We All Do The Same Stuff-Ad Agency Business Development  

In a presentation I gave to the Portland Ad Federation (a shout out and thank you for having me!) on ad agency business development, I kicked it off with the statement, “We all do the same stuff.” 

I was referring to agencies overall, although it’s not actually my quote. 

I took it from a panel on agency new business at a conference I attended, with the panel comprised of high-profile agencies, primarily holding company firms, and one of the panel members who drove new business for the agency, said,

Let’s just get this out of the way, we all do the same stuff, right?

Like a lot of people attending (all agency folks) I thought that was an interesting thing to say to this audience.

She went on to talk about the difficulties, and importance, of agency positioning and differentiation, and it’s the reason I bring it up. 

She made important points, but I also thought about it in a different context, that is the way your prospects view you, especially at the top of the funnel.

Something you always need to remember: 

“You all do the same stuff” is how your prospects view you. 

That is, until you effectively differentiate yourself, through your positioning, content AND your outreach, your prospects will lump you in with the other firms reaching out to her or him. 

There are agencies that feel like their talent should speak for itself,  that they don’t need to differentiate or create case studies, or content. 

If you’re a small to mid-sized agency, no matter how talented you are, you can’t have this mindset. 

We All Do The Same Stuff-Ad Agency Business Development  

But we are differentiating, we’re creative!

And then you make it harder on yourselves by using the same words to describe your agency.  

Case in point, here are some random blurbs taken from real agency sites: 

 -We’re creative 

-Deep strategic insights 

 -Focusing on the power of. . . 

 Insightful strategies 

 -Stand for something 

-We’re strategic 

 -Be relentless 

 Ad Agency Positioning-Get To The Point 

 When agencies use any of the above examples, with no context as to how they might actually help a prospect or client- they’re all just words. 

 Whether you’re discussing who you are in a conversation or writing copy for your site, the first few things you need to do are: 

1)      Tell them functionally what kind of agency you are  

2)      What kind of clients you do it for/what verticals you focus on  

3)      What challenges you solve 

An example: We are X agency, we’re a digital communications firm, expert in creating and driving multichannel buying experiences for major retailers to help drive sales. 

It doesn’t mean you don’t also talk about the kind of insights, results or experiences you create for clients as well, but if a prospect doesn’t get a clear idea of who you are and what you actually do for clients, that’s a problem.


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.