3 Ways to Hone Your Ad Agency’s Niche

If your agency pipeline seems to get clogged at the top, you’re probably using too broad of a funnel. What’s wrong with generalization? It prevents you from differentiating your business from the competition. Generalists aren’t top of mind or exciting. They’re just like everyone else – and that makes standing out nearly impossible.

Of course, you probably became a full-service, integrated, do-it-all agency by necessity. A big client might have left, or you might have faced revenue decreases during the pandemic. So you scrambled to solve the problem and fill the hole. Suddenly, you found yourself working with a hodgepodge of clients. Many aren’t good fits, yet you can’t seem to break the cycle.

Although it might seem counterintuitive, doubling down on what you specialize in will open up growth opportunities for your agency. People seek out specialists because they trust their abilities and thought leadership. You can niche your agency by following these three steps:

Define What You’re Best At

What does your agency do better than anyone else? Search engine optimization? Public relations? Knowing where your agency excels helps you pinpoint your unique capabilities.

Think about yourself as a specialist doctor rather than a general practitioner. General practitioners are versed in overall wellness, but specialists focus their efforts on one aspect of healthcare. As a do-it-all agency, you’re knowledgeable about everything to a certain degree. But as a niche one, you become the go-to expert.

In addition to pinpointing what you excel at, make sure to identify your one-of-a-kind point of view. For instance, my company’s unique perspective is that most small to midsize agency owners are accidental entrepreneurs. They have a depth of experience that doesn’t include running a business. Therefore, we help them reduce their stressors by working alongside them.

Share Your Expert Knowledge with Abandon

It’s not enough to say you have a niche. You must back it up by becoming a thought leader. Experts don’t keep information to themselves. Rather, they teach others and give back to their communities on a regular basis.

How can you position yourself as an authority? Write a book. Speak at events. Become a podcaster. Update your blog. Submit articles to online publications. Get on social media. The goal is to brand your agency within the niche you’ve defined.

Are you hesitant to give away insider secrets? That’s understandable. It can be scary to share your knowledge at first, but it’s far less scary than running a company with an uncertain future. And once you start to build credibility, you’ll encounter more clients that are the perfect fit for your agency.

Narrow Down Your Ideal Client

You’ve chosen a niche, and you’re starting to teach. Wonderful. Now you need to pare down the prospects you’re looking for. Ideally, the market you’re targeting should be no greater than 10,000 prospects. Determine which organizations would be your best clients.

You don’t want to target any company that wants to advertise. That would be the same as a doctor saying she’s an expert at healthcare. Instead, think about who needs your niche services the most. If you’re an expert at sustainability campaigns, for instance, you might want to narrow down your ideal clients to companies focused on building awareness around their sustainability efforts.

We worked with an agency that went through this exercise and got extremely specific. Within two years, 85% of its clients fell into its target niche. The agency was extremely successful: Someone would fill out a form on the website, and after a brief conversation, the agency would send a proposal and close the deal.

If you’re eager to open up more growth opportunities for your agency, stop saying yes to every client who walks through the door. Leaning into your niche will allow you to spend more time doing what you do best for the clients who most value your offerings.


  • Drew McLellan

    Drew McLellan is the CEO of Agency Management Institute, serving 250+ agencies to help the owners build profitable agencies that evolve and scale.

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