It's ironic that a business built around designing and implementing advertising and branding strategies for other businesses could itself struggle with branding and positioning - and yet across the world advertising agencies are suffering from the same problem: Most of them are boring and they all look and sound the same, fat and without an accurate(and unique) positioning!
Browse a few ad agency websites and you’ll soon start to see it for yourself; their pages are filled with bland marketing copy which reads almost exactly the same from site to site. It’s no wonder that many businesses are simply preferring to take the cheapest possible offer when so many companies are offering the same lines – they’re 'passionate', 'agile' and want to be your 'friend'; they offer a 'personalized service' and a 'client-focused strategy'. Sound familiar? These selling points move beyond meaningless when you realize that business after business uses them, probably just because everyone else is too and they don’t want to lose out by not putting it there.
Take a look beyond the initial blurb on the home page and you’ll typically see a list of services that normally includes pretty much anything from PPC to print media and television to full website creation, just like you'll find on every other ad agency website. The very people who should specialize in differentiating businesses and products are failing to differentiate themselves from their competitors, preferring to be a jack of all trades than to offer a particular specialization or focus offering 360 degrees services
When price is the only difference between two products clients will always choose the cheaper one, which leads to a race to the bottom and lower profits for every company competing in this manner. The obvious conclusion is that many advertising agencies have reduced everything to a position, which is often 90 degrees...
Show – don’t tell (never heard?)
The best advertising agencies don’t need to tell visitors what skills they have because they show them. What do you think is going to make a bigger impact – a services page listing a long list of skills or a dynamic gallery or video displaying work you’ve done for major clients right on your front page? Examples of your work showcase the skills you can’t put a price on – creativity, imagination and flair. Visit the homepage of 10 feet tall and see how they are showing their work off on their homepage and above the fold – they don’t need to tell you what skills they have because you’ve already seen them in action.
Do not be afraid to stand out.
Advertising is all about getting a product or company to stand out and stick in a customer's mind - why then are some advertising agency websites so bland? If your website is bland I can only assume that any advertising project you might do for me would be the same. Take a quick survey of your potential clients and I suspect you'll find that 'bland' is not in their top ten list of words they want associated with their business or product.
Take a look at Droga5, one of the most awarded advertising agency and obviously they aren't afraid to stand out with awards, nominations and news. Saying: "Hey, I'm a winner, need help?" is a good positioning, and yes, a winner background could be helpful...
Be the best at something.
Finally, take a look at JESS3! They chose a specific service to sell: data visualization and have gotten very large clients because of it. Focussing on one particular industry is better, because when trying to offer everything to every person fails. Customers would much rather have a specialist than a generalist and many gaining knowledge and experience in one specific industry can lead to skills and clients that will make you money for years to come.
The sooner advertising agencies start differentiating themselves from the competition the sooner they will see a rise in profits. Your business will be far healthier when price is no longer your only competitive edge.