Published: Monday 7th October 2013

What is the best approach to take when differentiating your offering from the competition?

You could segment your integrated offering into specialist areas and compete on the same terms as these niche competitors. PR agencies do this exceptionally well.

You could take the high ground and argue that a single-minded over-arching strategy, and therefore approach, is more effective for brands in an increasingly fragmented communications environment. You may need to take time to develop a few proprietary tools that underpin your claims to be able to ‘integrate’ more effectively than your direct competitors but this certainly works for many larger,
multi-national agencies.

However, in my experience, there’s only one real long term solution you should be pursuing and that lies in the development of a clearer, more focused positioning for your agency’s particular offering – I’m afraid a ‘well known integrated/creative/ effective agency’ is not going to be compelling enough for most potential clients in the over supplied agency market. You need to gain senior Agency management consensus…and definitely passion for…a really compelling reason why prospective clients should choose to work with your agency out of the 1000’s that they have to choose from.

This is your spear-point into the market. The pre-requisite to your success.

It can be achieved in a day if you have the right people in the room and the right facilitation (probably from outside the agency so you can participate fully yourself in the process).

The key is to remember that prospects are more likely to buy you and your agency on your attitude and the type of people you are. They are looking for:

• Like-mindedness.
• Partners.
• People they can work with.
• People they like.
• People they believe in.
• People they trust.

This means you have to be prepared to polarise. Be as clear about the kind of clients you don’t want as you are about the ones you do want.

Once you have a polarizing offer make sure you do everything you can to be let it be known. One of the best examples I can think of would be one agency’s offer to clients of ‘brutal simplicity (of thought)’. It is the word ‘brutal’ that is, in my opinion, likely to attract or repel prospective clients. In so doing saving everyone – agency and client – wasted time and effort in the early pre-pitch and pitch stages of courtship.

If you’d like to know more about how jfdi® develops agency positionings for their clients, please click here:

Mark Clark (originally written July 2012)