Earlier this month I was speaking to a group of agency owners and the topic of specialization came up, at least when it comes to business development. This elicited a comment from one of the agency owners in the audience. They had tried this specialist strategy and it didn’t work. In fact, it had the opposite effect — they couldn’t find enough new business opportunities to sustain the firm. What did I have to say to that?
To be sure, I see enormous benefits to specializing when it comes to new business, but it’s not without its risks, as this agency owner pointed out. This month, I offer some hedges against that risk.
Your agency deserves to be noticed!
But you need to do your part too. You’re responsible for making it as easy as possible for your best customers to find you. A strong strategic positioning is one of the best ways to differentiate yourself.
Landing on the right positioning for your agency can be emotional, soul-searching work, and emotion tends to cloud our judgment and compromise our objectivity.
What if you had a way to remove emotion from the equation? What if you had an equation to lead you to a clear articulation of your value?
Is 2018 the year you regain control over your agency’s new business destiny?
The other day I got a phone call that made my week.
One of my clients, the CEO of a small ad agency, called to tell me that the agency’s positioning strategy, a strategy that I first suggested more than three years ago and have encouraged (and sometimes cajoled) him to embrace ever since, just won him a major piece of business.
It was gratifying to me, of course, because it validated my business! But I was happier for him.
Committing to that positioning strategy had been a psychological hurdle. It fit like a Savile Row suit, but it required him to put a stake in the ground, and that meant potentially saying “no” to revenue if it meant working with the wrong kinds of clients.
It’s a very emotional decision for some agency owners, and emotion tends to cloud our judgment and compromise our objectivity.
But what if you had a way to test your positioning that puts emotion to the side? Read more.
Think about the number of agencies you’re aware of (including your own) that have a truly differentiated work process.
If you’re being honest, the answer is easy: not many. Whether it’s three steps or twenty-three steps, most agency work processes look the same. In fact, sometimes I think they’re more of an afterthought, something to be written up for an RFP response but rarely put into action in real life.
But Park Howell, founder of agency Park&Co., channeled his fascination for the power of storytelling (a fascination I happen to share) into a work process he calls the Story Cycle that's become an integral part of all his client engagements.
Finding Nemo, Toy Story, and the latest, Inside Out - why are Pixar films so universally charming and compelling? ("And what, exactly, does that have to do with my ad agency's positioning?" you ask. Patience, you'll find out.)
A former Pixar story artist named Emma Coats discovered that all Pixar plots follow one simple format. And it forms the basis of a perfect pitch.
Want to know what this magic formula is? Check out my latest blog post on how the Pixar Pitch is an ideal hack for developing your ad agency's positioning.
I talk a lot about why you need to be strategically ready to embark on a prospecting campaign. Your sales efforts aren't going to be successful if you can't communicate to your best prospects why your services are more valuablethan other agency.
But in my latest blog post I shift gears a bit to talk about some practical tools that are important to have in place if you are to support a strong prospecting program. They're tools that are easy to start to use right away and that I've come to consider indispensable.
Still managing your contacts largely through Post-It notes? Relying too much on a white board (the one that got erased by mistake last week) to track your marketing activities?
What's a "brand-centric consumer catalyst" anyway?
My last blog post tossed around the notion that it’s almost impossible for a full-service ad agency to have a completely unique selling proposition, so it's understandable that many agencies veer the other direction and try to be all things to all people. I think this stems from a fear of losing out on opportunities by being too specific, but in fact I’d wager that the opposite is true. The more you can articulate who you truly are, the more easily the right prospect will find you and the wrong prospects will avoid you.
Made Movement in Boulder, CO is a great example of an ad agency that's boldly put a stake in the ground. With clients like Seventh Generation and Church's Chicken, it seems to be paying off.
There's a lot to be learned from Made's approach -- check out my latest blog post.
A Unique Selling Proposition – we should all have one, right?
The truth is, an astounding number of advertising agencies don’t and there’s a very good reason for that. With approximately 20,000 agencies in the United States all pretty much offering the same set of services, the chances of landing on a completely unique selling proposition are slim. Unfortunately, many agencies go to the opposite extreme. Fearing missed opportunities, they get seduced by the idea of being all things to all prospects.
My latest blog post explores the notion of "unique" when it comes to positioning your ad agency and includes a few concrete steps to get you focused on what matters to your prospects.