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Brand vs. Performance Agencies: What to Know

In this week’s episode, Jenny compares the two primary types of marketing agencies: brand agencies and performance agencies. Brand agencies are focused on big-picture, brand awareness efforts to make sure your brand is well known. Performance agencies, like Hedy & Hopp, focus on the finer details to make sure campaigns are driving strong results.

There are three aspects to consider when considering working with a brand or performance agency:

  1. Campaign Strategy

A brand agency will focus on awareness tactics, like TV and programmatic, to make sure your brand is well known. On the other hand, campaigns from a brand agency will be specific and conversion-focused. Performance agencies may work to develop specific personas to make sure your brand’s message is effectively reaching the right audience.

  1. Reporting Specificity

With a brand agency, don’t expect a lot of detail when it comes to reporting. Brand agencies aren’t necessarily results-focused, whereas performance agencies are. Performance agencies produce robust reporting, measured all the way to conversion, with a heavy focus on ROI. Performance agency reporting can get very granular to let you know what’s working and how campaign performance can be optimized for even better results.

  1. Technical Ability

Simply put, brand agencies may have gaps when it comes to technical knowledge. Since brand agency campaigns emphasize brand awareness, they aren’t built to know everything about website conversion tracking or how a website tool works, whereas a performance agency is.

Both brand and performance agencies have specific strengths to consider before working with them. While H&H primarily operates as a performance agency, we do have team members from brand agency backgrounds to fulfill your organization’s brand awareness needs, too.

Connect with Jenny:

Jenny: [00:00:00] Hi friends. Welcome to today’s episode of “We Are, Marketing Happy,” a healthcare marketing podcast. My name is Jenny Bristow. I am your host, and I’m also the CEO and founder of Hedy and Hopp. We are a full service healthcare marketing agency. We work with providers, payers, and those driving innovation in healthcare all across the country.

I am joining you today; I just felt inspired. I had a really interesting conversation with a prospect that’s really unhappy with their current agency. So we hopped on a call. This is, I think our third conversation, had a really great chat and they kept just comparing us to their current agency. And there were such broad gaps.

I began poking a little bit and it became very clear their current agency is a different kind of agency. There’s really two different kinds of marketing agencies. And so I thought it would be helpful for those of you that aren’t super familiar with the two different kinds of agencies to get a 101 [00:01:00], you know, what are the different kinds of agencies there’s more than two, but we’ll focus on the two primary today.

And how do you tell the difference between number one, what you have right now? And if you’re going shopping to find the new agency partner, how do you confirm the new agency partner is the kind that you’re looking for? So let’s jump in. And first for anybody who was watching the video, I have to just say yay for female empowerment.

I just got back from getting a facial. I am fresh faced. I don’t even have mascara on. So yay for female empowerment. If you ever wanted to know what Jenny looks like without makeup, Today’s the day, but I was too inspired to wait. So I had to record today. So let’s jump in. So, the two different kinds of marketing agencies, or two primary kinds, 

There’s some secondary and tertiary, but if you’re really shopping as a healthcare, in house healthcare marketer, and you’re trying to find an agency partner, you’re going to come across two different kinds. You’re going to come across a brand agency and a performance agency. So Hedy and Hopp, we are [00:02:00] performance agency.

And lots of folks that come to us frustrated with their marketing agency are actually working with a brand agency. So their goals really aren’t aligned. So let’s kind of break down the differences between how they work. So first, if you’re working on a campaign strategy. Let’s say you’re developing an annual strategy.

You’re breaking out your different business units, service lines, et cetera, really figuring out prioritization campaigns, tactics, et cetera. A brand agency is really going to be focusing on awareness. So top of funnel strategies, think like traditional TV, out of home, think programmatic or broad digital buys.

They aren’t really going to be focusing on super specific search engine marketing, conversion-related terms. They’re not going to be spending as much time developing personas and understanding the consumer or [00:03:00] patient journey to actually book that appointment. It’s more about making sure your brand is well known in your area. So again, it’s not that either approach is bad.

It’s just that some companies. Like I’m a Jeep lover, for example, Jeep is not doing ads specifically to try to get somebody who’s interested in a Wrangler 4XC to the landing page, to be able to buy one online, right? They always do broad awareness campaigns. Cause they want you to be aware of their brand and be top of mind, but then they also want to make sure that you’re high level aware of either, either any financial specials they have going on, like financing deals or any new vehicles that they’re launching for that year.

But that’s very high level. You know what I’m saying? So if you’re really thinking, you know, what kind of agency do I want to work with? Think about your goals. Are you trying to become really well known in your area? Or are you trying to drive specific campaign [00:04:00] outcomes, specific signups, conversions, etc.

The next difference is going to be the level of reporting specificity you receive. So one of the huge complaints this prospect today said, but also we hear this all the time is their reporting sucks. They just said like, this much spent on a programmatic. We have no details. We have nothing. We don’t know even what service lines or whatever we’re promoted.

It’s just like a bucket. This is programmatic. If they even get that, sometimes it just says “digital.” There’s no reporting down to the number of phone calls or form fills or scheduled appointments. None of that fun stuff. Because again, that’s not what the agency is structured to produce. Whereas a performance agency, you’ll typically see much more robust reporting.

You usually will see the ability to measure all the way to the conversion and really much have a better understand and focus on overall ROI with your campaigns, and they’ll talk more on the language of, you know, what’s the average cost per conversion [00:05:00] per service line per campaign. So you’ll get much more into that level of granularity with a performance marketing agency.

The third one is technical ability. This is something that I can speak to personally. We have been brought in to actually partner with some brand agencies. Sometimes folks are wanting to actually bring in a new, say, paid media agency or digital agency and they’ll call Hedy and Hopp and bring us on but perhaps they have an existing relationship with a brand agency that’s going to do their big picture campaign creative for the year.

We love partnering with other agencies, always happy to do that. In those situations there’s always a tremendous gap in technical knowledge because again, that’s not what that brand agency is built to do. They’re not built to understand, you know, when a pixel fires on a page or you know, exactly how your Find a Doctor tool works and, you know, how to maximize or reduce the number of steps on the UX.

So they’re going to come up with perhaps some really beautiful campaign creative, but perhaps not be able to [00:06:00] execute it in a way that’s friendly, maybe on a mobile device or something, you know, super technical specifications. So those are the three differences again, campaign strategy, you know, broad or specific reporting specificity, and technical ability.

I will say, there are outliers in every situation. You’re going to find brand agencies that have a couple of really technical folks they’ve brought on and they’ve really made that part of their organization really robust. And you’ll find performance agencies like Hedy and Hub that actually have a variety of senior leadership that came from a brand agency.

So we’re able to do that big picture creative in addition to the performance execution. So there’s always going to be outliers, but in general, vast majority of agencies are going to fall into one of those two buckets. So if you are currently on the hunt for a new agency, I really suggest you pause for a second, think about your own organizational goals, what you want to be able to do and accomplish, figure out what direction you want to do, and then create some questions around those three [00:07:00] sections for those prospective agency partners to make sure you’re truly getting what you think you’re getting.

A good way to do that is ask for examples of reporting. You know, ask for project timelines and how quickly you’re going to be able to get into market. Ask for examples of campaign strategies. They result for people like you in the past. Just ask for some examples to be able to see if it’s at that level of granularity you’re looking for. 

Because again you know, agency relationships. It takes a while to stand one up sometimes. And it, you know, usually the goal is for it to be a longer term commitment. So you certainly want to make sure you’re making that right decision. So hopefully for those of you that are actively thinking about new partnerships, this information was helpful. 

As always, please give us a rate, some good ratings. Follow our podcast and subscribe. And if you have any future topic ideas, I’d love to hear them. Hit me up at  Have a fabulous day. Thanks for tuning in.



About the Author

The Hedy & Hopp digital production team is the glue that keeps all activation work running. From auditing websites and tagging, to content strategy and CRM implementation, our digital production unicorns ensure the tiniest detail is reviewed and accurate before it gets to our clients. Their determination in finding solutions for any challenge makes this team marketing happy.

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