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  • Vanessa Mitchell

5 Reasons why big business turns to small independent agencies

Many large, multi-million and billion-dollar global companies are turning to small, specialised agencies for their marketing and media function, and this trend is set to grow.

There's already been widespread discussion around why this is happening across B2C, but let's take a look at why it makes business sense across the B2B and technology sectors.

1. Helps businesses streamline and scale

Consider this scenario: You've hired a CMO who costs you in the realm of $200,000-$250,000. They, in turn, decide to hire a PR agency, a content agency, a social media agency, freelance design agency, a video agency, digital marketing agency and an ad agency.

Juggling all these large agencies then requires considerable logistics, so the CMO then hires a marketing manager. Now, this is already adding up to almost a seven-figure spend, not even including the digital advertising, SEO, social ad, sponsorship and partnership budget! Sounds familiar?

For most businesses looking to grow in a pandemic, this is untenable and an expense they simply cannot afford. With a small, specialised agency, large businesses can outsource some, or all of the marketing function, without the significant cost, time and resource outlay of the traditional CMO/large agency investment model.

2. Specialised skills where you need it

Many businesses when looking to outsource the marketing function turn to big agencies, because there is a certain 'comfort' in going with a familiar-sounding agency.

Often, however, decision-makers confuse reputation with specialist skills. Why go to a large agency that has little to no expertise in your specialised domain, when you can go to a small boutique agency with specialists who are highly skilled in your field? This is particularly the case with emerging technology verticals such as AI, BI, data analytics and health tech.

3. More than just 'another account to manage'

One of the main challenges businesses have when working with large agencies, is they end up becoming 'another retainer to manage,' with the deliverables often flicked over to a junior account manager.

However with the same spend with a smaller agency, the same business will be given premium attention by a senior team, who gives them a highly personalised experience and far more value for their spend.

A smaller agency also feels more like a natural extension of your team. You know them and they know you. The relationship is closer and more collaborative. Often they work closely and cohesively with your team and you can see exactly what they are doing with your money.

4. More agile and less 'top heavy'

No organisation with a 'top heavy' board structure can work in an agile fashion. Too many decision-makers means slow decision making.

We all see it in large organisations - something is about to be approved, and then one dissenter will speak up in a boardroom meeting, causing a snowball effect down the hierarchy until a decision about a deliverable is made.

The next thing you know, groupthink is inherent, which kills innovation and timely delivery. Everyone’s overthinking it and looking for reasons why something won’t work, rather than why it will. Nothing gets approved in a timely manner, costs blow out, and you end up with a lacklustre, bland campaign.

However smaller agencies run lean and are less subject to 'groupthink' and bureaucracy. With small, specialised agencies, there's 'less cooks in the kitchen,' which means deliverables, strategy and outcomes scale far more efficiently. A smaller agency is also far more agile and can adapt their strategy quickly depending on market circumstances.

5. Greater innovation

How many times do you see in a top-heavy organisation people unwilling to speak up or stick their necks out because they are worried their heads will be lopped off for having a 'bad' idea?

Larger agencies tend to be 'run at the top' by highly traditionalist and rigid models. But just because 'that’s the way it’s always been done', doesn’t make it better. This is why we are still seeing outdated stereotypes and gender roles in marketing and ad campaigns in 2020.

Smaller agencies are run by people with a deeper purpose and passion. They are looking to make an impact and disrupt the status quo. Smaller agencies actively encourage out of the box thinking and experimentation, and as a result, constantly deliver fresh innovation for their clients.

This article was also published in Little Black Book Online, one of the world's leading publications for marketing, media and agency news.

Vanessa Mitchell is the Director of Content and Communications at AZK Media


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