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If you’re confused about the difference between a marketing company and advertising agency, it might be a good idea to look at some of the main differences between the two.

Check out our article on how to qualify a digital marketing agency with a Digital Marketing Agency Checklist.

An advertising agency’s job is to plan ad campaigns using traditional advertising technologies such as press, broadcast, online advertising, or direct marketing. They utilize the talents of their art directors, graphic designers, and copywriters. They create ads that shine the spotlight on your product or service for a finite length of time.

If you have a global strategy, a well-defined brand, a keen idea of exactly who your customer is, and a designated advertising & creative budget, then you might want to utilize the services of an advertising agency.

Be doubly sure that you know the characteristics, the lifestyle, and current buying preferences of your customers. You don’t want to waste time and money advertising to the wrong person. Knowing your target audience and your ideal buyer is the job of marketing. Also, knowing how to attract customers versus playing tag with them is the job of marketing.

What Can I Expect from a Marketing Company?

You may need help in honestly assessing the needs of your business. If that is the case, here are some good questions to start out with:

1)    Are you attracting enough leads?

2)    Are you able to accurately track results of your advertising and marketing strategy?

3)    Are you converting leads to sales?

4)    Are you nurturing and maintaining relationships with your customer base?

These are the types of issues that a marketing company can help you with. The advertising agency prides itself, rightfully so, on taking a high level approach with a laser focus on execution. However, the marketing company takes a more consultative approach. The result is a marketing strategy that is consistent with your company history, values, and short and long term goals. But, finally, the biggest result is getting results that match your expectations.  

The Marketing Company Is Your Partner

You’re the client but you’re also partnering with your marketing experts. What you say will determine the outcome of your marketing strategy. Your marketing strategy also includes input of company employees and asks for their involvement in social media, email marketing, and grassroots campaigns.

Your marketing strategy will be a multi-channel mix of traditional advertising, online digital marketing (including search, social, and content), and public relations. Your website—which you’ll help design—will become your operations and marketing communication headquarters. You’ll always be in close proximity to your customers and their specific needs.

In fact, staying in touch with your customers and turning up the volume on the customer conversation becomes the job of the advertising you do, the social media platforms you use, and the remarkable content that you’ll produce in collaboration with the marketing company.


You’ll have access to three quantitative metrics—traffic, leads, and sales—that are directly tied in to ongoing sales and revenue generation. You’ll be able to measure and analyze how much traffic you drive to your site, how much you convert, and how much you close.

Perhaps the most significant difference between how a marketing company and advertising agency works is learning how to use an inbound rather than an outbound approach.

You’ll attract→convert→close customers using a multichannel approach because you want to reach people in the channel where and when they want to interact with you. The function of inbound marketing is to interact versus interrupt.

You’ll construct a path that makes it easy and convenient for customers to come to you rather than using tactics that require you to chase after customers.

You’ll nurture your customer relationships and learn how to exceed customer expectations. And you’ll consider your contact database precious.

Another difference between marketing and advertising is the pricing structure. The marketing company usually works on a project or flexible retainer, but there is fluctuation here between companies. Suffice to say that the pricing structure for a marketing company is usually more in line with the needs of small-to-medium businesses.

Grow Your Business

As you can see from this brief overview, there are significant differences between a marketing company and advertising agency. The job of the advertising agency is to drive sales. The job of the marketing company is to generate leads, increase sales, and grow your business. What’s right for you finally depends on your size, style, customer base, and what you’re looking to do.

If you have questions or comments, please email us.

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