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8 types of Marketing Agencies – Why, When and What to look out for

I can understand a PR Agency and Ad Agency, what is this Media Buying, Social Media, Digital Agency? Aren’t they all part of an Ad Agency?

This was a question an acquaintance asked me while discussing the when and how to hire marketing and advertising agencies for startups. So this article is for those who need a little more clarity on the subject. Experts, do feel free to skip or even correct me if I am wrong.

Social Media Agency

1) Social Media Marketing Agency

What they do:

Only focus on Social Media and good social media agencies act as your Social Media department. They provide services such as

  • Social Media Strategy
  • Manage Brand Presence
  • Social Listening
  • Social Media Advertising
  • Social Competition Analysis

and much more


In this age of information symmetry when customers turn to the digital world to gather information about a business before engaging with it, SMM is a must have. You must have social media presence no matter how small you are. A good SMMA can help you with anything and everything related to social media.

A Forbes study showed that 97% of the business owners feel Online Brand Reputation Management is important.


Typically, you should be on the lookout for one if your product/service is a few months from launch.

Creative Advertising Agency

2) Creative Advertising Agency

Creative Advertising Agencies primarily specialize in design and graphics specializing in

  • Logo Design
  • Print Marketing
  • Letterheads
  • Brand Merchandise
  • Billboards


You need a Creative Agencyif you are looking to create a recognizable entity for your business and maintain homogeneity across all brand collateral.


It’s advisable to engage with a Creative Agency as early as possible, probably even before product development. Usually, creative agencies help you with coming up with a specific logo and peripherals based on your product and target customer description. Yes, a prototype would help the creative process, but more often than not, this is not required.

Public Relations Agency

3) Public Relations Agency

PR agencies focus on one thing alone, the brand’s reputation in the outside world. They’re experts with a knack of mitigating tricky situations. Some of the services include;

  • Media relationship-building
  • Event planning
  • Crisis prevention/recovery
  • Press release/speech writing
  • Brand development
  • Internal communication
  • Award entry and nominations

and much more


A good agency or PR practitioner can analyze the organization, find the positive messages and translate those messages into positive media stories to spread brand awareness. They protect, enhance or build reputations through various media.


This is a call you have to make as a founder. You can engage with a PR agency anytime during inception of your company and understand what all they can do for you. Discuss your offerings in detail with them. A one hour consultation will give you great insights into your industry, market trends, consumer behavior and media management. Based on the meeting, you can choose when and which service to adopt.

Branding Agency

4) Branding Agency

A branding agency typically conveys, in a visually appealing manner, your values, beliefs, story and individuality. They develop a brand that can eventually influence consumer behaviour. Usually you could find a creative agency within a branding agency. They go beyond the logo and website and help establish how your customers, employees and other stakeholders perceive your position in the marketplace.

  • Creative Design
  • Copy writing
  • Website designing and development
  • Complete Brand Marketing Strategy

and much more

Why and When?

Step away and look at your brand from a bird’s eye view, look at it as a customer.

  • Can you relate to the brand?
  • Do you feel moved by their journey, challenges and how they overcame them?
  • Do you find a strange pull that attracts you to the brand?
  • Do you want to be part of the story in some minor way?
  • Would you go back time and again to buy more from this brand?

If your answer is no, then you need a branding agency. 

Digital Marketing Agency

5) Digital Agency

A digital agency’s focus goes beyond just the aesthetics of design, but also considers the overall user experience on every digital platform, and regardless of what type of device is being used. Some of their services include;

  • Content Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Digital Advertising
  • Website Analytics

Why & When ?

Digital Marketing Agencies are ROI driven. They strive to provide steady increase in ROI by testing and reworking their strategy to improve its overall efficacy.

Digital marketing agencies will evaluate website traffic, identify the perfect channels to invest in, and continually maintain the balance between your marketing activities and the results they provide.

You usually require a DMA when your product is already released and adopted by your customers and you want to increase the penetration of your product and revenue based on data you have gathered from your current consumers.

Media Buying Agency

6) Media Buying Agency

Media buying agencies typically focus on overall media strategy and media planning. A They are responsible for the placements and the negotiation of price for all advertisements on radio, television, print and digital. The primary goal is to ensure the advertisements are seen by the most people possible for that target audience within the stipulated budget.

Media buying agencies specialize in;

  • Identifying best time frame to broadcast
  • Establishing markets for reaching your audience
  • Recommending the right budget
  • Share insights on your target audience
  • Leveraging relationships with publishers
  • Negotiating prices and placements with these publishers

Why & When?

Media Buying Agencies usually don’t operate with a client on their own and are usually a subset or more often a partner of a bigger agency. This is because they would need other departments such as Branding, Digital and Advertising to work hand in hand to provide collateral, plans and strategies.

Traditional Advertising Agency

7) Traditional Advertising Agency

Traditional agencies work only with forms of media, such as

  • Newspapers
  • Television commercials
  • Radio
  • Print

Why & When?

If you are a business who’s only interested in reaching a local audience, then this is the agency for you.

Full Service Advertising Agency

8) Full Service Advertising Agency

A full-service advertising agency offers a mix of everything we spoke about above. It’s a one stop shop for all your marketing and advertising needs.

  • Ad Campaigns
  • Brand Marketing Strategy
  • TV Ads
  • Social Media Management
  • Content Creation
  • Web Development
  • Radio Commercials
  • Strategic Planning
  • SEO
  • Graphic Design
  • Lead Nurturing

Why & When?

If you are a business that needs all of the servies mentioned above and more, then you need a FSAA. 

Please check out the last in the 3 part series, “6 Questions to ask before hiring a Marketing & Advertising agency”

Did this article help you in anyway or did I miss out on something important? Do share your thoughts below. I would love to add that and give you due credit for pointing it out.

By Mithun Chandra, Founder – Tatopo Digital

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