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Ad Agencies: What’s their specialty?

Ad Agencies Whats their specialty

Ad Agencies: What’s their specialty?

Advertising agencies are marketing industry specialists. Being a marketing specialist, they can easily learn and understand the industry which they have to “communicate” and in today’s environment, engage in. Advertising is about marketing. Marketing is about; 1) asking the same questions, regardless of industry… 2) listening to the answers those questions garner,  3) respect them… and 4) develop, create and design accordingly. Whenever I read an RFP (Request for Proposal) that states that only agencies with “industry-specific” experience need apply… I have to ask myself why…? Isn’t partnering with an advertising agency suppose to round out the “marketing team”, providing expertise that is not in-house?

An agency’s role is steeped in marketing and as such, marketing is the specialty, regardless of industry. Agency traits such as creative, marketing, campaign development, media strategies is what an ad agency should be measured by… industry knowledge can be acquired and taught. The client is truly the industry expert  providing industry knowledge outlining the key parameters and the industry challenges. That doesn’t give leave to the advertising agency not to do their due diligence and gain knowledge. Don’t get me wrong… a marketing ad agency  can and often do become  industry specialist… however, they can only keep their nimbleness, their creative edge, their ability to push the envelope if they continue to work in many industries, across the various medium, and cross platforms. It’s  just the nature of  the advertising industry and its basic positioning and premise… staying fresh, current and more importantly, providing creative competitive edge.

I do get it… Industry specific agencies don’t have the learning curve of industry knowledge. However, ad agencies that are non-industry specific are used to learning quickly and becoming subject-matter experts in a very short timeline. It’s the nature of the ad business. Industry specific agencies don’t see the “industry” in a new light, and therefore do not push the envelope… Non-industry specific agencies think that what hasn’t been done is possible… and if they do their homework, they understand how they can make it work within the guidelines of the industry regulations.

Isn’t an ad agency’s whole “reason of being” (raison d’être) about providing their clients with a marketing competitive edge?…  in positioning their product/service/business, or generating more visits to the website, increasing brand awareness, generating greater ROI, increasing sales traffic…? How are all these initiatives industry-specific rather than marketing specific?

I believe hiring industry specific agencies is flawed. Even if they know the industry, they are often confined to their non-disclosure agreements and even if they’re not, their integrity  shouldn’t allow them to share the knowledge.

Selecting a marketing specialized advertising agency, provides greater agility  in the creative approach which will add  a new perspective in brand, branding, advertising campaigns, media strategies, conceptual development. A marketing specialized ad agency will provide added depth of knowledge  and strategies. They aren’t complacent…. they’re  never  bored… or  become defeated  because they work in different industries, different media, different campaigns. Their depth of strategies are cross-industry and some of those initiatives can often be tweaked and adapted to another industry….which provides that industry with  an innovative approach!

If you’re looking for a doctor… you’ll definitely want a field specialist!… When looking for an advertising agency that is relied upon to provide businesses and products with the creative edge, seek out ad agency that specializes… well…. in advertising!


Miriam Hara

Author: Miriam Hara

Miriam is the Chief Creative Officer and co-founder of 3H Communications Inc., a full service branding and advertising agency. Her experience has enabled her to bring together strategic business savvy with an all-encompassing creative vision to product and service marketing, which she shares here, in her many posts. Join the conversation, register here. Miriam’s own brand of marketing experience and expertise is the basis of her marketing ebook series including Content Creation Understood, the most recent addition. Download it here. You can also find Miriam on Google +.

Comment ( 1 )

  • My complementary blog post,, identifies the risk of hype, and the confusion that CEOs have, followed by real qeuestions the CEO can ask his marketing team and agency, to cut through the hype.

    I like the way you have described the concept and I call it “increasing the gene pool and mixing idea DNA with non-industry-specific agency input.” Your point about the fundamentals of marketing and their relevance is all too often overlooked or overshadowed by hype over the “do-it-now” sales pitches for pre-packaged social initiatives that overlook the basics like the 4Ps.

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