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Why your agency positioning (probably) sucks. And what to do about it.

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Business development mentor Ben Potter's DRINK:// Digital presentation from April 2019.


How many agencies do we have in the room? Talk about something that I believe to be a major problem in ‘agency land’. Agency slant to it but equally relevant to freelancers and anybody else selling digital marketing products / services. In fact, could well apply to any market where services have become commoditised

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Why your agency positioning (probably) sucks. And what to do about it.

  1. 1. Drink :// Digital, April 2019. Why your agency positioning (probably) sucks. And what to do about it.
  2. 2. Fourteen years in digital agencies, operating at board level. Roughly 800 appointments, 500 pitches and 300 wins…and a lot of mistakes! I now work with agencies to help them craft a winning approach to business development (and win the ‘right’ clients as a result). Guest writer One of the 100 most influential people in agency business development (ooooh, get me!) Trainer
  3. 3. What’s the problem? Agency positioning
  4. 4. There are a lot of agencies out there. A LOT. For a prospective client, it can be difficult to tell one from another. The same (often) unsubstantiated claims, words and phrases are
  5. 5. Award-winning Customised Bespoke Tailored Superior Best-practice Data-driven Full-service Global Honest Transparent Integrated Leading Number one Results-focused Specialist Award-winning Customised Bespoke Tailored Passionate Best-practice Data-driven Full-service Global Honest Transparent Integrated Leading Number one Results-focused Specialist Best Friendly Advanced Guarantees Innovative Read more: 34 violently clichéd phrases that agencies mindlessly add to their positioning
  6. 6. The result? A proposition that is inward looking, ‘broad-brush’ and cliché-ridden... Image courtesy of Coventry Telegraph
  7. 7. www.generic-agency.co.uk Hi, we’re an award-winning, innovative digital marketing agency, specialising in SEO, PPC, affiliate marketing and conversion rate optimisation. We work across any sector with businesses of all shapes and sizes. Get in touch and we’ll tell you how brilliant we are.
  8. 8. All this does is to add to the noise, bringing thousands of agencies into direct competition.
  9. 9. It can make business development a slog. Image courtesy of Matt Cardy / Getty Images
  10. 10. It drives down rates and hits
  11. 11. And it provides very little for clients, staff
  12. 12. OK, smart-arse… So what does good look like?
  13. 13. Good is when an agency speaks to a specific audience, focusing on the problems they face, the opportunities they are seeking to exploit and the outcomes they care most about. 1.
  14. 14. Sector(s) Product / service / technology Behaviour s Problems Roles Journey / phase of growth Company traits / brand attributes Objectives / aspirations Defining an audience Demographic Values / culture Attitude / outlook
  15. 15. Journey / phase of growth (or decline!)
  16. 16. Values / culture
  17. 17. Demograph ic
  18. 18. Good is when an agency has a strong sense of purpose. They stand for something. 2.
  19. 19. We believe in the power of behavioural science to create more impactful brand experiences, captivating campaigns and compelling communication.
  20. 20. We stand up for the challengers, the disrupters and the up-and-comers. Those that rebel against the status quo and the pretence that big means better. We exist so our clients can be a thorn in the side of the leading players in their markets, just as we seek to challenge the complacency and unwieldiness of the biggest agencies in
  21. 21. We believe in a future without ‘departments’, ‘boxes’ or ‘pigeon-holes’. A future where people and brands see past the narrow mindset of online and offline, above-the-line versus below-the-line, digital against analogue.
  22. 22. “A vendor’s purpose, values and culture are the biggest influences on a group’s decision for almost two-thirds of marketers. Eighty-three percent say they are more likely to buy from a business whose culture and personality closely match that of their own business”. GROUP.MIND.SET. HOW GROUP DYNAMICS IMPACT B2B DECISIONS by Gyro
  23. 23. WHY WHAT HOW Simon Sinek’s golden circle Few companies know why they do what they do. Why is not about making money. Why is a purpose, cause or belief. It’s the reason the company exists. Some companies know how they do it. These are the things that (might) make them special or better than the competition. WHAT Every company on the planet knows what they do. These are the products or services they sell. WHY HOW
  24. 24. Award-winning Customised Bespoke Tailored Superior Best-practice Data-driven Full-service Global Honest Transparent Integrated Leading Number one Results-focused Specialist Award-winning Customised Bespoke Tailored Passionate Best-practice Data-driven Full-service Global Honest Transparent Integrated Leading Number one Results-focused Specialist Best Friendly Advanced Guarantees Innovative Read more: 34 violently clichéd phrases that agencies mindlessly add to their positioning
  25. 25. Good is when an agency uses emotive, down to earth language, devoid of jargon. Their authenticity and personality shine through. 3.
  26. 26. David Ogilvy, 1982. ‘Jargon is the hallmar of a pretentious ass’
  27. 27. When it comes to business development, positioning literally sets the agenda for winning the ‘right’ clients. It acts like a filter, helping to attract the right prospects (and disqualify off-profile
  28. 28. It makes decision making on where to invest your sales and marketing budget
  29. 29. It provides the platform to say ‘no’, just as often as you say
  30. 30. It means you can more regularly avoid the bun fight of competitive pitching, increase your win rate and justifiably charge more for your specialist expertise.
  31. 31. How do we get some of that? Sounds good.
  32. 32. Ask yourself the tough questions. 1. Why do we exist? When are we at our very best? What do we stand for? What do we want to be known for? Is there something we resolutely What do we want our legacy to be? How would we like people to describe us? What does our ideal client look like? What do we want to be doing more / less of?
  33. 33. Interview your team. And clients. 2.
  34. 34. Validate with research. 3.
  35. 35. If business development is getting you down, positioning is probably the root cause. Define what your ideal client looks like. Stand for something. Ditch the clichés.
  36. 36. Don’t be shy… t: @bennap l: linkedin.com/in/bpotter/ e: ben@ben-potter.co.uk m: 07766 607418 Econsultancy: https://econsultancy.com/author/ben-potter/ The contents of this presentation is the copyright of Ben Potter New Business (2019). The contents are not to be shared or distributed, either in whole or in part, without the express permission of Ben Potter.

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