When looking for an agency to work for does size really matter?

It is not unusual for companies in search of an incentives scheme to automatically turn to the biggest agencies for advice and direction.  It’s the obvious choice, right?  Surely their size must reflect their success, making them the best in the business… Not necessarily.

 Big doesn’t mean best and small certainly doesn’t mean unsuccessful! Take a look at an agency’s client list, and you might be surprised to see very big names on smaller agencies’ portfolios.  Small agencies don’t work with small ideas.  They have to think big to get noticed and are much less restricted by corporate rules and regulations, so their creativity knows no bounds.  Brainstorms will often incorporate staff from the most junior to the most senior – it’s the best way to get every viewpoint voiced and inevitably results in more ideas, which can only benefit clients.  No one wants to recycle the same tired idea again and again, and this is how smaller agencies emerge at the forefront of fresh and exciting strategies.

Smaller agencies also have the luxury of being more agile and quick to respond.  Larger companies tend towards layers of corporate procedures and approvals that can delay every process.  Conversely, smaller agencies have a fast route to the top, so senior input and approval is obtained and implemented efficiently, resulting in faster results for clients.

Relationship-building is second nature to a smaller agency; if they can’t work with others then they won’t flourish, so a thriving smaller agency is certain to be team-focused.  It is how they build the solid, far-reaching network of associates and third-party suppliers that ensure a wealth of resource and expertise is available to every client.  This approach becomes even more important with regard to the agency / client relationship.  You’re as likely to see one of the most senior members of the team as you are to see more junior members, so you’ll always remain visible to those at the top, and always remain important to them.  Every client matters to a smaller agency, they are inherently customer-centric.

It follows, too, that any agency you work with should feel like an extension of your own team.  It is not uncommon to hear from organisations that opted to work with bigger agencies and later regretted it because they felt unloved and undervalued.  Smaller agencies tend to have a personal approach that facilitates positive relationships evolving organically.  This enables them to easily grasp your company culture and ideals, so that your incentives supplier feels like an additional department within your own company.  We genuinely believe you should be able to work together and have a pint together!

Ultimately, trust is vital in any client / agency relationship, and if you feel that your business is just a number to your current agency, then it could be time to investigate the alternatives… did I mention that smaller agencies are worth a look?

By Sean Wilkinson – Managing Director, Corporate Rewards.