After 16 years of being in the “small business owner” category, I have had the privilege of networking with marketers who work for national ad agencies and large-scale corporate marketing departments. At first blush, the idea of mammoth budgets, access to major video producers and directors, and working with global clients seems extraordinarily appealing. It’s the kind of daydream akin to “what would I do if I won the lottery.”
What’s compelling is the simultaneous envy these very individuals have of working at boutique agencies or for themselves, their willingness to trade budget for independence. They love the idea of working with clients who really trust in marketing, and have real bottom-line issues at stake.
It gave me pause to realize just how lucky we are as a ‘small’ advertising agency. Omni is privately held – no investors to report to, no endless maze of approval processes to navigate. Management is part of the Omni team. Ideas for change are presented at will and can be tested easily without going through level after level of approval. If an idea has legs, we try it. If it fails, we at least tried; if it succeeds, everyone wins. Clients have access to the whole team – not just their main account service contact.
The other big difference I have noticed is that large agencies seldom provide newer clients or smaller clients with their top tier creative teams, but rather place their junior members in their stead, and not at a junior price.
Ask any business owner if it is challenging and if there are days when they wonder why they do what they do, and you will hear a resounding groan of “if you only knew”. But at the end of the day, despite the issues small businesses face – undercapitalization, misperceptions that they are too small to handle major business – being nimble, being close to the client and close to the team that makes all the creative magic happen far outweigh any daydreams of the grass being greener at the mega agency. Besides, emptying the garbage yourself once in a while keeps you humble.