Your average CMO or VP of Marketing gets a lot of contact from agencies wanting to work with them.

If you asked one of those CMOs or VPs of Marketing to name one of those agencies, 9 times out of 10 they couldn’t do it.

Because in their eyes, your agency is a commodity.

In your new business outreach, your proposals and your pitches-you present your agency like a commodity.

Now-I’m going to retract my previous statement and say that at its core, advertising is a commodity, in the sense that there’s a lot of you out there and speaking strictly in terms of services, you are doing a lot of the same things.

Beyond that, I firmly believe agencies are not commodities unless they let themselves become one.


One agency that’s fighting the good fight is Kelliher Samets Volk.  Lauren Bell writes for their blog and one of her recent posts, Take Your Pick: Rebate Processor or Go-To Resource?, is the inspiration for this post.

In it Lauren writes on the subject of utilities, the gas station and the pump:

 Do you choose where you fill up based on the brand of gas? Or is it some other combination of factors like location, convenience, a cash-back program, or even crushed ice at the soda fountain and great coffee? I’m willing to bet it’s the latter. The products and services that specific stations offer – that’s what tips the scale.

Now, I’m going to alter Lauren’s words and speak to a typical agency-maybe it’s your agency:

Do your prospects choose your agency based on your agency brand? (To be fair, In some cases, the answer is yes, if you’re one of those monoliths, but for the majority of agencies, the answer is no.) Or is it some other combination of factors like category experience, quality thought leadership, targeted case studies or a tightly crafted unique selling proposition?  I’m willing to bet it’s the latter. The products and services that specific agencies offer – that’s what tips the scale.

Per Lauren:

It’s time to move beyond the commodity – it’s time to start acting like the station rather than the pump. It’s time to start featuring the products and services (customers might actually appreciate) as a cornerstone of your brand. . .

And I say the same to you-time for your agency to start acting like “the station.”

You’re busy with current client work and so for many of you, new business is not a huge concern right now.

That’s a mistake.

I’ll even do something I rarely, if ever do, and point out that if you need help driving new business email me (, that’s exactly what we do.

Otherwise, don’t let client work derail your new business efforts-be the station.

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.