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Why a small ad agency may be just what you need

By Dean Campbell Published 10/25/2006 | Advertising

Why a small ad agency may be just what you need.

Trying to decide whether you need the services of a big ad agency? Here are a few things to consider, before you hand over your marketing plan (and budget) for the coming year.

Big ad agencies are great. In their own little way. They take care of big budget projects, in a big way. But smaller jobs, like sell sheets, brochures, buck slips and direct mail? Forget it. You're going to wait. And wait. And wait. On the other hand, a small agency has the time to give your business the one-on-one attention it needs. Thanks to lower overheads, a small agency it also much more flexible when it comes to both pricing and I-need-it-by-end-of-day timing.

Big agencies are renowned for two things: big egos and big bureaucracies. The Creative Director and Senior Account Manager who pitched your business? Odds are they're off pitching another new business account somewhere and you'll end up working with juniors. Or trainees. When you work with a small agency, you work directly with the President and Senior Creative talent. People with the experience and knowledge necessary to help you actually sell more and raise brand visibility.

Big agencies have a lot of layers. And mouths to feed. This means that unless you have a big advertising budget they can't afford to service your account profitably. Conversely, a small agency will service the heck out of you. Even in the evenings, if need be. Without having to deal with all big agency politics, a small agency is free to focus on the task at hand - building your business and profitability.

Big agencies move painfully slowly. A small one moves at lightening speed. Without multiple approval layers to contend with, projects get executed efficiently and quickly. What's more, without the typical agency divide between "creative" and "suits", a small agency can be much more imaginative when it comes to both executional tactics and how to stretch your advertising dollar.

Small agency or big agency? I'd go with small. You still get big ideas. Just without the big, big price tag.