Posts Tagged ‘agency positioning’

Attract The Game Changer Client For Your Agency

Attract The Game Changer Client

The new year is here. And now is the time you’ll activate the plan you’ve spent countless hours on to ensure a successful, profitable year. So what are your top priorities for 2020? New business is probably at the top of the list. And creating a pipeline of the highest value, qualified prospects that are ripe for conversion is the key to success. At least part of your business development efforts and pipeline should be focused on winning the game changer client this year. I’m talking about the client that will significantly improve the health and wealth of your agency. We want 2020 to be the year you attract the game changer client for your agency.

The biggest challenge? Getting your sales positioning spot on and specific to your target list. Clear positioning will differentiate you from the competition, and should be based on how you can help your highest value prospects create competitive advantage. With that being said, it’s also important to clearly define the highest value prospects, the Game Changers, for your agency. 

So which do you tackle first when they both need to be addressed simultaneously as they inform each other? A good starting point is to gather your team and work through the questions below to ensure your positioning is spot on and a target prospect list you have the right to win business with.

Here’s our recommended checklist for creating the right positioning and target lists to attract the Game Changer client:

Positioning

Question 1: Who is your agency?

To evaluate your agency’s positioning to prospects, first get laser clear on the core of what differentiates your agency by exploring these key questions:

  • What’s your agency’s purpose? 
  • What gets management up in the morning?
  • Do you know what are your employee’s core passions?
  • What are you exceptionally good at?
  • Services/Industries?
  • What can your agency build a strong POV around?
  • What can your agency own versus your competitors?

Question 2: What will the agency look like in 18-24 months?

  • What are the agency’s revenues goals?
  • Which industries/technologies do we want to be “experts” in?
  • Do we have the services to be competitive?
  • Do we have the talent to lead the agency at that level?
  • What will our thought leadership look like?

Target Prospects

Question 1: Which type of client is the agency Game Changer?

To narrow down the highest value potential clients you want on your roster in 18-24 months, consider the following:

  • What industry(s) should we focus on?
  • What is the revenue potential?
  • Where are they in their product lifecycle?
  • What types of marketing programs do they utilize?
  • Are there any geographic constraints?
  • What type of prospect shares your agency POV and Philosophy?

Now that you’ve clarified your positioning and the game changer prospects you want to attract, it’s time to focus communications about the agency on what your customers are interested in (it’s about them, not you), so that they will want to learn more. This is the first step in building credibility with prospects.

Question 2: Do you have credibility to engage the Game Changer?

As you create your prospect list (against the above criteria) you also need to determine how ready the agency is NOW to engage them – or what adjustments need to be made for success:

  • Do you understand the Game Changer prospect’s pain points and business challenges?
  • What content (Intellectual Capital) do you have to share and engage them?
  • Is the content campaign able to generate multiple outreach occasions?
  • Does your web site and other collateral speak to the prospect’s pain points and needs?

As you work through these positioning and prospect checklists, you may find your target opportunities become significantly more qualified for your agency to win because you can focus on the ones where you have  right to win. And when you attract qualified prospects that are right for your agency you will inevitably attract the Game Changer. Here’s to a game changing 2020!

Continue Reading

Agency Awards To Consider In Q4

agency awards to consider in Q4

Awards are the best way to get independent feedback on the quality of your work. We understand entering takes time and added resources, but the reward is worth the effort. Similar to our Q3 list, here’s a quick glance at the agency awards to consider in Q4. Winning, or just being a finalist, is a huge PR opportunity that differentiates you from your competition. Awards also help your prospects identify who is doing some of the best work and the impact they make on client success.

Your hard work and innovation needs to be recognized. These are the agency awards to consider in Q4:

[table “5” not found /]

Brands are always looking for innovative outside partners, and showcasing an award you’ve won is that meeting point.  It helps validate your work and honors your team of experts. Not to mention, winning is guaranteed to enhance your credibility among clients and prospects.

Great agencies focus on their clients’ goals, and award programs provide you an opportunity to take a step back and review how others in your category are creating success stories for their clients. Make sure you are selective about the awards you enter. Your entry should accurately represent what you do best, and remember to always be honest with yourself about where you stand among the competition. And if you don’t win, make it a learning opportunity for your agency. Share with your team why you feel another agency won, and how you can elevate your entry next time. Insights and discussions around what your competition is doing will only make your team stronger.

As you plan for 2020, think about how you can start off the new year in a big way by earning a prestigious award!

Continue Reading

It’s Okay To Be Different: Positioning Your Agency to Stand Out from Competitors

It’s OK to be different.  When it comes to your agency’s new business program, differentiated positioning is the foundation.

Given the near-demise of the Agency of Record concept, differentiation has never been more critical. Today, clients work with a network of agencies they can draw on, assigning work on a project-by-project basis that plays to strengths. Singular relationships (and the retainers agencies long enjoyed) are practically extinct.

One of the first things I’m usually asked when I first speak with prospects is, “What makes you different from my current agencies?”

If you can’t articulate concisely and clearly what you do, for whom you do it and how, your agency new business program is dead in the water.

 

Standing Out in the Crowd

Today, you really need to stand out. According to Ibis World, there are more than 66,000 advertising agencies in the United States. Most of these agencies look and sound the same. Their pitches also look and sound the same:

  • Full service
  • Collaborative
  • Wide range of experience
  • Committed to our clients
  • Customize our services
  • Results driven
  • Our clients are our partners

If you see phrases like “wide range” or “full service” in a brand statement, it’s usually a sign the agency has been unable or unwilling to name what it stands for.

Economists would call the market for agencies “perfectly competitive,” with low barriers to entry and products and services that are all too easy to copy.

Too many agencies are fearful that a narrow focus feels small. Consequently, they are unwilling to plant a stake in the ground that says: “This is what we stand for” because they fear missing out on business.

Firms compensate by saying their work is better than that at other firms, and that that’s what makes them different.But simply being better isn’t different. Only different is different.

 

Positioning Creates Value for Potential Clients

Your firm exists to create value for clients. Positioning is how you articulate that value to clients. Brands sell themselves based on the perceived value, not the costs. But the ever-popular refrain, “We’re creative” is not a credible statement for value-creation.

Positioning is the way to approach prospecting strategy. That means focusing your firm not on a wide approach but on specific markets where you can create uncontested value. Think of this space as the “blue ocean” where no one else is sailing. With today’s multi-agency model, clients want best-of-breed agencies. Think of it this way. If your child was experiencing an irregular heartbeat, would you feel better taking them to a general practitioner or would you seek out a cardiac specialist?

Today’s most interesting and powerful brands are at the edges because they’re doing different things and doing them differently. It may feel like common sense to play in the middle, but it’s actually the least desirable place to be. Safe doesn’t cut it.

 

Placing the Value Proposition

Your value proposition for agency new business should sit at the crossroads of relevance and differentiation.

Your work needs to be highly relevant to your dream client to meet a need, whether it’s a certain audience, a platform, a style, a technology, or an approach. You can then establish your position within that nuanced space and show how your agency is different than all the others.

For your agency to be profitable, you need to position yourself not just for where the profits are, but for where the profits will be. Your value proposition will produce the most profit when you select a place on the value chain where the offerings are still scarce and underdeveloped.

For an agency used to being a generalist, this isn’t always easy. Positioning means deciding not only what business you’re in, but what business you’re not in.

If you’re still skeptical about the value of positioning, consider the impact it makes in three critical areas:

  • Sales Advantage. By choosing when and where to compete, you gain a real advantage in those sectors. You’ll win more often.
  • Price Premium. Positioned as a true expert in certain spaces means you can charge more for the privilege of working with you.
  • Control. Positioning gives the agency more ability to guide the engagement. Clients are buying the expertise as much as if not more than the service.

Finding the Position

What differentiates an agency from the competition?

Not personality. Not process. Not price.

Expertise.

It is expertise and expertise alone that will set an agency apart in a meaningful way. Expertise allows the agency to interact with clients and prospects from a position of power and knowledge.

How do you determine that expertise? Begin by asking yourself these questions. The answers to these questions will help create a position statement that should concisely articulate the following:

What do we do?

  • What are we selling?
  • Where are we excellent?
  • What are our outcomes?
  • Where are we best in class?

Who do we it for?

  • Audience types
  • Clients
  • Industries
  • Who is our ideal client?

How do we do it?

  • Attitudes
  • Philosophies or point of view

Why do we it?

  • Purpose (Ask if your purpose transcends money.)
  • What motivates us

It’s important at this stage to focus on substance first and style later. Don’t fall into the trap of worrying about “how to say it.”

 

Showing Results

Services that can command the absolute highest prices are those that the client could never duplicate, no matter how much time and money is thrown at the issue. That’s where differentiation is powerful.

With a clear strategy that makes it obvious that you stand for something, not everything, you’ll stop chasing business and start having business chase you.

You’ll find staff more energized with a more resonant articulation of what makes the agency unique. Their pitches and presentations will be more compelling, delivered with more confidence and conviction.

By playing to these strengths, you’ll see a stronger win ratio. This differentiation will also help align your sales and marketing in a unified approach to themes, messaging and consistency.

 

Where to Start

Before you begin taking the steps outlined here, it is wise to take step back … way back … and take a good hard look at your current positioning. Ask yourself the following:

  • Does your value proposition feel authentic?
  • Does it make your agency innately and intensely appealing?
  • Does it have strong barriers to entry?
  • Is it hard to find an exact substitute?
  • Does it result in fewer competitors?
  • Can you charge higher prices?
  • Does it make your sales cycle shorter and less expensive?
  • Have you created a new category?

If you answer yes to all those questions, congratulations. My bet is the answer to most is no. That’s the litmus test that a new approach to positioning that emphasizes differentiation is the right path to take. That differentiation will make all the difference. And it’s okay.

Continue Reading

Before you hire your next Business Development Director make these commitments

If you were a baseball manager, would you send your best hitter to the plate without a bat? Everyday I see more and more agency principal doing just that thing. They hire a Business Development Director and then send them to bat without any of the tools or strategies needed to actually win and develop new business.

If you’re an agency principal and hiring a new Business Development Director is in your near future, make sure you commit to support them in the following ways before you bring them on board:

  1. Commit to financial investments beyond their salary. If you’re going to invest in new business than do it, for real. Hiring a person and then giving them zero dollars to invest in technology, data, process, or content is setting them up with failure at the very beginning. Yes, they should be able to use the phone and email, but expecting them to be able to do it at scale without a CRM, Marketing Automation, complete website, etc, is essentially tying their hands behind their back at the very beginning. This means that when you are committing to new business, you are committing to the financial cost of not only the human capital, but also the technology the profession demands.
  2. Commit to have a clear and differentiated agency promise. If you as the principle of an agency can’t describe your agency, what you do, and what makes you different in 1 sentence, then how can you expect your new hire to? Take the time to go through a positioning exercise with a professional and sculpt a unique position in your niche in order to help your new hire not only communicate to new prospects, but also find them easier. The clearer your position is the easier it is to drill down to exactly the types of prospects we should be chasing and ensure that we can better communicate with them.
  3. Commit to Always Be Creating. ABC. If you want them to Always Be Closing, you better Always Be Creating. This means they need thought leadership in the form of blog posts, white papers, or webinars. If you do amazing work for a client, actually track and get results so that the team can build a case study to share. There is nothing worse than having a great conversation with a prospect, the prospect is intrigued and asks the new business person for an example to see, and they have nothing tangible to put in front of them.
  4. Commit to set realistic timelines and goals. History comes into play here. If your agency has literally never won a piece of business from cold outreach, don’t give your new Business Development hire a three month runway to get a deal in. Set realistic KPIs based off of activity, engagement, proposals, and revenue. We all know that Business Development in our world takes time, so setting meaningful KPIs on each of those four areas allows them the comfort to know what is expected, shows your commitment to them for the long term, while also holding them accountable to performing the proper activities in order to build momentum. Transparency breeds positive interactions between sales and management.
  5. Commit to having an open mind. As an agency principal sometimes it is very difficult to defer to a new hire. A new hire often comes in with all sorts of ideas on positioning or process that may very greatly from how you initially set up the shop. My advice is that you don’t have to change anything just because they say you should, but you should be open to them being critical of how we have been positioned in the past and open to at least a discussion of how a prospect may view you. Their outside insight may be just the thing that helps you break into the minds of new prospects.

If you set out at the very beginning of the hiring process with these commitments in mind, you should have two very positive outcomes. First, the hiring process should be easier, because your position will be more attractive to any experienced new business pro. Second, that new hire will actually have every tool, process, and strategy needed in order to succeed. At this point, you have done your part, now they just need to hit the home run.

Continue Reading

How groupthink just killed your agency new business goals

Two minds are better than one.  At least that’s how the old saying goes.  But what happens when those two minds (or three or four) get caught up in a groupthink cluster?  While the idea of working together to gain consensus around important growth driving topics (like new business positioning) might sound like a great idea, it’s important to steer clear of the potential dead end road groupthink can take you.

So why is consensus so dangerous, especially for agency new business?

Similar past, similar future

Many times agency executive groups that are setting out to develop unique positioning come from places of similar past experiences.  Most of our agency VPs and C Level execs started somewhere outside of new business.  Perhaps they started within Account Management or creative, and as such, they have very little experience within the new business world.  This then shapes our opinion of how new business is done, how it should be done, and what works and doesn’t work.  Often, they have faced new business failure in the past when they tried something new, and because we all are hesitant of repeating a mistake, we agree to steer away from that “new” again.

The problem with steering away from the “new” is that an agency can wind up repeating their mistakes again and again, because they never truly change.  True change comes from a holistic look at how you approach new business, not just purchasing one piece of new technology or a new website design.  While those pieces are important and can affect some of our experience and results, they won’t fully change your new business for the better.

Let’s look at a real life example:  ABC Agency’s executives have decided that their positioning is great… “we solve problems that can’t be solved”.  Because they all have the same experiences in the agency world, nobody stops to ask questions like:

  • Is this really interesting for new business?
  • Is this positioning true of what we have done in the past and want to go in the future?
  • Does this even make sense!?

So if your agency new business positioning discussion seems to be running uncomfortably smoothly with nobody challenging one another, think about applying some of these ideas:

  • Invite someone outside of your exec team to the positioning meeting. Maybe even invite someone from outside the agency to get an outsider’s feelings on your positioning.
  • If you’re the leader of the meeting, listen to other people’s ideas before expressing any of your own opinions. Leadership opinion can sway opposition opinion and accelerate groupthink.
  • Challenge any assumption that has 100% approval. You may find it is a solid assumption, but challenging it can also be a great way to identify a blind spot.

Those few steps can help ensure that your new business efforts won’t get self-sabotaged with groupthink consensus.  Having that outside perspective and the openness to challenge assumptions can ensure that your agency stands out among your competition.

Continue Reading

(Webinar) So many agencies. So little difference.

Is your agency truly unique?  Or are you one of the thousands of agencies selling the same products and services? Almost all agencies claim to be unique, different or better while using essentially the same descriptors as the others. The truth is, most prospects (advertisers) can barely tell the difference in your agency and your biggest competitor.

In this session we looked to fix that by discussing:

  • Your differentiator isn’t different at all
  • How to find your difference
  • Using your differentiator to generate more opportunities

For any business development program to be successful, we need to take this first step of identifying a truly unique position.  Once that positioning is in place content and distribution becomes much more effective.  Hopefully this webinar will give you a great first step in finding your uniqueness!

Our guest host this month was John Heenan.  Be sure to check out his website for other great insights and content!

So many agencies. So little difference. from Catapult New Business on Vimeo.

Continue Reading