As I’ve said before, when you choose an independent agency you can have your cake and eat it too.

At Nelson Schmidt, we’ve remained independent for 45 years because we firmly believe it offers real benefits to global marketers and competitive advantages for us. Often stereotyped simply as a cheaper alternative than the big multinationals, independent agencies are also more nimble, adaptable, original and unfiltered, cost-effective, responsive and entrepreneurial by nature. But those are just some of the tangible benefits.

Advantage: Long-term view

Surviving 45 years in any industry – and particularly in the marketing industry – means having to quickly adapt to ever-changing market demands and customer needs. The independent agency’s lack of corporate structure and hierarchy is a true advantage when you need flexibility and speed-to-market to manage your global marketing investment efficiently over the long term. No battleships to turn here.

In addition, marketers can be confident that our actions are not driven by maximizing quarterly shareholder dividends. We have the luxury of a long-term view coupled with the flexibility to act when we need to, and that means our clients benefit from the stability and consistency that comes with strategic planning over 1-, 3- and 5-year time horizons.

Advantage: Collaboration

Independent agencies have skin in the game. Our client’s game. YOUR game. This requires collaborative relationships, focused on delivering outcomes, because our client’s success or failure is ours as well. This business model fosters original thinking and an entrepreneurial attitude across the agency, in close partnership with our clients at all times.

For global marketers, an alternative to the large holding companies is an independent agency network (Nelson Schmidt is a member of the Marketing & Advertising Global Network, MAGNET). The indie network is a pragmatic option to gain the advantage of regional market insight and localized production while maintaining visibility and control over a global marketing program.

Through MAGNET, we’ve seen that collaboration is key to delivering outcomes for our clients across the globe. Nelson Schmidt and our fellow MAGNET agencies are independently owned and operated, but we have chosen to come together to service global accounts. In doing so, we’ve grown our clients’ businesses – and our own – around the world.

Advantage: Choice

The most obvious benefit of remaining independent is that we have no boundaries except those we put on ourselves. We have no rules and we don’t have to ask permission. And that, in turn, means that our clients have more choices in terms of how and where their brand makes an impact around the world.

As an independent agency, we make the choices versus having them made for us. That extends to the employees we hire, how we choose to reinvest our profit and how we make strategic business decisions without requiring approval. We have the privilege of choosing the clients we work with, and those we choose not to work with. And we seek out clients with a likeminded sensibility, because we know we’ll all have greater success in the end.

Go independent

I’ll stop short of suggesting that an independent agency is right for every brand, every time. But I’ve seen the advantages firsthand.
So if your brand needs a flexible yet consistent long-term partner, consider an independent agency. If you value authentic collaboration focused on achieving business outcomes, choose an indie shop. And if you want to be in the driver’s seat when managing your global marketing investment, go independent. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Originally Published 2017