With so many types of agencies in existence to help propel businesses further, it is no surprise that many Australian agency seekers are left confused as to what types of services they can expect. In order to find the perfect fit for your company, you will firstly have to identify what your business needs are, and understand what each type of agency can offer you.
The many different ways an agency classifies itself will be no stranger to an experienced marketing manager or brand manager. But understanding the subtle differences between what different agencies offer and their specialties can be a challenging endeavour for any businesses and organisations looking for services that overlap the different fields. Can a marketing agency build a digital product well? Can a digital agency pull off an integrated multi-channel campaign?
We won’t blame you for that headache that sets in when you think of agencies. After all, there are just way too many - from the traditional advertising agencies and creative agencies, to branding agencies, to the newly evolved web-centric digital agencies.
In this guide, we have a look at the most common agency types, their specialties, what they say they can do, and what they really hang their hats on.
Advertising Agencies, Marketing Agencies & Creative Agencies
If you are looking for an agency that can provide your business with the creation of overarching advertising concepts and art direction, and carrying out integrated multi-channel campaigns that can span from television, radio, print and digital platforms, then your safest bet would be advertising agencies, marketing agencies or creative agencies - all of which operate on very similar levels. With these types of agencies leading the way on your projects, you can expect to have a seamless advertising campaign across various platforms that will be aimed at increasing your company’s exposure to the relevant target audiences.
The benefit of hiring advertising, marketing or creative agencies to manage your campaigns is that you can be certain of a degree of uniformity when your advertisements or marketing campaigns hit the different platforms. However, the downside to this is that as a business, you’ll be looking at higher expenses since these platforms cost more to utilise, and you can’t expect a full scale, dedicated web-driven service from these agencies.
And when should you approach advertising, marketing or creative agencies? Ideally, these agencies can assist businesses who have already been spending advertising dollars but are not seeing any returns, or businesses who are interested in forking out money for advertising but are unclear as to which channel or platform is most suitable for them.
As the name suggests, one should seek out a branding agency when you need help with your company’s brand name and identity design. While advertising agencies, marketing agencies and creative agencies can also assist you with creating or revitalising your brand (especially if they have a strong brand management team), you can expect a more dedicated branding/rebranding service from branding agencies, as that will be their area of specialisation. With a branding agency working for your company, you can be confident of establishing a brand strategy and an identity that distinct you from your competitors, and will resonate well with your target audience.
A branding agency will work best for you when your company needs to gain traction or when your existing brand is no longer resonating with your audience, therefore requiring the urgency of a rebranding.
With almost 90% of Australians connected to the Internet, the concept of hiring digital agencies to advance business outcomes has taken off. With that many Australians being tech-savvy, it is only expected that much of your target audience’s time will be spent on the Internet, making it the best platform for engaging with them and getting your brand name out there.
To stand out on the digital platform, you’ll need a wow-inducing web design that is also user friendly, secure and speedy website infrastructure which is built on robust web development, and well-written quality content that will resonate well with your target audience. You may also require a strategic plan to make the most out of all the available digital channels such as search engines (SEO), pay-per-click, social media, email and eCommerce.
Whatever your digital needs are, a full-service digital agency will have it covered. This is where a company like Yump, a digital agency in Melbourne, comes in. That said, digital agencies also have specialisations.
Traditionally, digital agencies can be marketing-focused (stronger digital advertising department), design-focused (stronger creative department) or development-focused (stronger technical and programming department).
As a response to the worldwide shift towards online retail, some digital agencies have become more specialised in building online shops and eCommerce platforms. These agencies have developed strategies to anticipate shoppers' behaviour and fine-tune shopping carts to increase conversion.
In recent years we are seeing two other emerging types - the user experience agency and the social media agency.
A user experience agency extolls the benefits of a user-centred design methodology, in which web design and other forms of interaction design must start from evaluating the needs and wants of the target user. This means carrying out user research, such as user profiling, user surveys, interviews and qualitative workshops, before embarking on any design and development.
A social media agency specialises in social media strategy and advertising, which includes creating detailed social communication plans, carrying out campaigns and competitions, monitoring and responding to conversations, and managing advertisements on various social platforms.
When you choose a digital agency to handle your business’ needs, you can also expect qualified leads supported by data analytics. There are numerous ways for the agency and your business to ascertain if your digital campaign is a hit or a miss, as you can track and identify which website visits had transformed into leads. Reliable tracking via traditional media channels, such as print, television or radio, is not always possible. Thus it can be difficult to determine the exact number of audience you’ve successfully reached.
With the rise of digital agencies, it is no surprise that advertising agencies, marketing agencies and creative agencies have invested heavily in building and improving their digital capabilities. Whether these integrated digital departments are capable enough to match the specialised skills of pure digital agencies depend on budgets and requirements and vary from agency to agency. The jury is still out.
Depending on your business’ needs, it’ll be best for you to approach the relevant types of agency. In Melbourne, these agencies are aplenty, so make your decision wisely.
By Yuan Wang
Yuan is Creative Director and co-founder of Melbourne digital agency Yump. At Yump, we believe great digital experiences are created through a process that focuses on the user first. From producing high quality web designs in Melbourne, to progressive digital strategies and bespoke web development, we think like a user and apply behavioural insights to drive your business and organisational goals.