Nico van Praag
August 22, 2017
When it comes to finding the right agency, size matters. But probably not in the way you've become accustomed to.
At first, clients often think they need a big agency. After all, big agencies have larger staff numbers, which means they can service a lot of clients. Clients also assume that an agency with a large staff must be financially stable, an important quality in a partner. (Though, of course, this assumption is a dangerous one.) Often, however, once these clients start looking, they discover that a smaller agency is actually the best fit.
A Small Wonder
We're pretty small here at Kenwood Experiences, but we work with amazing enterprise-level brands. While we're not a one-stop shop for them, our unique expertise fills a need better than a larger, more generalized agency can. One example is when we worked with Capcom to create experiences for the Electronic Entertainment Expo — commonly known as E3. We brought some of its most popular titles to life with life-size dragons and battle heroes. We were able to bring a level of detail and innovation to that engagement that Capcom might have missed with a more cookie-cutter firm.
I've worked with larger agencies before, so I can say from experience that the level of nimbleness, effectiveness, and accessibility we were able to bring to those clients greatly enhanced their experiences.
So why isn't bigger always better? Why do large clients choose to work with boutique agencies like ours? There are four reasons that I've discovered in my time at Kenwood.
1. Clients are diversifying.
When you consider industry trends, larger enterprise clients now have a stable of dozens — if not hundreds — of agencies they partner with. This benefits them because they get specialists across the board, rather than putting all of their eggs in one general basket. When these clients hire boutique agencies, it's often for project-based work. And they choose agencies willing and able to take risks. It becomes the perfect way for them to test new strategies without too much investment.
2. Small agencies are nimble.
Because their infrastructure is smaller, boutique agencies are able to react to the market and the evolving needs of clients more quickly and effectively than agencies with broader, heavier infrastructure. Some people cite this small workforce as a problem. What they miss is that freelancers can easily round out a team, and most small agencies have a vast network of freelance partners. This allows them to be as big (or as small) as the client needs.
3. Small agencies are accessible.
Brands get high-touch service and are treated like they are the most important client in the roster— because they often are. Smaller agencies need to be hungrier and provide higher levels of service to win and retain relationships. Their survival depends on it.
4. Small agencies are more innovative and creative.
Unlike larger agencies with deep benches, you won't get also-ran strategic or creative talent from deep in the agency. You'll get the premier talent, often principals of the agency who have skin in the game. And more often than not, smaller agencies are staffed with heavy hitters from the larger shops who have decided to jump off the political holding company freight train to just do great work.
Sometimes, people equate small with risky. More often than not, though, the better equation is small equals nimble, creative, and accessible — all good reasons for choosing an agency, no matter the size.
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