After spending the majority of my career at large global agencies owned by holding companies, I’ve decided to go back to midsize. Why? I outline a few very good reasons below, but before getting into them I want to remind readers that this a move you’ll see other senior leaders make. Like me, some already have. Take Jeff Rosenblum, founding partner of Questus and co-director of the documentary "The Naked Brand" who said in AdAge, “After 20 years in the advertising industry, there's one thing I can say with great certitude: small agencies crush big agencies. That's right, I said it. In fact, it's not even close.”
Make no mistake, big agencies certainly have value. I learned a lot working at big agencies and had the pleasure of working with some brilliant people, on some really cool things, with very inspiring clients. However, you come to a point in your career when you are simply looking for more. And I’m not only looking for more, I am looking to do more, I want to do so with integrity and authenticity.
It really comes down to a few key areas that make midsize more desirable – not only to me, but to clients and for my new colleagues:
- Hands-On Integration
- Clients and Staff First
- Leadership Leads
Midsize is synonymous with integration in the marketing world. Because these agencies can move more quickly, they’re able to add the right talent and teams to advance integration and innovation. I was attracted to Makovsky’s significant legacy, intellectual thought leadership and award-winning talent. Additionally significant to my decision was SKYLABS, Makovsky’s innovation lab, designed to help clients with future forward work. A true differentiator.
The pace of our industry and the need to keep up is predicated on how quickly you can respond. Larger agencies are too big to bend. Small agencies can’t stretch fast enough. On the other hand, midsize agencies are positioned well to bend and stretch. Midsize agencies are known to move with boldness and independence. We are able to move and launch more quickly because decisions can be made among fewer people with less politics, which inevitably benefits clients.
Clients and Staff First
Throughout my career, it’s been said over and over to put clients at the center of everything we do. However, that became increasingly difficult to do when it came time to look at the financials. In spirit it sounds good, but in execution it could often fall short. Some earlier work at a midsize agency came to mind. The agency owner had personal relationships with all the clients. In fact, she had a special touch when it came to how we serviced them. She would rarely question something if she knew it would make the client happy and benefit the business and relationships. That is how I want to treat my clients and my staff. I want to put their feelings and wishes first before making a decision. Speaking of staff, large agencies are not staffing business with people, they are staffing by numbers, at midsize, we hire who we need; no questions. That said, teams are staffing appropriately, staff are not overworked and are happy. Happy staff = happy clients.
From insights around fracking to crowd funding to Wall Street’s reputation to shopper insights and consumer sentiment, midsize agencies are coming out with points of view. The Makovsky experts have a real point of view in the world, which does not change with the changing new leadership.
Some may argue that bigger is better because of global reach. That’s really not true anymore. For example, Makovsky is part of IPREX (www.iprex.com), which is a global network of nearly 75 agencies in 40 U.S. cities, and in 30 countries, working across the spectrum of industry sectors, practice disciplines and specializations. In fact, through my global experience, a lot of clients with a global footprint are opting for more regional agencies, like those part of IPREX and Makovsky, rather than the regional office of a global agency as costs, personnel and flexibility make them more desirable.
I’ve only highlighted a few key areas that played a role in my decision. As the marketing world continues to change due to social, digital, the Internet of Things and the convergence of paid, owned and earned, how we conduct business needs to evolve. Midsize will prove to everyone they can come out on top. Clients want nimble, quick and entrepreneurial partners. At midsize, it’s not just what we say, it’s in our DNA.
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