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How to Position Your Agency for Success

Every day across the globe, agencies are working hard to differentiate their clients and help drive their clients’ growth. These agencies use the art and science of positioning to help their clients stand out from competition in an important and authentic manner. Sadly, most of the agencies doing this fine work have not worked the same positioning magic for themselves, in spite of the fact that they compete with dozens—if not hundreds—of other agencies on a daily basis. There is an abundance of talented and effective agencies who have failed to differentiate themselves. As a result, they are missing out on the significant (and very profitable) growth opportunities triggered by a compelling brand position. So, how to position your agency for success? Let’s talk about it. The Challenges of Agency Growth As you no doubt know, there are numerous challenges when it comes to growing an agency today. These challenges include: • More competition • Greater complexity • Difficulty expressing the uniqueness of your agency • A more educated and informed buyer who does his/her agency research without your knowledge Most agencies face these challenges. There is, however, an opportunity to address these challenges by positioning your agency in a truly unique, compelling and differentiated fashion. In this paper we will share the learning we have regarding how to create such a differentiated position for any agency by leveraging best practices that we have learned from our 28 years of agency related consulting. The Great Agencies of Old Most agencies today face the challenge of how to effectively position their firm and how to present their agency in a compelling, client-centric manner. It was not always like this! The great agencies of old stood for [...]

By |June 5th, 2018|

Sharing Agency Performance Goals—It Changes Everything

If you’re operating your agency with the goal of achieving the performance metrics of 55/25/20 recommended by the AMI, it’s easy to see in any given month just how well the agency is performing. Those three numbers should be the basis to guide your decisions on everything from personnel to pencils. Setting goals is great, sharing agency performance goals though, that has the power to change everything. One of the most important questions agency owners should be asking themselves is a simple one: How many of your agency staffers understand or are even aware of those numbers and how they drive a healthy, sustainable enterprise? Is it just a few—perhaps your finance person and your number one key executive? That’s the most common answer, and it’s also a big mistake. As an owner, if you’re hesitant to educate everyone in the agency about the numbers, you’re literally managing with one hand tied behind your back. Here’s how sharing agency performance goals changes everything, empowers your team, and sets an exciting path for the future. Sharing Agency Performance Goals—Financial Transparency Fuels a Growth Mindset In coaching sessions I have with agency owners, one of the first things I want to uncover is the owner’s comfort level with financial transparency. If the owner is new to AMI, I’ll take them though the metric; 55 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI) is the target for the agency’s fully loaded compensation, 25 percent utilized for overhead, and 20 percent profit. For those who already know the formula, I work to understand just how deep this foundational knowledge runs throughout the agency. As an agency owner for 30+ years, I get the hesitancy about “opening the kimono.” A common concern [...]

By |May 29th, 2018|

When Agencies Self-Destruct

In old cartoons and action movies, the idea of self-destruction usually involved a giant red “self-destruct” button, just waiting to be pushed to trigger an explosion of impending doom. When pressed, it initiated a countdown, and the characters scrambled to get away before they were engulfed in flames. In agency life, self-destruction sneaks up on agencies struggling to maintain their own new business pipelines while serving their clients. But, if left unattended, it can have equally catastrophic results. Client Work Comes First Typically, agencies are brilliant at creating strong brands, grabbing an audience’s attention, and generating leads for the clients they serve. On a daily basis, they help these clients convert leads into customers and turn those customers into loyal, frequent buyers. Sadly, when agencies spend the day helping their clients build their businesses, they tend to neglect their own lead gen and new business needs. Agency Needs Aren’t Met With Urgency Agency life is driven by deadlines and client needs. Employees spend their days putting out fires: shifted deadlines, PR crises, and customer complaints over social media. Unfortunately, this same sense of urgency isn’t present when it comes to doing work on their agency’s behalf. Client deadlines (and billable hours) often win out over a few hours spent focusing on internal growth. The Vicious Stop-and-Start of Business Development This cycle of self-neglect often continues until an agency loses a big account or some other crisis strikes. Suddenly, it doesn’t have enough business to sustain itself and faces layoffs or other drastic measures. Only then do agencies typically gear up the new business machine, using the tactics they preach to their clients every day. But as soon as they get busy with client work again, these [...]

By |September 28th, 2017|

Do You Know Your Prospect’s Secret Process for Choosing an Agency?

All prospects have a unique approach when selecting an agency -- a “secret sauce” he or she uses to evaluate potential partners. Surprised by this? So were we. We just completed a study in which we talked to 500 CMOs and business owners about their decision-making processes when hiring and firing agencies. Not only did we learn more about what a secret sauce for agency selection is, but we also learned the personal recipes of 92% of respondents. And what we learned will dramatically change the way your agency pitches new clients. Why You Need to Know the Secret Sauce If you don’t know your prospect’s secret sauce, you put yourself at a disadvantage from the start. You don’t know what’s important to your prospect or what the client's hot buttons are, so you never know which wrong step will set off a land mine. Why invest time and effort into a pitch you have no chance of winning? It’s better to know a prospect’s secret sauce and decline the interview than to not know, spend weeks perfecting a pitch, and find out that you wasted valuable business hours. Knowing your prospect’s secret sauce allows you to tailor your message to her needs and avoid the strategies or subjects that will strike you off the list. You’re competing with several other agencies that can provide similar services, and to your prospect, you all look more or less the same. Understanding the secret sauce helps you differentiate your business through a deeper connection with your prospect and, in some cases, through preparation for an unusual vetting process. Discovering the Recipe Some prospects scour LinkedIn and other social networks for agency employees and examine their behavior. Some hunt down former clients [...]

By |July 10th, 2017|
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