The Case for Boutique Marketing Companies: 5 Truths and a Lie

Posted on September 2, 2020
  • Boutique marketing companies give you the benefit of a deep, specialized skill set
  • This specialized skill set translates into higher-quality work
  • Working with a team of specialists means you’ll only pay for the services you use — and you’ll get a fair rate
  • Hiring a few boutique companies to run your marketing can bring out the best of each team

There are several good reasons to hire a large, full-service agency. Not the least of which is convenience. You get all of your marketing needs taken care of with one cohesive team, and for one monthly retainer.

Hiring a full-service agency is also a “safe” choice. After all, nobody ever went wrong hiring a tried-and-true agency. They may not have broken any barriers with their latest campaign, but they didn’t damage their brand. The person who hired a full-service agency also didn’t have to manage several teams.

But what the big agencies provide in convenience, many of them lack the deep, specialized knowledge to bring a truly creative solution to your business.

We know the thought of managing multiple teams sounds tough for any business leader. We’re not here to tell you that it will always be easy. But when you find the right team of specialists who work well together, you’ll have a higher-performing dream team.

So, let’s dig in a bit deeper and explore 5 truths and a lie about working with specialist, boutique marketing companies.

Watercolor charts to illustrate knowledge

Truth: Working with Boutique Agencies Gives You a Deep Well of Knowledge to Draw From

It’s rare to find a marketing agency that has true expertise in all departments. And if you do, it’s not going to be cheap.

With boutique agencies, you get the benefit of deep expertise in a particular area — which means superior results. Specialized marketers know all about a particular discipline of the field because they’re immersed in it 24/7, instead of trying to keep abreast of all marketing that could possibly exist.

In fact, it’s a dirty little secret that many full-service agencies actually bring in boutique consultancies to work on your account for this reason. We know, because we’ve been brought in to provide the SEO and development firepower for agencies.

If you know that you want to go all-in on a particular marketing channel, it might make more sense to cut out the middleman and work directly with the experts.

Truth: Working With Specialists Will Give You The Marketing Mix You Need

No matter what the account executive might tell you, not all companies need every channel of marketing.

Sometimes you’ll just best be served by an SEO expert who can work with your content team to catapult your business to greater heights of search engine dominance. Or maybe you have a fantastic designer and web developer — but you need a little help with PPC.

Working with specialists not only guarantees you get a talented, highly skilled team for your retainer, but it also means you’ll only be paying for the skills you need on your team. Not the company’s overhead.

Dolla dolla bills

Truth: Working With a Boutique Agency Can Be More Economical

As we’ve mentioned above, truly talented marketers don’t come cheap. If you’re hiring the best and brightest for each and every discipline, the bill is going to add up quickly.

If you partner with the big agencies, you’re going to be paying for all of this expertise — whether you need it or not.

If you’re one of the few companies that genuinely need every service, this is fantastic. But if you don’t, doesn’t it make sense to only pay for the top-caliber talent you actually need?

And as a bonus, your specialty agency won’t be trying to upsell you on services that don’t actually get you any more leads. Boutique marketers typically act more like a consultant — meaning they’ll be upfront about what you actually need vs. what they can sell you.

Truth: Working With Subject Matter Experts Means a Higher Caliber of Work

That deep expertise we keep prattling on about is more than just encyclopedic knowledge. Hiring an expert to do the job means you get expert-caliber work. You’re paying a team who lives, breathes and bleeds their discipline.

They’re busy looking at your metrics and analyzing tech and search trends to identify direction of Google algorithm updates, while the generalist team is just trying to stay on top of how to do keyword research.

At Polymath, we take a more holistic view to try and understand what Google is trying to accomplish so we can think about how they might approach it via automation (algorithms, machine learning, AI, etc) and tweak our clients strategies and sites accordingly.

Another downside we’ve seen with the big guys is that you build rapport and trust with the sales rep and/or the first strategist, then you’re handed off to some “stranger.” In some cases, your project may even be handed off multiple times within a contract — leaving you to feel unimportant and uncared for.

With a boutique agency, you’ll often get to know your point of contact before you sign the contract. And they’re much more likely to put a single person in charge of your project — and keep them there. Benefit to you is that they’ll understand your brand, challenges and goals from Day 1.

Serving you kick-ass marketing on a platter

Truth: Smaller Team Means Better Service

We’re not trying to say that all large agencies provide bad service. But we are saying that communicating with your team may be challenging.

If you have a technical question about something related to your marketing, your account manager will have to track down the answer through several layers of team members. Having to find time to talk to the SEO team about your specific project to get the details, then play telephone to give you the answer can be time-consuming. You’d get a faster answer by sending a carrier pigeon.

But it’s totally different with a boutique agency. Your account manager is the same person running your project. They know the answer right away, because they’re the ones setting the strategy — and maybe even doing the work.

Good boutiques are built for speed. They have efficient means of communication and access set up to get better answers more quickly, and oftentimes directly from the source. If the issues or questions are complex enough the client might even be able to speak directly to the relevant team member.

This also makes the specialist partner more nimble. They’re probably more focused on finding a creative solution to your challenges than following a set way of doing things.

The Lie: Managing All of These Specialists Is a Headache

The key is to find a set of partners who work well together. Finding the right mix of partners to make a dream team is lightning in a bottle.

Assuming you choose your partners based on those who play well with others (an underrated skill!), your teams will bring out the best in each other — and your project.

If you’re still contemplating whether to hire a boutique consultant, or a traditional full-service agency, we hope this article made you realize that weighing the pros and cons is not a direct comparison. Each approach has its strengths and drawbacks.

If you’re looking for a badass team of specialist SEOs and web developers to add to your team, let’s talk. Get in touch here, and we’ll start the conversation.