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Marketing Agency Exposed Podcast

Mar 3, 2021


In this week’s episode, we’re diving into what it looks like to coach new clients through differentiating themselves. We explain our philosophies on creating a brand that’s unique enough to sell. We discuss questions such as: As agencies, how can we help our clients clarify their brand? If a client doesn’t know their “why,” what’s the next step? How can you help clients clarify their true purpose for their business? How can you guide potential clients through the brand building process while also establishing a valuable partnership? And how can you do all this for yourself as a business?


Top 3 Curtain Pulls in this episode: 

  1. There are certain things that ONLY the client can do—this includes digging into their “why” and defining their brand. As an agency, you can guide them through this process but only THEY can find the answers. However, it’s your job to guide them through this process. 
  2. From a tactical perspective, there are four main questions to ask to help a client unpack their brand: What’s right? What’s wrong? What’s missing? What’s confused? 
  3. You need to differentiate your business. Agencies suffer from not having a true brand, not being clear on their why, and looking the same as everyone else. Do the hard work to apply what you do for your clients to your own business.


For more tips, discussion, and behind the scenes:


About The Guys: 

Bob Hutchins: Founder of BuzzPlant, a digital agency that he ran from from 2000-2017. He is also the author of 3 books. More on Bob: 

Brad Ayres: Founder of Anthem Republic, an award-winning ad agency. Brad’s knowledge has led some of the biggest brands in the world. Originally from Detroit, Brad is an OG in the ad agency world and has the wisdom and scars to prove it. Currently that knowledge is being applied to his boutique agency. More on Brad:

Ken Ott: Co-Founder and Chief Growth Rebel of Metacake, an Ecommerce Growth Team for some of the world’s most influential brands with a mission to Grow Brands That Matter. Ken is also an author, speaker, and was nominated for an Emmy for his acting on the Metacake Youtube Channel (not really). More on Ken: 


Show Notes:

[4:20] Bob asks “What do you do when a client comes to you asking for help developing their brand—without any data to help you accomplish this.”

[5:05] Brad says that some clients know their brand and some don’t. Newer brands may recognize that they have a great product, but rushing to get that product sold can undercut the value there. There is a deep push to compete with existing brands and industry giants, but there is also a deep need to define your brand before competing. 

[6:38] Brad recalls a phrase from an earlier episode—as a business, you’re either the  Cheapest, the Best, or the Only. And he’s found that most of his clients aren’t the Only. 

[7:24] Brad asks how The Guys identify the best strategy for a client like this. 

[9:30] Ken talks about how companies used to be able to make it without a unique selling proposition- but competition creates change in every industry so quickly these days and you HAVE to take the time to develop that selling proposition. 

[10:30] Bob talks about how in the beginning of Covid, there were many companies who dug into their “why” and were able to change their selling proposition to suit customer’s needs more closely. 

[11:30] Brad circles back around to guiding clients without this defined purpose and selling proposition. He says that most companies’ “why” is interwoven into their culture, and very much has to be a top-down concept. 

  • If you exist just to make money—dig deeper! There is more to your “why” than just cash flow. 

[15:01] Bob talks about breaking down a client’s story into a hero-arc. Who’s the hero, who’s the protagonist, what is the problem you’re trying to solve? It pays to break down your brand’s story in this way!

[16:05] Brad shares about a 3-day workshop that he hosts to help businesses define their brand. Usually there is a moment where he realizes that a team doesn't have the same “why” individually. But that is so vital! Get everyone on the same page and make sure that your client knows the value in this process. 

[17:50] Ken talks about how clients often ask agencies to do things that only the client can do. Only the client can define their brand, only the client can dig into the reason they exist and figure out what drives them. Agencies cannot define this for you!

[19:40] Ken shares a questionnaire that Metacake gives prospective clients. It’s a brand readiness worksheet that helps identify where a brand truly is at any given moment. It helps to dig into their story, unique selling points, why they exist, and ultimately provides deep clarity for the entire team. 

  • “Your purpose can be unique even if your product is the same.” 

[24:19] Brad and his team dig deep into the pain points of customers. For example, you may think you sell skincare but in reality you’re helping a client fill different emotional needs that they have. 

[24:45] Ken talks about how many clients get overwhelmed by this deeper meaning behind their business—it can feel silly and even embarrassing. Your job as an agency owner is to build a business case for this work. 

[27:31] Bob talks about the psychology change in selling to one channel versus a thousand channels. When people have a ton of options, digging deeper becomes more and more vital to selling your product. 

[28:55] Brad talks about brand equity and clients who want to build their brand equity. But this takes time and money! 

[29:29] Bob defines brand equity in 2021. Brand equity means your brand has been embedded into the culture of society, giving examples of brands like Coke and Kleenex. 

[30:56] Bob moves on to how to work with clients once they agree that they want to dig deep and do that work. 

[31:30] Brad shares a story about a client that they worked with; this client didn’t have any unique selling propositions but were committed to digging in and figuring out their brand. Eventually they launched a sale, and the product didn’t do well. The client came back and said that they really didn’t have a leg to stand on when it came to comparison against other products. Brad could see the writing on the wall at the beginning of the project but still gave it his best, and it didn't work. 

[37:20] Ken talks about a client that Metacake works with called Groove Life. They sell silicone rings with an incredible brand proposition and story. They have a large number of competitors, and their rings really aren’t THAT much of a different quality than others that you can find on Amazon. But what makes them different is the brand story. 

[37:39] Brad “Your brand is a promise, and if you want to create that promise you better make sure that when they get the product, that promise is realized.” 

[38:04] Ken says the best promise wins the sale, not necessarily the best product. 

[40:28] Bob talks about how Elon Musk has an incredible ability to normalize those unique selling propositions. It’s not only about the product; it’s also about the human experience. 

[42:45] Bob says that there are 4 questions they ask at Five by Five agency when helping a client to unpack their brand. As these questions are discussed, the client will identify the nuances of what makes them different from everyone else.

  1. What’s right about what you’ve done? 
  2. What’s wrong? 
  3. What’s missing?
  4. What’s confused? 

[44:23] Brad talks about asking the right questions of his clients and allowing their frustrations out. The answers have to be gleaned from their discussions, and as you get to know them and their pain points, clarity is the inevitable result.

[46:40] Brad suggests an interactive meeting when you first meet a client, where you can engage them in the process of identifying these parts of their brand. 

[48:00] Bob says that after you’ve met with clients and gone through the process of bringing out that information (identifying their brand messaging and unique selling points), it’s fairly straightforward for your agency team to go into those notes and see with relative clarity who that brand is and what makes them unique from their competitors. When you then bring that information back to your clients, they are in awe of how well you know them, and the relationship becomes one based on trust and deep respect. You become part of their tribe instead of just an agency that’s working with them. 

[52:41] Ken talks about those business owners who say they’re only in business to make money. And while many may say this, most of those businesses are actually running on something much deeper—they just need help identifying it.