full service agency
Digital & Marketing Strategy

How Does a Full Service Agency Actually Work?


In the age of digitalization, marketing is more complex than ever. From conceptual development to social media campaigns, to SEO optimization – there are numerous aspects that want to be considered if you want to set up and market your company successfully.

Due to the scope of the task and also in order to access the specialized knowledge of professionals, more and more companies rely on the support of professional advertising agencies.

Especially, working with a full-service agency can give your company an advantage, because first, you work with the best in the industry and also have time to take care of your personal core business.

What Does “Full Service” Mean?

They can be found under terms such as advertising agency, Internet agency, or even design agency. If these service providers offer the entire spectrum of advertising services, they are referred to as a “full-service agency” that provides a company with advertising support on a long-term basis. This task includes consulting, design, and planning services.

In addition to traditional corporate advertising or product advertising in newspapers, on billboards, or on radio and television, the service assignment usually also includes online marketing, corporate identity, corporate design, public relations, and direct mail.

The agency takes care of all aspects of online marketing, such as search engine optimization, social media marketing, e-mail marketing, or web development for online stores.

Difference From Other Agencies

In addition to the full-service agency, there are several other agencies. But what is what in the jungle of designations?

What Does a Digital Agency Do?

The digital agency differs in terms of the depth of processing. While a full-service agency is more concerned with the external appearance and the surface, a digital or IT agency takes care of the technical side. Long-term cooperation of both sides is welcome.

What Does a Creative Agency Do?

In contrast to the full-service model, the creative agency focuses on finding ideas and developing concepts that underlie the design of advertising measures. The focus on these sub-areas should lead to better results because in times when online media allow maximum performance, building, maintaining, and above all carefully developing a company or a brand are of utmost importance.

If you want to sell something, you can’t just bang on the drum with a few crass slogans – no – you have to win the trust of the buyers. To achieve this goal, you need consistent concepts.

What Does a Lead Agency Do?

Various service companies offer advertising services, and the lead agency coordinates these agencies. It is not only responsible for the public appearance of its client but also takes over the entire management, strategic consulting, positioning, and (digital) presence of its client as part of a long-term collaboration. Lead agencies offer services ranging from online marketing to social media content.

The client will be pleased because now he does not have to coordinate the various advertising service providers as well, but can devote himself to the core business. He hands over the lead to an agency designated in the same way, which now takes care of the disciplines and interrelationships in marketing on his behalf.

He mediates and promotes the cooperation of the individual players and always lets the better idea win. This could then be called Full Thinking rather than Full Service.

How Does a Full-Service Agency Work?

Full-service agencies offer a broad range of services. Experts from all disciplines work here on the same assignment. The range of services classically includes consulting, copywriting, graphic design (e.g. flyers, brochures, logo development), print processing, photography, and PR.

In contrast to the classic advertising agency, web design, search engine optimization, SE management or even social media marketing are also part of the scope of work.

Agencies that offer full service should employ at least 15 people to cover the entire spectrum. The advantage here is that the individual teams of experts benefit from the transfer of knowledge within the company.

Actually too good to be true. Or does the principle of “can do everything, but nothing really” apply after all? The three sub-areas of advertising, web programming, and web design alone require very specialized and different expertise.

With the full-service model, there is a risk that the agency will deliver mediocrity instead of excellence in many areas. This is one of the reasons why there is a trend towards the specialized agencies described above.

How Do I Choose a Full-Service Agency?

Once you have decided to work with a full-service advertising agency, an important step has been taken. But now the search for a competent contact begins. Full-service agencies are far from exceptional, with many companies offering such a service – and as always, there are some that are better than others.

So how do you find an agency that meets your needs? We’ve summarized some criteria you should look for when making your selection.

General Criteria for Selection

  • Location: If it is important to you to have personal contact for collaboration, it makes sense to find an agency close to the company to ensure short distances.
  • Size and experience: Get some background info on the agency. How long has the company been in existence and how many employees work there? Especially if full service is to be provided, a minimum number of employees is mandatory. Of course, references of the company are also useful, so that you do not become a guinea pig.
  • Certification: Also check whether the agency has industry-standard certifications.

Professional Selection Criteria

Get multiple quotes and don’t just check on the price. Your brand name is at stake. Important clues that potential agencies should present and prove include:

  • Cross-industry expertise
  • Core competence in strategic marketing
  • Team of specialists from different fields (concept creators, strategists, customer consultants, brand experts, graphic designers, web designers, copywriters, content managers, SEO/ SEA experts, programmers, and social media specialists)
  • The composition of the team is based on the needs of the client
  • Continuous participation of experts in trainings, so that they are up-to-date with the latest knowledge in their field of expertise.
  • Proposals for cooperation: detailed analysis of the current situation, conducting a client workshop, elaboration of the specific strategic and conceptual approaches
  • Implementation of the measures in the offline and online area
  • Analysis tools for the evaluation of the measures
  • References
  • Practical experience
  • Overall package and cost estimate

Your Decision

Now it’s up to you to decide whether you want to go with a full-service agency or prefer specialists. There are pros and cons on both sides.

Take your time when researching and making your selection; nothing less than your brand message is at stake. Experience has shown that it is helpful to first formulate your own ideas and then have several agencies compete against each other in a bidding process. This will show you clear differences and ensure realistic prices.

Sortlist can help you choose your agency. The more details you provide about your requirements and your project, the more precise the selection of eligible agencies will be. Feel free to try it out and find your perfect partner!


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