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Small vs. Large – Which Marketing Agency Size Is Best?

Go big or go home.

It's a common phrase, but do you really need to "go big" when hiring a marketing agency?

If you have a tiny budget, contemplating hiring a large agency may be a waste of time. However, if you're able to invest a decent amount of cash into your next campaign, the decision may be more difficult. In this article, we'll explore the primary differences between large and small marketing agencies. After reading, you'll have a better idea of which option is right for you.

The Difference Between Large and Small Marketing Agencies

Large Marketing Agencies

Common perception would say a large agency is large for a reason. Like any other business, maintaining a large staff indicates an element of success that can't be ignored. Large marketing agencies have become exactly what they are today by successfully servicing many clients over many years.

As such, signing on with one of the big boys comes with an element of assurance. Since the agency is long-standing, and charges more for their services, you're more likely to trust that they know what they are doing (in most cases, you would be correct).

But be aware: Selecting a large agency does NOT guarantee more experience. In fact, the bulk of your account work will likely be assigned to junior staff members and account managers, before being approved by seasoned executives. With that said, here are some benefits to going big:

Benefits

1. More Resources

It should come as no surprise that larger marketing agencies usually have more resources, which often translates to a faster turnaround. A number of workers can be charged with devoting significant attention to your account. Meaning, if you want fast results, going with a big agency may be your best option.

Another resource that will likely be at your disposal? VIP contacts. It's not uncommon for larger marketing agencies to have relationships with a number of media outlets and influencers. If you're looking to run a huge campaign, having someone who knows exactly who to call for placement is key.

2. Greater Range

Larger marketing agencies often offer a full range of services, fostering a one-stop-shop for full campaign execution. Everything from campaign ideation to branding, email marketing to retargeting, can be done under one roof.

Additionally, full-service agencies may offer other helpful services like market research and focus group organization.

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Small Agencies

Obviously, one of the greatest draws of working with a smaller marketing agency is how much money you will save. With a small agency, you have the option of hiring out for projects as the need arises.

According to the ANA, an increasing number of brands are creating in-house marketing departments, and from 2008 to 2013, there has been a 16 percent increase in this practice. If you have a marketing department, you can outsource specific projects without having to invest in a full-fledged campaign.

Working with a smaller agency isn't just about the money. Many of today's big-name agencies are partnering with boutique agencies in hopes of offering their clients fresh campaign ideas. As the ease of obtaining results through online marketing continues to enhance competition, large agencies can no longer afford to rest on their laurels.

Smaller agencies are more agile, and can adjust on the fly to tweak campaigns. Larger agencies have taken notice - they've seen the phenomenal results smaller counterparts achieve via low-cost social media and content marketing campaigns - and they want in on the action. Here are some additional benefits to going small:

Benefits of a Small Marketing Agency


1. Niche Expertise

Many smaller agencies have made it their prerogative to become experts within specific niches. If you have a highly specialized target audience that you're trying to reach, a small agency may be your best bet. Fashion, travel, cuisine – no matter the niche, there is probably an agency out there devoting itself to it.

Finding such focused expertise at larger agencies is possible, though less likely. For most large agencies, the goal is to secure as many accounts as possible. Such an approach lends itself to becoming "a jack of all trades and an expert at none."

2. Innovative Thinking

If you're really wanting to wow people, or create a new category within your industry, a smaller agency can provide you with the level of innovation you'll need to stand-out. Unlike their counterparts who are more experienced in creating expensive, traditional ad campaigns, small agencies generally have a better understanding of "new marketing."

After all, the individuals and businesses who pioneered content marketing were NOT huge corporations. They were mostly young creatives trying to find a way to compete on a limited budget. As such, small agencies are usually more proficient in leveraging new technology in support of innovative ideas.

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Which Will You Choose?

Ultimately, agencies are centered around one thing – people. Whether big or small, choose an agency with a compatible company culture.

At the end of the day, your MAIN OBJECTIVE is to work with knowledgeable professionals who not only enjoy their work, but will give their best effort on your behalf.

Before hiring a marketing agency, always determine:

  • What their primary methods are for obtaining marketing goals.
  • What types of results they have achieved for past clients.
  • How they measure Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
  • If they have genuine enthusiasm for your industry.
  • How much they involve clients in their process.

Have a marketing agency story or experience to share?

Tell us in the comments below!

Written by Ashley Gwilliam / March 2, 2017

Ashley is a content writer and brand developer. After graduating with a degree in print-journalism, Ashley’s storytelling skills took her from the bizarre world of on-camera acting to the practice courts of NBA basketball players to the virtual meetings of inbound marketers. Today she specializes in building memorable brand voices online, with a focus on the travel & tourism, e-commerce and tech industries.

Articles by Ashley Gwilliam