State of independence: It’s about how you run your agency, not who owns it

Steve Sowden, Group managing partner, Intermarketing Agency.

The question of whether to be part of a bigger group or embrace independence is one we’ve all wrestled with recently. As an independent agency, it’s one we’re familiar with.

Do we stay true to our origins, to our values and retain the freedom to make our own decisions? Or do we seek out a suitor and relinquish that freedom for the opportunity to build a global business overnight?

Most conversations we’ve had with other agency owners facing this dilemma usually swing from what they can gain personally to the deep and passionate belief in their agency and product stopping them from selling out.

For us, it’s not a question of ownership. It’s a question of culture. It’s about how you run your agency, not who owns it. Be independent in business or spirit. It really doesn’t matter which.

What does this mean to clients? In truth, not much. The decision to choose an agency should be based on expertise and fit. In reality though, all too often that decision is based on scale and brand.

But with clients demanding greater agility, flexibility and accountability, the operational freedom of an independent makes us an attractive alternative.

Our independence allows us to get a lot of things done, and quickly, without drawn out processes or unnecessary red tape. This ability to make fast decisions means we can adapt more quickly to clients’ demands, market conditions and any other external influences.

Choosing an independent doesn’t mean having to sacrifice creativity and scale either. Our unique culture helps us attract free-thinkers who aren’t afraid to take risks. While our four offices around the world afford us a global reach.

Working with great partners where needed really helps too. It means we can up skill quickly without putting pressure on overheads. This means we can grow our service offering easily with expertise, then invest in resource when needed without risk. An approach that benefits us and our clients.

On that note, one of the biggest draws for choosing an independent is our unrelenting focus on the client – not satisfying external shareholders. Of course we need to operate a successful, profitable business. The best way to keep clients coming back for more is to always do what’s right for them.

However, the agility and flexibility of being independent is not for the faint-hearted. The ability to make your own decisions and choose your own paths can be a scary ride. Sometimes you find yourself just holding on and going with it.

So whether you are or you aren’t, just make sure you always think like an indie.

Steve Sowden, Group managing partner, Intermarketing Agency.

Tel: 0113 275 3912 / 0203 8412 888



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