Types of Agencies

Advertising agencies fall into two broad categories: full-service ad agencies and specialized agencies.
Full-service, or integrated, agencies offer a complete range of ad-related services across all media and markets. They may use multiple tactics – such as advertising, email and social media – in an integrated marketing initiative.
Agencies may have the following types of specialties:
  • Branding.  These firms widen the marketing scope beyond your products or services. They are focused on your company – specifically on establishing, cultivating and maintaining a strong public image or “brand” for your business in the marketplace.
  • Direct marketing. These agencies focus on “direct response” media – which are communications tactics that have a built-in way for consumers to respond to you. This can include mail pieces such as letters or postcards, email marketing that drives consumers to your website, and/or telephone marketing in which trained callers phone a predetermined set of prospective customers.
  • Digital marketing/new media. These companies develop ad campaigns designed for the Internet and other digital media. Their tactics may include banner advertising, viral campaigns and email marketing, as well as campaigns in other media such as mobile advertising and video.
  • Social media.  A hot subset of digital marketing agencies, these firms focus on using blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and other social media to communicate with customers. These agencies monitor social networks regularly. Establishing and maintaining online relationships with customers and prospects is a priority for them.
  • Shopper activation/shopper marketing. These agencies offer promotion and marketing strategies and services to engage retail shoppers. They typically use multiple in-store media and technologies to create programs along the entire “path to purchase." This drives customer trial, loyalty and purchase frequency.
  • Public relations.  These firms focus on helping the public understand your company and its products. Creating a strong image of your company to the outside world is a major focus for them. Their tactics can include press releases, events, media talk shows, articles and columns in trade publications.

Game Plan

  • Define your business’s goals and match them with an ad agency that can deliver them.
  • While searching, keep in mind that hiring an ad agency may not be for your business. Recently, some brands have moved away from using ad agencies.
  • Consider that in coming years, advertising agencies are expected to evolve and change.
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