What's on Tap...
A brew of marketing and advertising news for your insatiable knowledge palette

Boutique Agencies: Leaving the Crumbs for Big Guys

By Molly Carnicom on Thu, Apr 19, 2012 @ 12:00 PM |


A slice of creative. A slice of digital. And a slice of print. It seems like advertisers are splitting up the pie between several agencies these days rather than relying on someone devouring the entire marketing mix plan. Boutique agencies have managed to nibble on several slivers of the media pie lately. What gives?

Recently, Target split from long-time partner Weiden & Kennedy, who were devouring just about the entire pie, to pursue several smaller, boutique agencies to handle the work. Boutique agencies are the hot ticket item right now for advertisers. In fact, Michael Gass provides some insight as to why this is such a thrilling time to be a small agency:

  • Opportunity to increase awareness way past their local markets
  • Opportunity to do business with larger clients and well recognized brands nationwide
  • More appeal generated by developing a narrower niche
  • Higher revenue because of enhanced positioning for expertise through specific discipline and audience experience
  • Network and referral business becomes more efficient
  • Inbound lead gen is less expensive than the long-established outbound leads
  • Agencies are able to work with clients that fit well with their core strengths
  • New client accounts can be won without pitching

But, as with any agency partnership, you must ask yourself; do these people have my company’s best interest in mind? Do they know what my goals are and are we working towards reaching them together? How do I know this agency is the best fit for my company? Are we looking a foot in front of us or are we coming up with a strategic plan for the long term? These are all great questions you need to consider when selecting a partner.

There are two major schools on this topic. The first: one throat to choke. Hiring a full-service media provider to handle all your needs could have benefits in the sense that regardless of what you’re after (digital, print, TV, radio, social, search, etc.) you make one call, ‘place your order,’ and off the agency goes. Then, if (or when) something goes wrong you know exactly who to call. Or, when things go swimmingly and you increase sales, there’s only one company to send that expensive bottle of scotch.

The other school of thought says the world is changing and with all the different options out there it would be nearly impossible for one firm to be able to do it all at a high level. Instead, you should hire specialists. Agencies who have a high capacity in a specialized area and the ability to get to know you and your objectives intimately. These specialists could be in buying, print creative, public relations, digital creative, search campaigns or any number of other areas. But the key is to find the right set of agencies, get them on board and working together to achieve your goals. While it might sound a bit daunting, it could mean huge dividends for your business.

Do you think splitting up the pie is the best strategic approach when hiring a media provider? Let us know in the comments section below.

We know what we would ask ourselves before hiring a media provider. Do you? Download our White Paper on ’10 Questions you Need Answered before Hiring a Media Provider’ for more insight.

strategy integrated marketing plan