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Choosing an Inbound Marketing Agency banner 3

Do you need a traditional advertising agency? Or can an Inbound Marketing agency be the perfect solution?

As a marketer, you’ve probably done some advertising tasks yourself – especially if you’re on a small team working within a small organization. Where is the line drawn between marketing and advertising? And why would you need an advertising agency?

Table of Contents:

How to Choose an Inbound Marketing Agency


Advertising or Marketing?

According to the American Marketing Association, “marketing is the process of identifying customer needs and determining how best to meet those needs. In contrast, advertising is the exercise of promoting a company and its products or services through paid channels. In other words, advertising is a component of marketing.”

HubSpot adds this important detail: “Marketing constitutes the big picture of how a company plans to raise awareness of its brand and convince customers to make a purchase. Advertising is the act of communicating messages around these broad goals.”

We might say that advertising is part of a marketer’s toolkit, but it’s a big enough part that it can require some specialized knowledge. In its broadest sense, advertising attracts attention to a product or service. It can use a variety of mediums, including billboards, digital ads, TV commercials, radio spots, etc. 

What Does an Advertising Agency Do?

Ads themselves don’t need to be explained; we’ve all seen enough of them. We know they tend to be short, punchy, and attention-grabbing. But unless you’ve been inside an ad campaign, you may not realize just how much work, skill, and expertise goes into creating a memorable ad.

Thus, most ad agencies include copywriters, artists, graphic designers, and art directors who craft the messaging and its visual presentation. They also have strategists and analytics experts who research, test, and develop ideas and then track and analyze their performance. 

Although there can be different types of advertising agencies (boutique, digital, full service, etc.), a good agency of any variety will have industry knowledge and experience. They’ll understand what moves people to action and how they can tap into these feelings with their imagery and words. In short, they’ll use their targeted skills to help your company get noticed, get its message across, and get a memorable brand personality. 

When Might You Need an Advertising Agency?

Advertising Agencies are very graphic focused and play a very important role in traditional advertising for example: for large organizations that need to create brand awareness for their products and services. These organizations they're trying to persuade you to go out and get their product at the big box store or join their cause. You certainly could put together an ad campaign by yourself. But it might be worth your time and money to hire an advertising agency if you:

  • Have a small team that’s already working at full capacity.
  • Don’t have any real advertising background or experience.
  • Don’t have any copywriters or graphic designers on staff.
  • Don’t want the hassle of working with media vendors.
  • Don’t have experience using analytics tools to track or analyze campaign performance.
  • If you need experience in TV, Radio, Trade Shows, Branding, and other traditional forms of advertising.

If you’re not getting the return on your advertising dollars you’d like – or if you’re out of new ideas – an advertising agency can help you revitalize your efforts.

Advertising vs. Inbound Marketing

Traditional advertising has typically been the old playbook and very people-enabled. That’s TV, Radio, Cable, Newspapers, Trade Shows, and Branding for some examples. All of these tactics are very graphic intensive and require people that are very costly. When the money runs out, the ads stop and so do the results.  

Inbound Marketing is the new playbook and is technology-enabled. That's content that attracts visitors to your website and educates them on ways of solving their business problems. These tactics leverage technology at lower costs, and not people which drives up costs. In this case, your content keeps on giving well after you stop spending resources on content. Inbound Marketing was born out of the fact that traditional advertising was not delivering measurable results.  

There is a need for BOTH Traditional Advertising and Inbound Marketing. In all fairness, the digital landscape is changing rapidly for both Traditional Advertising and Inbound Marketing. New methods of targeting are giving Traditional Advertising new ways to prove the value of their ROI thanks to new technology-driven platforms. And Inbound Marketing is now encompassing Inbound Sales and Inbound Customer Service to create a flywheel effect that supports predictable and repeatable growth.

Having said that, there are very different use cases for the slower, organic growth of inbound marketing and the quick, results-driven mindset of advertising. Most companies who choose inbound marketing also advertise, so your decision between hiring an ad agency and hiring an inbound marketing firm will depend on your goals and where you are as a marketing team.   

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How to Choose an Inbound Marketing Agency