Big Agencies That Come in Small Packages.

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“We love you. If only you were bigger,” is echoing off a small agency's walls at this very moment. Another small client converted to the “bigger is better” philosophy sees greener grass and takes the leap. A decade ago, hiring a large agency with a $2 million dollar ad budget would have been a pipe dream for this client. But today they're being courted by the biggest and the best. One key reason is that most large agencies are now part of the handful of holding companies that control 75% of all advertising media. These publicly held companies demand double-digit dividends for their shareholders, which makes virtually no account too small.

It’s not that a large agency wouldn't be beneficial to a small client. Large agencies have a lot of very smart people working for them. However, as a small account, they are going to see these very smart people during the pitch and then they must pass the baton on to the people you can actually afford: Their juniors. It’s simple physics. The big cheeses at a big agency can’t be in two places at one time. There are bigger fish to fry and bigger budgets to protect. As a small account you must take a back seat. So, other than the risk of not being the agency’s main squeeze, why shouldn’t an advertiser whose entire media budget wouldn’t buy one 30-second spot on "Desperate Housewives," hire the agency who does multi-million dollar commercials that are priceless? I’ll tell you why. They deserve better.

Small accounts deserve senior level experience. As previously stated, a large agency cannot afford to put its most senior people on a $2 million dollar account. A small agency can’t afford not to. If a small account wants senior level big agency experience they should hire a small agency. The most senior people will always be on the account and most likely be the agency owners. A small-budget advertiser can take a lot of solace in knowing that when they’re not happy the people that are scrambling to change your mood own the ad agency. That happens without fail when you represent a large percentage of your agency’s billings. By the way, $2 million is .1% of $2 billion dollars, the average billings of the country’s largest agencies.

Small accounts deserve small-budget acumen. Everything costs more simply because more people touch the job. The system in large agencies is layered. Layers take time and time is money. If you are a small account at a large agency you are going to pay for more than you are going to get. There is no way to avoid it. On the other hand, small agencies never get a big budget and still are able to deliver high-quality work. Frankly we have to compete with big agencies for small accounts, so our work must be at the highest level of quality. We must do more with less.

Small accounts deserve big agency experience. From whence do small agency’s spring? Big agencies for the most part. My partners and I all worked at large agencies. We loved the muscle we had, but we hated the lumbering giant-ness of it all. We knew our experience of big-agency life would serve us whether we were at a big agency or a small one.

There are some magnificent large agencies that became big because they are brilliant. But the fact is that in every agency brilliance is not top-to-bottom. Big or small the cream is always at the top. Whichever size agency you hire make sure you have access to the cream.
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