Our industry is taking a beating, marketing firms are struggling, and many agencies are starting to ask how can we survive – missing the key ad agency unique value proposition.

agency brandingTake a lesson from the TV show Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. In this show Gordon Ramsay, a world renowned celebrity chef/restaurateur, takes on struggling restaurants on the brink of collapse. With soaring food prices, thrifty clientele and unrelenting competition, Gordon uses strong language (bleeps abound) and sound advice to transform the owners, staff, and the food in order to ensure their survival and keep customers hungry for more.

His solution is to find a unique value proposition for these homogenized bland brands.

What’s the difference between one restaurant and another? Gordon works hard to discover that key ingredient that will ensure the struggling brand stands out, gets noticed, and succeeds.

Sound familiar?

All the elements are here including rebranding the restaurant facilities, positioning, theme, staff training, and yes, the product itself. In the end, Gordon’s work pays big dividends to the owners.

While you may not be a restaurant working hard to find new customers, most marketing firms are unique brands working hard to find new clients. On top of that we all have to face some brutal facts about our industry: advertising is now viewed as a commodity, too many agencies are still around even after the biggest shakeout in history, most agencies are now treated as vendors, and prospects see few differences between agencies. These trends won’t change or improve for our industry in the next 10-20 years.

Your ad agency unique value proposition:

A clear ad agency brand needs to address these changes while providing focus for new business: how to describe your firm, what services to offer, and even what organizational structure works best. If you understand who and what you are, a clear agency brand provides discipline for the agency’s new business program. This helps you identify which prospects to go after and which prospects to pass on.

A clear agency brand attracts prospects and aids new business:

  • Shows what you stand for
  • Shows your view of what’s important
  • Lets a prospect know quickly whether or not you are in step with their view of the way things work

A clear brand provides a center point for all your new business activities:

  • Social media focus
  • Agency décor
  • Agency graphics package
  • Agency stationery
  • Holiday/seasonal cards
  • Invitations
  • Nudge articles
  • Website
  • Agency listing on search sites
  • Description in directories
  • Door opener mailers
  • Send-me-something brochure

Creating An Ad Agency Unique Value Proposition 

You need to conduct a thorough review of where your agency has been, where you are today and where you are heading.  This process will save your agency from years of trial and error trying to solidify agency direction and gain consistent growth.

Take the information gleaned from the review and use it to develop an agency vision and a plan to implement that vision.  Most importantly: narrow your focus! Find something that will help you stand out. In the show Gordon always finds something unique about the restaurant and establishes a clear identity that gives people a reason to come back for more.

bring in an expert

Or you could hire this guy.

Another lesson from Kitchen Nightmares is to have an unbiased outside perspective providing alternative view points. Gordon has first-hand knowledge and experience on turning around many restaurants. Like the restaurant business, having an outside expert with a deep understanding of the changes in our market will allow you to successfully implement the changes needed to take your agency to the next level.

The last lesson from Gordon Ramsay is to listen and follow his advice. One of the greatest obstacles to success is the restaurant leadership fighting the truth. Most of the owners have a hard time taking the advice or accepting that changes are needed. However, Gordon usually finds a creative way to convince the owners that they must change the way they think.

In the end, the owners who follow Gordon’s advice on how best to stand out are successful. If your agency is struggling in the market, missing opportunities, not getting invited into the review, or you are always the bridesmaid, then perhaps its time to look at your brand. You may discover that your so called ad agency unique value proposition is not as clear as it needs to be.