Agency propositions: Everything we’ve learnt from 11 years looking at them

We look at new business propositions day in, day out - you know, the one-liners agencies like yours send to your dream clients in the hopes of getting their attention. But we don’t just see the propositions themselves, we also get to see the impact they have on new business efforts. So over the years, we’ve learnt a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t.

Here’s how to get started creating a client-wowing proposition…

GO BACK TO BASICS

When brainstorming ideas it’s easy to get lost in the excitement of alliteration and buzzwords and forget what a proposition actually is. After 11 years in the business, this is how we define it: A believable summary of the most persuasive reasons people should notice and buy from you. It sounds simple, but it’s important to have this front of mind when you’re writing yours.

REMEMBER WHY IT MATTERS

A proposition is what helps you cut through the noise. And with more than 20,000 agencies in the UK alone, there’s plenty of noise out there. The ongoing economic uncertainty is making competition for new clients stiffer than ever, meaning nailing your proposition is even more essential. Plus, as in-house teams become increasingly sophisticated, your proposition is the tool to demonstrate your value over, not just other agencies, but internal teams too.

FORGET THE FLUFF

Like an elevator pitch on steroids, your proposition is your chance to get your agency’s value across in as short a time as possible. You’ll probably have a prospect’s attention for 30 seconds on a call and even less while they scan their inbox, so there’s no time for fluff. It’s important that clients immediately understand what you do and the impact you could have on their business.

Everything else should be saved for your website – how you were founded, your values and your processes can all live on your ‘about’ page. We get it can be tempting to include these things as part of your value proposition, but it’s very rare that any of these are the reason a client chooses you. What wins over a prospect is the results you get for them, so make sure you focus on that.

This is how we define it: A believable summary of the most persuasive reasons people should notice and buy from you.

BACK UP YOUR BUZZWORDS

Buzzwords aren’t all bad, when used carefully they can help demonstrate that you’re across the latest client trends and priorities. But what they don’t do is help you stand out – the whole purpose of a value proposition.
Whatsmore, they’re completely meaningless without proof, so if you’re including them you better back it up. For example, don’t just say you’re innovators, creators or distributors. Prove it. Tell your clients what you’re doing that’s innovative, rather than just making empty claims like your competitors.

PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS

What’s the one thing you do really well? Whether most of your successful projects were addressing a certain client challenge or working with companies from a particular sector, highlighting this in your value proposition will help you connect with prospects. If you’re stuck for inspo, take a look at past case studies and identify the common themes, then make sure you include them in your proposition.

DON’T BE A GENERALIST

You might provide multiple services, but centring your proposition around one core offering is the way to ensure you have greater cut-through with prospects. It doesn’t mean that you can’t tell them about all the wonderful services you offer later on, but the only way to get your foot in the door is by being super specific with what you’re saying upfront.

Tailor your proposition to who you’re targeting at the time. For example, if you offer both brand strategy and creative services but are reaching out to the Head of Marketing, you’ll want to lead with your strategy skills and leave your amazing designs for later. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a one-size-fits-all proposition, you can create alternatives for when you’re speaking to different job titles and different brands.

STILL NOT SURE WHERE TO BEGIN?

A good starting point is to look at your current mix of clients and identify the type of work you’d like to replicate. Consider what work you do for your top clients and ask them how they perceive you as an agency. This can help highlight how brands initially engage with you and therefore, which service you should be ramping up in your proposition. It’s also worth using your current clients and wider team as a sounding board for your ideas before heading out into the real world with your shiny new words.

It’s not easy to get it right, but don’t let that deter you. Yes it takes some real thinking upfront, but boy does it pay off. Nail your proposition and you’ll be one step closer to winning the business you need and working with the clients you want.

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