Why we made a choice to remain a Boutique Loyalty Agency and not be a Gigantic Big Player
We have not just survived in our fifteen years but thrived. We are not just happy for what we have done but rejoiced every moment of our work. We haven’t just stood up raising our flag but silently sported it on our chest at all times like a badge of honor.
While we were at all this and the world was moving – shaking markets, emerging newer channels to sell, rising demand, increased customer growth, savage like market competition, splurging budgets the marketers were exposed to, redefined and evolved client-agency relationships, yet we did not lose our cool, instead maintained our calm and continued to dance & work like a honeybee producing the nectar for ourselves and our clients. .
Its more than ever, that there are a plethora of major loyalty agencies out in the market which have access to better resources, mammoth marketing budgets to splurge to attract bigger customers and contacts which we only can aspire for. .
We got thinking, if there is really any chance for a small, boutique agency like us to stand up and survive against competition? .
Of course there is. As a matter of fact, we did.
We recall, we have always acted against the tide. When others were opening offices, we were shutting down and converging into one large central office. When others were being acquired and became clubbed with traditional herculean and ‘everything we do’ agency models, we focused on developing robust internal engines. When others were looking to hire pedigreed professionals, we brewed our own hired talent to make them the best in league.
Look around, zillions of micro & small businesses survive and some of them flourish in every industry sector against brutal competition. It’s just a matter of playing to your strengths.
Ever been to a scuba diving under the sea? There are plenty of fish in the sea and each one of them swims fearlessly and thrives. Of course there is a pertinent fear of being swallowed or over-run by the bigger fish, but that fear doesn’t restrain you and does not huddle them in one quiet corner. We just stopped being in the race and swam in the open sea braving the water world and rejoiced with our freedom thus choosing sanity over mad rush and playful rejoice over ambitious anarchy to rule the sea..
You see, loyalty agencies come in all shapes and sizes, so do potential clients and their marketing heads who want one of the big, prestigious agencies to work with them, but that isn’t necessarily the case every time. Clients look for solutions and who gives it to them the best. At times price offered as advantage of being big, the blue blood lineage and brooding looks and royal parentage do not really matter. The experience of a comparatively smaller or mid-sized agency which is bred by professionals who are happy in a smaller space (not necessarily narrower mindset) is often valued.
Think about it. We don’t necessarily do all our shopping at Shoppers Stop & Zaras of the world? Or go and buy a Mercedes when we need a new car? Maybe you would if you could afford it – or perhaps we actually prefer the friendliness and service of a local shop, or the reliability of a more family-friendly car.
A boutique agency like us played on our strengths! So what are our strengths of a small agency over the giants?
Well, one is malleability or adaptability. Large companies rely on complex hierarchical machinery, which enables them to run their organization to run smoothly, but can be tremendously slow & clumsy in responding to their client’s needs.
In a boutique agency like ours, decisions are made by just a few individuals who are used to consulting one another. This makes it possible for us to respond very quickly to a client’s requests. It is courtesy to our technology backbone & understanding, our wide experience range of deployed programs are up and running faster than anyone else while the giant would still be gearing up and planning the battle strategies for the client.
Boutique Agencies like us do not have pressure to grow at jet set pace!
Bigger Agencies chase leadership in the volume of business they generate. A boutique agency instead chases ‘thought leadership’ and has no pressure to become a giant. We prefer value over volume and are happy growing in terms of broad range of work we do and achieve a small delta of incremental mileage over preceding year. And this really helps them to focus on the work they are assigned or hired to do. The mindset of a boutique agency is to deliver their best and be commended for the work they deliver since they are managed by satiated seasoned entrepreneurs who found their la la moment every time they achieve success does not matter how small it is.
Boutique Agencies are people, not complex systems of communication!
A small agency always has a specialist, boutique approach. We understand that the clients are dealing with people, not an organization, and their needs and values are looked after in a gradient manner. For them the client’s success is not binary and they certainly do not process a client requirement in a complex and gigantic machinery. In our case people look after people. Their complex machine like mindsets are only the second best in interpreting the demands of client’s wants and desires.
While some clients may consider an unemotional relationship a fair price for the blue blood tag of a larger agency, most clients will still score a personal relationship better as it happened in our case.
And, lastly of course, there is this brutal issue of pricing.
We all know that it is expensive to run a large corporation – ultra fancy offices, higher salaries, perks, travel conferences expenses, frequent bar hangouts to keep their people motivated. And all this tends to reflect in their prices. A smaller boutique agency will do all the above but within the limits of a sane business. This does not mean that they always offer a lower cost to bag business. In our experience, we have often won pitches against larger agencies at reasonably higher pricing, which the clients were willing to pay because the stakes of making the agreed business model work were far more important. No doubt it was not every time that happened but then almost in all cases where price became more important than prestige, we withdrew. The hurt caused by a compromised relationship is always a bad bargain for both sides.
A boutique agency assures magnetism in its relationships. Of course the size does matter. For us our small size did. But our style clocked a better score!