People often say that dogs resemble their owners: The prim and proper twin set and pearls walking the precision manicured poodle, the tattooed skinhead restraining the ‘hard as nails’ pit bull, the stick thin model carrying the tiny chihuahua…It struck me that agencies and clients might also have the same sort of look-alike associations.
Large multinational companies only wanting to deal with big international networks. Fast growing up and coming companies gravitating towards fashionable dynamic creative shops. Solid established companies seeking solace in the certainty of a traditional agency model. It all seems painfully logical but at the same time incredibly blinkered. If you never step outside the expected your chances of being surprised , excited or inspired become seriously reduced.
I thought about this particularly this week when an incredibly successful fortnight in our agency’s brief history was dampened by a client informing us that they wouldn’t consider us for work going forward because they felt they ought to be using a ‘big’ agency. The decision wasn’t motivated by anything that we had done, on the contrary they acknowledged that we had provided the campaigns and initiatives that assisted in their growth. They just felt that they had now reached a size and stature that necessitated a larger supplier.
At Cherry Tiger we have no aspirations to be ‘big’ just the best. Obviously it would be churlish to deny that big agencies can’t offer a superb product but in words of the bishop to the actress ‘size is rarely the crucial factor’. Ultimately this is a people business and any agency can only ever be as good as the individuals who work on the client’s account. Experience, talent, chemistry and service are the benchmarks that should rank as crucial in any agency / client relationship – and none of these are determined by size.
Different agencies bring different skills to the party. The ’big’ agency might be able to offer some interesting fringe benefits but so too can a more compact team. These include direct access to senior and experienced personnel, including the business owners, who have a very real, vested interested in making their client’s activity deliver, and the flexibility to structure a working relationship that offers real benefits, including faster response times, to both parties. Furthermore, a smaller agency will often offer the client better value driven by the cost advantages of reduced overheads.
For clients to get the most out of any agency selection process I’d recommend they choose a variety of different cultures and approaches – it’ll make things a lot more interesting and potentially rewarding!