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For the Love of Agencies

We’re just about done with the first quarter of 2011, and as of next week I will have traveled to eight different cities (D.C., Nashville, Wichita, Chicago, Charlotte, Duluth, Providence, and New Orleans) to meet with, consult, speak to, and convene with about 100 different small agencies total. In addition to that, I’ve also had 60 web meetings with different agencies from around the US and Canada since January. At the moment, 20 of our 23 projects are with agencies and we’re on schedule and profitable with every single one of them. Each year, we refine our positioning and commit more and more to working with small agencies, and my schedule for the past three months has really put my interest in that commitment to the test. So, after doing all we could to overdose on small agencies over the past 90 days I’m very happy to report that we love working with small agencies more than ever!

The Leap of Committing to a Focused Market Position

Conspicuously writing “Newfangled works with ad agencies to build conversion-focused websites…” right on our homepage was a very scary thing to do at first. Each year we have put a finer and finer point on our positioning, and the statement on our home page gets shorter and shorter, and more exclusive. As we do this, our expertise becomes much deeper, as do our market reach and profit margins. What seemed to be incredibly scary (if not outright ridiculous) at first has now almost turned into a game in which we try to one-up ourselves with the specificity of our positioning each year. Behind the scenes, we actually have a pretty ridiculous positioning statement that is quite true, but a little too specific to publish on our site…at least for now.

Thousands of birds, Country Music Hall of Fame

This was the view from my hotel room on a recent trip to Nashville. I was getting a few minutes of rest before an agency meeting, and looking out my window. A few birds started flying around, then more, and more, and more until there were many hunderdes of them circling in the air between the hotel and the Country Music Hall of Fame (in the background). It was a beautiful and inspiring thing to watch.

Our Clients Are Great

The fit with agencies is so good for us for many reasons, but at the top of my list is that we genuinely like them. Through our work over the past 16 years we’ve done a lot of research on small agencies, and I can say for certain that the average person at the average well-run small agency in the U.S. and Canada is definitely someone we’d be happy to have a beer with anytime. Agency people are consistently unique, creative, smart, and motivated people. When the caller ID of a principal of an agency we work with lights up on my phone, I often times catch myself smiling before I push the “talk” button.

The Work is Interesting

As we are very well positioned, we tend to work with agencies that are also well positioned, and that leads to us working together on very interesting sites. Working with agencies, we get the opportunity to consistently apply our web marketing expertise in combination with their specific industry expertise to create a site that significantly impacts the end client’s business, every time. Because we’re focused, we apply the same sort of expertise to each site we build, but by that same token our expertise deepens and becomes more refined with each site we build. This is a very positive cycle for all involved, and it feels good to be a part of something like that.

There is Plenty of It

Since we’re so focused on creating great web development partnership experiences with our agencies, they tend to want to work with us again and again once they’ve experienced what working with Newfangled is like. The end effect of this is that each agency partner is out there looking for opportunities to bring us in. Each new agency relationship we are fortunate enough to begin is a long-term investment we’re making in the health of both companies, not just a one-off job. This makes our sales role a far more meaningful and rewarding one.

When You’re Well-Positioned, Marketing Makes Sense

One of the greatest benefits of comitting to a strict area of focus is that it gives you a very specific qudience to market to, and a continually-evolving pool of expertise to pull from and use in your marketing endeavors. I am so grateful for the wonderful marketing opportunities Newfangled has been able to take part in over the years.

In addition to the 3,000+ people that subscribe to our blogs, newsletters, and webinars, we’ve been able to speak at and write for a wide variety of agency industry events and publications including the HOW Design conference, the MYOB conference, the Recourses & Win Without Pitching New Business Summit, Print Magazine and the Imprint blog, HOW Magazine, Second Wind’s Zoom Group Summit, MarketingProfs, and the upcoming How Interactive Conference, which Chris Butler and I were actually asked to help plan.The combined experiences that Chris and I have both had have brought us each the opportunity to publish books–with two different publishers–over the course of the next year.

These opportunities have been fantastic learning opportunities, life experiences, and business-generators. One thing I particularly like about our positioning is that since our business is run in a manner similar to a small agency, we are often able to learn quite a bit ourselves through the events and publications we attend and write for.

There Really Isn’t Much of a Choice

If we hadn’t made the difficult choice to commit to a positioning in a real and very public way, we would not have enjoyed any of these fruits which end up being not extravagances, but necessities in difficult economic times. When I look back at all the great work we’ve been fortunate enough to get over the past two years, and trace it back to our marketing I see a very clear and sobering picture of where we’d be if we hadn’t positioned and marketed as we had.

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