Although smaller, independent agencies can be viewed as a low cost alternative, some of the largest brands put there trust into them, and find that their lack of corporate structure and hierarchy actually offers a better service, unfiltered thinking, value and pace.

It balances the support of a team infrastructure, but without the bureaucracy, whilst still offering creative freedom and decisions. It provides a genuine desire to help client’s meet their objectives and work with you again.

Ultimately, every agency is different, and much like large, full service agencies, contractors or freelancers, you’ll have good and bad experiences along the way.

Large full service agencies

Great if you can afford to work with a large creative agency to strategise and develop your advertising campaign. No doubt they will have a network of resource of top notch creatives, and a client services team to guide you through your journey, but it’s going to cost!

Even during a pandemic, when marketing budgets have been cut, and marketers jobs are on the line, some businesses will stick within their comfort zone, and always favour reassuringly expensive.

I’ve worked for a number of advertising and digital marketing agencies, at varying sizes over the years. And it’s no secret, that some of the largest ‘Full Service Agencies’ outsource some of their creative advertising and technical projects, to smaller independent, specialists agencies, or freelancers, and add a hefty mark up.

There’s nothing wrong with that, and in some cases outsourced projects from large agencies are the life blood for a number of smaller ones. So if anything it’s another reason to consider working with an independent agency.

Overall, it’s likely you’re going to get great creative output with a larger agency, offering a well oiled management team, and cross selling you a number of services. But you may not get the same level of specialist expertise, value or efficiencies compared to smaller agencies or freelance resource. And be prepared to pay for every step of the journey.

Contractors or freelancers

For many years, particularly since the introduction of LinkedIn and ever increasing networking opportunities, brand/business owners and freelancers have become more savvy, connecting directly with each other, bypassing the middle man, the agency.

And why not, if it works, you can still achieve a great outcome, and it will save you money. As an agency we work with some excellent freelancers when the workflow is full, or we are looking for specialist talent. It happens everywhere, and if an agency says otherwise, they’d be lying!

It can be great to have flexible talent that will manage your project and deliver. However when things don’t work out working with an individual, this can be a challenge for both the marketer and their business.

I regularly meet and work with talented creative and development resources, so I’m not out to ruffle feathers, or get insurance salesman on you. Some are great designers, but not great at management. Some have a great sense of humour, but will take any opportunity to charge you extra when they receive feedback. There are of course many exceptions, that cover all bases, and always deliver.

In summary, when working directly with a freelancer or contractor, it can offer great value, but if things go wrong, particularly on a complex delivery, it could hurt your business, reputation and even your ability to sleep, without a wider team support that’s needed to cover unforeseen events.

Things to consider when looking for a creative digital agency or designer

With so much choice in an increasingly crowded market, it’s only a Google search away to find a creative agency. And let’s be honest, these days, the location of an agency is less important now than ever.

Just make sure when you are looking for a creative agency online, that you also consider specialist agencies who appear in organic search engine listings, rather than those that listed higher in sponsored ads, who will invariably have a healthier pay per click budget to grab your attention.

You could argue that an independent or specialist agency is a half way house between working with a large integrated agency or an experienced freelancer. If you find the right agency, it can often result in more efficiencies and a personable, managed experience.

I’m not suggesting an independent agency is going to be right for every brand, but if a business needs a flexible, or specialist solution, that balances value, a tight team infrastructure, and creativity, you won’t go far wrong. Particularly if you connect with the people, and they of course deliver.

If you are looking to work with a creative advertising/marketing agency, or any supplier, regardless of your industry, or target market, consider the following;

• Do I like their work?
• Are they experienced in my field?
• Do I like the people/can I work with them?
• Can I trust them to deliver on time and to budget?

If you tick these boxes, from there it’s all about the brief, on-boarding, management, relationship and delivery.

Do Something Digital is an experienced independent creative advertising and marketing agency in Bristol, delivering customer focused advertising and technical solutions for campaigns and long term developments.

We don’t charge for our ideas, so if you have a forthcoming project, and are looking for some guidance and support, challenge us, and we’ll work with you to provide direction, ideas and technical know-how, regardless of your business shape or size.