How Narrow Minded Are You?


Ordinarily, calling someone narrow minded would seem like an insult (in certain circles anyway). However, at the last E3 conference in Toronto, Tim Williams, author of “Take a Stand for Your Brand,” talked about how agencies should narrow their focus in order gain traction as sought-after specialists.

Take A Stand For Your Brand

Take A Stand For Your Brand

“Narrow is not the same as small,” Williams said, as he challenged E3 Network agencies at the meeting to do for themselves what they all do every day for their clients: Create compelling brand stories.

Too many agencies have marketing pitches that sound the same, Williams said. They are strewn with catch-all words like “integrated,” “full service,” and “responsive”. (Yes, he means you).

Agencies sometimes make the mistake of offering a list of services as long as a Chinese take-out menu. Is that a good thing? It might work for short-order cooks, but the most expensive Bistros usually have a very short, very well-planned menu that sets them apart. As E3 agencies looked around the room, they, too, saw themselves in the not-so-flattering picture Tim painted. I think most of us wanted to be the expensive Filet Mignon, not the Kung Pao Chicken.

Sacrifice for the Greater Good

As Williams’ said, the essence of positioning is sacrifice. But maybe that’s not so bad. This way of thinking lets us stop trying to be everything to everyone. Because if you try to do that, as the saying goes, you will be nothing to no one. Or as Tim said:

“If you try to stand for everything, you will stand for nothing.”

So thus, we are forced to choose. To choose which clients are most profitable (and desirable for us to pursue), which services align most closely with our true calling, and which talents set us apart.

To follow Willams’ lead, we must decide who we are, and who we are not. And let go of that which doesn’t help define us. This gets to the core of our branding.

To start, we must answer these three questions:

  1. What do we do really well?
  2. Who do we do it for (our audiences)?
  3. How do we do it?

Then we can begin to really position ourselves as the experts we want to be – and want to get paid to be.

Hitting Home

While the mirror Williams’ held up made some agencies wonder if they were wearing polka dots with plaid, it forced everyone to give some thought to what they wanted their agencies to look like in the future. To really think about what they stand for.

The three-hour workshop was a pivotal point in thinking about how to change for the better (as was fitting for the theme of the conference, “Shift Happens”). E3 agencies were challenged to go back home and really think about how to re-brand themselves. We want to know if you took up the challenge.

Are you planning to take a stand for your brand? If so, how?


One Response to “How Narrow Minded Are You?”

  1. Reblogged this on On Marketing and commented:
    My blog post on E3 from 2 November 2008

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