attract and keep good employees. And to address those costs, clients literally pay the price. According to a recent study by The 4A’s, the billing rates for top large agency executives average over $500/hour. $500/HOUR! Autch!
2. Direct Access to Agency Leaders
When a client has a problem, needs to change project priorities, confirm project status, or has an inquiry about an invoice, those questions usually go directly to the decision makers at a boutique agency. This ensures clearer, timelier communication with the client on important matters.
Large agencies usually have an internal process in place to help streamline their workflow. In theory, that sounds good. However, it can make it challenging to shift priorities, to reassign tasks quickly, or meet unanticipated changes to your schedule. Because of their size, boutique agencies are designed to be nimble. They understand that your business isn’t always predictable.
4. Experience of the Team (no bait and switch)
It’s not unusual for large agencies to have their most senior people, or even the principals of the agency, do an initial client pitch. That’s great, and not different from what a boutique agency does. But once the proposal is signed, a large agency will turn your project over to junior client managers and staff designers who often have very little knowledge of your specific needs. With a boutique agency, the most senior people are often executing some (or most) of the project, or working side by side with anyone who was not at the pitch.
5. You are Always a Big Fish
With a boutique agency, you are always an important client. As I said above, boutique agencies generally keep their client list small so they can provide extra attention. And smaller budgets often get less attention or are presented with a cookie-cutter approach to limit the time commitment at a large agency.
6. Geographic Market Knowledge
OK, I know I said 5 reasons, but this one can be very important to many clients (and anyway, you should expect more from a boutique agency). If you’re not looking at a national ad campaign or global brand launch, there is an inherent benefit to have deeper knowledge of a local or regional target market…the culture; the traditions; the competition; the media. Understanding your target market is crucial for success, and some tribal knowledge always helps your research activity.
So, for great results, personal attention, and lower costs, think small(er). If you have any other questions, call or email us.