By Tim Williams

By Tim Williams

Countless agencies confuse having a philosophy with having a positioning.  A positioning is a strategy, not a tag line.  An effective positioning strategy clearly defines:

What you sell (your product)
Where you play (your market)

Developing a relevant, differentiating positioning strategy is hard enough.  But it’s harder still to bring your positioning to life throughout all the various dimensions and business practices of the agency. Here are 25 questions that will help you assess how well you’re doing.

Ask your senior management team to rate each of these questions using the following scale:

 1           2           3           4           5           6           7           8           9          10

                                             Strongly Disagree                                                                   Strongly Agree


1.  We have defined a clear focus and positioning.
2.  We have done an effective job of communicating and establishing our positioning in the marketplace.


3.  We have the basic competencies and capabilities needed to effectively deliver on our positioning.
4.  We are focused on what we do best and have found strategic alliances for the rest.
5.  We have developed proprietary approaches that add value to our brand.
6.  We have the information resources we need to learn about and support our positioning.
7.  We have developed an effective means of measuring success in order to demonstrate accountability to our clients.


8.  Our people have the right skill set to support our positioning strategy
9.  Our people understand our positioning and business strategy, including all new people we hire
10.  We use internal communication vehicles and meetings to insure that the entire firm understands how we want to develop our brand.
11.  We have identified clear hiring standards for the kind of people we need to reinforce our brand.
12.  We use performance reviews as a means of engaging every associate in bringing the positioning to life.
13.  Our people are engaged in an on-going professional development program that supports the goals of our brand.
14.  We have a handbook or intranet that explains what our brand is about.


15.  Our graphic brand identity reflects our positioning.
16.  We have a clear set of criteria for identifying prospective clients based on our positioning.
17.  Our website reflects both the style and substance of our desired brand.
18.  Our promotional materials effectively present and differentiate our brand.
19.  We have an effective offline and online marketing and publicity program to build our brand.


20.  We use systems and procedures as yet another opportunity to differentiate our firm.
21.  We leverage the power of our positioning by our pricing.
22.  We are taking steps to develop, own, and sell more of our own intellectual property.


23.  Our positioning is reflected in the way we create first impressions: our e-mail, voice mail, phone answering, etc.
24.  The look and feel of our offices reflects our positioning strategy.
25.  We have a digital asset management system that allows us to easily share and retrieve information and assets related to our positioning strategy.

It’s been said that without execution, there is no strategy.  Bringing your positioning strategy to life throughout the organization is one of the most important responsibilities of senior agency leaders. It’s also one of the most rewarding.