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Which Marketing Agency Should You Hire – Big or Small?

Published: 02-02-2021
Author: Noelle Castle

Which Marketing Agency Should You Hire – Big or Small?

When it comes to marketing, going with a large agency or a small agency comes down to a few key factors. Primarily, what are you looking for in an agency and how to you expect to work with a marketing firm that you are paying to help you?


Small businesses have a lot of choices in the digital marketing world these days. Digital marketing services, platforms, and options are available to businesses of all sizes, making small businesses able to compete online easier than ever.

Large marketing agencies seem to be a great option – they offer tons of services, hit you with splashy presentations and loads of promises about leads, conversions, and new markets. But is going big your best option? Here are some important factors to consider:

#1 – Cost

Large marketing firms have a lot more overhead than smaller agencies. They need to have offices for their staff, tend to pay big bucks for a lot of advertising, and lay on the bells and whistles to impress potential clients. A smaller agency equals a smaller bill. We keep our overhead low (we’ve been experts at working from home or shared space for decades!). Low overhead really works in your favor when you are considering a smaller marketing firm. 

In addition to the clients large agencies are working to impress, they often have other offices around the region or country, as well as board members and stockholders to pay. They need more money to operate, not to mention pay for those red leather couches, fancy award registrations, ping pong tables, and craft beer on tap. All these expenses are transferred right back to the client – and you haven’t even had any real services yet!

#2 – Experience

While these big firms have likely been around for a while to be able to afford the luxuries, don’t undervalue the experience (especially hands-on experience!) that smaller agencies have to offer. Their principles have likely been around a while too, and learned that they want more flexibility, creativity and autonomy than they can get working under a conglomerate. They gained their experience working their way up, and have now gone out on their own to call the shots so they can really work on clever and unique marketing opportunities for their clients.

#3 – Customized & Personalized Services

At a big firm, you are going to be wooed by the sales team, then handed off to a project manager, then passed along to (very likely) an apprentice-level staffer to take care of the details. Because they need to make so much money on their services, what you end up actually receiving is a canned group of one-size-fits-all packages, or some menu of services that are really the same exact services every other one of their clients are receiving. Especially as a small business, the likelihood of you actually receiving customized marketing assistance is very unlikely because it simply wouldn’t pay the bills for a large agency. 

When you go with a small marketing firm, you can expect to work with the owner, one of the partners or other key team members. Your business will be a priority, and your best marketing options will be considered – for your business. A small firm will take the time to look through your current marketing efforts, make recommendations tailored for your business, and you will have the flexibility to ask questions and customize the strategies employed. 

At small agencies, every client has a big impact on the business, so the lead creatives are invested in every project.

#4 – Communication

Continuing on from #3, when you work with a large marketing agency you are guaranteed to get passed around, and your point of contact person if not likely to actually be the person doing any of the work on your account. This situation is ripe for communication issues, dropped balls, and frustrations. It also tends to take way more time for decisions to be translated, questions to be answered, and changes to be incorporated. All on your dime.

#5 – Response to Market & Technology Changes

Most large marketing agencies have a certain way of doing things. Because there are so many people working within the organization, they must adhere to the corporate machine and keep work flow consistent. This means that they only have one way of doing things, and can be slow to react to market changes. Their ability to react swiftly to new technology, internet updates, and social media algorithm changes are going to be much slower and less aggressive than what a smaller firm can offer. 

When a small marketing company notices a digital marketing campaign isn’t performing, they can adjust the same day. Want to take advantage of an industry opportunity with some new content? No problem, it can be done within the week. 

#6 – Contracts & Agreements

If you realize that the marketing agency you are using isn’t right for your business, it can be a challenge to get out of your contract when the firm is large. Additionally, if they built your website, it likely “belongs” to them, not you and you’ll need to start over when you leave. If they lose a smaller business client, frankly, they just don’t care all that much.

Although a smaller professional marketing group will likely have you sign an agreement, they know they are in business largely by referral and by the good feedback from their clients. They want to make each account happy, and work to deliver on their promise and meet your needs. 

So before you become too impressed with the colorful PowerPoint presentation and all the promises of immediate marketing success, consider what level of service you really expect for your investment. If you want to work with individual who consider your business like their own, and actually perform new and unique work for you – a smaller firm may be just the right fit!

Sized Just Right for Your Business

At Zebralove Web Solutions, we offer most of the same services as a large marketing agency. If there is a service we don’t offer, we can refer you to another local small business and work collaboratively with them to achieve your marketing goals. We prioritize great communication, customized services, and personalized content for your business

Noelle Castle - post author

Noelle Castle

Content Writer
Castle Media Co.

Noelle has been a marketing professional, and a published author and copywriter for over 20 years. Her work has been featured in both print publications and online media, where she has written on a broad range of topics. She owns Castle Media Co., assisting businesses with their marketing and digital media needs, specializing in website development, content marketing, social media, copywriting, and blogging.

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