Challenger Agencies

6 Types of Challenger Marketing Agencies In 2021


A group of college students surrounded by empty cans of Monster post their first gig online and high-five each other. The retired project manager learns how to use Facebook from his daughter to promote his private consultancy business. A struggling parent makes a great career out of what was once a means to make some extra money. 

Over the past 10 years, the evolution of the internet has allowed any kind of person to start an agency online. This website article in 2010 casually advises its readers on how to start an agency. The writer tells the 2010 population to gather up resources for rent, memberships, utilities, security, and all sorts of costly requirements. He also mentions creating a professional website and business cards to go along with it. Going by the instructions from this article was something that only a wealthy person could accomplish.  This is assuming that the aspiring marketer is conveniently habitant in a city where there is sufficient demand for marketing.

Ten years later, ClassyBrain shows us just how much opportunities have evolved by showing the cost of starting different types of marketing agencies: a grand total of $0 dollars. With more diversity and accessibility for agency owners to deliver their services, businesses no longer need to go to giant corporations or age-old agencies for their solutions. They can turn to equally talented quality service providers with a fresher perspective. 

Many agencies 2021 would not be presented if you put them 10-20 years back. Theorizing on this here are 6 examples of agencies in 2021 challenging the market and shaping the future of the industry.

The Community Marketer

A young millennial in your small neighborhood gained a lot of Instagram popularity.  Local hair salons, takeaways, boutiques and bakeries reached out to the Community Marketer to give them shoutouts. Before you know it, the famous Instagrammer has gathered a couple of people they know to work together and a small social media marketing agency. All the startups in your town are looking to make connections so they can get a good deal on doing business with a local agency rather than a corporation with high charges.

These types of agencies are small businesses that don’t target markets based on their types of services or the market they want to saturate. Their focus is to grow local businesses around them. A lot of their promotion comes from word-of-mouth. 

The Community Marketer plays a vital role for small businesses. The more successfully they can promote a small business, the more the small business succeeds and gives back to its community. According to Distinct, $68 out of every $100 spent on local businesses goes back to the community in the form of sponsorships, non-profits and food banks.

The Inverted Agency

Typically, a marketing agency is a business that specializes in one or two main marketing channels. They employ small teams, each working in a different sector of the same marketing channel.

The Inverted Agency is the opposite. This agency started with one multi-talented youngster with many skills. They read all the personal development books or any learning platforms in their early teens and learned high-income skills that can’t be automated like coding, copywriting and graphic designing.  

What differentiates them from freelancers? They often do start as freelancers, but their work is so efficient that the clients’ demands outrun the limited time and service one person can provide. Instead of refusing clients and losing revenue, these individuals hire other freelancers to share the workload and profits off of the new freelancers’ pay. The one-man-agency turns into a small group of experts who provide an A to Z service despite having very limited manpower. 

Having access to many learning resources and ways to connect with talented people globally allows this kind of agency to exist. 

The Veteran

After working for many high-profile companies publishing some books, teaching some courses and holding webinars, this marketer has enough authority to go from an industry worker to a consultant. They are highly experienced and a killer in the game. But after some 20 years of transforming businesses and mentoring, they have had enough action and would rather play the role of the veteran master.

Many highly experienced people will turn to this type of independent work when they no longer have the energy to keep up with such a busy and highly demanding lifestyle, but also don’t want to be doing nothing. As older agencies, they don’t have the best hand in trendy social media tactics and attractive graphics or strategies to promote their business on their own. However, their value in time and skill more than makes up for it. 

Instead of practical work, their services tend to be limited to consultancy because they still have a lot of potential in them to sell their expertise. This survey on consultants showed that respondents chose consultancy to ‘realize their potential’ and ‘be their own boss’. It also showed that 80% of consultants were over the age of 40. The study shows how Veterans find consultancy as a way of balancing their needs while also profiting from their skills.

The Digital Marketing Institute says that some of the required skills for marketing consultants are years of experience, being trusted and platforms in which they can speak. Online podcasts and Youtube allows experienced marketers to get on a stage without carrying out tiring trips. They can consult and communicate with businesses smoothly through online communication platforms with very little barriers if they wish. Lack of energy and a wish to be with family no longer holds back Veteran Marketers from carrying on their work and passion in 2021.

The Growth Hacking Agency

Gone are the days of spending tens of thousands of dollars on newspaper ads to run a successful advertising campaign. The Growth Hacker is a marketer that simply couldn’t exist in the year 2000 because their business is dependent on using minimum budget strategies to generate leads and optimize conversion. Growth Hackers utilize the cheapest or even free tools to achieve this.

The ‘Hacking’ part comes from a lot of hard work: continuous self-education, tracking marketing trends, dominating several channels and understanding how to ‘hack’ social media algorithms. and optimizing themselves. 

Digital marketers can’t follow a ready-made formula of expensive PPC or search engine ads. They leverage trends, new policy changes that others haven’t caught onto yet, and infiltrating new platforms. They have to create their own formula and be ever-adapting. While typical agencies are running their safe, fool-proof but expensive formulas, Growth Hackers are thinking about how the latest Netflix show is going to impact pop culture, which Tik Tok dances are trending, and how people’s routines change based on new research. They are quick on their feet to use forward-sightedness to their advantage.

Growth Hackers show that marketers can gain experience in their field without spending tons of money or getting high-paying clients. They have budget-friendly ways of building their skills and expertise. 

The Startup Agency

Some college students gather up in their favorite hang out spot and combine their unique personalities to create an agency. Their startup story came straight out of a tacky pre-teen show where the kids draw a master-plan in an elaborately decorated cork-board while munching on snacks. 

People their own age are no business owners with a marketing budget. So, the Startup Agency finds clients online through unsustainable means like messaging hundreds of people on LinkedIn. 

This agency may come across as a bit unprofessional. The highly energized youngsters want less planning and more action, so their branding isn’t very well thought-out. However, they are passionate about what they do and gain great pride and accomplishment from it. Their main purpose of starting this agency is to stand out and accomplish outside the norms. 

 If you work with them for some time, you will watch their brand slowly evolve into more sophistication. The income from clients helps them afford professional tools and automated systems.

In 2021, young people have the opportunity of building their own career without needing huge capital investments or expensive college degrees. Even if they start out messy and disorganized, they show that anyone can pave the way through honest and dedicated business practices.

The Hyperspecialist Agency

You can find agencies for different areas of specialization: video advertisements, social media ads or SEO, for example. Some agencies get even more specific to fulfill very niche requirements, like being specialized on Kickstarter product launch only.

And then there are the agencies that are so specific you wonder why they even exist, and what kind of business would pay for them. 

The niche targeting and specialization trend have taken the industry by storm as many agency owners fight for differentiation and profitability. 

The more niche a service is, the easier it is to defeat competition-a challenge faced by half of marketing agency owners according to Wix

This is why across the past couple of decades we saw a boom in agencies providing laser cut services such as agencies that offer service packages to food truck owners only, or an agency that charges full price to write your LinkedIn bio. Don’t believe us? An agency owner named Donna Serdula wrote and sold a book on it, and runs a LinkedIn profile optimization service through her website. 

These agencies can do remarkably well and provide a high-value service, with expert knowledge in their field that allows them efficiency and better margin. 

The appeal of specialization can’t be ignored. Considering health, most of us would look for a specialist’s opinion rather than relying only on our GP’s opinion for a specific case. The same applies in business.

Such a small area of specialization has little place without tools like hashtags and targeted keywords that can lead potential clients to exactly what they need. Instead of having to branch out and learn all sorts of marketing skills, they can focus on super-specializing just one skill and profit off of it through highly targeted reaching.


Being in a country where there is no demand for digital marketing, or having no capital to invest is a barrier that is slowly diminishing because of the internet. Skilled digital marketing comes from creative, innovative, forward-thinking and flexible minds. There is no reason that a Bangladeshi student can’t create a website as good as a middle-aged man in New York. The internet and its resources narrow the gap between these people so that a skilled individual can make an income through marketing no matter where they are from.

Businesses shouldn’t neglect the new perspective that these different types of agencies can offer. If you browse through all the agencies at AdWorldMasters, you will find an amazing range from agencies with two people who started last year to agencies with a dozen marketers who have dedicated ten years to it. Agencies from 74 different countries received our ‘Agency of The Year’ title. 

This goes to show that you don’t need to be in the game for decades or have a huge team of employees to succeed as an agency. As long as you have decent digital marketing experience and some like-minded marketers who share your passion, you could be the next Agency of The Year.

Register as an Agency today on Ad World Masters for free to gain more clients on a global scale.

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