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Helping Out the Little Guys Can Reap Big Rewards
By: Emory Brown
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A wise man once said that “all come out of small." When you think about it, what really comes into the world big? You’re a kid before you’re a teen. You’re a teen before you’re an adult. So on and so forth. So when looking for your next big client, why don’t you think small? 

Nike was once small! McDonald’s was once small! Walmart was once a small organization with a leader who had a big idea to simply “Help poor people be able to afford the things rich can.” Pure genius; now a small-town boy from Bentonville Arkansas by the name of Sam Walton will go down in history as one of the pioneers that transformed American retail. Walmart even has supplier diversity and supplier development programs that help transform their smaller suppliers into profitable organizations. For example, the Bronner Brothers, an African-American hair-care product developer, added millions of dollars to their profit margin by just aligning themselves with Walmart. Walmart won big with their African American consumer base and added millions to their profit margin as well. 

Now, how does this apply to advertising agencies? It’s the same principle, but with a twist. As a marketer, you have the ability to help the next Sam Walton, Steve Jobs, or Mark Zuckerberg take their brand to new heights, which will propel your agency along with them. So in execution, we will look at it from an ad agency’s perspective in which they take on a small client and go from there. 

First and foremost, an agency will have to define a segment they consider to be "small business." For example, let’s say you are looking at organizations that make $500,000 a year in profit. Once identified, the agency can pitch ideas to them on how you can help them grow their market share for a discounted price as a part of your organization’s community outreach plan. From here comes the magic of having a small client:

They are passionate!

They are aggressive!

They are savvy!

They are willing to be edgy and take the necessary risks needed to establish market share!


This is music to a Creative Director’s ears: a client that is hip and ready to go war to win big. Grab the guns, baby, and tell Ma you ain’t going to be home for dinner, because it’s on! Small clients allow agencies to win big at award shows because in most cases the agency is working hand-in-hand with the client to shape the brand, versus being led by established guidelines that have been in place for hundreds of years, like Hershey.

Growing clients like this offers so many benefits to your community. Lets look at a some of them:

Client's internal teams grow and prosper, making them leaders in local business.

As the client’s market share grows, so do opportunities for employment for local talent.

Clients get the opportunity to give back to local charities and schools.

Earned business taxes improve for the local government and attract other businesses to the area, once again increasing employment.


As an agency, the rewards are endless, and the list of agency achievements will look something like this:

Create cutting-edge work that wins awards and attracts industry news and clients looking for the next hot creative shop.

Create long term relationships that are bigger than winning the RFP for the business because the client and agency are both vested in one another.

Create a legacy in your community that will be talked about for years to come while also making your mark in business history.

The agency becomes a gateway to foster the next generation of marketing professionals in your community.


All this and more can come from helping small businesses become big businesses. We’re in the business of building businesses, so don’t stifle your marketing abilities by waiting for one of the big boys to give you a chance. Go out and help some brilliant little guys who are passionate, aggressive, savvy, and risky raise their little company until it’s a big company and you’ll definitely reap the rewards and awards.

If it weren't for Nike and Wieden+Kennedy, would the world have ever said “Just Do It.”? They were once little guys, too.


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About the Author
Emory Brown is an award-winning creative director/writer whose mission is to spread the gospel of what great marketers can do when they put their heads together and work together for the greater good and not the bottom line. Working with many esteemed clients, his portfolio of work ranges in genre from conservative to ultra-modern including American Family Insurance, United Airlines, Mazda 6 and RX-8, Illinois Lottery, Tyson, Miller Genuine Draft, Nike Air Force 1, and Mercedes Benz, to name a few.  
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