5 Keys to Strategically Positioning your Creative Agency for Success

Most agencies are very poor at bringing in new business for themselves.  The reason can usually be attributed to an undefined positioning statement and a loose strategy.

It is kind of ironic that agencies aren’t great at this, especially when you take into consideration that analyzing and developing client strategic plans is often on the list of what creative agencies offer and do well for their clients. Although they are paid to help clients define their positioning, advertising goals and designs that adhere to a strict marketing strategy, creative agencies themselves often have a hard time when asked to define their own strategy for their business.

Remember, regardless of what business you are in, positioning is the foundation of your brand. All your future decisions, the types of clients you attract, the network(s) you build, the particulars of your service commitments, and even staff recruitment are all affected by how you define yourself in the market. You do not want to close a contract with a client just to find out later that you cannot effectively offer what he/she needs or hire someone that does not fit your culture. Therefore, this blog post aims to provide you with 5 key things to think about when defining your position in the market and formulating the strategy that will lead your creative agency.

1. Resources and Environment

Resources are your inputs, they can be capital, skills, core competencies, talented people, knowledge, networking. etc. The best strategy is the one that takes your main resources into account while identifying an attractive market opportunity where these resources can be applied. The more unique your set of resources are (valuable, rare, costly to imitate and non substitutable), the more unique your market position will be. But remember that there must be a connection between the two. For example: If the new trend is marketing on social media, but your strongest competence is is in off-line media buying, you will have to develop new capabilities or find a spot where you will really shine.

2. Strategy is Not Just Planning

Although formulating strategy will be the starting point most of the time, strategy also involves how you act and present yourself in difficult situations. It is about how you learn from situations that were not planned and adopt this learning to ensure that your core values are not compromised. What I mean is this: Plan the strategy, but also be prepared to deal with changes that may arise.  They will help you craft your strategy of the future. Changes are key, therefore you need to review what you are doing and accommodate yourself without losing focus. According to Henry Mintzberg, author and professor on business and management strategy, this situation is special for creative organizations because you have a different pattern of dealing with change, stability and strategy. As a creative, you need to “fly-off in all directions from time to time to sustain your creativity”.

3. Broad View

Complementing the last insight, agencies must have a whole understanding the past, present and future. You need to understand what your initial purpose was, how media, advertising and design has evolved, what the current market situation is, what your client problems are … and at the same time be able to predict what your client’s customers will want. New trends in the creative industry emerge all the time. Do not accept everything that is new, but also be flexible and do not manage as if your initial plan must be the absolute Rule

4. Trade-offs Are Necessary

A lot of agencies are trying to be everything to everybody. This is not what you should be doing. Think about who your target audience is and how you will help them. Do not be afraid to lose opportunities if you say no. You need to focus on what you provide in order to be good at doing it (your core competencies). You do not have to be an expert at everything in order to succeed, in fact specializing is often what will lead to success. In addition, trade-offs are important because they help you define the work you seek, which will say a lot about who you are and what your ultimate goal is.

5. Make Your Positioning Public

Spread by word-of-mouth and present yourself. Consciously select the conferences you want to attend, the networks to join, and your social media strategy. Doing these things effectively you will help create your brand and culture awareness. Defining your focus clearly to prospects and clients will not only help you attract more clients that fit with your agency, it will allow your brand to be more viral. The results of this will be reflected in your bottom line (profitability) as your agency will be talking about and working on services that match your competencies.

Finally, we can say that the ultimate goal of your positioning should be creating and communicating your core competencies in such a remarkable fashion that you are seen as irreplaceable. It is about focusing and being efficient in what you do best, creating a unique culture and ultimately maximizing your profits.

As we go about our daily routines of working in the business, we sometimes forget to stop and think about what we are doing and how it connects to what we want to be. I hope this post has made it apparent that it is just as important to work on the business and your strategies for success.

Do you have any experiences to share? Please leave your comments to spark a conversation.

This article was contributed by former Function Point employee, Isabelle Costa Lima de Almeida.

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