Why Your Firm's Positioning Strategy Should Not Be Based on Facts

By Tim Williams

By Tim Williams

When it comes to your agency’s business strategy (positioning), the best place to start is to make sure you’ve struck the right balance between authenticity and aspiration.

An agency positioning that’s too authentic is too backward-looking, too focused on where the business was instead of where the business is going.  On the other hand, a positioning strategy that’s too aspirational is a shot in the dark based more on hopes than abilities.

The best solution isn’t to draw the line right in the middle of the spectrum, but rather to err on the side of aspiration.  Your positioning must be looking more to the future than the past; otherwise you’ll be cycling back to the re-positioning process much sooner than you either want or need to.

A positioning rooted in the future

Here’s another way of looking at it.  If you base your agency positioning on current data or information about the industry, you will be defining a position for the present and the past, but not one for the future.  Current industry information can only tell you what has happened, not what will happen.  Facts don’t predict the future – only a theory predicts the future.

Your positioning should be based not on where the money is, but where the money will be.  And to know where the money will be requires that you have a well-founded theory about what will happen in our business and why.

Positioning Based on the Facts:  A positioning strategy based on an understanding of what has happened in our industry.Looks at facts and figures that describe the past.

Positioning Based on the Future:   A positioning strategy based on what’s likely to happen in our industry.Looks at circumstances that are likely to affect the future.

Not just who you are, but who you want to be

The point is that your positioning will not be found as much in the archive of facts about your agency as in the storehouse of knowledge, learning, and expertise in your company that can peer ahead and predict.  This is not the equivalent of an “educated guess,” but rather a well-constructed view of the future based on an understanding of the trends that are reshaping our business. A positioning that’s grounded mostly on past performance and past client needs will be true to what you are, but misses the opportunity to define who you want to be.