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Careers in Marketing: Should You Work For a Boutique Firm?

boutique marketing firms

Whether it’s clothes, food or a brand-new car, an intelligent marketing campaign will make customers believe they have to have the given product.

Marketing firms are responsible for creating, implementing and sustaining effective campaigns that will ideally become firmly lodged in the public consciousness.

While each firm offers their own services and benefits for clients, at the end of the day their goal is essentially the same – to help drive traffic and direct sales to their client’s business.

If you’re planning a career in marketing, you’ll have the choice of either working for a boutique firm with smaller clients or at one of the big industry leaders responsible for the world’s most famous ad campaigns.

To learn more, we decided to find out what it’s like to work at a boutique marketing firm.

Giants & Titans

Dave Reed at boutique firm Giants & Titans thinks the way the company works, its focus on personal development and the variety of projects are clear differentiators from larger firms.

He said: “As a smaller, more agile team of specialists everyone in our team works together to deliver results for our clients. This inclusive, open and collaborative style is in contrast to bigger agencies where roles tend to be more restricted to a particular set of tasks.”

The company’s personal development opportunities also make a difference. He said: “We have a people strategy based on clear progression and as a smaller team, our guys tend to advance their careers more quickly than in bigger agencies.

“It’s much more effective for us to promote from within and this strategy obviously benefits both our people and the business’ balance sheet.”

In larger agencies, employees are often allocated to a specific brand team, which has the capacity to feel as though you are working in the clients’ business, rather than within an agency role.

Dave added: “We get involved in a huge variety of work for brands with lots of different challenges. One minute we could be thinking about how to raise awareness for a new moisturizer on social media, and the next we could be shooting a new range of shoes for an up & coming fashion brand. Because we solve problems for a diverse range of brands no two days are ever the same.”

G&T often pitch against large firms and win thanks to being more agile and flexible. Dave said: “Big agencies are like oil tankers: they are large and full of crew who operate in a set hierarchy and do things the way they have been done for decades.

“They are undoubtedly great at transporting large loads from A to B and have a degree of power because of their large engines, but try getting them to change direction and they need to engage reverse gear for three miles just to stop!

“As a powerboat we have all the key specialists onboard, built with the knowledge and skill to go further, faster with impressive agility. Powerboats are built to move fast, adapt to changing situations and create ideas that deliver big results.

“Big brands like our clients NIVEA & Kaspersky are wise to the fact they need agencies that match their ambition, not their size. A big agency does not necessarily equal big thinking, big service or big results.”

Brand marketing is one of the many important elements in business. Dave said: “It’s crucial for a business to have a solid brand identity because it gives everyone connected to that brand - whether they’re a client, employee or supplier - something to differentiate the business by.

“G&T operates in a market where there are 22,000 other agencies claiming to do what we do but thanks to our powerboat branding, clients can see a difference between Giants & Titans and the other 21,999 agencies who are looking to work with them.”

Dave notes that brand marketing also creates an emotional connection between the business and its customers. Without that emotion, the relationship is purely transactional and can therefore be easily discarded or usurped by a better offer.

Ormí Media

Natalie Athanasiadis, founder of boutique firm Ormí Media, described to us how the company predominantly works with medium-sized businesses in Australia and the US.

A large portion involves working in the travel space, which is highly competitive and keeps the company on their toes.

Natalie said one of the perks is that employees can work remotely, meaning the schedule is flexible. She said: “This reduces commute times, giving our team less stress to deal with and more time to do the things they enjoy!

"The added bonus is that it also improves productivity. Our team is very collaborative by nature and this is my style of leadership. Creativity is encouraged and everyone’s voice is heard and genuinely appreciated.”

Ormí Media’s primary focus is their clients and growing their revenue is their main priority. Natalie said: “I think boutique firms are in a better position to give better service to clients.

“As a business owner, you would have more revenue as a big business. If that is your only goal, then [a] big [marketing firm] is the way to go. If you want to make a positive impact, then boutique.”

Natalie notes how important brand marketing is for her business too, saying it is critical. She said: “You need to be able to convey your brand values to your audience effectively. It is what creates a great impression and shows clients what they can expect from working with your business.” 

Builtvisible

Specialist, organic digital agency Builtvisible focuses on getting brands the visibility they deserve through SEO, content and analytics.

As an independent agency, Builtvisible can be innovative and agile in its approach, meaning they have a luxury of deciding who they do and don’t work with.

Caitlin Dawes from Builtvisible said: “Being a specialist agency means we are experts in our field and so we continue to grow experts.

“Employees enjoy autonomy with the support of regular one-to-one’s and they have a voice that can impact internal change. On any given day you’ll find our team celebrating the wins and learning from the challenges – together.”

The company works across multiple sectors including travel, e-commerce and finance, with brands like Vitality, Bravissimo, Icelandair, Avis, Towergate Insurance and Hunter Boots.

Rewarding employees for the good work they do is important, and Builtvisible uses a number of initiatives to promote wellbeing. From access to healthcare coverage with 50 percent off gym membership, flexible working hours, training and development plans to expand horizons, monthly socials and matching pension contributions – employees are well looked after.

There are pros and cons to working in a boutique marketing firm, with different companies bringing their own benefits to clients and employees. So, would you choose boutique?

Niamh Ollerton, Deputy Head of Content at QS
Written by Niamh Ollerton

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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