The benefit of a small agency, according to Simon Cliffe, founder of Branch Road

Today’s marketers are faced with many challenges. Traditional marketing models are disappearing, fragmentation is growing, and new disruptive players are appearing. To help brands stand out and stay competitive, marketers face increasing pressure to create more impactful campaigns for less budget. To achieve this, some are giving opportunities to smaller agencies, where they can often get smarter creative thinking, stronger campaign ROI and better value for money. In short more bang for their buck. So why are smaller agencies more creative and delivering better campaign ROI?

Off-piste thinking

Some think bigger is better when it comes to creativity. A bigger agency has a broader offering and a larger team with more resources. However, with more pressure to please your internal stakeholders and conform to the agency’s mission and values, your creative thinking might be restricted. On the whole, smaller agencies, without these pressures, are more willing to take risks, trail blaze new ideas and come up with more off-piste thinking.

Simpler creative process

Although big agencies have a larger team of creative thinkers, the creative and review process is often more complicated. A great idea might get distorted or diluted after it has travelled up the review chain and been tweaked one too many times. At a smaller agency, your idea is more likely to stay fresh with less people involved in the process.

Stronger relationships with clients

At a larger agency you may meet the famous creative gurus in the pitch, then once the contract is signed, you deal with a completely different team day to day. At a smaller agency, the hierarchy tends to be a lot flatter, so the team you meet in the pitch will be your team on your account. Therefore, clients build a stronger relationship with all members of the team. This tighter relationship means you’re more likely to bounce ideas off each other, with the agency acting as part of your extended team.

More agile

Smaller agencies are often more agile in their approach. With a flatter structure, less layers of process and more employee flexibility through increased remote working, they can potentially move faster and respond to creative briefs more quickly. Which in turn might maximise ROI by launching your campaign earlier.

Better campaign ROI

As the client’s business represents a bigger portion of their overall revenue, smaller agencies tend to be more motivated to see their clients succeed. At a larger agency, results might be measured in terms of winning awards and meeting revenue targets, whereas in a smaller agency, the focus is on client satisfaction. As a result, clients might end up getting better campaign ROI from a smaller agency, and potentially for a lower budget.

With brands under pressure to deliver more for less, and achieve strong creative stand out in their campaigns, there seems to be a trend towards opting for smaller projects over retainers and employing smaller more specialist agencies to handle different parts of their work. Not only does this provide significant creative benefits for clients, but also provides a huge opportunity for smaller agencies to flex their creative muscles and help brands innovate and stay competitive.

Written by Simon Cliffe, founder and director of marketing agency Branch Road