Tough Love For Your Ad Agency Positioning


Because I know you can handle it, get ready for some tough love for your ad agency positioning.

A little background first: we’ve released our 2019 Agency New Business Report and one thing we know: agencies like to hear what their peers are doing to find new business success.

Understandable, because you’re all so busy, you don’t get to leave your bubble as often as you would like.

So we surveyed your peers to get you intel on all things new business.

One of the questions we asked agencies in our survey, was How Unique Would You Say Is Your Agency’s Positioning?

The results were interesting on several levels.

Breaking it down: 7% said not unique, 23% extremely unique and 70% somewhat unique. So essentially, 93% of you out there feel your positioning is unique.

So on its face, that’s fantastic, right? Your positioning is one of the most important elements of your new business strategy, so you need to make it as unique as possible, and that can be tough to do.

Now, you may be anticipating what I’m going to say next: this crazy high number does not reflect reality.

Our entire business world here at RSW revolves around the marketing services industry, and I see multitudes of agency positioning on a daily basis.

I do like the seemingly high-level of self-awareness here, and I do think firms have gotten better with their positioning overall in the last several years.

At the very least, understanding how important it is and making an effort to refine it.

But I do think, and here comes the tough love, that there’s a mild thread of delusion running through this stat.

You may think your positioning is unique. Odds are, at the very least, it needs work.

So here’s something of an initial litmus test to apply against your current positioning.

First is this:

Positioning at the top of the funnel is very different than the bottom.

Specifically, your positioning at the top, around awareness and interest, should not be the same at the bottom, during evaluation and the pitch, for example.

I’ve written on this before, but there is a time for storytelling, and top of the funnel is not it.

Here at RSW, working for agency clients to drive new business, we have 30 seconds to a minute to break through to a prospect.

There’s no time for a story upfront.

So-as to the litmus test, Do you have relevant and tighter positioning for top of the funnel?  If not, time to get to work.

Which leads to my second point:

Create a 2-3 sentence elevator pitch.

While that may seem blatantly obvious, I can’t tell you how many firms don’t really do this.

I’ll see multiple paragraphs on who they are or what they do on their site or LinkedIn, but no declarative statement on literally who or what they are.

A few examples of a simple elevator pitch: “We are a digital firm focused on destination and tourism”, or  “We’re an experiential agency dedicated to multicultural and advocacy issues.”

Force yourself to write a positioning statement that is no more than 3 sentences. Not only will it be a good exercise, but it will help clarify a more robust positioning that you would use further down the funnel.

Litmus test here again-do this exist for your firm? No? You know the drill.

Thirdly and finally:

Find someone outside your firm to review your positioning.

I get it-agencies, and businesses generally, are steeped in their own world, of course they are.

You become very close to it, so close that it gets very tough to be a dispassionate observer when it comes to your positioning.

Ideally, find someone that inhabits your prospecting world, could be a friend.

Or I’ll bet all of you watching have a relationship with at least one current client that would be willing to give you honest feedback.

OK ,that’s it for today. Ideally, you really are one of the 93% above.

If not, get cracking.

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.