Four reasons to choose an independent marketing agency over a big corporate

The people upstairs approved your marketing budget, your team is clear on campaign objectives and your pitch brief is ready to roll. Now it’s time to create a shortlist of agencies to pitch for the work and get things moving.

You’ve only ever engaged corporate marketing agencies in the past, and their work has mostly been fine. However, an astute colleague has suggested you also consider independent agencies. Your initial thoughts are “Don’t independents mostly cater to the smaller, niche projects for the likes of start-ups?’, but your instincts tell you to give it a shot.

Good move.

Here are four reasons you won’t regret bringing an independent agency into the mix.

  • Lack of hierarchy

Independents are typically smaller than corporates and don’t need (or want!) a multi-tiered organisational structure. The benefits to you, the client, are many.

The absence of corporate agendas and unnecessary levels of approval facilitate free-flowing ideas and collaboration; an environment highly conducive to innovation. Thinking outside of the box is much more accepted. Corporates tend to stifle innovation as they’re often restricted by procedures, less willing to utilise new tactics of execution and err towards playing it safe to maintain reputation.

Better communications flow across flat agency structures, promoting the sharing of viewpoints and building upon ideas. Think of it as a never-ending brainstorming session.

Independents are fertile breeding grounds for creativity. The freedom to create and take calculated risks is typically in abundance, leading to marketing executions that cut through market noise and get inside customers’ heads.

  • More than money

Though making money is obviously vital to the growth and longevity of any business, independents tend to seek more than the lure of cold hard cash.

Marketers who have a passion for their craft, want to share it with others and create real results for clients, characteristically start independent agencies. They can choose what clients they want to work with without having to justify decisions to a board, can specialise in a particular field and can tailor their offering to a specific industry.

What’s more, there are no shareholder returns to consider, with independents often being in a privileged position to function on their own terms.

What you get from working with this type of agency is dedication and passion more akin to a partnership than a customer-supplier relationship. Independents tend to work more intimately with you, feeling your successes and failures along the way and going beyond expectations to deliver positive outcomes.

  • Talent and specialist knowledge

Independents tend to attract talent who are highly creative and driven to create marketing magic for clients. Staff who like to hide behind the cushy safety of unnecessary hierarchal processes are outed very quickly in independent environments. These employees more suited to plod along in larger corporate environments that are often susceptible to the Pareto principle, where 80% of the work is done by 20% of the staff.

We’re not saying all corporate staff like to take a back seat and just coast along. It’s just that they’re more likely to be motivated by factors irrelevant to the success of your project: having a big name on their CV, moving up the ranks to senior management or relishing in the perks large corporate network organisations offer.

The best talent aren’t scared of accountability and relish in a culture that promotes independence and empowerment; two essential ingredients for the type of creativity that makes a real impact.

Additionally, it’s common for marketers within independents to have specialist knowledge in certain fields such as digital, event management or branding. An increasing number of clients are seeking such knowledge in solving specific marketing challenges with more insightful solutions.

  • We paid how much?!

This leads us to the all-important question of value for your marketing dollar. Compared to corporates, independent agencies are more likely to give you more bang for your buck. Much more.

You tend to enjoy quicker project turnaround times with independents when compared to corporates for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there are fewer processes, work queues and levels of approval needed to get a project moving. However necessary in larger organisational structures, these factors slow down the delivery of your project.

Secondly, independent agencies are thirstier for growth and reputation. Producing high-quality work within stated timelines at agreed costs can only be good for business, while also offsetting the competition. They also feel the effects of workflow bottlenecks more than corporates, and go out of their way to avoid them like the plague

However, one of the main reasons you realise greater value from independent agencies is the lack expenses when compared to corporates. As a client of a corporate agency, you’re going to be indirectly paying for flashy offices, corporate expense accounts and studio people. You’re also going to be paying for senior management salaries, even though you’re unlikely to have contact with them.

Corporate agencies will typically send in their big guns to pitch, only to pass your campaign work down to a junior team once the account is won.

At Cuckoo, our senior people will always be working directly on your account – from the initial pitch through to delivery and post-project analysis. We’d also rather hold-off hiring staff than employ mediocre talent whose heart isn’t in producing brilliant creative and strategic work for your business.

Get in contact with us today to gain from the best an independent marketing agency has to offer.