It’s been said that choosing an ad agency is a lot like choosing who to marry, with one major difference—you spend more time with your agency.

So, if you want to be happy, you’d better have chemistry, share core beliefs and have some serious love for your ad agency.

One of the biggest contributors to all those things is something that might not seem obvious at first: The size and structure of your agency partner.

Truth is, size bears heavily on your relationship. It affects your importance to the agency, response time on projects, the availability of the strongest talent, your impact on the agency’s reputation and the agency’s ability to quickly adjust to changes.

While big agencies often have more resources, those same resources may not be as readily available to small or mid-sized clients. Likewise, the best talent is often assigned to the most lucrative accounts. And moving an ad through the many layers of a large agency can be time consuming, to put it politely.

With small agencies, some resources may have to be outsourced—but those resources can be handpicked to ideally match your needs. As for the best talent, the small agency model generally means everyone works on everything, a practice that makes for happier and more engaged talent. As for changes, well, fewer errors mean fewer delays, especially with simple assignments.

Working with a boutique agency also means you always have the attention of the most senior people, including the CEO/owner, the Creative Director, Media VP and the most seasoned account professionals. And everyone in a boutique agency feels the impact of every client—on the agency’s bottom line, its schedule and, perhaps most importantly, its reputation. So you’ll often find a level of focus and enthusiasm at a boutique you might not find at a larger agency.

Just as your favorite boutique retailer offers you more intimate, hands-on, flexible and accommodating service (especially compared to a Big Box store), a boutique ad partner makes you feel like you’re its only client. And that’s a pretty special feeling.


Posted by Andrew Smith, president of initiate-it, a fully committed, fully prepared, full-service agency in Richmond, Virginia. Andrew founded initiate-it in 2011 after spending 20 years learning the business from inside large and small agencies and in-house corporate marketing departments.

Initiate the conversation by contacting Andrew Smith.