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Big vs. Small Inbound Marketing Agencies: Which is Better?

Posted by Loree O'Sullivan


image credit: smemon via flickr cc

If you are considering hiring an inbound marketing agency to help with content creation, strategy, and measurement, you may be considering agency size as a factor. Marketers may believe that smaller agencies provide a much different client experience than large agencies, which can be shaped by prior experiences. While size can affect experience, it doesn't necessarily predict the quality of a business partnership. 

In an Adage editorial, Jason Rosenblum debates the pros and cons of agency size, and how it can shape the quality of resulting marketing. Ultimately, Rosenblum notes that you should hire an agency based on the following factors:

  • Flexibility to develop fresh ideas
  • A culture of risk-taking
  • Knowledge of disruptive tactics

Either small or large agencies can have the right culture to support the innovative idea-generation that's necessary to successful inbound marketing. However, agency size is still an important conversation to have in the research phase of your hiring decision. Join us as we review the pros and cons that could be associated with small or large inbound marketing agencies, and considerations that could help shape your decision.


Pros and Cons of Small Inbound Marketing Agencies

As illustrated by Rosenblum, agency size is not necessarily correlated with quality. If you are considering a small agency, it's more important to ask specific questions about their culture and outsourcing processes than make a decision based on pure on-site talent. A small agency could fall prey to highly rigid processes, or they could have a deep network of some of the most talented contractors available. If you are interviewing a small agency, consider the following possible pros and cons:
  • Smaller agencies can retain their culture
  • Pricing may be lower
  • Specialized talent can often be outsourced
  • You could have direct communication with top talent, including agency leadership
  • The agency may have less rigid processes and more flexibility to adapt to your processes
  • Turn-around times can be much faster
  • Some agencies may have less talent on-staff
  • Some agencies may have less flexible bandwidth, depending on their contractors

Pros and Cons of Large Inbound Marketing Agencies

Understanding your businesses' needs and preferences can be important to assessing how well a large agency could fit your needs. If you know you prefer flexible processes and a dedicated account manager, consider these factors when interviewing. Take these possible pros and cons into account:
  • May have top talent in all marketing specialties, including web design and graphics
  • Rarely have to outsource specialty projects
  • Could have dedicated bandwidth reserved for special project requests
  • Often have extremely well-defined processes
  • Top talent may be assigned to the largest accounts
  • The agency may have rigid processes for approval
  • The team may have existing tools for communication and project management
  • Pricing may be higher

Is a Big or Small Inbound Marketing

Agency Right for Me?


Ultimately, the inbound marketing consultant that's right for your business is the one that represents the best cultural and strategic fit for your needs. The size of an agency doesn't matter as much as your potential to collaborate well over time. Joey Dye of Horton Group highlights that hiring an inbound agency is the beginning of a business partnership, so doing "your research" is critical.

The extent to which an agency fits your business can involve quite a few factors. However, it's important to consider the following in addition to the agency team's size:

  • Location: Hiring an Inbound Agency in Tulsa or your hometown can allow for in-person meetings and strategy sessions. 
  • Track Record: What do the agency's inbound results look like? Do they have a history of highly-satisfied clients?
  • Industry Expertise: Some organizations in highly-regulated or "boring" industries can benefit from an inbound team with vertical or B2B-specific expertise. 
  • Success Measures: How does the agency measure inbound success? Do they offer regular reporting on inbound marketing metrics?

Does Agency Size Even Matter?

Inbound marketing agency size can be an indicator of client experience. However, it's not the only factor that should shape your decision to interview or hire an agency. While you may know that a small inbound agency can provide a personalized touch, take into account the agency's track record, location, and industry expertise before signing a contract.

Do you have a preference between large and small inbound marketing agencies? Why or why not?

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