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Know the risks of working with smaller ad agencies

Over the last couple of weeks, we?ve been looking at the benefits for brands working with smaller ad agencies. This week we?re going to review the flipside of the argument and outline some of the risks associated with working with boutique agencies. While these offer agility, innovation, specialisation and lower rates, hiring smaller agencies can also be problematic for brands.

risk.jpgFor example, a brand might overlook a large ad agency and instead go with a number of smaller agencies to complete a cluster of projects. In practise, there?s a downside to working with a multitude of creative teams.

Primarily, each boutique agency will bring its own set of personas to the table that the brand will need to build relationships with. Further more, each creative team will have different work strategies, from briefing jobs to managing approval workflow to completing and filing final artwork. This could mean a few things. The brand will need to manage the different ways of communicating with creative teams, from email to Skype calls to face-to-face meetings, depending on how each team likes to work. Additionally, the brand will need to acquaint itself with a range of processes and likely work across a number of project management tools - from old school excel spreadsheets to cloud-based project management and approval workflow software.

Aside from the headache of having to switch between processes and tools, the work that?s delivered by each agency may differ greatly. Compare, say, a boutique agency which uses email to approve artwork, to another one which utilises an online proofing software where mark ups and approvals are managed seamlessly from a central hub. Another issue that may arise is ineffectual storing and sharing of digital marketing assets. In the absence of Digital Asset Management (DAM), a brand could end up having final assets spread out across a number of agencies instead of having them saved in one central repository. This means final assets can be lost over time or are difficult to locate when the brand wants to share them or re-run a campaign.

Brand marketing compliance is another sticking point. Making sure compliance checks are done meticulously is critical for brands. Nonetheless, the more agencies you work with, the harder it is to manage compliance protocols and ensure brand guidelines are upheld across the board. Brands may also find that, while one agency gets what they do, another might drag its feet trying to get on brand; so one project could be ready to go, while the other is still weeks away. If one is reliant on the other, this will no doubt cause grief.

Finally, while smaller agencies are agile and can often churn out projects more readily than larger ad agencies, brands aren?t writing up contracts for smaller or one off projects. Without contracts in place to safeguard their accounts, brands can lose money if a work dalliance with a small agency turns out to be a disastrous.

Stay tuned for next weeks blog where we discuss

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