Video: What's the difference between a creative agency and a content writing agency?

When you work with technology companies and professional services firms every day, you start to recognise common processes and behaviours.

Over time, you recognise factors that make businesses more profitable than others (hot tip: be vigilant about information management, and prioritise professional development). You discover ways help clients work more efficiently. And you get better at identifying roadblocks and misconceptions that hinder success. 

One of the key misconceptions we've noticed lately is the idea that creative agencies and content writing agencies are interchangeable. People assume that both types of agencies do the same work and strive to achieve the same outcomes. 

It's an expensive assumption. One of our clients recently admitted to burning through over $20,000 on the services of a creative agency, without realising that he really just needed a good content writer. 

 Don't make the same mistake. In our first episode of Mint Conversations for 2017, we take a look at some of the key differences between a creative agency and a content writing agency, and offer some advice for engaging both. 

Have a watch (or read the transcript below) and let us know what you think!

Video transcript

Hi, I'm James from Mint Content.

I'm Amy from Mint Content. Today we are going to talk about the difference between creative agencies and content agencies.

When people are looking to hire creative agencies and content agencies, usually they're looking to solve the same problems. They want to position their brand better, they want to get their message heard, attract more customers.

The thing is, the outcomes that you get and the deliverables that you get when working with a creative agency compared to a content agency, are really different. If you're not clear about what you need or your expectations, choosing the wrong one can lead to disappointment.

The main difference is, from our perspective at least, is that creative agencies focus more on style, and content agencies focus more on substance. Over to you, James.

Okay. With style over substance, both are necessary when you're creating a brand.

However, creative agencies tend to focus on producing the strategic documents like marketing plans, comms plans, things like that, reskinning logos, creating tag lines, and maybe updating website.

Those things are important, but they're not usually focused on the creation of content.

Creative agencies develop the stuff that looks really good, but if you want substance, a content marketing agency, or a content production agency is what you should be looking for.

In terms of the types of content that can help you, you really need to focus on the types of problems that your customers are having in your industry.

Creating the artifacts and videos and blog posts and white papers that will help your customers do their job. Over to Amy now to talk more about content agencies and how they're different.

When you work with a creative agency, it doesn't necessarily mean that they're not going to produce any content for you. They might write you some nice home page website copy and your about page. They might do you a fancy brochure.

When we're talking about, I guess the difference between creative agencies and content agencies, the difference is that the creative agency will write you content because it would be dumb to have a brochure with no words or a website with no words. It's not their focus. The style part is more important.

That's right.

Whereas, when you are a content agency, the words are all you've got. The words are what you really focus on.

You take a different approach to brand storytelling and engaging with your audience because you really want to connect with people on an emotional level over time, through a whole bunch of different types of interactions.

Whereas with a creative agency, you might visit a fancy website, and you think, "Wow, this looks fantastic. This is great. They must be so great at what they do."

Then you close out of it, and you never really think about it ever again.

A content writing agency will focus more on, so you visit their website, there's a fantastic resource that you want to download. You read their white paper. You subscribe to their mailing list. You get useful updates, you go to their blog. There's a lot of discussion about how they can solve problems for you.

Yes, and that allows you to get inside the mind of your customer over time, as we were saying. You can influence your customer base, and get them to use your products or services if you are creating that terrific content that actually helps them solve business problems in real life.

It's a longer game as well. We sometimes talk to our clients who have just finished dealing with a creative agency. They've got this fancy marketing material. It looks great, but six months later nothing in their business has changed.

It does take a while to see your return on both of these types of things, but when you've dropped $20,000 and all you have really to show for it is a logo on a website, it can be disappointing if you're expecting something else, and maybe something that a content agency could have produced for you as well.

That high-value content that's delivered over a long period of time to build those relationships and help build your brand organically and authentically in a way that's really difficult just to do with slick design.


What's important I think too is that if you visit someone's website and it looks pretty basic, people can forgive it if the content is good. If you visit a very well-designed website and they've got spelling mistakes and it's written terribly, it's harder to forgive.

That's right, it's harder to forgive. A slick website, the slickest website in the world, if it doesn't have content that it can actually resonate and help a customer or an audience, no one really cares at the end of the day.

Content becomes the substance.

Ideally you have both style and substance, but most businesses, most companies really should be focusing on substance.

That's the thing too, when you are picking up the phone and deciding whether you want to call a creative agency or a content agency, I think the best thing that you can do is think about which one of these that you need.

If your brand is tired, and it just needs a refresh, and you've got heaps of great content that seems to be working for you, probably call a creative agency.

If you're lacking in the content department, and your brand isn't working as hard as you think it maybe could, and you want to reach a bigger audience...

That's right, and you know the direction of your brand already. If you already know what your business is about, you'll accomplish a lot of what you need to accomplish with content and substance rather than a rebrand or a reskinning or more creative input.

If you've already developed a business philosophy that can sustain a brand and sustain a business, go towards content, go toward substance.

Absolutely. It's important, you need both, but you need to be very clear about what you're actually going to achieve by working with one type of agency compared to another.

Indeed. All right. That probably wraps it up. Thanks for watching.

Thank you.

I'm James, this is Amy, we're Mint Content.

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