Small Business – Big Agency

By Ryan Timms, Group Account Director, MacLaren McCann

When it comes to marketing a business, most small business owners like to tackle the job themselves. This is no surprise to anyone who has ever spent a few seconds with a small business owner; a hands-on approach to all aspects of their business is what drives their success in the first place.

But while a small business owner will be familiar with every nook and cranny of their business, their understanding of the consumer, the competitive set and the media landscape is more limited – and rightly so. After all, there are only so many hours in a day!

That’s where the services of an advertising agency come in.

An ad agency brings far more to the table than a gaggle of martini-drinking, cigarette-smoking, all-black-wearing Don Draper wannabes. An agency provides valuable insight into what motivates a consumer; what societal trends affect a consumer’s wants and needs; how much space the competition occupies in the mind of a consumer; what a brand’s perceived identity is; and what forms of media are best for reaching a desired audience. Not to mention the creative ideas that have the power to transform a business and brand from wallflower to most popular person at the dance.

The problem, though, is that most small business owners believe that ad agencies are only interested in big, multinational companies with Chief Marketing Officers and a budget to buy airtime during the Super Bowl. Simply not true. Most agencies – good agencies, that is – do not discriminate between large and small clients (or their budgets, for that matter). Truth be told, many agencies long for more small business clients because the opportunity to do compelling and original creative work is often more motivating than churning out yet another “Summer Sizzle Sales Extravaganza.”

Moreover, it’s a tremendous point of pride for an agency to play a role in transforming a rather less-than-famous business/brand into a famous one. Ad agencies, at the end of the day, don’t want to be treated like suppliers; they want to be treated like partners. Why? Because the more invested they feel in the effectiveness of the work they do, the better the work. There’s nothing in this agency mindset that favours larger clients over smaller ones. Just good clients who value the agency’s input over bad ones who don’t.

Visit any agency’s website and you’ll likely find the phone number and email address of someone specific to talk to about employing the agency’s services. And don’t worry about getting dinged for a 10-minute conversation. Agencies want your business and they are quite prepared to discuss what you’re looking for and what they can do to help before a single penny changes hands.

Ryan Timms, Group Account Director, MacLaren McCann. With 10 years of agency experience under his belt, Ryan Timms has honed his craft working on large, multinational brands, as well as with smaller, more entrepreneurial-driven clients. He spent four years on the Volkswagen Canada account, delivering best-in-class communications for both the Volkswagen brand and its dealer network. Since joining MacLaren McCann in 2005, Ryan has brought his passion for great creative and insightful strategy to Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson and Cadbury Chocolate. Ryan currently manages the day-to-day operations of both MasterCard Canada and Staples. Visit the website at

By Adam

January 17, 2011