Why Big Marketing Agencies Cost More And Deliver Less

I may sound completely bias writing this article, you know, because we’re a small agency and all. But there are real reasons we continued to stay small, in terms of our in-house team size, physical office size, and the number of projects we take on at any given time.

We could have expanded our operations tenfold at this point if we wanted to, but not without hindering the end-results of our client work, and certainly not without increasing our prices. How many of you have worked with a big agency in the past only to be disappointed?

The larger the agency, the more hands-off you can expect your relationship to be throughout the course of any given collaboration. Now, maybe some of you prefer this sort of hands-off relationship, so naturally, a big agency might be the right fit for you.

If you prefer to work directly with the agency owners while keeping a close relationship throughout the entire process, then a small agency is probably a better fit. And oh yeah, lower operating costs for the agency means lower prices for the client. Is it starting to become clear why we keep our operations small?

We didn’t start this agency to turn it into a large monopoly, we are willing to sacrifice the endless salary ceiling in order to continue doing the best work possible for each and every client.

Besides our values, there are 3 genuine reasons I believe small agencies outperform the big guys.

  1. You work directly with the agency owner. This means your project is never handed over to an account manager, an intern, or whoever else a large agency decides should keep track of your campaigns. From the very beginning, the owner takes a personal interest in your business, essentially treating it as his/her own. This really shines through in any content that’s created for your brand, as well as in the end-results of each campaign.
  2. Costs are significantly cheaper. When there’s no fancy office and no gigantic salaries to pay, you reap the rewards by paying far less money for the same end-results. Often time big agencies require hefty minimum budgets and long contracts, neither of which you’ll get with a smaller boutique agency. If an agency has 500 employees, their price will certainly reflect that, but do you think all of those employees are assigned to your project? Of course not, but you’re still paying the premium because the agency is paying all 500 salaries.
  3. Niche-focused employee expertise. Instead of working with a jack-of-all-trades style team, you work with people who are experts in your field. Employees in larger agencies are typically thrown new client work each week, or each month. They might be strategizing for Dunkin’ Donuts one day and the next day they’re doing work for Colgate. In this environment, there are no true experts in any given niche. They may be an expert at writing content, but that expertise isn’t honed in on a single subject. You want an expert in each field, who’s ALSO an expert in your niche, that’s when you get A+ results for all of your campaigns.

That being said, big agencies have their place and fit the personality type of many business owners out there. When it comes to budgets in the $1mil+ per month range, it’s a no-brainer, you need a huge team to pull off campaigns of this size. For small to medium size budgets, it’s probably best to shop around and work with a smaller niche agency.

From the first conversation you have, you can often tell whether or not the agency is a fit for your brand. Trust your gut instinct and make sure the agency is genuinely interested in growing your business. Feel them out in your initial call or meeting, and don’t be afraid to ask them ‘difficult’ questions.

Think of it this way, if you choose the wrong agency, you could be steering your business in the wrong direction for several months or longer. If that happens, you’re right back where you started and the market is now one step ahead of you.

Try asking these 7 questions during your consultation. Asking good questions is the most important thing you need to learn, especially when hiring an agency (or hiring anyone in general).

Let us know in the comments how you feel about this topic, as it’s clearly quite controversial. Again, I’m not saying big agencies are bad in any way, shape, or form, I simply think smaller niche agencies are the right fit for the majority of people. I hope you got some value out of this article, thanks for reading.