Friday, May 28, 2010

Is small beautiful? Does size matter?

Agencies like us (the small ones) often wrestle with whether or not to actually describe ourselves as small.

Is being small a bad thing?

(Let's take just a second and let anybody who wants to snicker and make smutty jokes about "small" go ahead and make them. Remember, my name is Woody and even though I had the name long before it became a euphemism for anything, I'm pretty familiar with the whole penis joke-category.)

While large agencies, mid-sized agencies and small agencies all have their place in the world, here at N+H, we tend to think that a small agency has as many advantages over bigger ones as it has disadvantages when compared with those bigger agencies (and please note the correct use of "with" rather than "to").

Cost-efficiency is one advantage. And that often means less expensive and/or more for your money. Just remember that "less expensive" doesn't necessarily mean "cheap". A Lexus is less expensive than a Benz, but it's still not "cheap".

Attention from senior people is another advantage. If you're one of the smaller accounts at a big agency and you don't offer a lot of awards-show potential, you're probably not going to get the A-Team. Entry level at a big agency may be better than entry level at a small shop, but it's still entry-level and not always better than a senior person at that same small shop. Besides, small shops can't always afford to wait for entry level people to grow, unless they are Really Something Special. So there are fewer of them around. (My friend Sheila calls them "ad pups".)

Setting aside account size for a moment, quality of the work and service may or may not be a big-agency advantage. Clearly, a larger agency has deeper pockets to attract the best talent. And the status and opportunities available at a big award-winning agency certainly attract the brightest and the best. That said, a lot of "smaller" agencies do pretty damn good work. Just check out the showbook of your local advertising awards if you don't believe me.

Do you judge the "size" of an agency on the number of employees or the size of its ideas?

And should a smaller agency embrace its size or try to look bigger than it is?

Just wondering.

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