Indie Shops Give Clients One Less Earnings Report to Worry About

Being Single in Today's Economy Is a Good Thing

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Jennifer Modarelli Jennifer Modarelli
In my last post I wrote about an emotional breakup with a client, but this week I want to tell you about my past. I wasn't always single; I shacked up with a big publicly traded guy for about three years prior to the first market downturn. But since then my agency has remained "single" -- independent and focused on defining our industry on our own terms.

For those of you who have navigated the courtships of agencies through the years, many of the former leaders of single, hot brands are now rich and have settled into their new job of managing personal portfolios, and to those leaders I say congrats. For the rest of us, I say onward and upward! Industries are never created overnight, but it used to be that wealth could be.

As singles, we have never had a better chance to help the Fortune 500 and any publicly traded company navigate the changing marketing arena. Our teams come in to solve business problems, and they can focus on the client rather than on our quarterly earnings. Certainly profitability is a key to healthy client relationships, but to have an agency whose timeline can stretch a brand experience and a customer interaction beyond the company's quarterly earnings deadline should not be underestimated.

Independent agencies are not subject to the same deadlines and profit pressures that their publicly traded counterparts in advertising face. Our customers benefit from our teams' ability to focus on the long-term results of their marketing efforts. A well-run small agency certainly does not have to react to its own quarterly-earnings-release pressures by laying off staff, closing local offices or rapidly reorganizing service offerings.

That has the obvious benefit to our customers of more stable, seasoned teams of professionals to work on their projects and help them navigate these unprecedented times. Larger corporations also benefit greatly from the pricing perspective they gain when they choose to work with independent agencies, even though many of them still don't seem to see that missed opportunity.

Fellow independents, can we adopt a set of talking points to let large companies know why they should be checking out the singles? Here are my top three. Add comments and let me know what I'm missing:

  • Pacing. Independents will grow your marketing efforts based on business value, not quarterly results

  • Consistency. Independents are strong on retention, so the knowledge-share on your brand stays with a core team you can rely on over time

  • Pricing. Independence inherently means flexibility -- no need to create a common pricing denominator across multiple shops -- and less pressure to put it all under a retainer
I believe that it has never been better to be independent, and being "small" only increases an agency's ability to be innovative and agile. I am enjoying singledom, and my goal is to make that work out really well for all of our current customers and the big companies we want to help.

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