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Full Service vs Specialized Marketing Agencies: What’s The Difference?

September 10, 2019
September 10, 2019 Brett Farmiloe

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What’s The Difference: Full Service vs Specialized Marketing Agencies

Our company has been both a full service and specialized marketing agency. 

In this post, we’d like to our experiences so that your business can select the right marketing partner. 

Here’s what you learn:

  • What is a full service marketing agency?
  • What is a specialized marketing agency?
  • Which is better: full service vs specialized agencies

Let’s jump into our definitions. 

What is a full service marketing agency?

A full service marketing agency is a one-stop shop for all of your digital marketing needs.

Common digital marketing services offered by a full service marketing agency include Search Engine Optimization, Paid Advertising, Email, Social Media, Public Relations,  Web Design, and Graphic Design. 

What is a specialized marketing agency?

A specialized marketing agency offers one marketing service to help fulfill a specific need for a business. 

Rather than offer all digital marketing services, a specialized marketing agency puts all of their resources into the offering of only one service.

The different types of specialized agencies include:

What’s Better: Full Service vs Specialized Marketing Agencies?

What you really need is more customers. More revenue. Better profits. 

How do you get there?

By first knowing that unicorns don’t exist.

That person or agency who can do it all – the full-service unicorn – doesn’t exist. Especially if you’re an agency of 10 people, or a freelance marketing professional. Yes, you may be good in some areas, but you are likely average or below average in other areas. 

If you are an agency of 100 people, then yes – your full service marketing solutions offer companies a one-stop shop…at a price tag unattainable for most small businesses, but just right for mid to large size companies. 

Yet, look at any job description for a marketing manager. People want all the full-service skills. They want a 360 full service integrated holistic marketing solution.

Why Full Service? 

You see, we were selling full service marketing for years. We “did” SEO, PPC, Email, Social Media, and Website development.

You know, everything that you think you need now.

But let me tell what happened to us, because it’s true for the majority of small agencies that claim to be full service.

We were below average. 

Ouch.

Let me say that in another way. We did everything for anyone and it did not drive the results needed to move small businesses forward online.

What it did successfully was tick all the checkboxes.

Email Marketing? Check.

Social Media? Check.

PPC, with Facebook Ads and AdWords? Double check.

SEO? Triple check. 

Business owners walked away optimistic from freshly signed agreements with our company. That enthusiasm faded within a matter of months when inefficient marketing overtook optimism.

What did we learn? That being a mile-wide and an inch deep doesn’t cut it in digital marketing. It just creates noise. 

We also learned that if we are a 10-15 person company, that we would need to focus all our energy and efforts into doing one thing really well to drive results. 

Final Rant: Which Type of Agency Do You Really Need? 

There are people who show up on our doorstep every day who claim they need a full service agency. A holistic marketing strategy. A 360 approach.

All that stuff sounds nice. 

But do you, really? Or do you need a company who can strategically and mathematically prove that an investment in just one particular area of digital marketing will drive results.

The majority of small businesses need something to get them from point A to point B. In other words, a small business needs something that will get them results. These small businesses need a specialized marketing agency that can deliver on promises. 

Large companies need large full service agencies. They need to tick off all the boxes, and have a presence in all places. 

Selecting the right partner enables your company to go an inch wide and a mile deep to develop momentum, results, and a return on investment. Full-service agencies can do that for the right customer. So can specialized agencies. 

Sometimes the best investment for a small business is in SEO. Other times, it may be PPC. Or Email. Or Social. The challenge is finding a good specialist who will provide a numbers breakdown and inform you one way or the other. 

In other words, don’t be so quick to discount the advice of a brakes specialist about your brakes. Listen to the specialists. They’ll save you the heartache and costs of being taken advantage of at a dealership. 

Contact us if you would like to discuss whether a full-service or specialized marketing agency would be a better fit for your business.

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Brett Farmiloe

Brett Farmiloe

Brett Farmiloe is the Founder & CEO of Markitors, a digital marketing company voted a best place to work 3 years in a row. He frequently contributes content about SEO, Careers, and Culture to Forbes, SHRM, Thunderbird, Huffington Post, Mashable, TIME, NextWeb, and more. And, as a dad of 3, he's about that minivan life.