I confess that when it comes to Christmas pudding I don’t make my own, I buy one! But with a huge choice out there, I like to find something ‘tried and tasted’ rather than wait until I’m about to dish it up! Fortunately, newspapers and food magazines all publish reviews at this time of year; I was particularly amused by a Which video showing Christmas pud packaging versus the reality.

Different price points and sizes are assessed and, unsurprisingly, expensive doesn’t always equate to best quality and taste. In the end, I bought some mini puddings recommended by The Independent as I like the idea that me and my dinner guests can sample different flavours rather than a one-size-fits-all family pud. There’s even a ‘free-from’ pud in the selection for those with intolerances to dairy, gluten, egg, soy, nuts and refined sugar!

In fact I think it was the versatility of these small puddings that most influenced my buying decision; I could match puddings to diners according to their needs/desires. And customising like this is where it’s at these days, indeed it’s where small agencies like ours can score over large ones.

Boutique agencies can specialise in niche skills or vertical markets and can often bring more edgy, fresher campaign ideas to the table than larger outfits.

And top brands are cottoning on to this development in their selection box of marketing agencies. They’re no longer picking the large ‘family-sized pudding’ agency because they think it’s best placed to cater for all their needs. They’re searching out niche experts, e.g. virtual reality creators, or agencies dedicated to particular sectors like fashion. You’re less likely to find this sort of focus in big agencies where the drive is to secure and retain as many accounts as possible.

I think smaller agencies are also more reactive, and less set in their ways, especially when it comes to adopting new methods of marketing. They have to be more pioneering in order to compete with their contemporary London cousins. They’re also more likely to embrace and exploit new technologies and techniques to deliver innovative ideas and great results.

And there’s less politics and hierarchy in smaller agencies, which sadly can stifle creativity, the very life-blood of campaigns. Larger agencies can be quite risk-averse in trying new ideas, and maybe tend to play it safe believing they’ve got more to lose.

Shooting for the top

So increasingly, smaller agencies are being invited to pitch for big brands, with encouraging levels of success. One of our fantasy football clients was the Premier League and hey, guess what, we achieved our dream and have been working with it for over 9 years now as its creative partner. We’ve been involved in many of its projects, especially ones that inform, inspire and reward young players, the stars of the future, for their hard work and achievement.

And I think it’s our ability to deliver compelling material for Premier League projects that keeps us on the team, portraying inspiring stories with powerful imagery and content.

Add some magical ingredients

So, I would say to big brands that you’re missing out if you limit your choice to just large agencies, there’s magic to be found in smaller outfits too. For one of Costa’s projects we provided the creative ingredients to bring its Coffee Journey to life for team members and they loved it. Indeed, its operational skills and development manager acknowledged our input recently saying: “You have helped me and my teams over the years with so many things. Thank you for being one of the best external suppliers I’ve worked with.”

I see that testimonial as proof of the pudding, that we’re consistently serving up the sort of high level work and quality that large brands want, not style over substance.

Here’s hoping my mini puddings similarly deliver on my expectations; they say good things come in small packages.

Thank you for your custom and wishing you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.