How does a startup marketing agency differ from a regular one?

Hannah Brice Written by
Hannah Brice

One of the things I like to make clear whenever I speak to a prospect or new partner is that Upmarketry is a startup marketing agency. It nearly always leads to the question “What’s the difference between a startup marketing agency and a regular one?” But that might be why I say it in the first place.

With any business, to be successful, you need to ensure what you do and how you talk is appropriate for your target audience. I built my business to fit perfectly around the needs and wants of a startup founder. This means Upmarketry is not like other marketing agencies. I REALLY DON’T WANT TO BE CLASSED AS THAT.

But first….

Is there really a difference between a startup marketing agency and a regular marketing agency?

Yes. There is a huge difference but not a lot of businesses realise it. When looking for marketing support, they go on google or ask a peer to recommend an agency. Then, after a quick glance at the website, they call them up to see if the price is right.

The problem is that marketing is such a broad term. So most agencies tend to specialise in different things such as SEO, social, experiential and so on.

What’s more, the agencies that most likely rank highly on google for “marketing agency UK” or are well known in the industry are the big hitters. These guys offer a premium service and charge a fee to match. If you’re a startup, you won’t be able to afford their expenses, let alone their retainer price.

Go on then. What makes a startup marketing agency different?

Here’s a list.

1. Price

It makes sense to start with this one as I mentioned it above.

Startup marketing agencies, like Upmarketry, are priced with startups in mind. This means we operate as lean as possible, stripping out unnecessary activities and costs so you’re only paying for what you need.

To compare, the market average daily rate is £800. Upmarketry’s is £500.

To deliver a press office for a client, which means monitoring the news agenda, jumping on a story, and delivering two other PR activities per month such as a press release or viewpoint, a regular marketing or PR agency would charge upwards of £3,000. Upmarketry charges £1,500.

To build brand messaging for a business, I’ve seen first hand how some agencies will pull directors into a room, spend a day with them and deliver an elevator pitch, and no more, for £5,000.  Upmarketry delivers a brand bible bursting with tone of voice, messaging, values and more for £1,700.

Get the idea?

2. Structure of agency

The next big difference between a startup marketing agency and a regular marketing agency is how it’s structured.

Generally, a marketing agency will have at least 15 employees of different levels of seniority. They’ll also have staff in HR, finance and administration. If a big project comes in, the existing team just has to swallow the additional workload by working faster or by pushing other tasks back.  The client’s fee doesnt just pay for the work carried out. It also to cover the large costs of running the business and premises.

A startup marketing agency is built like a startup – it doesn’t recruit lots of support staff and instead works with external suppliers to act as an extension of the team. This means it can scale up or cut back depending on how the business is doing. And it never has to compromise on the expertise of the people it works with.

Upmarketry doesn’t have any full time employees and has instead built a partner network of small agencies and freelancers who share our values and pricing structure.

This means we have some of the very best designers, developers, content writers, videographers and pitchers in the country at our disposal. And our clients don’t pay for staffing costs and other expenses.

3. Areas of expertise

As mentioned in the structure point above, when a company hires staff, they’re pretty much stuck with them regardless of how appropriate they are to the work coming in. This means, if the new work isn’t quite suited to their level of expertise i.e. a PR agency asked to extend a campaign on social media, they just have to do the best they can and hope their gaps in knowledge and experience don’t cause too much of a problem.

Startup agencies work with suppliers that they bring in as and when needed. This means they can supply the very best people in what ever service is required. There’s pretty much nothing they cannot do.

This works brilliantly for startups which often need to explore the marketing road less travelled to make an impact. They don’t have millions to spend on ads or celebrity endorsements so they try SEO tactics, viral video campaigns and other hacks instead.

4. Relationship with client

Big agencies can provide their clients with a team of people – typically comprising an account exec, account manager, account director and Director. They all serve different roles with the account manager generally taking responsibility for client communication. This person has approximately 4 years of experience in marketing and has between 3 and 6 other clients to deal with.

Because startup marketing agencies are run by senior experts, you only deal with senior experts. So you don’t get bad advice or that anxious feeling that you’re money isn’t being spent as it should.

For Upmarketry in particular, we work with clients like a partner, not a provider. In fact, we’ve made it our brand promise.

We may not have any equity in your business but we’re invested in the success of it all the same and we’ll do all we can to help you get there.

5. Agility

The final difference between a startup marketing agency and a regular one is the ability to change direction or approach.

Startups move very quickly, are highly analytical, and need to ensure every penny invested is put to good use. This means that they don’t work on long term marketing campaigns or year long strategies. They need to see results quickly and if something isn’t working, they need to be able to stop, move on and try something different.

Startup marketing agencies are built to facilitate this. Sure, the long term strategy – the reason behind the work – is there, but work is planned month by month so that quick changes can be made.

How do I find a good startup marketing agency?

Well there is always Upmarketry…..

..but as with most things, go with referrals and gut feel. Make sure you speak to the founder before you commit and if you like their approach and trust them, you can’t go wrong.

And, if it doesnt work out, startup marketing agencies typically operate on one month’s notice period so you won’t be stuck with a bad one for very long!

Happy hunting!