Virtually everyone with an interest in marketing has heard of Young & Rubicam, Ogilvy or BBDO. They’re some of the biggest dogs in the field, the ones who have come up with some of the cleverest – and most successful – ad campaigns ever launched.

But not everyone can afford to work with the big firms. That’s just a fact. But just because you can’t have J. Walter Thompson himself craft your next media campaign in his New York City offices doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. In fact, you might actually be better served by a small, boutique agency operating closer to home.

There are a number of advantages to working with a small or mid-sized agency, and they may better suit your needs. For one thing, they’re smaller, and while some might see that as a negative, it’s really a positive attribute much of the time. At a smaller firm, you’re not just a name on an account jacket, you’re a person on a mission, and the agency is your partner in achieving success. As well, they’re more likely to be familiar with your local market, which can prove to be a huge benefit.

Because of these personal relationships, creatives at these smaller shops tend to take their work very seriously, not only because they want to make themselves look good, but because they want to make YOU look good as well. Not surprising, considering the personal relationship you’ve likely developed with them. Who wants to let their friends down?

As well, there’s typically a certain amount of skill-sharing at a small marketing agency, where everyone is encouraged to pitch in as needed. The copywriter might also do some web design on the side, or the designer might also be involved with photography and video. Not only does this mean a greater range of skill sets available to you, but there’s also the opportunity for one person to step in and cover for another if circumstances demand it. This keeps your project on time and on budget even when the unexpected occurs.

Another big advantage of small agencies is their lack of an entrenched bureaucracy, allowing them to be more agile, more flexible, and more responsive. They don’t have to go through multiple layers of approvals and signoffs – which is often the most time-consuming part of a project – before executing on your campaign materials, and since they’re so personally invested in your success, they can alter course or direction on a dime if things change on your end.

This streamlined structure also allows smaller teams to move more quickly when faced with deadlines that others would find impossible. Let’s face it, no one wants to set a 1-day deadline for turnaround on an important video script, but sometimes that just has to be done. By stripping away all the red tape, such projects can be completed on time and on budget, and your overall schedule returned to normal, making you look like the hero to your boss.

So next time you’re searching for a marketing agency to head up an important campaign, don’t just focus on the big guys. Give the smaller, boutique agencies a look as well; you may just be thrilled with the results.