Agency Types Explained

These Are the Different Types of Agencies That Will Achieve Your Marketing Goals

When searching for an advertising agency to work with, it’s easy to feel confused or overwhelmed by options. There are many agency types available, each addressing different goals and wielding different capabilities.

However, these agency categories can sometimes overlap or seem the same, especially as new kinds of digital agencies emerge every year. This makes it hard for business owners to identify exactly what type of agency they need to achieve their marketing goals.

If you’re able to identify the different types of agencies and understand what each brings to the table, it’s much easier to work through the agency request-for-proposal process and find the right agency partner for your business. In the following sections, I’ll explain the different types of agencies, their unique benefits and use cases, and how to choose the right one for your business goals.

7 Types of Marketing Agencies

There are many types of agencies out there specializing in traditional or digital media, and they can be generally categorized by their service offerings. Here are the most common agency types and what marketing initiatives they’re best equipped to handle:

1. Boutique Agency

What’s a boutique agency?

Boutique agencies are usually small creative agencies that focus on specialized work in niche areas. 

Who should use a boutique agency?

Boutique agencies generally work with a small number of clients and are best at using their niche expertise to provide laser-focused strategy and support to clients in related areas.

2. Branding Agency

What’s a branding agency?

Branding agencies specialize in creating, launching, or rebranding businesses. 

Who should use a branding agency?

If your goal is to establish or clarify your brand identity through story, voice, look, and more, this type of agency is the way to go.

A creative agency produces a video for an advertising campaign.

3. Creative Agency

What’s a creative agency?

Creative agencies focus mainly on the design and visual aspects of your business. It’s their job to translate the look and feel of your brand into creative output of all kinds, usually TV, video, print, or a combination.

Who should use a creative agency?

Creative agencies may partner with other agency types to fully achieve their clients’ goals. They’re less suited for digital projects because they tend to excel at developing splashy ad formats like commercials, as opposed to response-focused digital assets.

4. PR Agency

What’s a PR agency?

Public relations agencies produce and manage unpaid media like press releases, pitches, or events. PR agencies are best if you want to generate buzz around your brand or product to increase earned media.

Who should use a PR agency?

This agency type is especially important for new companies so they can raise awareness through earned methods at a time when budgets are usually limited. However, PR agencies do not run paid advertising, as the approach required is vastly different.

5. Traditional Agency

What’s a traditional agency?

As the name suggests, this type of agency only uses what would be considered traditional advertising tactics of TV, radio, and print. 

Who should use a traditional agency?

Traditional agencies’ approaches to advertising lack direct measurement and instead rely on reach metrics like Television Rating Points. This type of agency wouldn’t do anything like social media, so traditional agencies are best suited for large and established brands focused on expanding their reach. 

A digital marketer creates an advertising campaign.6. Digital Agency

What’s a digital agency?

These agencies promote your brand in the digital world through methods like connected TV, audio, banners, social media, search, and much more. This approach relies on direct measurement metrics like impressions, pageviews, and conversions. It tends to use ad formats like GIFs, videos, and image ads.

Who should use a digital agency?

This is the best type of agency for aggressive direct-response goals, and they’re usually able to buy media across a wide range of platforms and mediums.

7. Full-Service Agency

What’s a full-service agency?

Full-service agencies employ a mix of marketing approaches, like traditional and digital ad buying as well as creative development and branding. 

Who should use a full-service agency?

This is the best choice if you want to streamline your agency management and minimize points of contact. The downside to full-service agencies is that they tend to focus on breadth over depth, so they won’t be as good in any one specific area as a specialist agency.

Determining Which Agency Is Right for Your Brand

Which of these agencies is right for your business will depend on many factors, including your past marketing experiences and goals for the future. Here are some elements to consider when determining which agency or combination of agencies is right for your brand:

Current State

Think about your business’s current situation, and ask yourself the following questions:

Are you a start-up?

If so, start by hiring a branding agency to establish your brand voice. Then, move to a PR agency to get the word out about your company. Hire creative and digital agencies to advertise online where direct-response performance is strongest, which is usually important as start-ups work to hit aggressive performance goals.

Are you an established brand?

If so, you might already have your brand look and feel figured out. You may not need a PR agency if people know about your company or product. Instead, consider these questions: Where are your weaknesses or challenges? What are your business goals?

Business Goals

Once you’ve established where your brand currently stands, it’s time to think about the future and your goals. Onboarding an agency is a complex task, so it’s essential to think about the bigger picture and what kind of partner you want by your side as you work towards your various goals. Clearly define both your short- and long-term goals so you have a better idea of what exactly you’re looking for in an agency partner.

Challenges and Weaknesses

It’s also important to think about where your organization and its current partners are falling short. Here you should evaluate past and present agency relationships to understand what will work in the future.

Consider the challenges or weaknesses of your current media program. Maybe your current agency excels at TV buys but struggles with digital media. In this case, you could keep your current agency on a scope limited to traditional media, and branch out to add a digital agency. 

Start Finding the Best Agency for You

Finding the right agency for you can be a challenge but is made easier when you approach the process with a clear understanding of your circumstances and goals. The right agency or blend of agencies is different for every brand, and it depends on your business and what you want to achieve through the partnership.

A good rule of thumb is to be skeptical of any agency that says they can do everything well — this agency just doesn’t exist. It’s often best to work with a range of specialist agencies. For example, it’s almost always best to keep your advertising and PR partners separate since the strategies and expertise are vastly different.

Here at Booyah, we consider ourselves a digital agency. Find out more about what that means for us and our approach to client strategies.

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