Bigger isn’t always better

Earlier this week 3Sixty took home the coveted ‘Best Digital/Marketing Agency of the Year’ award at the Travel Marketing Awards. Whilst we were delighted, we were also pleasantly surprised.

I genuinely believe we are a special agency that is positively impacting the Travel sector, but did I think we had a hope in hell of winning the Agency of the year? No chance.

An excellent event held at the Hilton on Park Lane

Now there have probably been bigger upsets:

  • Japan beating South Africa in the Rugby World Cup
  • Leicester winning the Premier League
  • Brexit
  • Spinks beating Muhammad Ali
  • And Trump (not strictly an upset, but it certainly made me upset!)

I think for 3Sixty, to take home the grand prize when up against multinational agencies with 100+ staff, is a huge upset.

Why does size matter?

More people, better thinking, increased outputs, BIG ideas…perhaps. But in our experience it often means more meetings, lots of talking, less doing, and a leash on creativity. For us innovation doesn’t tend to happen during these big meetings, it happens when a few smart individuals are provided with freedom, insight and an exciting challenge. These are the conditions when creativity can thrive, not in a meeting.

Big agency structures can sap energy; senior level staff have meetings which impress clients, then juniors are told to implement someone else’s vision. The team spend time worrying more about not making mistakes, rather than thinking how can we add value.

Big client-side brands are often the same; siloed teams, inward thinking, an inability to influence and create change. That’s why some of the most successful brands are creating specialist working teams, steering groups, partnering with innovation specialists and then, when the shackles are taken off; they find they can make things happen.

So that’s we why have decided to keep things small. We are a team of six, but an experienced and motivated six. Each of the team are experts at what they do, have worked at big agencies/brands, and importantly, they all have exposure to our clients. The team care about the work they do; for themselves, for the agency and for our client partners. Our clients know and speak to the whole team, relationships exist at every level, it’s vital that the 3Sixty team understand our clients business inside out, the problems they face and how we can drive performance. This mentality is what drives us to be better, to produce work that makes a difference and ultimately is what has led to this accolade.

We do have an extended team who we call upon when in need, but the core 3Sixty six remain consistent and drive expectation. This means that when our clients need something quickly, we get it done. Furthermore, the team collaborates, not just in enforced meetings, but in the day to day, we sit in the same room and bounce ideas off each-other.

Are we missing out on working with some big brands?

I think we probably are. Some global brands feel they need to work with global agencies, they need to spend big money to get big results. Large strategy pieces, impressive presentations, lots of talk. For us, the way to success is simple: understand your audience, understand business objectives, then utilise technology to find that sweet spot.

Certain brands will never work with a dynamic but comparatively small agency like 3Sixty, but that’s okay. As a small agency we don’t have huge overheads, so we don’t need to chase down our next project. Instead, we can handpick the projects that interest us, those that provide the conditions to produce the next groundbreaking solution. For the big brands that take that leap of faith, they soon realise how quickly we can make an impact.

Will 3Sixty ever become a big agency?

No, certainly not in the traditional sense. We will increase the team size over the next few years to add specialist expertise, however, we don’t aspire to be a 50+ agency. As we progress, we will start to break the team into 2 or 3 pods of 5/6 — each with their own focus and areas of expertise, be that travel logistics, cruising, package holidays, OTA’s or traveltech for example. As a small team, specialsing in the travel sector has allowed us to become genuine experts at what we do, sharing insights is easier, research is more focused, and through each interaction with our clients we are learning and evolving.

It’s worth noting that there are some absolutely incredible ‘big’ agencies out there, many of who were at the Travel Marketing Awards. But some smaller agencies can definitely punch above their weight, bigger isn’t always better.