There was a time when it was prestigious to have the biggest creative firm around on retainer. A CEO could be on the golf course and brag about how he uses [Big agency name here]. “They’re expensive so that means they must be good.”
We hate to tell the big agencies this, but that time has passed. Oh sure! We all LOVE Madmen and get nostalgic for “the way it used to be.” Who wouldn’t love to wear some of those clothes? Okay maybe not.. they are polyester after all.
Welcome to 2009. An age where customers expect you to be open, honest and communicate directly. Consumers don’t want to be talked at any more, they want to be talked to. New channels of communication are opening all the time. If you don’t know what a tweet is, then you are playing catch-up. And big “agencies” aren’t always your best choice when looking for solutions.
The key word is “solutions”. Most clients are looking for them. Sure, there are some that just want a flier; just want a folder; or just want a website and we are more than capable of delivering those. But most of the time we find that our relationships with clients work best when they present us with a challenge (a.k.a. problem) and they need a solution. That’s when we do our best work. Our brains get going and we offer up a slew of options. Maybe you DO need a new brand identity, but perhaps you would also be well served to look at a social media component or even an employee communications program.
So once we have a firm grasp on the challenge, we can start pulling in the subject matter experts (SMEs) we need to tackle it and come back to the table with solid answers. We don’t need to be “big”. In fact, in the long run, you’ll save money for the same, if not better, thinking. We like to get our hands dirty and we LOVE to collaborate. We want to work with our clients. Strange idea we know. Most big agencies have been excluding the client for years. “We’ll go away and come back with the best ad ever.” But what if you don’t need an ad? Why aren’t they asking you for your insight? After all, you know your target markets best. Arrogance and insecurity; that’s why.
We beleive that a small agency (shop, studio, firm, etc.) is where the ideas are. It’s not about the media buy and the mark-up on printing and maximizing billings against the retainer. It’s about the ideas (at least in our shop). We are passionate about what we do and we hope that passion becomes contagious to our clients.