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What do advertising companies do

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

What do advertising companies do to help sell your products

What do advertising companies do to help sell your products

So, you’ve seen a little too much of AMC’s Mad Men — who hasn’t? — and you ask yourself what do advertising companies do nowadays? You may simply be a curious individual, or a client looking to explore opportunities to expand their products; either way, the life of an ad agency is an interesting thing indeed.

Ad agencies will adopt a wide range of advertising/marketing strategies in order to create a tailor-made campaign — or series of campaigns — for their client/s. Below, let’s take a look at what constitutes an ad agency, what they provide for their clients, and the process by which they (hopefully) strengthen the clients’ brand name.

How Big Are Ad Agencies?

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And do agents smoke, drink, and flirt as much as Don Draper? Just joking. Ad agencies can run the gamut in terms of number of employees, revenue per year, and type of services provided. There are:

  • Small, home based businesses which are more boutique in nature (at least to start). Some of the best minds may come from smaller ad firms; they will grow with the success of the agency. When choosing between small and large firms, don’t discount an agency due solely to its size.
  • Larger conglomerate operations with multiple factions — market research, sales, copywriting, graphic design, account management — who tackle some of the largest clients in the world.

Clients Looking to Hire

According to Steve McKee, in his article “How to Hire an Ad Agency,” experience of an ad agency in a clients’ particular industry isn’t exactly necessary. Potential clients instead should look to hire an ad firm who understands — and has demonstrated through solid fundamentals — the art of marketing and communications.

The best agencies won’t do spec work; their services are too much in demand to provide you a sample of a campaign. But what do they actually do, you ask?  Well, they will:


You’ve seen the booze-soaked, appetizer fest on Mad Men as Draper and his cohorts target potential clients, wine-and-dine them, and before the inevitable black-out, reel them in for business. In today’s ad agency grind house, much is the same.

According to Giselle Tattrie, in “What Do Ad Agencies Do,” agents will take an inside-out approach in finding clients; they’ll look first to people they know, follow-up with organizations which they’d like to target for service, and finally, focus on companies which may have just experienced a sudden spurt of growth or increase in prestige. A letter, email, call, and/or portfolio work will soon follow.


The best ad agencies know that advertising and marketing go hand-in-hand. Clients will listen intently to the presentation: how the plan fits into the overall marketing strategy. The agency may present materials — logos, brochures, websites, ad banners, billboards, and beyond — to the client in an effort to show what they’ve accomplished before with similar clientele.

If the client decides to move forward, then the ad agency will begin the process of ascertaining:

  • The client’s competition
  • Its recognition level in the marketplace
  • Its current market share
  • Desired deadline for new campaign
  • Client’s expectations for the ad agency, and much more
Creative Process and Rollout of the Campaign

After the requisite research is complete, the ad agency will bring in their creative (geniuses?) minds to fill out the copy: TV commercials, direct mailings, website work, billboards, and whatever else the client requests. Copywriters and graphic designers will normally get a bulk of the work (think: Peggy Olson and fast-talking Michael Ginseberg in Mad Men).

The agency’s media buyer will then purchase space for the ads — whether they are for newspaper, website, radio, or other mediums — and do so by releasing the new campaign in a variety of different media formats in order to not overwhelm people with only one repeated form of the advertisement.

The American Association of Advertising Agencies ( offers an agency search page where interested parties may head to browse agency listings at home and abroad. You can input city, state, ownership, and revenue data in order to find a variety of potential best choices in your area. You’ll find contact information and website data, as well, on your choices.

So, in the end, the question of what do advertising companies do is one which consists of reeling in the potential client, providing a glimpse into the process of a successful new ad campaign, and then rolling out the ads in a way in which generates a positive brand awareness by reaching a variety of people in a variety of diverse formats.

Resources: Homepage.

Bloomberg Businessweek: How to Hire an Ad Agency.

Houston Chronicle: What Do Ad Agencies Do?

Above photo attributed to amira_a


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