6 Keys to Strategically Positioning Your Creative Agency for Success

Most creative 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 marketing 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, agency 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. Then how can you get a perfect picture for positioning? This blog post aims to provide you with 5 key things to think about when defining your agency’s position in the market and formulating the strategy that will lead your creative agency.

What Is Positioning?

Positioning is how your creative agency is perceived in your customers’ minds. You use a brand positioning strategy to distinguish your agency from the competition, and it should go beyond a catchy phrase or a flashy logo.

When positioning comes first, branding’s goal is to link your market position’s unique idea to your brand name to create an intuitive connection. Positioning expresses fundamental value characteristics and frequently aligns with leadership values. To sustain a competitive advantage in the market, you must focus on your positioning, as this provides the most advantageous difference.

In a market or in the eyes of potential clients, an agency’s position is where it stands in comparison to other agencies. It differs slightly from branding because branding refers to various components of your agency, such as the logo, tagline, services offered, online presence, and so on. Positioning evaluates and contrasts the brands of various agencies to determine their unique value proposition and their differentiators.

Why Positioning Your Creative Agency Matters?

You’ll know the answer to this question based on where you’re standing. Depending on how you present yourself, customers may perceive you as inexpensive or expensive, a specialist or generic, or unfriendly to small businesses.

A strong positioning strategy supports you in creating your distinctive selling proposition, differentiating yourself from rivals, and reinforcing the particular value you offer clients. To create one, focus on the target customers and go beyond a catchphrase or slogan. 

Internally, positioning instills a sense of purpose and discipline in your agency. Consider it an expression of your values outside of yourself. Your posture and values define who you are and what you do.

As a result, your positioning turns into a differentiator for customers. A client that wants a marketing campaign will favor a company that has established itself as an expert in the field over one that only provides “general marketing.” In essence, your positioning is the signal that lets customers know whether you have the knowledge, ability, and experience that is worth their time.

To fulfill the objectives of its brand positioning, a brand must accomplish four key goals:

1. Identification 

By making all of your goods and services available to customers, you can establish brand recognition through your offerings. This is where you cater to a wider audience and showcase your expertise to build brand trust and competency in the clients’ minds This will contribute to your agency’s increased sales and appeal in a clear-cut way.

2. Rebranding

Positioning can be applied not only to brands but also to specific goods or services. It may be necessary to rebrand services occasionally in order to distinguish them from others within the same brand or category.

3. Reputability 

You make a promise to the clients through skillfully applied positioning strategies. Typically, the promise is to deliver the best good or service for a certain demand, using reliable selling reasons. Let’s say you are unable to deliver the offer credibly. If the consumer is left with a broken promise and a lack of loyalty, it will reflect poorly on the positioning of the brand.

4. Competition

Brand positioning gives your agency’s services a competitive edge. It enables the brand to comprehend how customers view it in relation to other brands that offer similar goods or services. You will undoubtedly face fierce competition, but with the right positioning strategies and location, you can triumph over your rivals.

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6 Keys in a Positioning Strategy

1. Resources and Environment

An organization’s marketing efforts are influenced by both internal and external influences, which together make up the marketing environment. To continue to succeed and address any dangers or opportunities that can affect their work, you must be aware of the marketing context inside and outside your agency.

Internal Resources

Resources are your inputs, they can be capital, skills, core competencies, talented people, knowledge, and 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 is (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 in off-line media buying, you will have to develop new capabilities or find a spot where you will really shine.

External Environment

The strengths, limitations, distinctiveness, and competencies of your organization are among the elements under your control and have an impact on your marketing activities. Consider crucial marketing components, including your staff and teams, the caliber of your goods or services, your capital investments, budgets, and corporate policies. Factors in the internal marketing environment are under your control.

In contrast, the external marketing environment is made up of all variables that are beyond your company’s control, such as technical improvements, legislative changes, and social, economic, and competitive influences. The external marketing environment can be roughly divided into micro and macro environments. 

These internal and external elements could be under your control or out of your control, but identifying and analyzing their patterns and changes offers your marketing and business teams some leverage to maintain the course. 

2. Strategy is Not Just Planning

Although formulating a creative agency strategy will be the starting point most of the time, a 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 for the future. Changes are key; therefore, you must review what you are doing and accommodate yourself without losing focus. According to Henry Mintzberg, author and professor of 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, creative agencies must understand the past, present and future. You need to understand what your initial purpose was, how media, advertising and design have evolved, what the current market situation is, what your client’s 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 new, but also be flexible and do not manage as if your initial plan must be the absolute Rule

4. Trade-offs Are Necessary

Competition thrives on positioning trade-offs, and strategy depends on them. They engender a craving for choice and consciously restrict what a business may provide. A lot of creative 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 to be good at doing it (your core competencies). You do not have to be an expert at everything 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.  Encourage your staff to participate in social media, trade magazines, and industry events, just as you would for yourself. Find out what their genuine motives are, follow their career goals, and assist them in making a reputation for themselves in that field. 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, but it will also 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.

6. Be consistent in your positioning across all marketing channels

As your agency expands, you may add new channels, hire new brand custodians, and engage other cultures in new markets. Naturally, maintaining positioning across all marketing channels is a difficult task.

Each channel has unique criteria for design. Even while you might have a single central campaign, message, or concept, each channel needs a unique design or copy that fits the format in order to be most successful. Using new platforms to distribute your communications can generate concerns about how your brand will appear there while still being recognizable. 

You need to take into account more than just advertising channels. Additionally, it is essential that your brand values are reflected in all aspects of your customer service operations, physical retail locations, and product offerings. Even when marketing doesn’t fully own an interaction, your customers will continue to create an opinion of your brand through it.

Final thoughts

The hardest thing for an agency to do is to stand out from the crowd. To differentiate yourself from other agencies in your region or in your specialized market, you need to have a distinct identity.

Finally, we can say that the ultimate goal of your agency 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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