Posting an agency headcount can seem like a vanity metric for small digital marketing agencies, like Likes on latest your Facebook post. “Hey!” they shout. “Look at those numbers!”
But what do those numbers really mean? And what’s the right-sized digital marketing agency for your business?
Big agency vs. small agency
When small agencies show off their numbers, it’s because they want to look big. And big digital marketing agencies have a lot going for them. Massive numbers means they can do anything, anytime. But what they gain in effectiveness they lose in identity: people come and go, as a client you may just be one more on a long list, and you’re paying for a big name and a portfolio of projects (past and present) that have nothing to do with the project you need done. And there are layers ― lots of people to pass through between “I need it now” and “Here it is”. Even with the best account manager in the world, you still may be left with the feeling you’re being serviced by a machine.
Small boutique agencies, on the other hand, have personality in spades. They can be friendly, enthusiastic, and willing sacrifice everything for you but at the same time can’t claim the same round the clock resources. They can’t claim all the right skills, and the right backup, to handle bigger projects, or sudden new ones.
So what’s the right-sized digital marketing agency? Seven, goes one argument, because in the end what matters is not the size of the agency but the quality of the team assigned to your client account. By this logic, 10 or 10,000 people doesn’t make a difference, because you’ll only ever work with a handful of them.
Why headcount counts… to a point
But not so long ago Moskito Design was a 7-person boutique agency, and experience has proven that there’s a world of difference between where we were then and where we are now.
Headcount counts. Because as we’ve grown 2 to 7 to 12 (when I joined the team) to 20 to now over 40 today, we’ve grown our creative teams with new talents, new skills, new languages and new capabilities. And with very little staff turnover, it means our first generation of talent are now the Art Directors and Project Managers and Team Leaders that their maturing talent has earned them.
What we haven’t done is take on account managers. We don’t have a secretarial pool. We don’t have an HR team. We don’t have ping pong tournament organizers or in-house craft beer makers, full- or part-time.
Which is all maybe what you’d get in a Moskito Design of 100+ people ― and what you’d pay for as well.
So while there’s a difference between 7 and 70, there is a point at which headcount, for the purposes of your digital marketing needs, stops counting.
In a still-small-but-not-boutique agency like ours, what does headcount buy you?
On paper there might be 25 graphic designers, but each is increasingly specialized in display advertising, video, illustration, animation, social media as well as posters, stand and event design (all the other aspects of modern multichannel communication).
This means that when a person is out, on holiday, or about to become a new parent, the show will still go on. Knowing that the agency has sufficient people power to carry your project through to the end is one more way that greater numbers equals better peace of mind.
Scale, when you need it
An agency of this size has demonstrated already that they know how to grow, and can do it again. That means that for peaks of work and potentially bigger new projects they’ll know how to find the right people, either internally or externally, to get it done.
The discreet charm of the small digital marketing agency
But the benefits of a small agency ― speed and cost, as well as friendliness, a human approach, flexibility and a sense of collaboration ― are all still important. That’s why you went shopping for a small agency in the first place, right?
So finding the right-sized agency may mean finding one that’s small enough that numbers still make a difference, but not so big that you become just a number yourself.
At Moskito Design we make headcount count. Find out if we’re the right-sized agency for your next project.