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Small but perfectly formed?

By Stu Perry - Group Creative Director 25th May 2018 Read time 2 minutes

How smaller agencies can make a big difference.

It pays to be flexible. Just ask any gymnast or yoga instructor. And in the modern marketing world, the most agile agencies are not always the biggest. Smaller shops are often more able to listen, learn and collaborate with clients than your average mega-corporation.

And with marketing being an ever-more-important part of business growth, it’s crucial to work with someone who, well, just gets you.

Obviously, we’re biased. Proudly independent and just the right size to make sure every client gets the personal service they deserve.

But don’t take our word for it. Research and advisory company Gartner talked to lots of clients about their agency relationships. And many felt that big agencies could mean big restrictions. Like rigid processes, communication breakdowns and cumbersome cost structures.

“Small and midsize agencies can operate in ways that larger agencies, in particular agencies part of larger holding companies, cannot,” said Jay Wilson, Gartner’s research director. “The independence, agility, willingness to take risks and desire to make their mark for clients can make small and midsize agencies worth a look.”

Fact is, regional and boutique agencies are increasingly able to deliver a smart balance of strategy, creativity and technology. These agencies may lack global reach but they can look attractive when teamed-up with a large lead agency.

So, could a smaller agency be a good fit for your brand? Ask yourself a few questions:

Are your agencies able to be long-term partners as marketing evolves?

Do they know your business, customers and market inside out?

Do they challenge your assumptions and have the talent to help you solve problems?

Have they delivered results?

No? It might be time for a change.

How to get great results from smaller agencies

Be clear on objectives

Understand what you’d want a potential agency to deliver, and how it affects your existing agency relationships. Outline their exact role, so you don’t have more than one roster agency delivering the same service.

Get referrals from peers and industry associations

You wouldn’t hire anyone without a reference. Word of mouth and peer networks are good ways to find potential partner agencies. And other companies can tell you what agencies are like to work with.

Narrow your options

Realistically, there’ll be a lot of good contenders. Narrow your search to a preferred location. From there, look at agencies with the right industry experience or those that offer a specific capability, such as video, that supports your biggest business goals.

Be an attractive partner

Agencies want to work with companies that excite them. Share the story of your organisation, your industry and your challenges to get teams enthused about the opportunity.

Be clear on objectives, but open to solutions

If you’re hiring an agency to complete a specific task, don’t micromanage to the point where you interfere with the process that made the company look like a good partner in the first place. Don’t try to do the agency’s job, just make sure they’re doing what you hired them to.

Date before you marry

Get to know each other with a project or small set of projects. It’s important for both parties to develop a healthy relationship, so be clear about your intentions and expectations.


These are just a few pointers for choosing a small-but-perfectly formed agency. Someone who really understands what you want and is always willing to make your priorities, their priorities. With the right smaller agency, you could make big things happen.

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