Let’s stipulate that I’m biased in favor of our agency, Mintz + Hoke, whose size I feel is just right for nearly everybody. If we can put that aside for a moment, I’d like to address the issue of agency size in general, and by extension, the depth and breadth of agency services offered.
We were founded by a couple guys who believed agencies should offer everything, fully integrated, all under one roof. I wish this was entirely based on business strategy, but the truth is Joe and Alan loved everything about the agency business and wanted to do everything. As it turned out, having a broad offering has been helpful to most of our clients, as well as good for our business.
Though not always. Many prospects are keen on specialty shops, and agencies with a very clear and exclusive focus. Most of the time, these clients prefer to have a roster of shops, each niched into their stated, or perceived, area of expertise. It’s often called a “best-in-breed” strategy. This often makes sense, though not always. Sometimes forcing strict silos reduces efficiency, increases client work load and deprives clients of perfectly viable services simply because they live outside an agency label.
In the digital age, there are certain services that make no sense for us to provide, for example large-scale SEO/SEM and mobile apps. If required, we have great partners whom we can call upon to do these things, but we’re not well positioned to bring them in-house.
We do, however, do nearly everything else. At about 55 people, we have the capacity to handle complete campaigns, including online and offline strategy and tactics, advertising, PR, video, web, social, etc.
This is largely true of most Worldwide Partners agencies. We all believe, with some justification, that we deliver to clients a wide array of services, tightly integrated, from a single source, with the kind of customer service you rarely get from the big agencies.
Goldilocks – not too big, not too small.
Except when we are. When it comes to agency size, the true cutoff is the scale of the prospect itself. If a prospect is projecting net billings well north of million, that’s where bigger operations can bring a depth of resources and efficiencies of scale beyond our capabilities (though we’d give it a go given the opportunity!)
On the other end, we have a pricing floor that smaller or single-focus agencies can often drop below and still make a profit.
But within these bookends, smart client prospects pick agencies first for their industry or service experience and expertise, the quality of their work, devotion to client service and nice smiles. The last criterion, of course, being pre-eminent.