8 Ways to Differentiate Your Marketing Agency

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Photo by Tolu Bamwo

Between rapid digital marketing innovations and the permanent changes to commerce a global pandemic brings to the table, you’re going to have to adapt your marketing agency services to keep up. It’s time to sink or swim folks. If you’re up to the challenge then let’s talk about ways you can differentiate and grow your marketing agency.

I’ve compiled 8 of the top suggestions right here for you.

#1. INDUSTRY SPECIALIZATION

One way to stand out is industry specialization, which means putting your focus on certain industries and becoming an expert there. The more time you dedicate to working with a defined industry the more you get to know the subtle nuances that create marketing synergy for them. You could go broad and specialize in education for example, or you could get very granular and specialize in college and universities. The point is, you’ll become the authority in your field for college marketing.

#2. OFFER NICHE SERVICES

Another way to niche down your agency business is to offer specific services. Take a look at trends dominating marketing right now such as programmatic media buying, content marketing, and social media marketing. You can certainly offer more than one service but pick out one thing to get really good at and brand your agency as an expert for that service.

A few niche marketing ideas:

  • Experiential marketing focused on women
  • Email marketing is still huge, and an area many companies struggle with
  • Online ad buying specialist especially with Facebook and Instagram Ads (btw… I’m a fan of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign)
  • Thought leadership for medical professionals
  • Social media for professional services

#3. BE A PROBLEM SOLVER

Your marketing agency needs to bring value to the clients you serve. Part of your agency growth process will be figuring out ways to be their hero. You can use focus groups or social listening to learn what your customer’s real pain points are. Recently, I’ve been recommending virtual client seminars where you invite a client executive to talk to your staff members via video chat.

  1. It’s a great way for your agency to get smarter about your clients business and their industry.
  2. It’s a great opportunity to uncover latent challenges hiding right under the surface.

Some common pain points could include breaking into new markets, rebranding, improving conversions in the sales cycle, or learning how to use and leverage specific marketing automation software like Hubspot.

#4. RECRUIT AND HIGHLIGHT IN-HOUSE TALENT

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” — Jim Collins

Hire talented individuals for your marketing agency that you can highlight in your marketing pitch to clients. If you are an expert in a particular field, then your agency talent has to back up this claim. You can get creative here — partner with social media influencers and/or acqui-hire a marketing agency who has shown expertise in your field. Your clients are paying for expertise. Give it to them.

#5. BRAND YOUR PROCESS

This is easier than it sounds. Far too often agencies dream up a “patented” process which amounts to simply naming their steps and illustrating it with boxes and arrows. Unfortunately, your competitors have done the same thing and clients are unable to tell the difference. In order to meaningfully brand your process, your client needs to perceive and then ultimately realize a difference from going through your process.

The question you must ask yourself when trying to brand your process is this — what value does my client realize by going through this process?

#6. CREATE CUSTOMER AVATARS

This is an internal process that you’re going to want to implement ASAP! As you well know, marketing messages are getting more and more personal. In order to craft the right message to your prospective client, you need to know exactly who they are. Not just their job title and industry but every little detail so you can craft messaging that uniquely speaks to them.

Enter the customer avatar. You’ll look to your customer avatar (affectionately known as customer personas in some circles) when making business decisions, crafting pitches, designing your own agency ads, and more.

Creating a desired customer avatar gives your dream client a face, name, personality, job, and hobbies. Learn more about avatars and get a free worksheet at Digitalmarketer.com. It’s alright to make more than one but do try to keep the list short and specific. Make sure everyone in your agency gets a copy of the finished avatars you create.

#7. HAVE BETTER PRICING OPTIONS

Here’s something to consider, many of your agency clients will hire in-house marketing people for at least a portion of their agency workload over the next few years.

In-house marketing agencies are not a passing trend.

Why? Because marketing is becoming more and more personal and companies need to react quicker. If you can restructure your services and pricing then you have a better shot at earning continued business. Instead of clients thinking they need to choose between having an agency or going the in-house route, try offering a la-carte service or using a retaining fee structure to make it easier to budget your agency work.

#8. DIVE INTO TECHNOLOGY

This is going to take on a different look depending on the type of niche marketing agency you have. The advancement in digital technology has changed the marketing playbook forever. Here are just some of the ways technology have changed the way we do business:

  • Social media and search engine ads have flat out taken over the world.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made automation and data gathering a snap.
  • Augmented Reality is about to change how we shop and view ads.
  • Internet privacy and blockchain tech will change the rights we have to gather data and make us more transparent than ever.

And all of that is really just the tip of a rather gigantic iceberg. You need to be knowledgeable about technology in marketing and learn to master at least one of these technologies as a specialty. Look for talented people you can recruit that can move you forward in these areas.

Today’s marketing agencies face challenges past pioneers of marketing never imagined possible. The competition is steep, both for gaining market share and recruiting top talent to your agency. You’ll have to carefully consider your growth strategies and take several of the points above into consideration. At the end of the day, it’s all about the perceived value you bring along for the ride.

Please share any additional methods you have used or are considering using to differentiate and grow your marketing agency.

Have feedback, ideas, or want to chat? Feel free to reach out to me at jeff@themeadecompany.com

Written by

Agency Advisor :: I help marketing agencies earn status, attract new customers and grow their business.

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