International Policy Digest

Sponsored Content /07 Jan 2019

David vs. Goliath: When to Turn to Boutique Media Agencies

In recent years, we have increasingly heard that the influence of transnational corporations has increased in the world. According to many media and “experts,” these same corporations literally rule the world: they come up with products and impose them on us, and we are not able to ignore the trend. However, small and medium companies increasingly prove to have advantages over larger corporations. We will show with simple examples what advantages companies from a few dozen employees have over companies with a staff of thousands of people.

Why PR and media are so expensive. It lies at the core of any product. You cannot find a cinema in the United States without a Coca-Cola advertisement. Coca-Cola Co. spent on advertising in 2017 more than $3.96 billion. It is around 10% of the total company’s global revenue which amounted to about $35.41 billion that year. Obviously the cost of Ads, marketing and PR is very high. Therefore we will talk about PR and marketing agencies.

Let’s imagine, you are an executive from Coca-Cola, and you must make a decision about what agency to pick for your 2021 marketing year. One of the rules of a successful business is: the customer is always right. Obviously, no company will ignore you if you are a Coca-Cola. But what if you are a medium size beverage start-up. So what will be your option now? You need to run a national campaign and you want to start small…so a large media agency can be significantly larger than you. For example, Omnicom Group Inc. is an American global media, marketing, and corporate communications holding company, headquartered in New York City with about $15 billion in revenue. This is a mega company. On the other hand, you have a small New York-based boutique PR and marketing agency, Exclusive PR Solutions. What are your options?

It is believed that the worst quality of customer service is demonstrated by organizations that are not afraid of losing customers. At first glance, it seems illogical that large organizations do not consider the interests of the client a priority for their activities. Nevertheless, there are really negative reviews of American Airlines. Another case is a telecom giant Comcast. It was rated America’s most hated company last year. The company was forced to pay a $2.3 million fine in 2016 over allegations that it charged customers for unauthorized services and equipment. In the end, it is these organizations that have enough funds to implement programs to improve the quality of service. Alas, the reality is that large companies that monopolize the market can afford not to pay attention to small complaints, negative consumer reviews and charge customers without authorization for services that were never provided. It is very expensive and hard to sue such mega-companies. Compare this to smaller enterprises that will fight for every client, and will avoid the courts.

Can we argue that the larger the company, the less it cares about the quality of service? Yes and no. Depends who is a client. If you are a Coca-Cola they most likely will not dare to lose your business, however, you are not in a good position if your resources are not calculated in tens of millions. But why do some companies, despite their large size, continue not to put customer interests at the forefront. Many experts believe that the company’s expansion process can adversely affect the quality of service. During fast expansion, the staff often misses required training. Long hiring processes also can be sacrificed for different time constraining reasons.

In smaller companies, that are at the initial stage of development when the volume of operations is still quite moderate, each employee in one way or another participates in interaction with customers. Even if there is a special person for such work – his duties may include a variety of tasks: from call processing to tracking clients’ claims in social networks. With a moderate operation, it is quite easy to track and respond to all customer requests. Moreover, for small and medium-sized companies, it is simply a matter of survival. However, as a company develops, various departments and divisions appear, it becomes increasingly difficult to coordinate their activities. The sales department seeks to overfulfill the plan, without worrying about the post-sales operations and customer service. IT managers are involved in infrastructure upgrades, ignoring customer service systems, and the CEO is only thinking about the upcoming IPO and stock price. In all this fuss, it is very easy to lose sight of the interests of customers.

In a small boutique company things are different. “Here every client counts,” says Mr. Yuri Zimin, who is a marketing guru at Exclusive PR Solutions. “Every client is as valuable as gold,” he continues. And an individual and exclusive approach is selected for each client. That’s how experts from do their business. They focus on the ultimate quality of their work, and not on the number of projects. For them, each client and their problems are unique. The management of the company personally supervises and takes part in all stages of the project, starting from discussing the details with the client, ending with promotion and publication in the media. The management of the company has direct contacts with all the leading media. For each publication, there is a unique approach. That undoubtedly improves the quality of service.

Interestingly, a boutique firm can provide the same range of services as a mega company. For example, Exclusive PR Solutions provide a wide range of services, starting from the development and promotion of websites, applications, and ending with marketing and targeted PR campaigns, brand and identity creation, including personal branding. Remarkably, but offers turn-key web-based project development, marketing, branding, and PR campaigns. The advantage of such turn-key solutions is significant, as it eliminates probably one of the biggest issues of business related to communications. For example, they are working on an application that is expected to disrupt the communication industry in 2019, but for now, this is a secret project. It is much easier to maintain the high level of secrecy in smaller boutique firms than in larger organizations that can be exposed to commercial espionage. Every employee, from the CEO to the writer and programmer, is interested in providing super-quality service to their clients maintaining the highest possible level of confidentiality. “In addition, all employees are screened through time and experience. No new hires in such projects,” says Yuri Zimin. They have the ability to take a very flexible approach. Despite the fact that this company is not large, they already have a great number of influential contacts and they work with many medium-sized companies, fashion companies, retailers, telecom, healthcare companies, and non-profit organizations.

If we talk about giants, there is a huge staff. This seriously affects the final cost of services and, of course, the client pays for everything. In addition, the gigantic amount of work and the flow of customers seriously limits the creativity of the team. That is why small boutiques like Exclusive PR Solutions offers additional benefits. After all, they do not need to keep a huge staff of employees or rent huge office space. The management of the company and the team care only for their own clients. Reputation is most important.

Small companies are actually forced to maintain a high quality of service. “A private tailor will always make a better suit than a large transnational fast fashion company,” says Mr. Zimin, meaning that his firm provides a really high level of service for just the fraction of the price charged by other large media groups. In addition, a small number of customers and the lack of division across departments allows Exclusive PR Solutions to execute their job without much effort. Large companies that have the resources and opportunities to choose the direction for development and investment, do not always consciously decide to ignore customer service issues, but if their management does not promote the quality of service, this area of activity may be forgotten and ignored. However, today the level of technology development and growing globalization is forcing large companies to reconsider their attitude to consumer interests.

Recall the reaction of the monopolists of the taxi industry to the emergence of Uber. In today’s market, small boutique companies may well compete with large ones as long as they can offer excellent service.

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