The difference between a marketing agency and an advertising agency

by Adam Basheer, on 23-Feb-2017 22:02:26

When a business is looking to grow, build their brands or build their business, a marketing agency (or consultancy) and an advertising agency can assist in achieving this goal. Both types of agencies aim for the same end value - to increase sales revenue. However, the process, focus and implementation in doing so is quite different. This is generally where the confusion of differentiating a marketing agency from an advertising agency lies. Understanding the difference can help businesses meet their objectives and set themselves apart from competitors.


Before breaking down the difference between a marketing agency and an advertising agency, it is important to first consider the difference between the two terms.

First and foremostly, marketing is not another word for advertising or vice versa. Marketing is the most misused term in business, with the term being used for everything from advertising, sales promotions, brochures, logos, signage and much, much more.

Marketing is getting the right goods and services to the right people, at the right place, at the right time, with the right communication and promotion (Kotler, Shaw, Fitzroy, Chandler). Advertising on the other hand focuses on using the right communication method to communicate the right messages to the right people.

This best way to look at this is to picture marketing as an umbrella. Underneath the umbrella are different marketing techniques business choose to adopt that best aligns with their strategy. One of these techniques is advertising. This means advertising forms a component of marketing which helps provide a voice and identity for your business to promote and sell your product or service. Other marketing techniques include, sales, promotion, lead generation, customer service, research and branding. Overall, the concept marketing follows a holistic approach meaning ‘everything matters’. This allows businesses to effectively execute their marketing activities.

The explanation of the two terms will help grasp the difference between a marketing agency and an advertising agency. The primary role of a marketing agency involves systemic process of strategy, planning, developing and implementing activities that meet their client’s business needs. They solve issues and minimise limitations a business may face as well as develop innovative ideas and introduce new opportunities for growth. Professional marketer’s coordinates all aspects of marketing. They utilise various marketing principles and tools to increase brand awareness, generate leads from the target market and increase conversion opportunities. Industries of all sizes and types will approach a marketing agency if they are seeking to:

  • Introduce a new product into the market
  • Introduce an existing product into a new market
  • Develop a marketing plan
  • Establish new strategies
  • Identify growth opportunities
  • Build market share
  • Increase sales leads
  • Increase sales conversions

Most marketing agencies offer a full service and have a consultative approach. The services generally cover market research, marketing strategy, marketing planning, marketing communication and everything else in between. Investing in a marketing agency presents an excellent opportunity to better understand customers, the value of the product or service and the industry.

An advertising agency does not generally cover this much depth and breadth, as advertising is only one component of marketing. Advertisers specialises in media buying and media planning, help businesses make decisions on the type of communication tool they should use to maximise the reach potential as well as managing the placement and frequency of ads. If a business approaches an advertising agency they have must existing knowledge of who their customers are and their market, yet are seeking ways to effectively target their audience.

If a business is having difficulty in executing a communication strategy, this is where an advertising agency can help. Common communication tools include TV, radio, print media (magazines, newspaper), online advertising (social media, Google AdWords). The advertising agency will often be highly creative in their thoughts, ideas and design elements. They will often specialise in this creative work as a key part of cutting through a competitive advertising space.

So which is right for you? When a business looking grow both types of agencies can assist. So if you are not sure how you are going to grow, which direction to take, or lack marketing resources then a marketing agency is probably right for you. However, if you know your direction and how you are going to get there but need to implement a more effective advertising campaign, then an advertising agency is likely right for you. Please contact Fit 4 Market if you need any assistance in making this decision.

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Fit 4 Market are specialist marketing consultants operating in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth

Topics:Marketing PlanBrand PositioningMarketing Agency