Size Doesn't Matter (for New Marketing Agencies)

Jordyne Wu
Jordyne Wu



In Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery , our hero, driving a massive steamroller at a snail's pace, bears down on a security guard, about 20 yards away.  Despite ample time to move out of harm's way, the guard stays put, eventually flattened like the proverbial pancake.

Austin Powers Steam Roller

The Internet disproportionately benefits small businesses , and that includes small agencies, too.  With inbound marketing, smaller agencies aren't one giant sloth of a steamroller, but a fleet of quick-moving little ones.

This disruption boils down to business-model alignment, or rather mis alignment, from recent shifts in marketing .  Most large, traditional agencies excel at outbound marketing and their business model is aligned for that.  They need a large, fixed staff and they charge accordingly.

But what happens when this comparative advantage is no longer advantageous?  When what agencies do best (outbound marketing) is no longer best for clients?

Smaller agencies aren't wedded to old marketing methods  They have no stake in preserving them. In fact, just the opposite since the new world order benefits them in several ways .

1. Today's marketing is about content, not distribution.  You don't need big budgets for TV/radio/print ads.  You don't need PR agencies' access to gatekeepers.  Where distribution is a polo game for the elite, content is a scrappy, pickup game anyone can play.  The challenge now is breaking through the cacophony of content online... but that just requires brains, not budget.

2. Marketing tools are freely available.   No need for expensive monitoring tools only big agencies can afford when there's a myriad of inexpensive ones (e.g. HubSpot , Radian6 , Cision ).  To create content, you don't need professional equipment or staffing.  HubSpot's latest marketing video was born from a great idea, one hour of scriptwriting, and two hours of shooting using a $100 camcorder.

3. You can be a virtual, full-service agency.   Inbound marketing doesn't require a huge, integrated staff.  We built the HubSpot Marketing Services Marketplace as an eBay for marketing services (open to both HubSpot and non-HubSpot customers).  It turns out that marketing agencies also use it to find collaborators for projects.  One agency may be great at graphic design, offering call to action buttons or landing page design services, but collaborates with freelancers to provide clients with blog writing services or social media marketing services .  Flexible staffing in the virtual agency model makes them more nimble, specialized yet general, and thus able to charge more competitive rates.

4. You can afford -- and win with -- guerilla tactics.   Most big firms won't change their practices quickly, even if they see the steamroller (or in this case, many tiny steamrollers) coming.  Smaller firms, unencumbered by a broken business model, have little to lose trying new things.  Think outside-the-box to take capture business from traditional firms.  Contemplate la carte jobs , which often lead to ongoing business.  Embrace performance measurements (such as the ones on our Marketplace directories ) and consider performance-based pricing from the resultant traffic, leads, or customers from your services.

We've had raging debates here as to whether PR is dead , Madison Avenue's future , how the marketing services industry is broken Parts I and II , and how we can help transform the marketing services industry .  Not all agencies are in denial, but watch out for smaller, nimbler agencies already pouncing on the opportunities created by this market disruption.


Live Webinar: A Day in the Life of the Inbound Marketer

Inbound Marketer

Feel overwhelmed by all the things you need to do to be a successful inbound marketer? Learn from 2 inbound marketers at HubSpot on how to prioritize your days and leverage internal & external resources to get the highest ROI from inbound marketing. Reserve your spot now !

When: Friday, March 26, 2010 at 12:00 PM ET

Related Articles

We're committed to your privacy. HubSpot uses the information you provide to us to contact you about our relevant content, products, and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For more information, check out our Privacy Policy.

Outline your company's marketing strategy in one simple, coherent plan.

Marketing software that helps you drive revenue, save time and resources, and measure and optimize your investments — all on one easy-to-use platform