Selecting the Right Agency For Small Businesses

While managing an integrated firm may seem simpler, building a network of specialist firms can be more rewarding

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Your small business has been your big dream. To see this dream soar, you need to market it so that more and more people get to hear about it. This is no easy task! With 51 million Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in India, you do need to stand out.


You can't be successful in this complex digital world, working in isolation. Digital transformation has redefined competition. To be successful in this complex digital world, you can't work in isolation. You can lean on external agency partners that provide you the scale and experience required to provide the right impetus to your business.

While establishing a network of agencies, it is essential to boost growth and it is not as straight forward. There is massive fragmentation. You need one player to meet all your needs, but their expertise is not deep enough across functions. You end up bringing different players and that leads to integration challenges in the long run.

Should you look for an integrated 360-degree agency partner or many specialist agencies? Should you look to partner a media agency to grow your business, a brand agency to build your brand story, a PR agency for your increasing communication needs, a customer experience agency, or a social media agency?

Here are some tips that can help you through this journey:

Steer Clear of an Unclear Brief

Write down the brief. It will help you refine your thoughts and determine quantifiable goals on what you want to achieve through this partnership. Get to the core business challenge that you are trying to resolve – the most vital thing to know before you commit to getting an agency on board.

Out With Outsourcing

Go from an "outsourcing to an agency" attitude, to working closely with the agency. Partner them. You are entrusting your brand reputation and the success of your business to them, so it is worth investing your time and money.

Line-up Your Agency Options

Ask peers, ask your LinkedIn contacts, ask other marketing professionals. Do whatever it takes to identify and shortlist agencies based on the core service you need. Researching well will help you zero in on what you need.

Large "All-services' Agency versus Specialist Firms

A large agency can offer an array of services from creative development to media strategy and media buy. Small specialist firms have their niches. While managing an integrated firm may seem simpler, building a network of specialist firms can be more rewarding. As a small business, they give you more attention as a prized client, and may even understand your ethos better. But each will require close partnership and hence your time.

Crack Agency Pricing Models & Measurement Criteria They Deploy

It's a battle between retainers and projects. Is there an incentive earning opportunity for the agency? How can you incentivize them to be result-oriented? What are you getting, at what price? Can you define quantified deliverables to ensure you get what you desire? As with any negotiation, how do you make it viable for both parties? It is important to nail these answers.

Make That Office Visit

Agencies will send their best talent to pitch for your business. But they may not be the ones who will work with you. Go meet experts who will actually work on your business. It will also help you figure if there is a match of values and cultures. Do you see yourself working with the team? Getting these aspects right are important in the larger scheme of things.

There is no doubt that the partner(s) you pick, could deliver on the competitive differentiator your small business needs to succeed. A lasting partnership is also a lot about finding sync. Putting in the requisite preparation before selection will hold you in good stead in the long term.