Can you describe your ad agency’s positioning in 30 seconds?

foundation for ad agency new business is positioning

The foundation for any ad agency new business program is positioning.

Positioning is everything. It is a fundamental prerequisite for small and midsize agencies. But it is also the place where most agencies where most fail.

“The common failing among agencies seeking new business is the inability, or unwillingness, to name what they stand for” Bob Lundin, Agency search consultancy Jones Lundin Beals

Brand coach Josh says, “If you can’t say why your [agency] brand is both different and compelling in a few words, don’t fix your statement, fix your [agency] company.”

Can you define your agency’s positioning in a simple statement? I can’t begin to tell you how many agencies I know struggle with this.

Advertising agencies and other marketing firms must do for themselves what they do for their clients – this SlideShare presentation, Agency Brand Thyself, provides an excellent overview of agency positioning based on the work of Ignition’s Tim Williams as outlined in his book “Take a Stand for Your Brand: Building a Great Agency Brand from the Inside Out.”

Advertising agencies need positioning because prospective clients have lots of choices—and if you don’t stand out, you are going to struggle with new business.

10 Things a Clear Positioning Provides for Your Ad Agency:

  1. An increase in your agency’s relevance
  2. A direction for how your agency spends its time, money and resources
  3. An understanding on the types of persons to hire
  4. A better new business win ratio
  5. A strong appeal to a select group of prospects
  6. Prospects that line up with your agency’s core strengths, what you do best
  7. A broader market area
  8. Fewer competitors, because there will be fewer firms who do what you do
  9. Have prospects seek out your agency
  10. Better margins, because well-focused agencies command premium pricing

Follow Tim Williams on Twitter. I would also encourage you to read Tim’s book Take a Stand for Your Brand

About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.


  1. that’s powerful. I’ve got some work to do.

  2. As many others before you and in many walks of life, I think you define the problem very well, but I’m not so sure about your solution. Sure, the swinging pendulum of commoditization threatens us all, but is the big answer simply specialization? Here are two reasons why it might not be.

    1. Companies still are in need of agencies that are creative, full-service and maybe even fun for that matter.

    2. Specialization is no safe haven. On the contrary, lots of specialized agencies have had to struggle even more with comoditization and technology-based redundancy in the last 15 years or so.

    I still believe the greatest strength that any good agency has is the power of the idea, and that is essentially what is behind the “we are creative” mantra. The reality is simply that most agencies just aren’t that creative. But this also a very person-based value. That is where a small agency can have an advantage over large agencies which often become encumbered by process-based services.

    Perhaps the truth is found in the exceptions. The larger famous agencies, like CP+B and GoodbySilverstein that distinguish themselves by their creative brilliance are, at least as far as I can tell, driven by a few exceptional people.

    Yes, I can describe my agency positioning in an elevator ride, and yes, to some extend we are pushing specialty services. Yet those services will almost certainly be replaced by others in a few years as will our positioning. What will keep us out of future quicksand is a commitment to talented people with ideas that capture collective imaginations.

  3. Someone once told me that I should always have an “elevator speech” ready when i meet people. This should not be any different.

  4. Ryan Pogue says:

    In my opinion, it is not as much about being able to explain your agency in 30 seconds as it is about trying to open a door and start a valid, honest conversation with someone and find out what their need is – and you being able to offer creative solutions that fit that need. It is about selling something of need, to those who need it, or don’t know, yet, why they need it. Some of the most brilliant creatives out there have problems selling it to the correct audience. It is our job to help these ideas get packaged correctly and on the shelves of storefronts where the right audience can see them and buy into them! Have a great week!

  5. Good post; I encourage readers to click through the Slideshare deck and not neglect the Schlock & Ho Advertising video. I doubt any of us who’ve tried to do agency new business can view that and not honestly see and hear a good bit of our own pasts/present non-pitches. To the list of benefits, I would only add #11: A much higher likelihood that a prospect, after visiting your website or hearing your presentation, can describe your positioning in 30 seconds, too.

  6. Great Post, I think most small shops should consider this for any new biz presentations.

  7. thank you Chuck.

  8. Thanks!


  1. […] Many companies can, quite easily, describe their brand and what it stands for.  These descriptions, however, can become too long to be effective.  Is it possible to describe your brand in less than a minute? What about 30 seconds? In a post discussing the importance of keeping your “elevator pitch” short and sweet, Michael Gass provides a few tips for selling your most valuable assets here. […]

  2. […] pitch” short and sweet, Michael Gass provides a few tips for selling your most valuable assets here. I gave my two cents a couple months ago when asked to be a guest blogger on 1-to-1 Media. […]

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