Know Your Strategy Before You Hire an Agency

Agencies are tacticians. They focus on a portion of 1-2 Ps. They have no business claiming to write your business strategy, more specifically, your competitive strategy. Often, they will discuss this as “positioning.” Watch out. You have more data than they do on your consumers, your competitors, etc. When they say “positioning,” they mean a data-less quest for a unique point of difference. This is a perilous exercise for any business that is NOT a market leader to engage in. Why? Because you can’t afford NOT to follow your fans’ real-life behavior and build your competitive strategy in dialogue with it. Trying to figure out your competitive strategy without consumer and sales data on your real empirical ‘position’ in the real world is a fallacy-ridden art class exercise. Branding agencies will charge a lot for it. Most that work with early-stage companies don’t use data. They use desk research or store checks. This is NOT data. This is just lazy.

You, the founder, need to do your own analytics. Without this, you have no real compass for strategic planning. And there is then no foundation for agencies to stand on as they do what they’re really expert in. Communications. On the package. On social. On your website.

Until you know your competitive strategy, any ‘branding’ you do is usually just a reflection of your personal aspirations. This isn’t necessarily wrong or disadvantageous. It’s just that it’s noise.

If you’re a founder who’d like to learn more about creating your own competitive strategy just like the pros, please register HERE to join the next cohort taking my Riding the Ramp training webinar on Dec. 4. I look forward to meeting you there. Only 19 slots left.

And please check out other founder resources elsewhere on my site.

Dr. James Richardson

[email protected]