Ad agency new business – the Hollywood way

Had an interesting discussion the other day with a fellow agency new business fan. He and I were talking about an agency positioning and its value. It sparked an idea you might find helpful as you think about your own agency’s position / elevator speech / description.

Here’s the thought: can one Hollywood-ize an agency positioning?

A common perception of how people sell Hollywood movie concepts to studio head honchos is to describe it in familiar ways. The new movie is combination of different movies. “Got a great idea, Mr. Meyer. It’s Die Hard meets The Hangover.” (Adding a cute Rudy from the Cosby Show – or a Harry Potter “Expelliarmus!” – is strictly optional.) Movies the producers reference are blockbusters. Or well-known, critically acclaimed flicks.

This should go without saying. But a version of this is happening right now in our business – when your clients ask for the next viral campaign. Inevitably, it’s named. (You’d see a name or two here. But we strive for evergreen content here at Thunderclap!)

So, might this work with an agency description?

  • Could it be a combination of agency names? (e.g. Burnett meets Mother)
  • Marketing communication disciplines? (like media buying meets sales promotion)
  • Operating structures? (say, think tank meets hollywood agent)
  • Businesses, even?  (maybe an ad agency meets logistics company)

Maybe. What’s interesting about this is that by naming something that’s already known, you enter that space. You tie yourself to something and get a sort of halo effect – even if you say you’re the opposite of something. You’re taking advantage of something someone has already built.

Of course, you have to have some proof behind your claim. After all, if you say, “Die Hard” and it’s really The Von Trapp Family, Part Deux, you’re in trouble. Three more related thoughts:

Gimme a benefit
In Hollywood, “blockbuster” means revenue. “Critical acclaim” is validation. How does that work in our business? To clients, tying one’s position to revenue is never a bad idea. Insert other ROI success metrics here – awareness, intent, loyalty, etc. Break out that sales funnel.

Realize your positioning’s greatest influence – early
My friend suggested that strictly from a prospecting frame of reference, a strong agency positioning will have it’s greatest influence in the early part of a given pitch. Your outbound efforts and the inbound invitation to pitch. Winning the business is a combination of a ton of factors that aren’t as related to positioning.

Finally, what might maximize the impact of your positioning – even without the Hollywood-speak – is depth.

Pay off your positioning throughout your business
Call it what you will. I call it the 6Ps: the different elements of a professional service firm – your product, process, place, price, promotion, and people. After all, we’re talking about how you describe yourself vs. what a client might experience and see when they go to your site or ask around about your agency. Should be some alignment there, right? This will help avoid a box office dud. Each P could be an opportunity to reinforce what makes your agency valuable to clients and staff.

You can find out more about the 6Ps on this blog here and here.

Some very smart new business gurus – folks like Michael Gass and Tim Williams – have got a lot of smart things to say about agency positioning. You’d be smart to check those guys out. (Oh, and give me a call, too! Happy to be of service!)

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