Today at a networking event, I was asked a challenging question, “What do you do differently than the other three marketing people in the room.”

The event I was visiting had many different people from all sorts of industries, and there were four of us in the “marketing” sector. Each of us specialized in different areas that could bring value to a business. Still, for the general audience, it was confusing who did what.

This question got me thinking that if one person had that question, others would as well.

So what kind of marketing agencies, do what?

You cannot pigeon hole a particular business saying it ONLY does one thing because many diversify as a way of better serving their clients. So my descriptions are generalities that can vary from agency to agency. There are also many, many auxiliary services offered under each that I do not have listed.

Marketing agencies also vary in size, with some employing many specialists, while others may operate as consultants or coaches.

Types of Marketing Agencies

Advertising agencies create, develop, and deliver advertising campaigns across multiple platforms like print (magazines, newspapers), outdoor (billboards, bus shelters, etc.), TV, and radio. Some also will book advertising space like media agencies and will also provide social media services.

Brand agencies specialize in developing brand identities – the business name, visual identity, positioning, etc. They typically undertake marketing research to help with the strategy and messaging behind the brand. Many brand agencies incorporate design because the process of building a brand requires the creation of a visible identity (logo, etc.). Brand agencies are most useful when a business is first beginning or an existing business that needs a re-brand.

Design agencies render graphic design services – converting a brand and message into a visible form. They’re going to cover anything from designing a logo to producing artwork for business stationery, advertising, and packaging.

Digital or online marketing agencies are the best for any marketing concerning the internet. They specialize in maximizing the number of visitors to a company’s website (SEO) and engaging potential customers once they are on the site. Digital agencies may also provide email marketing services and can overlap into social media marketing.

Market research agencies design, perform, and report on and/or analyze research on behalf of companies. The research could also be qualitative (e.g., focus groups and in-depth research), quantitative (e.g., Omnibus) and/or fieldwork (providing personnel for street questionnaires, etc.).

Media agencies concentrate on planning and buying advertising space. This role is usually also incorporated into an ad agency.

Print agencies handle a company’s print jobs and outsource them to a printer. The agency takes responsibility for ensuring that the work is delivered on time, to budget, and meets the specification. Design agencies will sometimes perform the same services.

PR agencies make sure that a company and its products/services are mentioned within the media. They focus on newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, and other vital outlets like tradeshows and conferences. They target free editorial versus paid-for advertising.

Social media agencies help businesses to create and maintain a presence on social networking platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. They may also provide social reputation management services.

Web design agencies create, develop, and host websites. Most web design agencies can also provide digital/online and social media marketing services.

As you can see, many of the agency services overlap. No wonder it is so confusing!

The bottom line is to choose an agency that best fits your situation and yourself, the business owner, and the way you like to operate. With so many choices out there, I’m sure you can find the perfect fit.

If you are still wondering where I fall in all this… hint, hint… #BeginsWithBrand