By Kristy Sturgill • December 14, 2018

Small vs. Large: Which Inbound Marketing Agency is Best

Oklahoma Marketing Agencies

Is bigger better? Sometimes, people like to correlate large with successful. It seems like an easy indicator of good work because they wouldn’t be large if they were bad at what they do, right? Well, maybe, but that still doesn’t mean they are the right fit to help you reach your marketing goals.

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Let’s think for a minute about using this indicator with other types of businesses. It’s lunchtime and you’re trying to choose between two different restaurants.

You can eat at a nearby fast food restaurant that serves hundreds or even thousands of people every day. It’s a huge restaurant chain and everybody is familiar with it. Or you can choose a locally-owned restaurant that specializes in homemade soups and pie. The local restaurant probably serves 40% fewer customers each day.


Well, neither one is necessarily better than the other, but they each offer something different. We wouldn’t automatically assume the fast food restaurant was better simply because it was bigger or served more customers, but it would be the best choice if you were looking for a quick meal on the run.

Similarly, you wouldn’t assume the soup and pie restaurant was worse because it served fewer customers. It would be the best choice if you wanted to sit down and have a good meal with quality ingredients.

So if bigger isn’t better when it comes to restaurants, it’s important to remember bigger isn’t better when it comes to a marketing agency. It all depends on what you want. So what do you want?

Large Agency Benefits

When you’ve finally made the decision to hire a marketing agency, you might start with a simple Google search like “best marketing agencies.” With Google’s new local search algorithm, you’ll probably see some small agencies on this page, but you’ll also see the biggest agencies too.

Let’s start here. What do the big agencies have that they can uniquely offer?

  1. It’s possible to have more resources at your disposal.

It’s likely a large agency will have a bigger staff and bigger budgets, and if your company is anticipating exponential growth in the coming years, then a big agency might have a special appeal to you because they’ll have everything in place to handle your expansion.

  1. You could have a larger service selection.

A large agency might be able to offer up more services or service combinations. Do you only want social media management? Cool, they probably have a service option for just that. Do you need full-service marketing solutions? They’ll handle that also. Smaller agencies sometimes struggle to offer a la carte options because it becomes really expensive and cumbersome to manage.

That’s not to say all large agencies offer single service solutions and all small agencies offer a pick-and-choose format. Each agency is different, which is why it is so important to have conversations with each for your best options.

  1. The agency could have branches located nationally or internationally.

If your brand is national or international, a large marketing agency might have team members across the country or globe. The benefit is you’ll have marketers who understand the regional culture, so they’ll likely create more effective marketing materials that make sense to the target market.

Large Agency Disadvantages

While there are a few notable advantages to hiring a large agency, you also need to consider some reasons they wouldn’t be the right fit for your company.

  1. You’ll potentially pay more for similar services.

Big agencies operate with a big overhead. In return, you might pay a steeper price for the same services you’d get with a small or local agency.

Let’s use college courses as an example. You could take writing composition at a small local university or at a large private school. The local university is likely cheaper. Why? Because the school has a smaller overhead and competes by charging less per credit hour. Students at both universities are receiving a similar education, but one is simply paying more.

  1. Personalized service may be limited.

A big agency will have a lot of clients. You might make up to 3% of their annual revenue. When they are managing dozens or even hundreds of other clients, they might have set expectations on how and when they will communicate with you.

The customer service might be great at a large agency, but you’ll have to be prepared to handle the limitations that might come with hiring a bigger agency too.

  1. Larger agencies are sometimes risk averse.

It’s harder for large companies to be agile. That’s true for retail giants like Macy’s or Target and its true for marketing agencies too. You might decide that you need to be on the newest social media platform, but the large agency might not have a system in place for that yet, and they might not plan to incorporate it until after they’ve determined the profit potential.

Small Agency Benefits

There are more and more agency sizes and specialties to choose from in the current marketplace. Just like large agencies have unique benefits, so do smaller agencies.

  1. Small agencies are nimble.

Imagine a large yacht and a small speedboat. Which do you think would be best for changing directions quickly and starting and stopping just as fast? The speedboat of course.

Marketing is changing at breakneck speeds. You’ll want an agency that can be agile and change annual marketing objectives based on new findings, especially if you plan on experimenting with new platforms or out-of-the-box marketing ideas.

  1. Small agencies are personal.

Small agencies might have 40 clients or fewer, which means they have more time to dedicate to each of their clients. It’s like the difference between walking into Walmart versus walking into a small specialty boutique shop.

When you walk into Wal-Mart, you’ll go largely unnoticed by the staff unless you seek one out and ask a question. When you walk into a boutique, the store clerk is going to ask you questions and lead you to merchandise they think fits your taste. It’s not that Wal-Mart staff doesn’t care, they simply just have too many clients to spend personalized time with each one that walks through the door.

Small Agency Disadvantages

  1. Service option limitations.

Small agencies might not do everything, but instead, they choose to do a few things very well. For example, an inbound agency might specialize in this particular style of marketing but have limited access to other services like public relations or traditional advertising.

It’s not that they won’t offer those services if you need them, they just might not have staff dedicated to those types of tasks specifically.

  1. The agency might be new.

Many agencies seem to be popping up everywhere. Some are better than others, and if they’ve had a limited number of clients, you might not have many reviews to read before hiring them. It might feel riskier if a small agency doesn’t have a long history of successful work or a robust portfolio.

  1. A small agency might be more expensive.

Back to our restaurant example. A smaller restaurant isn’t always the cheaper restaurant. The soup and pie restaurant might charge nearly double the price compared to the fast food option. So, while it is wrong to assume bigger is better, it is similarly wrong to assume that smaller is cheaper.

The small agency might have just as high overhead as a large agency because the number of employees to clients is the same. However, the price isn’t the only thing you should consider when hiring an agency.

(Riddle: What is something you pay a premium price for that you could otherwise have for free? - Answer at the end of the blog.)

In fact, there are dozens of other considerations that are even more important than price.

How Do You Weigh the Best Option?

Here are a few things to consider when you are making a decision between marketing agencies.

  • Can the agency help you achieve your marketing goals?
  • Will they incorporate your company culture into the marketing materials?
  • Are they available to answer your questions when you need them?
  • What types of results have they achieved for past clients?
  • Do they have enthusiasm for your industry?
  • Do they have the ability to manage the workload?
  • Can they handle your future company growth?
  • Do you like the team?

Are you planning your marketing initiatives for 2019? Download our new workbook to get started! If you’re thinking about hiring a Norman marketing agency, then we hope you’ll schedule some time to conduct a free 30-minute strategy session by calling us at (405) 928-3395.

As promised the answer to the riddle: water. People pay more for water bottles than they pay for water from the tap. They’ll even pay more for smaller water bottles than bigger ones and for colder water bottles than for room temperature.

The lesson: Price isn’t the only factor worth considering when you're choosing your marketing agency.