In a saturated market of lookalikes, potential clients don’t want to hire the same agency everyone else is hiring; they want something different. To stand out and provide that experience to its clientele, an agency’s leaders must identify what makes their point of view special and then use that differentiator to win new business.
When our agency first began this process, we looked back to past experiences with clients and the common threads of those interactions. We discovered that we often helped clients optimize their marketing spend and focus on a different target audience than they thought they needed. The more we realized how effective this approach had become, the more we learned to match our clients’ return on investment to it. Eventually, that unique point of view led to our new tagline, “Create a love affair with your customer,” which tells clients exactly how we can help in ways no one else can.
Dare to be different.
Agencies might provide similar services, but no two agencies are interchangeable. Consider this: If your agency exchanged logos with another, would anyone notice the difference? If not, you probably haven’t established the right point of view, which could be costing your new business clients — as well as preventing your agency from owning its niche.
None of us want to compete on price alone, however. “The cheap agency” is not a differentiator anyone covets. To provide the best service for a fair price, agencies must take a stand on what they do well and what they believe in.
Sometimes, that means placing clients’ needs ahead of yours. No agency can serve every client equally well. By developing a standout point of view, agencies will naturally put off clients who disagree with that stance but attract and retain clients whose philosophies match their own. Just like consumers prefer brands that align with their political beliefs and social causes, people who hire agencies prefer to work with others who think like they do.
Try to please everyone, and you will please no one. Take a stand, and you will lose a few deals, but the remaining opportunities will become infinitely more valuable.
Follow these strategies to develop an exclusive point of view (POV) for your agency:
1. Determine what works, and keep it up.
Discover what you know about your agency by reviewing past client meetings, successful partnerships, unsuccessful partnerships, productive conversations and data. What do you do well? Which strategies repeatedly work best? What do clients like about doing business with your organization?
Maybe you ensure a staffer stays on-site with a client for a while to quickly respond to issues. Maybe you only serve clients in a specific niche. Whatever works for you, drill down to discover the root of that strategy, and then use that information to inform your POV.
2. A company’s uniqueness should be its foundation.
All communication, marketing material and client interaction should lead back to the POV at the heart of your company. Like a mission statement or set of company values, your POV defines who you are. Anyone should be able to pick up a piece of collateral, read a thought leadership article or speak to someone at your agency and immediately know what you believe.
After we discovered our company’s own POV — optimizing spend and retargeting for an audience — those differentiators became the crux of every interaction we had. Even companies in other industries, like Mozilla, have discovered the value of a strong POV. Though once an obscure brand, Mozilla today echoes the sentiments of its core users by prioritizing online privacy. Most Chrome users might not switch to Mozilla Firefox, but users of Mozilla’s product wouldn’t trust their online privacy to anyone else.
3. Never stray from the path.
Your POV — your cornerstone — dictates everything your company does, from its discovery forward. Change that POV on a whim or build something slightly off-base, and the whole structure collapses.
Once you define your POV, people begin to expect everything at your agency to reflect it. Some will turn away, but employees and prospects who share your vision will become more firmly committed to your agency over all others. Betray that ideal, and your loyalists disappear. Beyond that, the prospects you pursue by sacrificing your POV will also see you flip-flop and question your trustworthiness.
I don’t just write articles like this one. I’ve published a book, created a regular blog and launched a consistent podcast. People who consume my content know what I’m about. If I were to change my tune when trying to land a major deal, not only would my inconsistency turn off that new client, but my existing audience would also wonder whether I truly mean what I say.
4. Rebuild your website to match.
No matter how specific your niche or POV, another agency will likely offer something similar. Don’t avoid this truth; embrace it.
Rather than keep a generic website that tries to appeal to the widest audience possible, redesign your online presence to appeal primarily to the target demographic that empathizes with your POV. Talk about what you believe online, even if it turns some people off. Be open about the types of clients you serve, even if that excludes some potentially lucrative prospects. Make it easy for people to browse your site and understand your agency.
The clearer your POV, the more your agency will stand out. Some people might not like it — that’s good. If your POV is authentic, you would’ve struggled to meet the needs of those clients anyway. By understanding what makes your agency special, you can optimize your client intake, deliver better results and build a brand that can weather any storm.
This post first appeared on Forbes.