Agencies Are Confident In Their Ability To Differentiate-Is It Realistic?


As part of our latest survey report release (RSW/US 2017 Thought Leader Survey Report), we’re focusing in on specific thought leaders and the insights unearthed from the agencies who took our survey.

Drew McLellan is the focus of this post. Drew has worked in advertising for 25+ years and started his own agency, McLellan Marketing Group in 1995 after a five-year stint at Y&R and still actively runs the agency.

He also owns and runs Agency Management Institute, which serves 250+ agencies small to mid-sized agencies (advertising, digital, marketing, media and PR) every year, so they can increase their AGI, attract better clients and employees and scale their business.

A few key takeaways from Drews’s section, via responses from the agencies who took our survey:

Drew asked agencies the following question: 

“What do you believe you’ll be offering clients in 12-18 months that you are not offering them today?”

You can see multiple responses in our report, but a few I found interesting:

Geo-fencing and geo-targeting of conferences and trade shows

IP address targeting

AR-based apps.

VR Video

More technology, Products we have developed

Multi-dimensional experiences vs. just 2D

More sophisticated CRM solutions and data analytics

Additional consulting and one-on-one staff training

A/I chatbot authoring

A few obvious themes, but the majority obviously technology focused.  In our report, our owner Mark Sneider speaks to this:

As you think about what you should be offering your clients, keep two principles in mind: The first we’ve talked about: stay on top of what’s new and different and talk with your clients about it. Doesn’t mean you have to institute that which you discuss, but just letting them know you’re operating in their best interest will be of value to them (and you).

The second is, if you’re going to recommend an idea to your client, make sure it serves a real business purpose. Don’t be recommending VR because it’s cool and all the rage. Introduce it if you really think it can help enhance the way consumers interact with your client’s brand – and they can legitimately sell more and make more.

Another question Drew gave to agencies:

How confident are you in your agency’s ability to genuinely differentiate itself from other agencies?

The response?

91% of agencies are 50-100% confident in their ability to genuinely differentiate themselves.

To be blunt, I like the optimism, but I’ve seen otherwise.  Mark takes it further in our report:

Love the confidence here!

My question is, what stage of the new business development process are these respondents considering as they respond to this question? The intro call or the introductory letter? Or are they thinking about the pitch or presentation, which naturally provides them with more time to work a good story into the conversation about what makes their agency different.

In our world, we have 5 seconds to 2 minutes to capture somebody’s attention, so you better darn well be ready to call out your POD. The prospect needs to know why they should sit down with you and what you’re going to bring to the table that somebody else (their existing agency) can’t.

I'm the VP of Sales at RSW/US. We specialize in working with services firms to help drive and close new business-if you need help with that, email me at What I actually do: drive sales efforts to bring ad agencies and services firms on board with RSW, create content around successful new business tactics and help drive RSW/US marketing objectives, including social media channels, blog content, webinars, video and speaking engagements. Dig it.