A tale of agency new business positioning from sunny California:

We were there for a new client kickoff, had beautiful weather and an hour or so before the meeting and decided to take in the neighborhood.

We essentially walked around the same block a few times and the second time around, I noticed a Mandarin restaurant that I could have sworn was on the other side of the block.

Well, there were in fact two Mandarin restaurants in the same block.

While not shocking, it was strange that they would do so little to differentiate themselves.

Not knowing how old each restaurant was, perhaps the neighborhood just really loved their Mandarin cuisine?

Agency New Business Positioning

Agency New Business Positioning-All the Same

Fast forward to a few hours later in our new client kickoff meeting and we’re talking, generally, about the same issue in regards to agencies.

Agencies typically think they’re different from their competitors, and many are, but often the face they present to prospects, the way they describe themselves, is generic and more of the same.

Easy for me to say, because it can be difficult.

At the end of day, there’s going to be some sameness, after all, they’re all agencies.

But that’s about where it ends, you do have to dig deeper to latch on to why your agency is different.

And often it’s not what you think it is.

A Giant Step Outside Your Mind

The key to agency new business positioning up front- you’ve got to be able to distance yourself from your agency.

Now that can be tough, because you live and breathe it every day, but what you need is a way to divorce yourself from the day-to-day and think bigger picture, while at the same time, zeroing in on how your work achieved the results it did.

It wasn’t because you “cut through the clutter” or because you “listen” (even though that may be true.)

So how do you do it?

Well you can certainly hire a consultant or a company like RSW/US, but that’s not always possible. (Please excuse the mild plug.)

Here are two thoughts/approaches that may help you get there.

1) Go to your clients and ask them, not only why they hired you but why they continue to work with you.

Overly simple?  Maybe.  But how many of you in this situation have actually done it?

Perhaps it’s not one of the principals that does the asking, maybe it’s someone else in the agency, but ask them those two questions.

2) Write down, or better yet, record yourself and the core team describing how you’re different.

No questions initially, just describe first.

Then review, and at every opportunity, ask the question “why?”

So as an example, if part of the initial description is, “We just get it-we know the space.”

That’s not enough-ask why do you?  What past experience, or project makes that the case?

Keep asking that “why” question, dig beyond the generic agency fluff that you often see and get specific.

Don’t worry initially about length, just let it flow.

Once you’ve exhausted the “why” then worry about distilling it into straight-forward and concise copy/messaging you can incorporate into your agency positioning.

Don’t be the Mandarin restaurant.

Don’t be content with the surface stuff.

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Lee McKnight Jr
VP of Sales at RSW/US
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 lee@rswus.com. 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.