Home >> Marry the right agency, from the start!

Last week I discussed the issues local brands face in marketing within an affordable budget and this week I’m going to delve into this more deeply from a budgetary point of view so you can assess whether you are going to get what you’re after with your current agency or if doing some shopping around would be more beneficial.

What’s your budget?

Probably the scariest question to ask … and answer. Clients often feel if they tell us what their budget is then we’ll spend it all, even if we don’t have to. I don’t blame them really. Some agencies would do exactly that. I can’t say I have ever come across a client that had more to spend than they needed but that’s because we’re a small-medium sized agency and it’s the guys who require budgets to be stretched that usually sit across from me in the board room.

You don’t need to be afraid of answering this question if you’re shopping around. In fact, you’ll sort the “never going to work” from the “we have potential to form a partnership” pile incredibly swiftly if you do. If we look at the broad agency categories we’re dealing with then you’ll soon see where you sit.

Agency Types

Big Agency:

These are the guys that are responsible for all the award winning ads and deal with all the big brand names we love to hear from. Last time I checked, they won’t even consider a client with a budget below R2m and even then, you’re going to get grade Z service. Why? Because they have the credentials to charge the big bucks and it would be silly to give someone on a shoe string budget the same service as someone who’s paying for half their overheads in one campaign. Overheads of big agencies are just as big as them.

They have a huge staff compliment with a significant amount of expertise to call upon and there is no job they cannot do, but it comes at a price. You’re paying for the talent they’ve harvested and nurtured and are currently paying big salaries in order to retain those people. Working on a small account is just as much, if not more, work as a big client. The big guys can afford that luxury.

Medium Size Agency:

This is where the R2m-R10m budget should be looking to shop. These guys can adequately and happily put your budget to good use. They are more equipped to give all their accounts a more even spread of talent because of their more manageable overheads. They are often, in my opinion, home to some of the most amazing talent.

Small Agency:

R100k-R2m is about what a small agency can manage per client/campaign. Their overheads are minimal so you’ll probably get the best budget stretch you’ve ever had right here. The personal service and attention to detail in campaigns is unsurpassed in this bracket. It’s easy to make everything work together, smoothly and be incredibly attentive when the budget is not all encompassing.

One Man Band:

These are the guys you approach when your budget ranges between R50-R100k (anything less than R50k should be handled in-house with your current staff). Asking an agency to plummet the amount of time and energy it takes to put together a campaign for this is asking to be underserviced.  One man bands generally work on two or maybe three clients at one time and they will have access to freelancers who can help make your, albeit small, campaign a success.


Everyone wants to be associated with the agencies that are winning awards and have the biggest brand names on their books. One day you may very well be that company but if you blow your opportunity to experience great marketing efforts with an agency who services your needs as you grow then you may never get to be quite that big or at the very least it will take a lot longer.

Market to the right people … using the right people for your budget size. Just because an agency doesn’t have a major brand on their books doesn’t mean they can’t achieve what you need with ease. They may be more qualified to help you than you think.

Till next week!


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