Well, anyway, in the search for the perfect web solutions provider many businesses encounter the following seemingly age-old dilemma:
“Do we choose a big agency because of their reputation, skills and reliability but then face a massive expense which we can’t quite justify? Or do we go with a freelancer who is way better value for money but could go A.W.O.L. or simply not deliver a suitable product? Will the big agency be unresponsive and bureaucratic (think change request forms to alter a typo…)? Or will the freelancer be responsive and flexible (except when the surf is good)…? ”
Okay, deep breath. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.
Ahhh, the plush warehouse office, the sweet-talking men in suits, the trademark kooky creatives and hipsters who don’t seem to do much (but do look incredibly good doing it). Oh, and don’t forget the cute office dog! Big agencies are creative hubs and certainly can provide an edge in a hyper-competitive online world. If you’re looking for creative genius you just might find it here. The problem is that there is a price tag attached to potential brilliance. See the guy with long hair playing fuseball and drinking a Corona? You’re getting billed for that!
Even if you do splash on a big agency it’s important to remember that unless you’re one of their key clients you’re inevitably not a major priority. Sounds harsh and there are, of course, exceptions but I’ve been in these worlds and I know.
The line I often hear is, “The concepts were great but they just wouldn’t listen to my suggestions and then when they finally did, the project went so overbudget that we couldn’t move forward.”
Now, let’s think about some of the genius that does come out of the big agencies… mind-bendingly awesome campaigns like the Old Spice guy or websites like Nike+ with its suite of revolutionary tools. If you can afford it and need a touch of creative flair and big agency service then do it. Genius is priceless and a catchy slogan, new perspective or viral campaign could transform your business forever.
Freelancers… well the things I hear about them every day astound me. Tales of abandonment, of developers missing in action (later to be found in Bangkok or Budapest), of sites going down with no support, of broken links and broken dreams…
The line is often, “they were so good but then they just disappeared.”
There is an intrinsic risk to using a freelancer and that is simply that there is (usually) just one of them. If they get eaten by a shark you lose your web team. By the same token, they’re often just a phone call away and will happily make a change to your contact details without invoicing you $350. Buy a freelancer a coffee and you’ve often got a friend for life. Many freelancers are actually the geniuses who worked in the big agencies, but who decided that they would be more fulfilled (and free) doing it themselves. Unfortunately many just are not business-minded or customer-orientated enough to provide a great customer experience.
My clients have often tested both sides of this web conundrum with mixed success and war stories. The web is no longer a baby or an adolescent. It is a Gen Y twenty-something with refined technologies and big ideas. You can play your part in the future of the most exciting communications tool in history… you just need the right help.
I believe that I can provide the skills and support to bring success to most web projects – and have the track record to prove it. Sometimes clients get their ideas and designs from the big agencies and then bring them to me to be built. I’m not precious about using someone else’s concepts… I love it! Collaborating with the best keeps my creative vision tuned.
Sometimes clients who have been badly burned come to me because they hear I am reliable, creative and enthusiastic. I love that too. The web is my passion and getting projects done the right way makes me really happy. Even if it means I sometimes refer my clients to someone better-suited for the job (like the big agencies!). I want what is best for my clients and what ultimately makes the web a better place.
Either way, feel free to give me a call to discuss your web needs. Buy me a coffee and you’ll have a friend for life 😉
P.S. I hear you wondering, “What about middle-sized agencies – where do they fit in?” Well, I don’t do middle of the road anything. If you’re with me, as far as I’m concerned, you’re getting the best. Go with a big agency – same deal.