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Boutique Agency: What Does That Mean?

The team at Hedy & Hopp has been busy the last six months, flying around the country to meet with prospects in-person, as they choose a new agency partner. In a recent RFP meeting, an executive leader questioned whether a boutique-size agency could actually bring full-service to the table. It was a fair question, and they were surprised by our answer. 

Being a large size agency doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting full-service. More people doesn’t necessarily mean better work, more innovative work, or better serviced work. There are benefits to working with large agencies, like cost-efficiencies, scaled locations, etc., but there’s more clients should think about when considering full-service and how a boutique size agency can deliver.

Tune in to today’s episode to hear from Maggie Piasecki, H&H’s SVP, about what being a boutique agency means, including:

  • One-size Fits Not All
  • Extension Over Production
  • Autonomy Equals Forward Movement
  • Culture that the Client Experiences

Connect with Jenny:

Connect with Maggie:

Jenny: [00:00:00] Good morning friends. Welcome to today’s episode of “We Are, Marketing Happy,” a healthcare marketing podcast. I am Jenny Bristow. I am the CEO and founder at Hedy and Hopp. We are a full service, fully healthcare marketing agency. And, we are the producers of the podcast. And I am so thrilled to have my right hand with me today, Maggie Piasecki.

She is our SVP and she is the reason why our agency runs so smoothly on a day-to-day basis. So welcome Maggie. 

Maggie: Thank you, Jenny. What a lovely introduction. Hello everyone. Great to be here.

Jenny: So Maggie and I, as well as a handful of our team members, a rotating cast of characters, we’ve been on the road a lot over the last six months meeting lots of new folks, onboarding lots of new clients.

And, we had a really interesting conversation with an executive at one of our recent onsite visits, and we thought it’d be worthwhile to kind of [00:01:00] examine that conversation because I think it’s one that likely a lot of organizations talk about and grapple with as they’re trying to decide who to go with when they’re doing a new agency selection.

So Maggie today, I’m excited to talk about what being a boutique agency means. 

Maggie: Ah, it’s an interesting question. And, Jenny and I, along with another colleague, were in an executive room a couple of weeks ago and met with one of the executive leaders of the marketing department. And they just very point blank directly asked, what does it mean that you’re a boutique agency?

Does that mean you’re small? Does that mean you can’t really provide full service? And, it was the first time I think we’ve been directly asked that question. And so it really gave us a platform to have a really engaging conversation with their full marketing team. And I think they were surprised by some of the answers that we brought to the table.

And so, as Jenny and I, we were coming back along with one of our colleagues. I was like, you know what? I feel like we need to maybe categorize the way we answered that question. [00:02:00] And maybe share on the podcast just what it means to be a boutique agency. Small doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not full service.

And so it really just got us thinking about, like, what that means to our clients, especially clients that are coming from maybe larger agencies and exploring what a smaller boutique agency may be able to bring to the table. And so thought we’d just run through kind of a few key areas of benefits and just a different way of working that our clients may experience with that boutique size.

Jenny: Yeah, I love that. And I will say if any individuals from that organization are listening today, thank you for asking the question. 

Maggie: It was a great question. 

Jenny: Yeah, I love it whenever individuals whether they’re a current client or a prospect of ours, just point blank ask questions that they’re thinking.

So many times, maybe there’s an underlying question or uncertainty that people are worried about bringing up, so thanks. It’s really triggered a lot. 

Maggie: Thanks all around. I mean, that conversation was one of the most fruitful and engaging conversations I think we’ve had within an RFP process. So, yeah, but when we think about it, I think the biggest [00:03:00] question that they had was, what is size mean?

And like, if you’re smaller, can you actually deliver on full service? And I, one of the ways that we categorize this is, big or one size doesn’t necessarily mean that it fits all. I think when we think about boutique and we think about our specific types of clients that really fit our model, who are, regional health care systems, regional payers, cancer centers, pediatric centers. 

These are organizations that have a very similar type of services, but have a very unique profile and geographic set of like the type of patients they’re engaging with. They really need an agency that comes in and really ebbs and flows to the needs of their market to the needs of the patients that they’re serving.

It’s not going to be the same from like county to county, for example. Yeah. And so I think it’s really important to think about like boutique. What we’re able to bring to the table is that we deliver a model that really fits within their organization. So it’s not a one size fits all. And we talked a lot about that with this [00:04:00] particular prospect that we were engaging with.

That means that an account service person is really going to get to understand the needs of your business and really mold their team to align to the needs of their business. We’re not going to force kind of a boxed solution on our clients. And I think that really perked up their ears a bit and led to some really interesting conversations around process.

Like how do we integrate them into our process. How do we integrate into their process? And I think really that boutique model enables them to have that, not a one size fits all model that really applies better to their size and their organization. 

Jenny: Absolutely. And I will say from our perspective we decided and have been very specific on who we serve and what we do.

Right. So even if we don’t have a 200 person head count, for us boutique actually means that we’re really specific in what we’re good at, right? It’s like, we’re not going to pretend to be video production company because we do not do that. We have great partners. We’ll refer, bring in, but like the specificity of what we [00:05:00] offer.

And my perspective is why we decided to go this route and how that we built the organization and you worked at most of our team members have worked at some really large agencies. And so you definitely know, you know what that is like versus what it’s like to work at a boutique agency.

So I think it’s just interesting having the perspective of both sides as we have built Hedy and Hopp. 

Maggie: Yeah, I think that’s, yeah, that is important. And I will say there are positives to larger size agencies and boutique size agencies. I think Jenny and I have a really exciting opportunity here that we are building the agency that we’ve always wanted to build.

And we want it to purposely be boutique and very, specifically focused. And I think that’s made it a lot of fun in terms of the types of clients that we engage with in the team we build. So, yeah. I will say the other thing that you’re making me think of is just, at a larger agency, clients are really going to get the benefit of like large-scale production based services.

And we talked a lot about that with this specific client, because they had a good amount of work that was going to be flowing through the business. And I think one thing that we talked about [00:06:00] is, within Hedy and Hopp, we are more of an extension versus production. We’re an extension over production.

So coming to us, you’re not going to get that very large scale production kind of flow through work, but what you are going to get is a true extension of your marketing team. And that really means that like, we are another headcount for you in a sense, right? So we’re sitting in on internal meetings, I think one of the things that our clients really like about our group is that we help navigate a lot of the internal politics within maybe the organization or a lot of like the different stakeholders and the different points of view. 

And that’s really because we are an extension of the team. So we’re not sort of an agency that’s sitting over here and it’s kind of ping pong about what the conversations look like, or when the challenges come, like, we really are down in the trenches with our clients as a true extension of their team.

And I think for those, regional providers, regional payers. That makes a really big difference in terms of just, how we work together, how we move projects through, how we strategize together, how we [00:07:00] work through problems together. 

Jenny: Absolutely. And one thing, I mean, I think it, one thing that I’ve been thinking about is we’ve been focusing on.

So where I’ve mentioned this alive in a couple of LinkedIn posts about it, we’re an EOS entrepreneurial operating system based agency, which means we’re very focused on operational efficiencies, processes, really fine tuning the who we are and why we exist question. And so one thing, even though we don’t offer pre packaged, like you’re not getting, okay, you come to us, you get this box of deliverables, right?

There are a lot of best practices that we bring to the table. For example, I’m thinking about some of the recent clients that have onboarded and immediately I’m thinking, Oh, this is, I need to tell them about a best practice that worked at another region for another regional provider, because that definitely could help with their patient acquisition efforts for that service line that they’re struggling with.

Right? So by being really blinders on, you really do get that benefit of the shared experiences and that overall lift of best practices. 

Maggie: [00:08:00] Definitely. Yeah. EOS has been a really critical component to building Hedy and Hopp over the last two and a half years. We’ve been around a lot longer than that, but we’ve been an EOS implementer now for almost three years, actually.

Yes. And that’s super exciting. I can’t believe that’s gone by so quickly, but I think, with EOS the way that we have implemented a lot of those various components, it means that the account leads are having, they have a lot of autonomy to run their business, right? So one of the beautiful things about EOS and the way that we’ve implemented is it removes a lot of the hierarchy of decision making, and it really provides autonomy and empowerment to our teams to move things forward.

And from an account perspective, from a client perspective, that means that, when challenges come to our team. They are owning the solve. They’re figuring it out and they’re moving it forward. They’re not having to come to a leadership team member to get approval or talk through how they may go through that challenge.

They’re getting together as a group. They’re figuring out the solve and they’re moving it forward. And that means that there’s a lot of better forward, quicker [00:09:00] movement, I think, for our clients because those account leads really do have that empowerment and autonomy to move things. 

Jenny: Okay. So that brought up another point I wanted to talk about, because you just mentioned own the solve.

Let’s talk about culture. 

Maggie: Yeah. Culture. I think this, when you look at sort of a boutique size agency and what that means from a day to day interaction with clients, to me, I think the biggest thing is that those clients really experienced the culture of that agency. Culture’s big, no matter where you work, right? 

But I think at a, at some point. Smaller boutique agency culture really is woven into the day-to-day, every piece of engagement. And when we think about how that’s delivered to our clients, own the solve is one of our values. Culture for us really means living by those values on a day-to-day basis.

And so. Kind over nice is another value. Assuming good intent, own the solve and then pivoting with positivity. I think owning the solve and pivoting with positivity are the things that our clients experience the most because we are that boutique agency. We [00:10:00] hire and fire based off of those values. And we really are true to that.

Right? So, when you are a client working with us especially in healthcare marketing, like, You’re going to change a lot, right? There’s a lot of market changes. There may be a new physician that, a regional healthcare provider is able to bring on board, and we’ve got to completely change the marketing strategy for the next quarter to really promote that physician.

And our team will pivot with positivity in terms of how we work a lot of the different marketing tactics, etc. So it kind of infuses that joy, if you will, that we try so hard to bring to the table. But culture really, I think, plays a huge role in terms of what it’s like to work with a boutique size agency.

Jenny: I totally agree. I think it really is. From what I hear from clients after they’ve worked with us for six to eight months, I almost always get a phone call back saying, wow, I do feel your culture. You told me you would, or you told me I would, but I really do feel your culture calls and emails.

Yeah. So it’s very, it’s a very fun phone call to receive. 

Maggie: Yeah. Joy doesn’t just start or [00:11:00] stop with Jenny. It really is infused, I think, in all of the day to day engagement with our clients. 

Jenny: I love it. Well, Maggie, thank you so much for joining us today. This was a really, it was a very fun podcast and fun conversation to have for all of you tuning in.

If you have any questions or want to chat with us directly, please feel free to reach out. We would love to hear from you. If you have any topics you’d like for us to cover in a future episode. Send me a note, and please don’t forget to follow our podcast, rate us, and we’ll just keep showing up every Friday with new podcasts and new topics for you.

But until next time, have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and we’ll see you soon.



About the Author

The Hedy & Hopp digital production team is the glue that keeps all activation work running. From auditing websites and tagging, to content strategy and CRM implementation, our digital production unicorns ensure the tiniest detail is reviewed and accurate before it gets to our clients. Their determination in finding solutions for any challenge makes this team marketing happy.

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