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  • Writer's pictureClaire Hutchings

The art of authentic agency positioning

Updated: Dec 13, 2022

Recently, I have met several agency leaders who are very proud of their shiny new agency positioning. They’ve invested in honing it and are now ready to get cracking with content and campaigns to drive new leads.

There’s just one problem.

Their new positioning is too aspirational.

Now, I’m all for having a mission and vision, something for a whole agency to aspire to. But your positioning and value proposition must be authentic to the agency you are in right now.

It makes creating marketing campaigns, content and even social posts inexplicably more difficult if your positioning is not aligned with the reality of the work you are producing, the way you operate, or what it feels like to interact with you.

Beware of the perception gap

Too many agencies have fallen into a perception gap, stuck between how the agency leadership want to be perceived and the reality of the experience clients and prospects have with them.

I’ve lost track of the number of agencies that profess to be ‘brave’ or ‘courageous’ yet don’t have the guts to challenge their clients or worse still, themselves. If you can’t evidence your bravery in your work, ways of working, case studies, and how you operate your business – then it isn’t authentic, and it shouldn’t live as part of your value proposition.

Likewise, I’m still astounded at the number of ‘full-service’ agencies when the reality is they’re actually brilliant at just one or two of the services listed on their site.

But the most frustrating thing is that actually most of these agencies are really great at what they do. They have wonderful qualities, and people and produce great work for their clients. I wish they would lean into their strengths rather than second-guessing what they think they should be.

Yes, a refreshed and refined positioning will help your agency grow up, hit the next revenue target and be perceived differently. But it needs to be felt and experienced in all that you do. If your positioning is too aspirational, it will not feel authentic and you will struggle to ever live up to what you are promising clients. A perception gap between what you say and what you do can be damaging and limiting.

Here are five ideas to sense-check your agency’s positioning and value proposition to make sure it is truly authentic:

  1. Be honest about your strengths and limitations in the context of your competitive set. Where are they stronger than you? Where do you outperform them?

  2. Do you have the proof points to back up your positioning? Your case studies, thought leadership, partnerships, people, ways of working all need to act as evidence, the very foundations of your positioning.

  3. Get your team to input into your proposition, sense check it with them.. but be careful not to create death by committee!

  4. Ask for feedback on your new positioning from your clients or prospects before you go to market, does it resonate with them?

  5. Work with an external consultant, copywriter or marketing agency to help you understand what makes you unique, and then articulate it.

When you understand what really makes your agency special, and use that to solve a problem for clients in a space distinct from your competitors, your content, campaigns and marketing will be less of an uphill struggle. Your blogs will write themselves, your socials will flow easily and more crucially, your marketing will resonate and cut through the noise.

Get in touch to find out more about honing your agency's positioning and bringing it to life:

You can read our blog about how to build your agency's marketing strategy here. Spoiler, your positioning features at the top of the list!

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