The new SharpSpring Agency Growth Series features an awesome curated lineup of the top influencers in digital marketing. We simply could not be more excited about the group of great minds we were lucky enough to pull together to make this agency-focused series happen.

The free series is made up of 14 unique web sessions, all with a livestream Q&A segment, and all focused on helping agencies accelerate their growth.

Sessions feature digital marketing superstars speaking candidly about the industry topics they know best and are most passionate about. And we want to make sure to share the love – so, in addition to providing recordings of the sessions and live Q&As, we’ll also be posting key takeaways here following each session.

Here’s a look at some of our favorite insights from our Agency Growth Series session with well-known author and speaker David C. Baker.

David C. Baker on what positioning really means for agencies

“It’s almost this process of irrelevancy, which is completely opposite of the way most people think of it. Most people think of positioning as developing or enhancing even more relevancy so that they have more opportunity. They’re gathering as much opportunity as they can. But that’s the opposite way to think about it.

A more courageous – versus a kind of a desperate approach – is to say, all right, we are going to become irrelevant to most of the prospects and in the process, we’re going to become deeply relevant to just a few.”

David C. Baker on why positioning can be hard for agencies

“What they do for a living is to help their clients with positioning and then to spread that positioning but when it comes to doing it for themselves, it’s so much more difficult. They’re kind of sitting inside their own bottle and they can’t read the label on the outside – or even if they can, they’re terrified.

They’re struggling at night. They’re thinking, ‘Oh, do I have enough opportunity? Do I have enough opportunity coming?’ And the notion of real positioning where you’re saying, ‘No, I’m not going to take that new opportunity,’ is absolutely terrifying because their instinct says, ‘I’ve got to grab everything that I can.’”

David C. Baker on doing your best work

“What we’re trying to do with positioning is not to stay busy – because most of you are busy. It’s really about being choosier and having clients where two things happen. And these two things are really important, but we only usually talk about one.

The first thing that’s really important is that you make more money. And the second thing is that you do better work for clients.

In this discussion about positioning, sometimes we don’t even really properly think about, what is our commitment to our clients? And if you’re a generalist and you’re just doing your best work and throwing the best people at it without a lot of deep expertise that comes from pattern matching and experience, then your clients are getting cheated, too.

So, I’m trying to be the voice that not just argues for you making more money, but doing better work for clients, too.”

David C. Baker on making sure your positioning is on track

“If your positioning statement is such that you can find at least 10, but no more than 200 competitors, then that puts you in that sweet spot.

If there are more than 200 competitors to your stated positioning, then you’re going to typically be too interchangeable in the prospects’ minds and you’re not going to be able to command any pricing premium.

If there are fewer than 10, then the chances are that you’re not relevant enough and you’re probably going to run out of opportunities.”

David C. Baker on growing your agency in the next 90 days

“I probably need to think of a less crude example, but this is the time in history when the weakest kids get thrown off the Merry-go-round and what’s going to be left will be 70 to 80 percent of existing firms.

Those are the firms that will be left and they are innately stronger. And the ones that stand out from that pack are the ones who are not just trying to exist right now, but they are actually investing in their own marketing automation platform. They are investing in blackbox sort of research. They’re making a critical hire when everybody else is laying off. They are investing for the future.

I don’t know when it will happen, but I am certain that this industry will come roaring back and it will be stronger than it ever has been, but behind all that, left in the trail will be a lot of firms that have failed. And those will be the ones who quit innovating, quit investing, and made really foolish decisions that weren’t very brave. Now, some principles can be too brave, right? So you need to balance that out with the people who love you and we’ll speak to you without fear.

David C. Baker on the essential elements of a positioning statement

“There’s two main elements: It’s what you do and who you do it for. So we do this, for this. Those are the two primary elements. Let me describe some other things that should be true of your statement to help you.

There’s no magic here, but I usually want it to be 12 words or less. Very succinct. I want to eliminate as many adverbs and adjectives as possible because you don’t need to over-promise in a positioning statement. A positioning statement should be perfectly descriptive and boring. You don’t need to inspire people with your positioning statement. There are other things that you can use to inspire them. So under 12 words, eliminate adverbs and adjectives wherever possible and say very specifically two things. We do this, for this – and that can be either vertical or horizontal.”

David C. Baker on why smaller firms need tighter positioning

“If you’re a smaller firm, that size makes you nimble and fun to work with but it also is a drawback to the prospective client. They think, ‘I’d like to work with that firm, but can I trust them with this?’

What answers that trust question is the specialization. So there is an inverse relationship between the size of the firm, big or small, and how important that specialization is at first.”

David C. Baker on vertical positioning

“There are multiple advantages to a vertical positioning and one of the key ones is that they hang out at identifiable places. I just call those water coolers.

So it might be the conferences (when those start up again), the blogs that they might read, might be a trade association that you could publish an article for.”

Want even more insights like these from author and speaker David C. Baker? You can find the full recording on our website.

If you missed our first session featuring industry icon Neil Patel, check it out here. Plus, it’s not too late to sign up for the rest of our Agency Growth Series. You can catch influencers like Ann Handley, Rand Fishkin and Seth Godin!

Katrina McAfee
Over the past 10 years, Katrina has created and implemented marketing plans for industries ranging from health care, transportation, animal welfare and rescue, hospice communities, and much more. At SharpSpring, Katrina’s main focus is coordinating lead generation marketing activities to boost sales for the company.