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6 Types of Marketing Agencies: Key Differences

6 Types of Marketing Agencies: Key Differences

Here’s a common scenario. 

Your business is doing *fine* but you’re not really seeing growth. You, the ever-ambitious entrepreneur, see that as a problem. Until now, you’ve run your marketing in-house. Maybe you have one marketing professional tasked with doing everything or perhaps you just cut a check to Google Ads every month. Whatever the case is, it’s not working as well as you’d like. 

And so, you start to think about hiring some kind of agency to take over your marketing. You type “marketing agency” into Google, and BAM, a million options smack you in the face. Suddenly, you’re grappling with all kinds of questions you hadn’t considered. 

Do you need a full-service marketing agency? A growth agency? A performance marketing agency? There are countless types of agencies, and it’s important to pick one that's the best equipped to handle your needs. 

That starts with understanding which type of agency does what. Fortunately, we’ve got your back. Here’s a quick guide to the major types of marketing agencies.

content business resources

What is a Content Marketing Agency?

At Hire a Writer, we could best be described as a content marketing agency. That means we focus on content strategy and creation: blogs, white papers, website copywriting, and more. 

A content marketing agency helps you shape your content strategy, define your audience, refine your value proposition, publish social content, write your emails, work to improve your on-page SEO, and more. Creating meaningful content is the key to all effective marketing and a great content marketing agency is a great place to start. 

A content marketing agency is not going to help you scale your Facebook eCommerce ads or help you make TV commercials (even if that does sound kinda fun to us). For that, you need a different type of agency. 

What is a Digital Marketing Agency?

A digital marketing agency handles all things digital: from Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising to running your TikTok strategy. A full-service digital marketing agency might cover every digital channel imaginable, whereas there are more specialized digital agencies that focus on doing just one or two channels really well. 

Both approaches have merits. If you’re going to work with a full-service digital marketing agency, we suggest you partner with a big one. That way, you’re more likely to have channel experts working on individual elements of your strategy, rather than one generalized marketer that dabbles in ten different channels. 

What is a Creative Agency?

A creative agency makes creative assets that can be used in marketing campaigns. They might also call themselves an advertising agency. 

Now, if you’ve seen Mad Men (and if you haven’t, you should), you’ll get the general vibe of an ad agency. They’ll come up with snappy catchlines and create video, print, and social media collateral at your behest. Larger creative agencies can help you with ad buying and other services of that nature, but many focus purely on creative ideation and execution. 

Unless you’re a large, well-established business with a sizable budget to spend on pure brand marketing, it’s unlikely that you need a creative agency. However, there are smaller, more agile creative agencies focused on web content and social media ads that could be a good fit for eCommerce businesses. 

What is a Growth Marketing Agency?

Growth marketing is a data-driven approach to marketing that aims to create a scalable framework. Done right, companies can invest a dollar into their growth marketing strategy and predictably get more than a dollar back. 

A growth marketing agency will partner with you to design a growth strategy that’s tailored to the unique needs of your business. They’ll also lead execution, testing out a wide variety of platforms, analyzing performance data, and making tweaks to your strategy to improve your outcomes. This is a holistic approach to marketing that’s a good match for companies with the ambition (and budget) to scale quickly. 

What is a Performance Marketing Agency?

Performance marketing agencies primarily focus on managing and scaling paid marketing campaigns. They specialize in areas like Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and social media ads, and take a data-driven approach to improving channel performance.  

These types of agencies have deep expertise in specific channels, but rarely have the strategic chops to serve as the architect of your entire marketing strategy. If you’re looking to profitably scale your Facebook prospecting spending from $5,000 a month to $50,000 a month, then a performance marketing agency is a good fit.

Other Specialized Marketing Agencies

There are two categories of specialized marketing agencies: agencies focused on a particular marketing channel, and agencies focused on a particular vertical. 

First, agencies focused on a particular channel. These agencies focus on doing one type of marketing and doing it well. Examples include a TikTok marketing agency or an email marketing agency. They’re highly specialized and offer deep expertise in a particular domain, but typically aren’t capable of managing a more holistic strategy. 

There are also many marketing agencies that focus on a particular industry––normally one that has a relatively standardized marketing playbook. There are all kinds of examples here: from restaurant marketing agencies to dentist marketing agencies. These agencies essentially copy and paste marketing strategies that they know work for clients in their industries: for example, investing in targeted Google Ads for home service businesses. 

These types of agencies are often a good fit for smaller businesses in established industries. If you’re not looking to reinvent the wheel and just want a marketing strategy that you know will work, an agency that specializes in your niche might be a good fit. 

What Type of Agency Do You Need?

Before you start talking to different agencies, it’s important to assess where your business currently stands. You and your leadership team need to be honest with each other and identify your current level of marketing maturity, growth priorities, and greatest challenges. 

Do you have a marketing strategy that’s working well and just needs polished, or do you need to rip it all up and start again from scratch? What does success look like for your business? Once you answer these types of questions, you’ll have a much better idea of whether you need sophisticated strategy support or an agency that’s dialed in on channel execution. 

If you think you need a content marketing agency, we’re here to help. At Hire a Writer, we produce rich, highly relevant content for dozens of businesses across a variety of industries. Sound like something you could use? Contact us today to learn more.

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