Small marketing agencies or large marketing agencies, does it matter which your company decides to use?
Yes, it does. Large marketing agencies are right for some companies, but small marketing agencies are gaining popularity among small and mid-size organizations. Even enterprise-level organizations may choose a smaller agency for some projects that require highly specialized expertise and more personalized service.
What are considered small marketing agencies?
There’s no single definition for the size of a small agency. For example, The Small Business Administration (SBA) classifies a business as small if it has between or below 50 and 1,500 employees AND annual receipts between or below $1 million and $41.5 million. They break this down by SBA industry codes. While there is no specific classification for marketing agency or digital design, the closest might be Other Services Related to advertising ($16.5 million) or Other Specialty Design Services ($12 million).
What most people think of as a small agency, however, is much different than the SBA’s definition. In reality, many small agencies often have a much smaller staff and a fraction of these revenues. Many of these are highly specialized and can more accurately be called niche or boutique agencies.
All Small Marketing Agencies Are Not the Same
When it comes to small marketing agencies, one size does not fit all. Because of their size, small or niche agencies can’t offer the same range of capabilities as a full service agency. While some may see this as a disadvantage, it’s actually one of a small marketing agency’s biggest strengths. Small boutique agencies usually have expertise in a certain number of offerings and often cater to specific industry segments. Some may primarily have B2B clients, while others work primarily with B2C clients.
As an example of a boutique agency, Ladybugz serves mostly B2B clientele. Among our industry specialties are biotech, technology, and education. We are a digital agency specializing in website design and development, content creation, SEO, and branding. We have XXX full-time employees, plus virtual team members who are freelancers with specialized expertise in other industries and creative areas. With a smaller full-time staff, we are very flexible and there is lower overhead–which translates into lower pricing.
How Will I Know Which Small Marketing Agency is Right for Me?
A good digital agency can help you create an effective strategy that will increase your online visibility, keep customers engaged, and ultimately help your business grow—building traffic, conversions, and ultimately revenue. Beyond that, identifying the right marketing agency comes down to a company’s unique needs, culture, work style, and budget.
Intuitively, you know that a small mom-and-pop shop will have different needs than a mid-size company that has several in-house marketers, an established brand, and an overall marketing strategy. Clients come in all sizes and so do agencies. In the end, choosing an agency often comes down to “fit” on a more personal level.
If you’re not sure if a small marketing agency is right for you, let’s look more closely at the benefits.
Be a Big Fish in a Little Pond
A smaller agency has fewer clients, so each one counts more. If a large agency has 50 clients, losing one means they still have 49. If an agency with ten clients loses one, it can mean losing a much larger percent of their revenue—especially if the agency loses one of their larger clients. Because you are so valuable, a small marketing agency will go above and beyond to make you happy, giving you personalized attention and as much hand-holding as you need. Large agencies, however, must balance many clients and projects at once and have too much on their plate to give you the attention you need.
If you own a small to mid-size business (SMB), you may be pleased to find that the culture of a small agency may be similar to yours. The owner will relate to your struggles and entrepreneurial spirit. This commonality often results in the agency taking the time needed to gain an in-depth understanding of your company, customers, and unique needs.
Communicate with Your Project Team Members
As a big fish in a small pond, you likely won’t be assigned an “account manager” who acts as a middleman between you and the creative team. Much of their function is to translate what you say to creatives and strategists. Instead, you’ll be able to communicate your needs directly with the owner and often the graphic designer, content writer, website developer, and other “doers” who are working on your project. As a result, there’s less chance of miscommunication and a greater chance that it will take less time to get it right.
Maximize Quality by Working with Marketing Experts
Clients of small, boutique marketing agencies appreciate the well-developed, specialized skill sets the agency offers. In addition, the team members often have years or decades of experience working with a variety of clients. Many have worked at larger agencies, often as senior staff members, where they honed their professional skills. They tend to be strong communicators, know how to listen, and understand the give-and-take of the client/agency relationship.
Most important, seasoned creatives are focused on meeting the expectations of their clients, rather than moving up in the agency. They are creative, strategic thinkers who pride themselves on quality and excellent service.
Enjoy Working with Passionate Lifelong Learners
Small marketing agencies succeed because they are passionate about their work and team members feel invested in the agency’s growth. This energy spurs several positive outcomes. First, small agencies often have a strong learning philosophy, where younger staff members can hone their skills and learn best practices from senior strategists and creatives. Second, as a close knit “family,” cooperation is paramount and there is no competition for promotions. This all-for-one spirit contributes to a culture of inspiration, creativity, full engagement, and having fun while working hard.
Small Marketing Agencies Move Projects Forward with Flexibility and Agility
Large marketing agencies often have layers of structure, paperwork, and red tape that can slow down the wheels of progress. On the other hand, small agencies know how to work on the fly. With fewer layers of procedure, paperwork, hierarchy, and approvals, a smaller agency can adapt more quickly to unpredictability and change. Flexibility is also high because team members often have skills sets that are both deep and wide. They are used to wearing many hats and can fill in gaps as needed.
With smaller teams and close client relationships, Ladybugz and other small marketing agencies are increasingly drawn to the concept of “agile-driven design.” This highly collaborative approach breaks down the project into small tasks that are tried and tested in an iterative fashion, rather than waiting until the end of the project to test—and risk having to redo large sections of a project.
Small Agencies Boast Rapid Turnaround Times—and Great Pricing
The fast turnaround of small marketing agencies comes from some of the previous areas discussed—including having a smaller structure, direct communication, team cooperation, the ability to be nimble, and the attention paid to each client. By operating mean and lean, clients are able to get a bigger bank for the buck.
Why You Might Want a Larger Marketing Agency
Small marketing agencies have many benefits, but they aren’t right for everyone. For example, your volume might require more daily attention than a small agency can provide. Another reason is that you may need services beyond what a niche agency might offer, such as Google ads or broadcast advertising. This can be especially true if you have complex technical requirements, such as web development. In these cases, companies with a broad range of needs often opt for an all-under-one-roof agency rather than a specialty approach.
When Small Marketing Agencies Work Best
Fast growing and startup companies change rapidly, requiring highly nimble companies that get a lot done quickly on a small budget. The same is true for small corporations that need more tactical marketing muscle than an in-house team can provide, especially for time-consuming activities such as content creation and social media marketing. Another sweet spot are local brands who are over about $10 million who are looking for traction.
Companies on a lower budget, such as non-profits or companies with budgets under 100K per year or per project, especially appreciate how far their dollar will go and the personal attention they will receive.
Conclusion: A Small Marketing Agency Can Be Just What You Need
Small market agencies can offer many things that larger agencies can’t. Even larger companies can benefit from niche expertise, quick turnaround, personalized attention, flexibility, and other selling points. Still, small agencies may not be right for everyone.
The takeaway is that all companies—even larger ones—should consider all that a boutique agency can offer, even if it doesn’t offer everything under the sun. With the right client, small agencies like Ladybugz, a woman-owned web design and digital marketing agency, can deliver big results and give each client the attention it deserves.