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. 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)
  • Agency, Brand Thyself

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