Differentiate or Die!By Bob Sanders, President Sanders Consulting Group
Differentiate or Die!Those stark words lay out the option many agencies face these days. Here’s why. Time and again your agency’s brand is the key decider on whether or not your agency gets invited into a pitch. And whether or not clients see you as a communication vendor or agency partner. Owning a strong position in the market is critical to making an agency stand out. The question driving many agency leaders is how? What options do agencies have? 6 Strategies To Help Your Brand Stand Out 1. Specialize: Marketing firms stand out when they reinforce how special they are. Without specialization you run the risk of trying to be everything to everybody. Your brand effectively fades into the haze gray of marketing speak. Just another “integrated-marketing, brand-building, highly-strategic, results-oriented, media-natural, crowd-sourced, social-media, idea-driven creative agency.” The more precisely you can describe your ideal client, address their marketing needs, and deepen your knowledge, the more new business you’ll get. 2. Create a Strong Brand Personality: Having a specialization is not enough! Now you need to communicate your unique point of differentiation through a brand voice. Create a strong core message and four to five supporting messages that will be the primary components of your “personality.” Your brand persona introduces prospects to your “unique value” and entices them to want to learn more about your agency. Features are hard to remember, bland brands are harder still, so take your brand personality and infuse it with life. Then take it up another notch. Now go another… only then will it be memorable. 3. Avoid the “Brain Drain”: Falling for the ol’ “better to have a dollar now vs. ten tomorrow” drives many marketing firms deeper into the world of tactical. While it may be okay to pick up a couple of small projects off and on, keep them to yourself. Keep your eye on the strategic high ground – being an expert. The marketing industry is unique in being both a production business and idea generators. And as such there is great benefit in listening to “experts.” At the same time, there is also great benefit in introducing fresh ideas and approaches to “old school” issues. Keep your creativity alive! 4. Widen Your Agency Network: Everyone in the firm should be tasked with making new friends because we all know that people do business with people whom they like and trust. Spread your social net as far as possible, and keep a steady stream of “nudge” items that reinforce your specialization flowing through the pipeline. Choose to make a new friend rather than just creating a new business transaction. Offer ideas and suggestions for people in need and introduce them to the agency through your staff’s network. This will pay off in the long run. 5. Build Chemistry: Establish the agency brand with your target market by creating a dialog on things that you have in common. You MUST establish a relationship. With lots of people. Relationships are the secret sauce of new business, generating more leads and establishing trust. This leads to better understanding and builds business over time. Only by having a proactive outreach program can you establish chemistry. 6. Find Opportunities To Speak: Promote your brand as a speaker to any and all markets. Educate people on both the changes hitting their market, as well as the challenges they face. Provide solutions. Join local ad clubs, marketing groups, round-tables, and offer your unique insight to the group. Finally, take all the above, specialize, brand, personality, network, and chemistry and merge them all into a series of articles, points of view, insight, “how to” guides, etc., with the overall goal of creating a book that highlights your brand and your personality. Nothing helps you stand out in the market more than being perceived as the “leading expert” in your field. And publishing a unique take, a fresh look at old issues, different solution sets, unique approach to problem solving, all goes a long way towards making your brand stand out. There you go… six strategies that can help you establish your brand in the mind of your ideal prospect. If you have this along with a strong outreach program, you will have solved new business forever. Once they’ve heard of you, perhaps know you, and see you have some solutions, they will hire you. Sanders Consulting Group (SCG) is a leading consulting firm specializing in the marketing communications industry. Every year SCG works exclusively with more ad agencies, direct marketing firms, design groups, promotion companies, and other marketing communication organizations than any other firm in the world. The firm’s experience allows it to understand the issues, speak the language, identify opportunities, and implement best practices faster and more effectively. SCG understands that marketing communication firms are different and it is these differences that matter most. Bob Sanders, President of Sanders Consulting Group, directs program and practice development, handles most client engagements and manages the overall operation of the firm. Bob’s experience includes extensive long-term consulting and training engagements with many agencies around the world.