As we wrap up our content focus on our 2020 Agency New Business Report, I read a few articles recently that tie in nicely to a key stat I haven’t discussed yet.
63% of agencies stated their agency’s positioning is “somewhat unique”
. . . and 23% indicated their positioning is “extremely unique”.
Interestingly, last year in the same report, that first percentage was 70%.
Further, in a mild act of hubris, I’ll quote myself from that post:
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.
And I’ll reiterate, I do think agencies have improved on their positioning overall, but for all that improvement, many of those same agencies have put all that effort into defining themselves against the competition, but are doing very little to support that position in terms of thought-leadership content.
And as this post title reads:
Unique Positioning Without Supporting Content Is Wasted Positioning
Similarly with the “mild thread of delusion” in regards to positioning, many agencies possess that same thread when it comes to the content they produce.
They think they’re producing robust content that will drive new business, but that’s often not the case.
No matter how solid your positioning may be, if you don’t back it up, you’re doing yourself, and your new business program, a disservice.
A very good example of this comes from one of the articles I mentioned, this one by Darren Woolley, Agencies talk about creativity. Consultants talk about insights.
But today I had two emails arrive in my inbox about the same topic. One from an agency. The other from a major consulting firm. Both referring to the same event – the Cannes LIONS Live 2020. But from this point on any similarity disappeared. The email from the agency (a global agency brand) was upbeat and colourful highlighting the awards they had won and showcasing some of the award-winning work. The consultancy (one of the Big 3) provided not just a synopsis of the content, but more importantly provided framed insights around the impact on business and marketing and identifying opportunities.
In quoting Darren, I’m not saying awards can’t be used as part of a new business outreach, or that you shouldn’t feature work, not at all, you should, but it’s all about providing meaningful context when you do.
. . .you need to do more than just show us the work. Even artists share their inspirations. Authors discuss the creative process. Composers, chefs and more certainly do the work, but then own the space by demonstrating their command of the discipline and process. Just showing us the work for the clients without context, insight, knowledge or results is like a beauty parade. You will be judged simply on whether they like it – not on the value you can bring to the relationship.
An excellent point here-show your prospects that you own it.
Taking it a step further, the second article I mentioned comes from Drew McLellan, What Marketers Get Wrong About Thought Leadership.
To preface a quote from Drew’s piece, I often talk about:
How important it is to talk to a prospect rather than at them.
When you write a sales email, for example, if it reads like an add, full of jargon and fluffy words, you’re talking at that person.
You have to remember, as you prospect, these are people you’re reaching out to and they don’t want to be sold to.
Similarly with your content, think about what will actually help your prospect, something they will find useful.
And now to that quote from Drew’s piece:
But to get the most out of thought leadership, brands should help audiences identify with the individuals who create it. One B2B marketing company in Kansas City does this particularly well: ER Marketing focuses on building its industry, and all of the content it produces stays narrow and niche in scope. That way, it’s both highly beneficial and caters to its audience. The audience, in turn, becomes familiar with the company and the individuals who write its content.
As it turns out, this is especially important for marketers and agency professionals. Someone who reads branded content probably won’t automatically convert into a client. However, someone who follows the work of an individual will feel a deeper human connection.
To Drew’s point: when you humanize (I know, an overused word, but it fits) your content, your prospects will relate to it in a more meaningful way.
And that doesn’t mean it’s only one person, like the agency President, (although it could be).
I would recommend you have a core group, for example, creating content, and make it personal, in terms of relating your content to a potential situation you’ve experienced with a client, for example.
And when you prospect, something simple you can do as well: when reaching out to a prospect with a piece of thought leadership content, mention the author, whether that’s you or someone else within the agency.
Hi Angela, looking forward to following up on our initial meeting in a few weeks.
In the meantime, our (insert title here), Kelly Arnold, just wrote a piece on LinkedIn about X, and thought you would find it helpful.
I know we touched on it in our meeting and ideally should provide you another look into how we work.
You may not be able to get that specific, but you get the gist.
And one last thing to help you: we just released our latest eBook, created by two members of our very talented Marcom team at RSW (in this case, Steve and Shannon), and it’s a primer on Thought Leadership. You can download it here: