243 Ad Agencies Share How They are Different from the Rest for New Business

ad agencies differentiation and positioning

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

In a recent blind ad agency new business survey I asked the question, Does your agency have a unique point of differentiation from competitors? Of the 430 agencies that answered the question, 76.8% (326) said that they did, 23.1% (98) said they did not.

I then asked, if you answered “yes”, please briefly describe. “how your agency is different from the rest.” The following are 243 agency responses to how they are different from every other agency.

I thought you might enjoy perusing through these responses. So, here is the good, the bad and the ugly how these 243 agencies said they were different from their competitors:

  1. Performance-based website design.  Mix of performance marketing and fixed bid work.
  2. Focuses on manufacturers who sell to the professional tradesmen
  3. Our focus is conversion optimization. Whether it’s a purchase either online or at retail, lead generation, customer acquisition, gaining distribution or any Key Performance Indicator, conversion is defined by whatever drives your business.
  4. Greater emphasis on research and planning, competitive analysis, and strategy.
  5. We specialize in Tribal Gaming where we leverage the excitement on the gaming floor to increase profits across all profit centers.
  6. Rather than being a “Jack of all Trades” as most agencies are  (if they have a budget, get it);  my agency has picked a vertical market and I market our expertise in that market.  We do one industry and we do it better than anyone else.
  7. Our agency has been around over 60 years…experience is our main selling point.
  8. Nimble and consultative
  9. Type of client experience/expertise
  10. Focused niche in high-end resorts/developments
  11. We are a full service promotional agency that has a dedicated research/planning group to capture consumer insights – many traditional agencies have this function – but its rare for a promo shop – also rare for promo shop to have media/buying and planning, full digital suite (web dev, social media, SEO), creative, research, public relations, and shopper marketing int house, but we do. Naturally many promo agencies will claim they have all the above internally, but few do…
  12. We’re in a same too business…very little differentation. Ultimately we hold our self up against the work and the results
  13. As articulated by our clients, we are: Smart and strategic; We know business; We are creative with lots of energy; We like each other.
  14. We do not seek “retainers”. We offer ala carte services with no questions. The client determines how they select to work with us. We do not dictate how they structure the relationship – we give them options.
  15. As an integrated marketing communications firm, we are uniquely structured to provide multiple services including advertising, PR, direct, interactive, SEO/SEM, media placement, etc.
  16. We’re very good, and keep our promises.
  17. We approach integration differently than others.
  18. Our focus is on the concept of the consumers desire for “escape”. We’ve positioned the agency as experts/specialists in this area.
  19. New media has opened many doors for us — we are demonstrating a strategic and creative driven approach to WOM — this has proven to be a key differentiator — at least for now!
  20. Specialization in key industry area
  21. Focuses on “Challenger” brands in commodity marketplaces
  22. We only work on food accounts: foodservice, deli and CPG food
  23. While others typically concentrate on social media and their core competency, we’re repositioning ourselves as quick, smart and affordable.
  24. We focus on helping b-to-b change agent CMOs develop new brands or reposition old brands to overturn the buying conventions of their industries.
  25. Our staff is as efficient as staffs two to three times larger. That equals faster turn around and lower fees. No wasted layers.
  26. We help mid size businesses own the leadership position by working with the C level.
  27. Our agency strategy is to target hospitals/healthcare systems only….we have found a niche that has been extremely profitable over the past four years….whether it is creative awards such as Clios, one show etc; and/or strategy, we have become one of the top hospital marketing agencies in the country
  28. We balance measurable outbound communications with innovative inbound marketing tactics to ensure clients get found, get heard, and get customers to buy.
  29. Substantial experience in non-traditional agency services such as government outreach and education initiatives.
  30. We are not all things to all people. We are message focused. We “Discover the Remarkable” in our clients and we use that as a way to tell their story.
  31. Our culture is not the traditional silo approach to the way our company operates. We are not that traditional old school agency. We are effective in our communications and use an unique approach to our clients marketing needs
  32. “Brand People Who Get What’s Next” is our positioning which defines our agency as brand marketing experts with the ability to seek out ideas and activation based on the ever evolving marketing mix
  33. We focus on understanding how consumers/ businesses make decisions within each client category and build programs to impact that process.
  34. Virtual agency with direct access to the most senior strategic leaders.  Reputation lies in public affairs and public policy.
  35. Specialists in positioning. Experience in prospect’s category.
  36. Brand Alignment, beginning with internal alignment to get the team aligned with company goals and objectives, allowing them to deliver on the brand promise the client expects.
  37. Vertical focus. Focus on sales & marketing integration and integration with digital channels.
  38. Strength in channel communications.
  39. Genuine integration across disciplines(walking the talk).
  40. True account planning @ a “media agency”
  41. We’ve become more more marketing agnostic. We move fast. We take risks. We focus on getting it right, not being right.
  42. Resultants
  43. We ventured into Social Media very early in the game and built a reputation as “Louisville’s Leading Interactive Marketing Company” with our robust blog, Twitter account and website. We have enjoyed a sizable increase in social media budgets for our clients and because we have this service in-house, we enjoy a larger profit margin on the work provided. We also have an IT staff of four in our 30-person shop so we build a lot of custom applications, websites and customer relationship programs. Plus we have an in-house editor for training videos as well as TV and Radio commercials. www.currentmarketing.com
  44. Can’t give away our secrets!
  45. Our philosophy/approach
  46. Commissions used to offset fees, and extraordinary track record for results.
  47. We’ve taken on emerging media with more fever than most, even incorporating it into our own sales efforts. Additionally, we are a full-service, who is also a certified apple developer, launching our own iPhone application providing marketing insights, strategies and concepts for small, medium and stage-2 economic development companies.
  48. Specialization in merchandising.
  49. Advertising for good – we create campaigns for clients and causes that promote positive social change, and advance the human condition.
  50. Service, accessibility, response time, rates.

View the rest of the 193 responses through this link: 243 Ad Agencies Share How They are Different from the Rest for New Business

photo credit: marsmet532 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. Michael,
    Reading through the responses to your survey helps clarify why our industry is suffering from an identity crisis. If we can’t differentiate ourselves in a way that makes sense to our peers, how can we expect clients to trust us to do the same for their brands? To all of the agencies who sent in a response, I suggest you show what you wrote to your best client, and ask them if you sound any different from all the other agencies that pursued their business. When they tell you no, hire someone like Michael and let him help you develop a real differentiated positioning that someone outside your four walls can understand.
    Tom Leydon

  2. Hugely disappointing responses from creative people. I much rather would have someone say…

    “I’m John. I’m good at what I do and you’ll like me”

  3. Marian Temesvary says:

    I could not have said it better myself, Tom. As we are in the business of helping agencies differentiate themselves through intellectual property translated into effective sales campaigns, this is struggle we face with each client.
    Marian Temesvary

  4. People need to focus.

  5. Michael,

    I always enjoy your writing. I’m probably late to the party in discovering this post, but it’s sobering, scary, and funny. No wonder clients see agencies as a commodity business. No wonder agencies complain at pricing pressure and lack of loyalty.

    Phil Johnson

  6. Thanks Phil, I’m also a fan of your Small Agency Diary articles for AdAge http://bit.ly/iSC9Og

    It is amazing that every ad agency thinks they are unique but you can easily understand why prospective clients think most agencies are alike.

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