This might be a new terminology for many but it has been around for some time in the creative industry. A boutique agency is simply a smaller creative agency that focuses on specialized work for a limited client list. They don’t have multiple worldwide locations, a huge payroll as it operates with a smaller staff, and sometimes uses hand-picked and trusted contract workers and freelancers to handle specific aspects of a job, when needed. And, although they produce big agency quality work in their niche, they do so with a lower overhead because of their size.
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 and highly expensive for small and mid-sized clients.
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.