Small agencies vs big agencies.
Networks vs independents.
Which is best? Best creativity, best account management, best awards (now, seemingly, relegated to the good old days) and which for future-proof performance, stability and longevity?
Small agencies are seen as potentially operating over their heads; large agencies are seen as too cumbersome, long-term. Small agencies are seen as agile and reactive; large agencies evoke issues of overhead, strict process and requirements for strategy rather than activation.
This debate – with both small and large agencies taking aim at each other – will continue in the marketing press as long as the answer to the real question remains unsaid.
The narrative I hear is that it is less about business size, it is a different client metric – they are seeking collaboration between their agency resources.
The agencies that collaborate as opposed to those that are non-collaborative will be the winners. It is about operating correctly around the table – focusing on the brand requirements – and doing this through sharing, utilising and building on this shared knowledge – resulting in building something bigger, than working in isolation.
By solving the requirement for collaboration, we can address the brand issue, quickly, with ever decreasing shared budgets.
Each agency that masters the process – and its’ attitude towards effective collaboration (completing the shared status report) will reap the benefits.
For network agencies, this includes working with specialists in other disciplines. For small agencies, they can already be ahead of the curve, as many I talk to already understand the importance of playing well around the table. They also see the innate benefit of exposure to broader thinking that is being undertaken around the brand.
Failure here will mean big agencies get small; and small agencies fail to deliver longevity of tenure.
Global brands need networks of scale – and this can be good. The best clients create the environment for this collaboration – through bench-marking, financial incentives, innovation (ideas evolve from wherever), and leading the requirement for respect amongst all parties, big and small.
Bringing the best out of all teams, building on strengths, knowledge, specialisms, and focusing on delivering the end goals – results – is best undertaken when everyone in the process is facing the same direction.
15 January 2021
He is Founding Partner at Metropolis Partners