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News & Views from Alchemis

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Call us for a chat on +44 (0)20 7836 3678 or email Amanda Francis


A proposition problem shared is a proposition eye opener!

It seems slightly egomaniacal to write about your own event, but I am going to anyway… it was our inaugural one after all!

The focus was on the only 5 ways to grow your agency. However, I want to focus on number one. This was all about the value of your proposition. What does your agency do and what will it do for me (as a prospect)? An easy question isn’t it?

We had four other agencies on our table. It was a straightforward exercise for a couple of volunteers (two of whom ran branding agencies and in theory did this for a living) to give a short, pithy summary of their proposition.

We turned to the table. Who was going first?….deathly silence.

It was a real eye opener, but not in a bad way. Many, many of our agencies are brilliant brand builders, communications or marketing experts. They love it. They love doing it for their clients. Pulling a brand apart and reconstructing it in a clear, powerful, understandable manner and implementing this seamlessly across the company, the staff, stakeholders and their clients.

However, it proved challenging to do it for their own businesses:

• “Well, we just help clients with what they want”
• “We spend too much time thinking about clients and not ourselves”
• “We’ve had lots of internal chats about what and who we are, but haven’t agreed it”
• “We started a session to lay out our proposition, but haven’t been able to follow up”

It was great to see almost a shared relief and exhaling of breath across the table that all of the agencies had struggled to develop and define a clear positioning and proposition. I think a group hug may have occurred in a less formal environment!

It gets harder as agencies develop and grow organically, doing new things they may not have done a few years ago, to find the time to work on their own proposition. So much time is spent developing brands, messages and campaigns for clients.

However, it is important. Nobody expects a USP, but they do expect you to know what you are and what you stand for and hence, how you can help them. Clarity is important and I hope the agencies took that away from the session. It’s not about getting it right first time, but it is about getting it as right as you can and adapting it as you go in the face of new technology, changing markets and evolving client demands.

One of the key points made at our event was that you should always test your proposition by asking the question “SO WHAT?”

What is it? What does it stand for? What problems does it solve? Does it reflect who you are, what you do and any added value? Is it clear, simple and easy to understand/buy?

It is important to involve all your staff, particularly in a small to medium sized agency. This can create empowerment and a real buzz and drive for new business. If you collaboratively provide an agency direction and clarity of message it tends to be something that people feel proud of and that will exude in all communication from the agency. It’s a building block for new business and agency growth.

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