Marketing Firm vs. Marketing Agency: What’s the Difference?

Alliance  ·  April 17, 2021

When choosing a partner for your marketing efforts, you might come across a number of different marketing firms and marketing agencies. Are they both the same thing? In this article we will explain what some might consider differences between the two to help you decide if one or the other is best suited to your business needs.

When searching for marketing services online, you most likely will come across businesses that label themselves as marketing firms and others that label themselves as marketing agencies. In this article, we will discuss different perspectives on this topic, and how to determine which of these is best suited for your business needs.

Perspective 1: Can be Differentiated by Services Offered

According to a blog post by Hubspot, marketing firms can be defined as a group of professionals that offer a very specific and specialized type of marketing service. They might have just a few areas of focus when it comes to marketing and their expertise does not expand beyond this. An example of a marketing firm might be a PR firm, who only focuses on public relations, but might lack the expertise to handle another form of marketing, such as social media marketing or search engine optimization.

A marketing agency, however, is defined by Hubspot as a group of professionals that offer a broad range of marketing services. These types of businesses possess a stronger understanding of different marketing approaches and strategies, and might offer a number of different marketing services such as SEO, online advertising, social media and more. A marketing agency most likely has a larger team of individuals each with their own marketing skill set that allows them to provide these different types of services to their clients.

Perspective 2: Can be Differentiated by Creative Ability

Another blog post by Neil Patel distinguishes marketing firms and agencies based on creative ability. In his post, he mentions that a marketing agency can be distinguished by its inclusion of market research and analytics in their services as a way to better understand a clients needs and current competitive landscape. The focus of a marketing agency is more on identifying new opportunities for business growth and implementing them through an integrated marketing approach. 

Since a marketing firm tends to offer a smaller range of services, they might also be identified as creative agencies. Neil states that creative firms focus more on brand consistency, rather than adapting marketing efforts according to market research. The marketing firm focuses on driving customer loyalty through a more predictable marketing and branding approach.

Depending on your business needs, you use a mix of both marketing and creative agency strategies. It is important to analyze your competitive landscape and develop a marketing approach that grows and changes over time. However, it is also important to maintain a level of consistency throughout your branding approach in order to drive customer loyalty and familiarity with your brand. 

Perspective 3: They are Both the Same

A post on reddit, however, says that marketing firms and agencies are both the same. Their argument is that both marketing firms and agencies are companies. Agencies just have individual agents that act on behalf of the company. The post also mentions that the word “marketing firm” just is not used as much anymore, but both a marketing firm and agency are synonymous. 

So Who is Right?

While there are a number of different perspectives on marketing firms and agencies, selection depends on your individual business needs and requirements. What we feel is most important is not whether you choose a marketing firm or agency, but instead how they tailor these services to fit your businesses needs. You don’t want to hire a marketing firm or agency that offers a cookie cutter approach with their services. Instead, we suggest considering a full service marketing agency or firm that offers the right tools and capabilities based on your individual business requirements.

What is full service marketing?

A full service digital marketing company offers all of the necessary services to fully handle a marketing campaign for your business. They will offer everything needed to promote, advertise and market your brand in a way that drives new sales leads and improves customer loyalty. These types of companies usually have worked with a number of different industries and have the ability to research and understand what marketing components will be most effective for your business, and then create a customized multi- level marketing campaign that fits your budget and will deliver the best results for business growth. While you might not need all of the services offered by a full service company, having the ability to select from a larger offering will give your business a higher likelihood of being successful in your marketing approach. Hiring a full service company will also save your business time and money, as well as help maintain a consistent approach when it comes to your branding and marketing.


Need help with your Digital Marketing? Alliance Interactive is a full-service Washington, DC based marketing agency with over 17 years of experience creating integrated marketing for a number of different industries.