Small agencies are bigger than ever.

Adweek’s “Agency of the Year” program has now expanded to include small US agencies, not to mention the large number of small agencies that made their “fastest growing agencies 2022”. list – out of 20 agencies, 14 have 50 or fewer employees.

While the past three years have been packed with challenges: the pandemic, inflation, the changing world of work, and now even a looming recessionsmall agencies will thrive because of it.

In speaking with hundreds of agency leaders over the past few years, small agencies are confident they are set up for success no matter what 2023 brings. The fact that the global pandemic alone is a “new wave of small agencies” and big brands making the move from large established agencies to much smaller ones is a testament to their strength.

Here are some reasons why small agencies are poised to win big this year:

More flexibility

This is the superpower of many small agencies that helped them rise to the occasion during the pandemic. They know how to do more with less and can turn on a dime too. Take for example a small PR or advertising agency. They often don’t have big budgets to blow on big paid media campaigns, nor do they have big teams to execute. They are resourceful and often used to make magic happen with small teams, smaller budgets and earned tactics.

Even if a client suddenly needs to downsize and work with a smaller budget, small agencies won’t blink an eye to downsize while still being able to deliver results. Consider them up for the challenge.

Small agencies often focus on project work versus large containers and they have much less overhead to work with – such as office space and staff salaries alone – so they can also offer competitive pricing. Plus, they can change tactics more easily, and more importantly, they can adopt much faster than navigating all the red tape that larger agencies can be known for.

Personal service

Anyone who has worked in a small agency knows you get close to your clients, often on a personal level. You become deeply invested in their success. Of course, this comes much more naturally when you’re working with five clients, instead of say, 15 – or more! In your weekly or bi-weekly calls, the client typically talks directly to the people on the account who are delivering the work, versus an account leader who simply shares the information with the rest of the team.

One of the biggest concerns, when times are tough, is clients abandoning or postponing projects. Clients are more likely to make it work with a small agency that they have a personal relationship with and can easily pivot and scale back to meet their needs. Even more, when the pressure is on brands to deliver results in difficult times, it will make a great asset to lean on a smaller agency team that is more approachable.

Applied to technology

Small agencies simply cannot afford not to be their most efficient, organized selves compared to their larger counterparts. More often than not, they have the systems and processes in place to make sure of that too. This will give them a leg up, especially in a year filled with economic uncertainty. Small agencies often still lay the foundation for success, so their main priority is delivering client work on time and on budget to establish their reputation.
The most successful small agencies use project management software to help them run as smoothly as possible and set themselves up for growth. The level of service and experience they offer with the right software helps them stand out from the “big guys” and more importantly, builds trust with customers in uncertain times. This is especially the case when using software that gives clients access to projects and tasks. There is more communication and transparency, and tools like built-in time tracking and budgeting ensures that all hours are accounted for and no money is left on the table.

Results driven experts

There are undoubtedly advantages to working with a large agency that is a “one-stop shop” offering any and every service. However, when budgets are potentially tightened for clients, goals and strategies need to be more focused. This is when it can be more beneficial to work with an agency that specializes in and has mastered one or a few things.

Ask anyone who’s worked in a small agency and they’ll tell you—if you’re not at the top of your game, you can’t hide the same way you could if you were in a big agency. When you have a more streamlined approach backed by a small team of experts, you’re more likely to achieve your goals and not burn through a whole lot of budget in the process. Not to mention, small agencies are hungry to ensure you reach your goals because you are one of the few key clients they serve.

Whether you’re considering working with a small agency for the first time, or are concerned about staying with your current larger agency, don’t be too quick to overlook boutique agencies and the benefits they can offer. especially when there is economic uncertainty ahead. From their ability to adapt quickly to their highly personalized service, efficient technology-driven processes and specialized expertise, there is no shortage of what they can offer brands.

No matter what, know the goal should not be to look for ways to cut costs, but where to spend responsibly, and what types of activities to prioritize to get the best ROI.

Don’t be afraid to use this year at a smart, savvy small agency to produce big results.

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