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Small is the New Big: 5 Advantages of Working with a Boutique Design Agency

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Bigger Isn’t Always BetterWhen deciding on a design agency, are you considering a boutique creative agency? If not, you should really reconsider. There are many factors a brand has to consider when choosing a design agency: the agency’s specialties, location, and its past work with other brands. Beyond these things, it’s also worth weighing an agency’s size.

  • Is your prospective agency a boutique with a handful of employees
  • Is it a massive global agency with professionals based out of numerous office?
  • Or an agency that falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum?

While at first glance it seems like working with a big agency would be the best option of the 3, more and more people realize going boutique may be the right move.

But what is a boutique design agency?

What Is A Boutique Design Agency?

People tend to think of a small clothing store that sells exclusive items, though a boutique describes a business that serves a specialized or sophisticated niche. A boutique design agency is a specialized design business. It operates with a small group of professionals and focuses on specialized work for a limited client list.

The biggest limitation of a boutique design agency is its size – no multiple worldwide locations, huge staff, or portfolios profiling household brands like Nike or Levi’s (though these brands do outsource smaller campaigns to boutique firms.) This limitation affects their reputation as not being well-known.

Although boutique agencies may not have a strong reputation, the quality you receive from them exceeds expectations as they specialize the experience for their customers.

Why Choose A Boutique Design Agency?

Brands typically hire big creative agencies because they’re “safe” – they have the infrastructure, resources, and pedigree, which give business owners the warm and fuzzies. But boutique agencies offer the same skills as larger firms but have distinct advantages as they can work more closely with you to achieve the goals you want to achieve – at a fraction of the price.

Let’s look at five advantages of working with boutique creative agencies:

1. Budget Friendly

When you think about hiring a creative firm, the first thing that comes to mind is your budget (which is why it’s the first thing we’re talking about.)

There’s a common belief that the more you spend on a marketing or design campaign, the bigger the outcome. However, this thinking means your success has to cost an arm and a leg. Fortunately, there’s an option that is more affordable than a larger firm, but more efficient than a home-grown solution.

It’s a no-brainer that large agencies require higher overhead and agency fees. They are awash with employees, support staff, high utility costs, and large, swanky offices. These things are all hallmarks of a large agency, but they don’t come cheap. The cost goes somewhere (hint: their client’s invoice), which also means less money spent on your actual campaign.

In other words, your dollar doesn’t go very far with a large firm.

These overhead costs aren’t issues when a company chooses to make use of a boutique firm, which is great news for small businesses who don’t have overwhelming budgets for marketing, web design, or social media strategy. Boutique creative agencies also bring in expertise when it’s needed for a particular project – web developers, writers or strategists – and that means that you pay for only the people used on your job.

Boutique creative agencies also bring in expertise when it’s needed for a specific project – web developers, writers or strategists – and that means that you pay for only the people used on your job.

Another benefit of choosing a boutique firm is control over services used and paid for. With a large company, clients have to choose between predetermined packages offered and end up paying for items they don’t need or sacrificing items they do to save money. Boutique creative agencies provide more flexibility in the selection of services that suit your needs.

Due to lower overhead and fees, boutique firms offer a distinct advantage if you’re trying to get the most bang for your creative buck.

2. Speed

Boutique firms are often pegged as small and therefore unfit to support major campaigns. This thinking may have been true when the world moved at a slower pace. In today’s world, businesses need to adapt and move fast. This is where boutique agencies have a distinct advantage.

For instance, imagine how much faster it’d be to approve and ship out a social media campaign to a client when the marketing team is four people instead of 20. Bigger means more processes, more approvals, more signatures needed, more levels of authority, and more roadblocks. The boost in speed that comes with working with boutique agencies means campaigns can begin quickly and see results faster.

When businesses look for potential agencies to partner with it means they have a campaign in mind that they want to get out to market as quickly as possible. They want a nimble company that can quickly respond to their needs while maintaining creativity and flexibility. They don’t want a partner filled with their internal bureaucracy and red tape.

The boost in speed that comes with working with boutique agencies means campaigns can begin quickly and see results faster.

One reason many business owners state they choose to go with a big agency is they have the necessary resources to assist them. In actuality, these companies are often characterized by inflexibility and inefficiency. When a problem arises, a client may not know who they are supposed to contact because so many people play a role in developing a campaign. Also, receiving an answer to a question or concern can take longer when working with a large agency, as they are dealing with multiple clients simultaneously. The sheer volume of accounts handled by individuals in the firm can lead to delays, which should be of concern to any business owner.

Boutique firms, in contrast, are recognized for their quick turnaround. When fewer people work on any campaign, it’s easier to know who to contact with a question or concern, and campaigns are usually launched in less time, as there aren’t as many individuals working on the campaign.

If you’re trying to steer the Titanic from hitting an iceberg, then you’d want a speedboat, not a cruise liner to guide you.

3. Particular Set of Skills

Specialization is key. If you want specialized skills, then picking a boutique firm will lead to better results.

Small agencies offer specialization and focus that larger agencies often lack. Large companies work with a variety of clients, and, as a result, they tend to have less expertise working with targeted markets. This leads to large firm solutions to be more cookie-cutter.

But imagine working with a company that, from Day 1, has a surgically specific understanding of your situation? This understanding is what you get with a boutique design agency because they’re staffed with individuals who are subject-matter experts in content, branding, SEO, and offsite marketing.

For instance, when it comes to web design you can seek out a big agency that handles all kinds of web design, or you could look for a boutique firm that specializes in the particular type of design you need for your business and target audience. This gives prospective clients an opportunity to work with a firm that will know more about their wants and needs.

If you want specialized skills, then picking a boutique firm will lead to better results.

An excellent example of a specialized agency is Avalaunch Media, which is a digital marketing agency that specializes in creating infographics for brands like GoPro, Ski Utah, and others. Both a niche market and a niche marketing tool that big agencies may not have the subject matter expertise.Big agencies have a breadth of experience, but to lack the breadth of expertise.

Businesses want to hire the very best – firms that have expertise in a particular service, industry, audience, channel, etc. This specialization means that these boutique agencies will have a better understanding of your particular needs, where a larger agency might not. Plus, small firms can’t afford an employee mix of rock stars, and backup singers — every member of the team has to be top-quality, which ensures every member of your team brings high-level skills to your brand.

Small agencies are called boutique agencies for a reason – they don’t offer a full range of services, but they have a strong specialization in the services they do provide.

Big agencies have a breadth of experience, but to lack the breadth of expertise.

4. Creativity

It’s not the size of the agency that matters most, but how well they understand the needs, objectives, and struggles of your business and market and develop solutions to solve them.

Larger firms tend to use similar if not identical, cookie-cutter methods with each client they take on because they rely on strict, internal procedures. This is great to scale their agency, but not great for their customers. Furthermore, large firms tend to become set in their ways and refuse to try new tactics. The moment a problem arrives, there’s only so many ways to get around it. (See speed issue above.)

Boutique creative agencies don’t offer a one-size-fits-all approach.

While clients often find they have to adapt to the methodology of large agencies, smaller organizations are more likely to adjust to their client. When it comes to successful creative campaigns, creativity, and innovation is the name of the game. And neither of those is limited to agencies with a big staff and a bloated budget. Smaller firms not only are more willing to try new things, but it is also often their bread and butter.

This flexibility means boutique agencies look for the next best way to build your business and aren’t afraid to do things differently. As you build a relationship with your boutique agency, you’ll both work together to develop a personalized creative campaign that best suits your business and grows as your company does.

Smaller agencies not only are more willing to try new things, it is often their bread and butter.

Think of a boutique agency as a custom suit tailor. If you want any off-the-rack suit, a boutique firm isn’t the right choice for you. But if you want a tailored suit that fits you and only you, then suit up with a boutique agency. This custom, out-of-the-box creativity can be of great importance when it comes to catching the eye of your consumer and better connecting your brand with them.

Big agency customers are built on a large assembly line. Considering your brand is likely very different from another brand in an agency’s portfolio, why would you ever place your brand on an assembly line?Smaller firms tend to be made up of a team of people who are tenacious, cross-discipline, and fearless. For your brand, this means a group of folks who are naturally more collaborative, lend fresh perspectives and are “do or die” when it comes to achieving goals. If your business wants to blaze a trail and a bespoke creative experience, then a boutique design agency will deliver the very best for your brand.

5. Personalized Relationships

Simply put, it’s more direct to work with a small agency. Boutiques bring a level of personalization that could mean the difference between calling and reaching a secretary versus reaching the CEO on the first try.

When you work with a boutique agency, you get a more personable experience. You’ll have the opportunity to develop a healthy working relationship with your creative team, and you’ll also experience better communication since you’re in direct contact with the specialists working throughout the entirety of your project. These things lead to an overall feeling that you’re not just an invoice – you’re a valued client.

Your business is your baby. Like any parent, you know what’s best, so your input and your opinion are essential. Big agencies have a sea of faceless people involved at different stages in your project (account handlers, executives, analysts, creatives, and directors) that change with each meeting you have. Instead of having your voice lost in a sea of faces, you’ll only speak to the people who work on your project when you work with a boutique agency. Rather than third-hand interpretations, your boutique team will hear your voice and your opinions to translate your vision into words, images, and experiences.

You’re not just an invoice – you are a valued client.

Large firms may brag about their big name clients, but this leads them to neglect their smaller accounts. This is hardly the case with boutique firms as each and every client counts. If you want the best results, work with an agency that’s as invested in your results as you are.

A Boutique Design Agency is the Perfect Size

In your search for the perfect agency, be sure to consider boutique agencies. When looking for the perfect firm to represent your business, you may be drawn to larger organizations. After all, conventional wisdom says that with a big agency, you’d have access to more resources, but what you may not realize, however, is that smaller agencies are just as resourceful as larger organizations. And may even better suit your needs.

Bigger is not always better.

A boutique design agency is going to be more nimble, more adaptable, more creative, more cost-effective and faster at what they do – improve their client’s brand experience. So why not go small?

Boutique creative agencies do not stand on reputation but rather an ongoing process of building a reputation. Going with a boutique firm means a lot of good things. It means working with people who adapt to fit the needs of its clients. Working with people who work hard to stay ahead of innovation, which maximize resources and listen to what you need versus telling you what their methodologies have proven.

As every brand is unique, every creative campaign must distinguish you from the crowd. A boutique design agency is going to be more nimble, more adaptable, more innovative, more cost-effective and faster at what they do – improve their client’s brand experience. So why not go small?

Working with boutique creative agencies allows you to grow together. A boutique agency does not exclusively work with small companies either. They are for everybody. Try looking beyond the perceived prestige of a large company and realize that boutique agencies are for everybody. Weigh the flexibility and economic savings of a boutique design agency. Consider their expertise and their creativity. Consider the relationships you’ll build as you both grow together. If you’re looking for a cutting-edge creative and design campaign, using a boutique agency can provide you with a strategy that will separate you from your competitors.

So next time you’re looking to get big results with your creative projects, think small –  you’ll see a big difference!

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At Ohm Works, we put together a carefully chosen dedicated team for each job. You always speak to the people who are working on your creative. And you always get the most out of your budget.
Schedule a call to talk about your next brand adventure and how Ohm Works can be your guide