If you’re in need of help with marketing, you’re not just in need of help with marketing. You’re also in need of help with something additional: like branding, sales cycles, qualified leads, web design, memorability, credibility, etc.
The best marketing agencies know this — that’s why they’re a full agency and not a 2 man studio or single consultant. But because agencies cover (or say they cover) so much in the world of growing your business, we thought we’d do a little guide on what all those buzzwords are, which ones you need, and how to know if they’re legit.
If they say they’re:
(and we’ll go with Austin but we trust you to know that would be replaced with whatever city you’re searching in)
An Austin branding agency/company
–> Likely have a focus on things like web design, logo design, taglines, and are often searched for by startups or businesses thinking they need to rebrand themselves to get past some recurring obstacles.
An Austin design agency
–> If they’re any good at what they do at all, they’re also a branding agency. You can’t slap a cool logo on a brand and call it a day– otherwise freelancing logo designers would make a lot more money. So think Austin branding agency (the previous bullet point) but with a greater focus/ resource dump into the design specifically (color theory, eye tracking, psychology, all the things you didn’t realize were part of graphic design degrees).
An Austin marketing agency
–> The broadest description. Will they help you with your website? E-commerce? Sales? Team efficiency? Logo? Tagline? Digital ads? Do they bother to make sure you know the difference (and resource allocation) between direct vs. indirect marketing?
–> If this is what they call themselves, they might not be wrong. But they might be slacking and lacking — going with the broadest term not because they do it all, but because it gives them the leeway to half-ass multiple things.
An Austin advertising agency
–> the more straightforward and familiar brother of Marketing. Similar goals, likely less strategy and less well-rounded approach to the issues you’re facing. To us, this rings in our ears as “traditional” … and we hate traditional.
An Austin growth agency (or even better, growth hacking agency or performance advertising agency)
–> The newest of the buzzwords, and most annoying, if you ask us. That said, it’s the most compelling and specific. Unlike any of the bullet points above, a growth agency is guaranteeing growth in your business. Growth can’t effectively take place (or retain) if the groundwork of branding is off. Or if the sales cycle ‘accomplishes’ but doesn’t ‘exceed.’ Or if the design is stellar but the messaging is not.
–> A growth agency focuses on fixing, creating, or revamping the things you need to grow now, stay afloat, and keep growing. It makes you future-proof.
Here’s the rub.
Whatever from the above list they call themselves, it’s useless without deeply authentic strategy. And no business realizes this until they’re thousands of dollars and a contract deep with no ETA on deliverables and why they matter.
Think of making an entire Thanksgiving dinner with no salt. It’s food. It has some taste here and there. But salt is what brings out the flavor in everything it touches. Strategy is your brand’s salt. Nothing works without it laying the groundwork.
There’s no police force making sure people are doing what they claim to do. The closest you can get to that is Yelp.
There’s no guarantee that a branding agency has a full blown strategy team in the background making decisions (ahem, making *good* *new* decisions). There’s no guarantee the Austin design or marketing agency isn’t shoving you into a template that worked for their last client. And for growth firms, there’s no guarantee that their long-term goals will pan out, and in the meantime they’re going to shake up everything you do day to day.
The closest you can get to a guarantee, to knowing you are spending your money exponentially wisely, and receiving what you asked, bargained, and paid for?
Client case studies and reviews.
Getting the kind of press you want them to get for you.
Showing customized, uncategorizable value before you ever reach for your wallet.
And being fundamentally #AntiTemplate (and a little delusional too).
The money’s in the buy. Where’s your money headed?