3 Ways to Fix Agency New Business Problems - #3 Don't Operate on Yourself

Updated: Aug 16, 2019

Ok, so I’ve spent the last couple of posts talking about two of the main reasons agencies of all stripes typically struggle with acquiring new clients.


The first was the over-reliance on referrals and no other formal process.


The second was the lack of continuity in their outreach, giving up much too soon in the pursuit of their dream client.


This third part is going to focus on the last reason agencies are struggling in the new business game – ineffective positioning.


Ironic, right?


Just as athletes have a coach to help them improve, it's imperative for agencies to adopt the same mindset if they want to improve.

Don’t Operate on Yourself

An agency that can’t effectively position themselves correct yet can get a client rebranded and repositioned in a matter of days. Why is that?


It’s OK. It’s always hardest to work on yourself.


It’s the same reason a doctor doesn’t operate on themselves, a lawyer doesn’t represent themselves in court, or an athlete hires a coach.


The blind spots are just too big if you’re working on yourself. You need that outside perspective.


So what’s the big issue if you’re not positioned right?


Let’s look at an example. While not advertising specific, it’s a great example that I actually came across recently.


In some chit-chat with someone I just me, I asked “so what do you do?” The response: “My company maximizes measurable business outcomes by focusing on customer needs and objectives, supporting or optimizing their business processes, and using tailored customer- and case-specific technology solutions that deliver business results.”


What!?!?!?! I know. Lots of buzzwords and corporate speak.


After pushing back, I got this more succinct answer: “We supply people to technical companies on contracts.”


There we go!


It’s All About the Niche and Your Value Proposition

That’s an easily understood value proposition. As an outsider to their industry, I got it right away.


That’s the same for agencies. Gone are the days of the “full-service agency.” If you are full-service, it’s best to be niched into a specific vertical like automotive, manufacturing, medical, etc. Because at this point, you have a unique selling proposition – we’re a full-service medical marketing agency.


You want to be:

· A social media agency for car dealers

· A creative focused agency for the travel industry

· A media agency specialized for the HVAC and plumbing industries


Nice and specific.


Now getting there might, or might not, be so easy depending on where you are.


To help in that, run your agency through this check-list of questions. I assure you once you’re done you’ll have a pretty good idea of what your positioning should be.

· What’s your value proposition

· For the target market mentioned in your value proposition, what problem are they looking for a solution?

· How are you different from your competition, both direct and indirect competitors?

· Who is your ideal customer?

· What’s the one singular problem you can solve for them


Great. Now once you have some answers to these, let it sit for a couple of days and then come back to it and ask “why” after each and sharpen it. Or have an outsider to your business ask you questions about it.


Answering your Why

By now you’ve likely hit on something when even an outsider can come away with a clear understanding of what you do, why you do, and why it matters.


Take it for a test spin now in the market.


How do people you meet react to it?


How does it work when you’re on the phone with a prospect?


You get the positioning figured out and it will suddenly become extremely easy to start attracting new clients as they’ll start to see you as the­solution to their problem, not just a solution in a sea of like-me agencies.


What’s Next? In the interim, please feel free to reach out to me if you need help in working through your process. I’d be happy to chat about either about what you do, or do not, have going on and ideas on how to improve it.



To get my top questions I ask agencies when walking them through this very exercise reach out to me know and I’ll send over the very questions I use with my clients. Email me directly at jeff@ignition.llc with the subject line QUESTIONS and I’ll send those questions to you.

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