Man, the majority of us really enjoy a mouthwatering steak or ribs fresh from the grill. The crackling sound of hot coals and the smell of burning meat wafting through the outdoor air will drive you absolutely mad as you wait for your meat of choice to be “just right”! This is especially true now with longer days to enjoy dinner outside on the patio and the summer grilling season upon us, boy I’m making myself hungry as I’m writing this blog…

But, before we go any further with my steak and grilling analogy, I need to come clean. This is not a food or grilling blog. And, for those that see the tasty image of flavorful ribs and just clicked “like” without reading the content – I thank you for your kindness but you’re going to miss a helluva good blog about business and perception. Come along for the ride and see what I mean.

“There is still some meat on the bones for you,” is a phrase you often hear in business circles. This generally means a great deal for all parties “as in there is some additional value in this deal”. So, with that quick generalization I will carry on with my thesis.

The topic of perceived value versus size continues to come up as we go head-to-head for new clients with other marketing communications agencies. The majority of these agencies are way bigger than we are. (I should point out that in no way is this blog meant to be a bash session on bigger agencies – there are well-deserved reasons why they’ve earned the accolades, clients and the success over the years. They get results. My business partner and I have had a stint or two at larger agencies on our resumes too.) My goal is to champion the little guys – the boutiques that are killing it for their clients everyday without the large overhead that comes with being a big shop in a top market.

Over the years we have enjoyed our time competing with larger groups for business – we’ve won some and lost some biz opportunities. That’s life and we all move on and put our thoughts together for the next RFP to showcase our creative chops. But, I can’t help but think that many of the decision-makers on the client side get locked in on the concept of having a big agency represent them – if all things were equal on the agency proposals – the thought of a big well known shop leading your marketing communications efforts can be intoxicating.

So, that’s why I bring this up. Typically, smaller agencies have several beneficial factors going for them that should make a prospective client take notice:

  • Focus: generally, a smaller agency takes on fewer clients and/or projects, by choice, to maintain quality and creative standards that will exceed expectations
  • Meet the team: this means different things to different sized agencies. In some cases larger agencies employ the “dog and pony show” to woo new clients by bringing in the brass – the senior staff. However, in practice those same senior members won’t be working on your day-to-day business. They probably won’t know what’s transpiring until it’s time to invoice you and will leave tasks to their junior, less experienced, staff to accomplish the project
  • We walk the path together: smaller agencies will employ the opposite tactic as the one listed above. The boutique crew will have everyone on board making sure your expectations are not only met but exceeded
  • Still some meat on the bone: THIS IS THE IMPORTANT POINT IN THIS BLOG. Smaller shops don’t typically have big offices, large overhead and a massive amount of staff that need to be fed. This leads to more of the client’s money being used toward the campaign – good creative work wins out! This sounds to me like a win for everyone – when your clients are “off the charts head-over-heels” happy with your work they know they are getting a great value for their buck and they may be more likely to refer other business your way

My grandfather used to say, “there’s a reason I bank with the biggest bank, because they’re the biggest and they must be the best!” Obviously, that’s not always the case, and as a point of reference he grew during the Great Depression when the entire economy and most banks collapsed taking everyone’s hard earned savings with them. So, from his perspective if you were a bank that was still around after the financial collapse you must be able to weather the storms better, making you the best. But you get my point. In the case of a bigger agency, bigger doesn’t always mean better…it can just simply mean, bigger.

Remember, it’s important to make the decision that best fits your company’s needs at the time, but by taking a pause and re-reviewing everyone’s proposals a second or third time you might notice a nugget you missed on the RFP from the smaller guy. We would love to have you visit our site – and check us out. We’d also be thrilled to provide you with a creative, well-thought out proposal with the chance to do amazing work on your behalf. You can reach us at Now, I need to fire up my grill and dig into a few ribs.