Ad Agencies: 10 Tips That Separates the Best From the Rest

the best advertising agencies

The agencies that win the most new business have a differentiating position from their competitors.

“Most managers invest their time and energy in trying to make their firms better, when in fact they should also be working to make their firms different” – From Positioning for Professionals

I had the privilege to attend a Tim Williams seminar, “What Separates the Best from the Rest,” when I was the new business director for a regional advertising agency. Since that time I have read everything he has written.

Tim understands and can articulate agency positioning for new business better than anyone. He has a new book that was recently released that I personally recommend to you, Positioning for Professionals:How Professional Knowledge Firms Can Differentiate Their Way to Success.

10 quick tips from Positioning for Professionals:

  1. Bigness is no longer a competitive advantage
  2. Its better to be a profit leader than a market share leader
  3. There is no competitive advantage in doing what others do
  4. There is no such thing as full service
  5. Most professional service brands are not overpriced, they are just underexclusive
  6. Most firms are engaged in fighting turf wars, instead of finding new turf
  7. No customer is going to buy a vague brand
  8. For a brand to be in the middle of the road = death
  9. “Boxed in?”, no box means no strategy
  10. The main difference between mediocre firms and great ones is not just vision, but execution

I thought you might also enjoy a perusing through some of the book’s best parts, an expansion on these 10 tips:

Tim Williams leads Ignition, a consultancy devoted to helping marketing communications firms create and capture more value. He is author another book that I highly recommend, Take a Stand for Your Brand: Building a Great Agency Brand from the Inside Out” ranked by Amazon as one of the top ten books on brand building.
photo credit: Bob Jagendorf via photopin cc

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. Your blog posts always provide great insight on how agencies can promote themselves. Thanks for your hard work.

  2. dougbrowncreative says:

    Michael, I couldn’t agree more with your take on Tim. I saw him speak in June in Ontario and asked him to come to Copeland where he addressed the entire staff for a day on the need to change or die. We are currently implementing many of the changes Tim addresses in his new book, from scaling back the low value work in favour of high value offerings, to performance-based compensation models to media plans that mine the owned-earned-paid hierarchy. He has been a godsend for us.

  3. Interesting post, but #1 and #2 are wrong. Take media for example. The competitive advantage is no longer an FCC license, a multimillion-dollar printing press, or a cable franchise. Any fool can become a “media” mogul..thus, size becomes a strategic competitive advantage. Hence the rise of category killers in Automotive (, Search (Google), books (Amazon) etc. Likewise, #2 is a fallacy. For several years Google became a market share leader with no discernible revenue/profit strategy. Read Clay Christensen’s “Innovator’s Dilemma.” What defines a disruptor — and potential market leader — is a company willing to take the risks by challenging existing business models. —humbly disagreeing.

  4. Thanks so much for your straightforward approach. Good and useful info. After a lot of soul searching and planning our agency has put it’s flag in the ground… Now we can completely focus on our ‘niche’ and work to be the go-to-agency for our specialty.

  5. Michael Gass says:

    You are welcome Byron. Keep me posted on your progress with your niche!

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