Isn’t it hard to differentiate your agency? I mean, what can you say that makes you stand out? What will get prospects to sign up with you? Your process? Your awards? Your people or your commitment to innovation? 

I know what you’re thinking: “RESULTS! That’s it! If only people understood how great a job we do, they’d sign up with us right away!” But while important, it’s also a cliché. Everybody claims they get results and the truth is, most of your competitors aren’t lying, they often do get good or great results for the right client.

So, you’ve tried all sorts of ways to brand your service and stand out, but you can only win on price…?

I’ve got your back. Here is a nice process you can use to articulate how you really stand out. What it does is create compelling messaging that is radically authentic, plays to your strengths and makes your offering desirable for the right client.

And it steers clear of the clichés that your fellow 299999 competitors in this space have used up and still keep chewing on.

The magic word is Transformation.

Transformation is the ultimate result your client seeks to achieve with your solution. Transformation is the way life will be different for your client after having worked with you. At the end of the day, it’s the only thing that matters for your them – it’s the only aspect you will be judged by – regardless of whether the client is aware of this herself.

Measuring the only thing that really matters

How is transformation measured? Often times it’s not – it’s subjective, it’s an experience, a perception – and that’s OK. If you offer lead generation/campaign management or any service that can directly be tied to the bottom line… or a near-bottom-line indicator in your client’s business, then the result is hitting or missing that KPI. But now, you’re looking for the result of the result –  the real impact of having hit the KPI.

How will business/life be different for your avatar if they bump e-commerce conversion rate by 10%? That is what you’re looking to articulate.

Getting clear on the total, transformative experience you provide to your clients is everything. But, you need to be able to articulate it. 

I have good news: you’re about to learn how to uncover the real value you provide your clients with. This step-by-step guide will help you communicate your unique value in a way that’ll have your clients excited feeling the end result, just by reading about it…

What’s also nice is they’ll pay you according to the real value you create, rather than the input and the hours.   

An example: when probed for how they provide transformation, almost any client who does web dev will tell me something like “we create beautiful websites that convert”. (Doesn’t sound bad, who wouldn’t want one of those, right?)

But, this is not transformation. There might be a place to communicate your services this way, but this is not transformation. Neither is “getting you ranked number one on Google.”

So what IS transformation then? Here is the process for finding and articulating your “Transformative Superpower” 🙂

Three steps to uncovering your transformative power

Step 1: The Before-After Grid

The before-after grid is a great tool invented by DigitalMarketer to start mapping the transformation. The steps are actually defining the specific dimensions in which your clients experience your service.

These are angles that help you grasp the nature and building blocks of the transformation you create. There are five such dimensions or angles; actually, four plus one because the fifth one isn’t always used.

They are:

  1. have,
  2. the feel,
  3. the average day,
  4. the status;
  5. the good versus evil state.

This last fifth one is not always used.

The table below illustrates the before-after grid for a hypothetical digital agency. For instance, the have dimension, is about material or abstract things like. Here you’ll put things that they didn’t have before and they will have after or as a result of working with you. Which is, for example, a strategy or a marketing plan or leads or more sales.

It’s the most evident dimension of the transformation:

Campgrowth’s Before-After grid. For more of our messaging and tools on a Google Sheet, click here.

So, use the above matrix to map out what’s it like for your clients before having worked with you, and what’s their state after you’ve delivered.

If you want a deeper explanation of these dimensions, check out the How to Build an Agency-Marketing Mechanism book, where we plunge deeper into the whole process and give you additional tools.

Step 2: Mapping Milestones

You can map the transformation that you bring about in your clients’ lives by a series of milestones to be reached. For example take a look at our case, Campgrowth’s transformation map. Well, what do we do?

We help marketing agencies attract and convert great clients for awesome cash flow. Our before state – where you see the frowny face in the figure, is having agencies with bad clients and poor cash flow. The after state is great clients with great cash flow.

Map the milestones: how do you take clients from frowny to happy?

And if you’ve been paying attention then you see that this definition of the transformation is along the have dimension, which we talked about earlier. So how do we take clients from being bad clients with poor cash flow to great clients and awesome cash flow? Well first of all we need to create a strategy for them.

Then once we have a strategy, our clients need to have an action plan and once they have the plan, they’re going to need to build a funnel and once they have the funnel and great quality prospects are dripping out of the funnel, then they’re going to need to convert those prospects into profitable projects. 

Once they’ve sold them on the project, then they need to actually get the work done and deliver the projects and once they’re able to do that and still keep their agency running and get the math right, then they will be happy clients and they will be transformed. 

It’s very important that once you map this transformation process that you understand where it is that your services are. It’s very likely you’re not going to take them all the way from the before state to the after state. It’s much more likely that you’ll be specialized to deliver a few of those milestones along the way or even just one milestone. You know, you don’t need to be great at everything, you should focus on the few vital steps where you can do an amazing job. 

What you want is to become a key player and at least deliver one of the crucial milestones and that’s the recipe for success. But in Campgrowth’s case, it’s the first three steps that we are really good at: 

The Agency-Marketing Mechanism
Strategy, action plan, funnels: that’s our business, but Campgrowth doesn’t much get into proposal- smarts, managing projects, and other things needed to complete a great client experience.

So, what I invite you to do in this step is to map the milestones of your customers’ transformation – what things do they need to get done in a linear fashion in order to excel in marketing? Then, circle the steps where you want to specialize. These are the areas where you are focusing on and building authority. 

Once you have this, we are going to craft something called a unique selling proposition… which you’ve probably heard about and done workshops on and read books on at 94 times in your career so far.

So, I’m not going to risk preaching to the choir. What I want to do with USP, the unique selling proposition is have you understand that it’s something that is vastly underutilized. 

Step 3: Craft a Unique Selling Proposition

You might have a USP for your agency. You might have spent a little time or a lot of time or an unbelievably and shamefully large amount of time brainstorming and coming up with one.

It’s quite possible, if you’re like most companies and marketing agencies, you have just stopped using it. Because in a lot of cases or situations, it felt awkward.

The thing most people forget with the USP is that you don’t need to use it in every single marketing collateral or conversation. So it’s not like you go up to somebody and say “We deliver the best pizza in under 20 minutes or your money back, satisfaction guaranteed.” No, that’s not the way you talk to people. There are places where you will be using your USP. But it’s not everywhere. When used in the right way, it has immense power.

One of the questions that we get asked around USP is how many one should have. Because it’s called a unique, some people think they’re only supposed to have one per company.

Let me tell you, if you’re an agency and you have business units, a.k.a different services, such as SEO, social media, web design, then you can have a USP for each of these services, for each of the business units and of course you can have a USP for your agency.

Here is a formula that you can use to craft a USP for an agency or a B2B service company.

[Company or service] enables [avatar] to experience [transformation].

The simple but great USP formula almost nobody uses. Good for you!

Below you can find some examples for marketing agencies. 

Or how about this:

Notice that the automation agency’s USP at the top is playing on the have dimension of the transformation. The second variant is using the status dimension of the transformation.

For the creative agency, the first USP is also resorting to have dimension, while the second example brings in the feeling dimension. 

What happens when you add a little bit of flavor, such as results, speed and guarantee? Well you can expand the USPs and they will be much more concrete and what’s important is that they will be much less copiable. These expanded USPs cannot be imitated, are believable and memorable for the reader.

Again, anybody can say that they’ve been around since the dinosaurs and that they deliver subpar quality. But very few competitors in your marketplace can say: 27% increase guaranteed, delivered in under one month.

So, adding specificity to your USP is huge. Imagine what would happen tomorrow if you added the new, flavored-up versions of USPs for each one of your services right onto your website and your proposals. Better yet, don’t just imagine it, do it!

Again, let’s take a look at what we’ve done in this step. 

  • We’ve mapped the transformation. 
  • We’ve gotten specific with our promises through the USP.

I hope this has been fun. Once you have these three steps down, what you want to do next figure out how you will implant the two feelings: competence (in themselves) and confidence – prior to making an offer.

Because once you get them excited about the transformation that you can infuse into their business, you need to get them to feel competent that they can do it (with your help) and confident, that the result really is attainable.

But this is a story for a different day. 🙂

If you want the full scoop on how to set up your agency’s messaging, marketing and biz dev to fill your pipeline and acquire great clients, you may want to check out our book on the topic.