My Take On: Find your core to avoid becoming just another digital agency

Rob Weatherhead's picture
by Rob Weatherhead

Agencies operate in a cluttered, cut-throat world.

Competition is fierce, and nowhere more so than in the world of digital marketing agencies. With a finite amount of work to go around, a trend towards inhousing, an agency on every corner, and a pressure from clients to reduce agency expenditure, the line between success and failure for independent agencies is a fine one.

In such an environment there is a temptation for agencies to take every business opportunity that comes their way. To bend, mould and contort to fit each brief which crosses their path. Or, as many do, to adopt a catch-all position where their services page reads like an A-Z of anything a business looking for ‘digital’ could be after.

PPC? Sure, we do that. SEO? Of course. Content? Absolutely. Need a website? We build the best. Display? We’re big fans of the GDN. Social? We’ve got a team of millennials who spend their lives on Snapchat.

The result of all this competition is a landscape of agencies with no discernible point of difference between them.

A little challenge

Here’s a challenge for you. Visit the websites of 10 digital marketing agencies. Make a note of their opening strap line, worded positioning, services, and anything else they use to define themselves. Anonymise the data so you have the data for each agency but no label of who they are.

Come back to the data 48 hours later and see if you can correctly identify each agency on the list. £20 says you can’t.

Some will be ‘strategic’, some will be ‘your digital partner’, most will be ‘leading’ and all will be ‘award-winning’.

Faced with these options, is it any wonder that clients looking for an agency are fickle? Or that they choose based on price? If the agencies themselves can’t differentiate themselves how is an outsider supposed to do so?

As a result the agencies struggle to grow. There is a significant void in the regional digital marketing landscape of independent agencies with more than 50 staff. In part because they all blend into one.

Developing your core identity

If independent digital marketing agencies want to survive and thrive they need to find a way of standing out from the crowd. What is it that you are better than the rest at? And why does that matter to potential clients?

There is still plenty of opportunity for agencies to grow, but only if learn to identify and communicate their core specialism, the reason a client would want to appoint them.

Find this and the strategy and services will fall into place around it. Each aligned with a core challenge potential clients are facing. And each a potential entry point for a client, because it is a need they have that you can service.

Fail to find your core and you will just be another also ran. Another generic digital marketing agency in a world where clients are getting ten calls a day selling them digital marketing services.

Find your core, before somebody else does. Because they might just come and take your clients.