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  • Gayle Carpenter

Big Agency vs Small Agency. Is big necessarily better?



Is big always better? Over the last few years, there has been a marked shift in the way businesses are using agencies and the key trend has been that smaller agencies have become more desirable than the larger ones.

Why? Having managed both small and large teams, there may be several factors driving this change:

Keep it personal

Clients don’t want to be just another statistic within a massive agency. They want to know who they’re working with personally and build successful, long-term relationships with staff members who they trust with their brand. If the agency is too big, communication can break down. As messages get passed around departments, there is a chance they may get reinterpreted. Whereas in a small agency, there is direct communication with the person who cares.

Creativity over management

Small teams can work quickly as there are fewer processes, fewer approvals, fewer layers of management and a clear line of communication. This transparency appeals to the larger clients who know the complexities of working with larger teams and management structures. Small agencies work closely together, imparting skills and knowledge and are always accountable. In comparison, larger agencies, with multiple teams, have more managers than creatives and as elements of a project are handled by a number of departments, creativity can be curbed as communication breaks down and the weak link is often hard to trace.

Larger clients who want to reduce costs and maximise results are starting to think differently.



Money matters

The big agencies in prime locations with large staff numbers have massive overheads and this will be reflected in what they charge, compared to the smaller agencies who have fewer staff or overheads. Clients are starting to look for ways of reducing costs whilst maximising results. Large agencies often prioritise the clients who are paying the most and the smaller clients become an afterthought or a nuisance. Small agencies tend to over service and give maximum value for money in order to prove their worth.


Experience related to size

It is often assumed that small agencies won’t manage a large-scale campaign as they don’t have the capacity. A successful agency, whatever the size, is based on the calibre of staff and quality of work so the size of the agency shouldn’t make any difference. Many small agencies are headed by talented people who have come from larger agencies and bring their skills, expertise and contacts with them, surrounding themselves with a small yet resourceful and capable team of like-minded staff who can deliver world class campaigns.

Reputation

Small agencies have more at stake as they have more to prove, but they have to keep their eye on the bottom line and often go above and beyond. They are more adaptable and can work in a more flexible way as they need to stay competitive and focus on strategy to obtain the best results and ultimately retain the client.

To conclude, there will always a place for the large, often global, agency. Usually working with other large, often global, like-minded corporates and brands. However, times are changing and so are attitudes and perceptions. Instead of big is better, could this be the era of small is beautiful?



Gayle Carpenter, Creative Director Connect

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