One of the oldest plagues of agencies and one of the toughest concepts for agency owners to wrap their heads around — is the idea that we cannot be everything to everyone. We have to find our one thing.

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Hey everybody! Drew McLellan here from Agency Management Institute. This week, I am coming to you from Bangkok, Thailand. And we just got back from having a meal in Chinatown. On our way to Chinatown, I was saying to the guide, “Tell us what to expect, what should we look for, what are we going to see when we get to Chinatown? What should we notice?” And she said, “What you should notice and what you’re going to see is that everything is authentic Chinese.” She said, “You’re not going to see an Italian restaurant, you’re not going to see a French shop or French souvenirs.” She said, “Everything in Chinatown is real and authentic Chinese, it’s authentic Chinese food, it’s authentic Chinese fireworks, it’s authentic Chinese souvenirs, tea, you name it, whatever you see there is real Chinese.” And she said, “And the reason for that is, is because that’s what they do best, that is their culture, and they don’t want to water down that culture by bringing other things into their Chinatown, they want their Chinatown to be pure, it is what they do best, and it is what attracts people to them, so they don’t want to muddy those waters by bringing in other cultures or ethnicities or products. by bringing in other cultures or ethnicities or products. They want to stay pure because it is who they are.” And she said, “Otherwise, it would just be another neighborhood with restaurants.” What makes it Chinatown is that they understand that they shouldn’t try and have a little bit of everything for everyone but in fact they should be very authentic to who they are and acknowledge, “This is what we do best so it’s all we do,” but we know that it’s more than enough and we know that you’ll travel from far away because we’re so good at it. Whether it is the merchandise, the tea, the other products, the food, that it’s so authentically Chinese and it’s so good that you would go past several other Chinese restaurants or souvenir shops or something else to get to the real place. And you know what? We need to adopt that same attitude for our agencies. For many of us, we are generalists, we serve every butcher and baker and candlestick maker or we offer everything, every kind of agency service, or we try and solve every kind of problemthat a client may have.And the reality is, by trying to do all of that for everyone, we’re just a plain old neighborhood, there’s nothing special about us. No one’s going to seek us out for something specific because there’s nothing specifically unique and valuable about us but if we think of our agency like Chinatown and we say, “What is it that this agency, that this place does better than anybody else? And why would someone go by several other agencies to get to this one? What would they be seeking that we would be able fulfill for them at such a high level of satisfaction and success that they would go nowhere else?” And in fact, that word of mouth and people talking about us and us sharing our thought leadership and our expertise and demonstrating our authority around whatever it is that we’re great at, our version of Chinese food, or our version of Chinese tea, whatever that is, that people would go by many other places just to come see us. I find it ironic given what we do for a living, and how we help clients to find their point of difference or their USB or their brand, or however you want to talk about it. We do that every day for clients, and yet we struggle with it for ourselves, and I think that’s because it’s hard for us to accept that it’s not only okay but that it’s preferable for us to be specialists, for us to not be able to serve everyone, and to give everyone what they want, we don’t offer Italian food and french food, and you know, an English pub, but we are just Chinese food, authentic great Chinese food. but we are just Chinese food, authentic great Chinese food. We’ve got to figure that out for our agencies and we need to be able to, sort of, hold that up as a point of pride, that we are so specialized, that this is all we do, because this is what we’re best at, and we’re so good at it that we don’t want to waste time, resource, or energy doing things that we’re not the best at. That’s a powerful selling position to be in and I think for every agency, answering that question for ourselves so that we can talk about it out in the marketplace is critically important in today’s world of everybody and their brother being our competitor. We’ve got to differentiate ourselves and I think it starts with figuring out what our version of Chinatown is and how do we tell the world about it. All right? We’ll talk to you next week.

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