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Agency, Brand Thyself

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Advertising agencies and other marketing firms must do for themselves what they do for their clients -- develop a distinctive positioning strategy that will differentiate them in the marketplace. …

Advertising agencies and other marketing firms must do for themselves what they do for their clients -- develop a distinctive positioning strategy that will differentiate them in the marketplace. Here's a brief overview based on the work of Ignition's Tim Williams as outlined in his book "Take a Stand for Your Brand: Building a Great Agency Brand from the Inside Out."

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  • The things agencies say about themselves are remarkably similar, starting with “full service” and “integrated.”
  • There are real benefits that result from taking a strategic position, not the least of which is a much stronger win ratio in new business.
  • Advertising Age’s Jonah Bloom says “Commoditization may be the biggest threat facing agencies today.”
  • Remember, standing for everything is just another way of standing for nothing.
  • In developing a positioning, the foundational question is “What are we really selling?”
  • Most recent research among marketers shows that the most important agency search criteria is “knowledge of our industry.” Agencies can only deliver on that if they’re willing to be experts in something instead of trying to be experts in everything.
  • If you’re absolutely right for one client, you will by definition be absolutely wrong for another.
  • The real question is would you rather be mildly appealing to a broad group of prospects, or intensely appealing to a select group of prospects?
  • Your firm is defined by the clients and services you don’t have.
  • Marketers know agencies can’t be good at everything, which is why they increasingly look for best-in-class specialists.
  • The “narrow” agencies in America bring in some very large revenues.
  • A differentiating positioning strategy for your firm can be found at the intersection of:What (What we do)Who (Who we do it for)How (How we do it)
  • Transcript

    • 1. Agency,
      Brand Thyself
      Tim Williams, Ignition Consulting Group
      www.ignitiongroup.com
    • 2. Can you describe your positioning in 30 seconds?
    • 3. Where most agencies are
      COMMODITY
      RECOGNIZED TRADE NAME
      BRAND
    • 4. TOP 12 GENERIC AGENCY CLAIMS
      We’re full service!
      We’re integrated!
      We have a wide range of experience!
      We’re creative!
      We’re strategic thinkers!
      We’re nimble and responsive!
      We’re media neutral!
      We’re team-oriented!
      We’re your marketing partner!
      We assign only senior people!
      We get results!
      We’re fun!
      Unlike other agencies …
      Unlike other agencies …
      Unlike other agencies …
      Unlike other agencies …
      Unlike other agencies …
      Unlike other agencies …
      Unlike other agencies …
      Unlike other agencies …
      Unlike other agencies …
      Unlike other agencies …
      Unlike other agencies …
      Unlike other agencies …
    • 5. “The common failing among agencies seeking new business is their inability or unwillingness to name what they stand for.”
      Bob Lundin
      Agency search consultancy Jones LundinBeals
    • 6. Benefits of naming what you stand for
      A well-defined set of criteria for identifying the clients who want you for what you do best.
      A stronger win ratio when soliciting new business, because you are playing to your strengths.
      Clearer direction for how your firm should spend its limited time, money and resources.
    • 7. Are we part of the sea of sameness?
    • 8. Steps to Fighting Agency Commodization
      Stop selling ads as the answer to everything.
      Look for new revenue streams.
      Say no.
      Change the cost dialogue into a results dialogue.
      Accept risk.
      Specialize.
      “Commoditization may be the biggest threat facing agencies today.”
      Jonah Bloom
      Executive Editor
      Advertising Age
    • 9. Standing for everything
      is just another way of standing for nothing
    • 10. The foundational question:
      What are we really selling?
    • 11.
      • Has higher fees
      • 12. Has broader market area
      • 13. Has fewer competitors
      Power is with
      the specialist.
    • 14. Most important agency search criteria
      at developing relationship stage
      Most important agency search criteria
      at credentials stage
      1. Actual knowledge of the industry, understanding our business.
      1. Actual knowledge about our industry.
      Source: Millward Brown Study on Agency New Business, 2007
    • 15. The essence of positioning is
    • 16. Why most agencies don’t have a strong positioning: Unwillingness to sacrifice
    • 17. The goal of positioning
      isn’t to appeal to more clients.
      It’s to appeal more intensely
      to fewer clients.
    • 18. Would you rather be mildly appealing to a broad group of prospects …
      … or intensely appealing to a select group of prospects?
    • 19. Your firm is defined by the clients and services you don’t have
    • 20. Top reason clients search for a new agency
      Desire to focus on best-in-class specialists
      Lagging business results
      Creative failed to perform as expected
      Agency’s failure to update capabilities
      Creative differences
      Lack of team chemistry
      Poor service
      Agency’s poor project management
      Agency’s lack of cost efficiency
      Agency’s lack of desire to facilitate integration
      Source: Millward Brown Study on Agency New Business, 2007
    • 21. “If you stand for something, you will always find some people for you and some against you.
      “If you stand for nothing, you will find nobody against you, and nobody for you.”
      Bill Bernbach
    • 22. The world’s strongest brands have both the
      strongest admirers and the strongest detractors.
    • 23. Narrow is not
      the same as small.
      (Starbucks is narrow, but it certainly isn’t small.)
    • 24. Narrow is not small
    • 25. Who we are not
      (That’s difficult)
      Who we are
      (That’s easy)
    • 26. Serves only well-traveled destinations
      Serves one kind of traveler (leisure)
      Offers only one class of service
      Operates only one kind of aircraft
      Serves every kind of destination
      Serves every kind of traveler
      Offers every class of service
      Operates every kind of aircraft
      Unprofitable for most of the past decade and recently emerged from bankruptcy.
      Profitable every year since they started in business
      20 years ago.
    • 27. What we do
      What
      Who we do it for
      Who
      How we do it
      How
      Defining your positioning by exploring three questions
    • 28. What
    • 29. What
    • 30. Who
      We know the “ruralpolitan” market.
    • 31. Who
      Consumption-based marketing
    • 32. How
    • 33. How
    • 34. What
      Your positioning can be found at the intersection of:
      Who
      How
    • 35. 30-second elevator ride
      5-minute phone discussion
      60-minute presentation
      You should be able to describe your positioning in a:
    • 36. If you are positioned correctly, you can win the battle
      before you fight.
      Lord Wellington
    • 37. Ignition’s complete approach to agency positioning is outlined in the book “Positioning for Professionals” by Tim Williams.
      Available at www.amazon.com
      Ignition offers both guided and self-guided versions of it’s proprietary agency positioning program.
      www.ignitiongroup.com

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