Marketing and advertising agencies have done some shape-shifting over the last several years. Blame it on the relative ease and simplicity of social media advertising, the rise in solopreneurship, the growing number of businesses taking advertising into their own hands, or the digital age as a whole – it can feel like a new agency is born every day, and you’re just trying to stay afloat.

As a marketer, you know how important differentiation is to your business. So how do you differentiate your marketing agency in a seemingly saturated industry?

Agency Differentiator #1: Be a Leader in Your Niche

To “niche down” is a hard thing to do, especially if your agency has served multiple industries or demographics in the past. However, as the digital age charges forward, it’s easier than ever for customers to find solutions that fit their exact needs. Think of it like this: imagine you run a fly-fishing supply store and you want to grow your digital presence. You’re comparing two digital agencies of equal competence and experience. The pricing is identical. One agency develops campaigns for small businesses. The other, however, focuses on serving small businesses in the outdoor recreation industry.

Which would you choose? Another benefit of solidifying your niche and narrowing your target market is that you’ll see a marked increase in operational efficiency: the more you work with one kind of client, the deeper your understanding of their needs, objections, and taste. You’ll work faster and more effectively. There’s also a psychological component to it, as well. People feel most comfortable when they’re around others with whom they share something in common. The more you connect with your target market in terms of interests

Agency Differentiator #2: Improve Your Analytics Game

Data has been an essential tool since the stone ages of marketing and advertising. It’s one of the only ways to show ROI to your clients, assuring them that the hard work you’re doing is actually paying off. But are you leveraging the power of all of the data available to you?

If your gut says no, don’t worry – this isn’t something you have to become an expert in overnight (nor could you, probably). Hire an analytics specialist to join your team, or pick and choose freelance specialists to meet particular needs. Here’s a primer on types of data analysis, so you can speak the language and choose the partner that’s most beneficial to you:

  • Descriptive analytics: This describes what happened – how many “likes” a social post got, how many pageviews a blog had, or how many people downloaded your eBook.
  • Diagnostic analytics: This takes descriptive analytics one step further, and explains why something happened the way it did. For example, diagnostic analytics of an A/B test of two different landing pages might reveal that people preferred one color scheme over another.
  • Predictive analytics: This type of analysis makes educated predictions for future data based on past data. For instance, if you published 3 different advertorials throughout the year in a magazine and only the December ad resulted in conversions, you may be able to estimate that another winter advertorial would produce similar results.
  • Prescriptive analytics: This is the most advanced type of analytics, which takes observations from the former three categories and recommends a plan for the future.

Beyond types of data analysis, you can really ramp-up your data game by hiring data analysts who specialize in particular areas — think Facebook advertising, Google analytics, and more.

Agency Differentiator #3: Try Unconventional Pricing

Big agencies bid on projects, while smaller agencies may have set packages that they offer prospective clients. However, a rising trend among smaller agencies is to offer results-based pricing — meaning the client pays for results, rather than a process. Some agencies are even going so far as to only require payment when they achieve results. Though this is a fantastic selling point, it’s a risky move, unless you have an extremely reliable process (or the overhead to recoup your losses).

Agency Differentiator #4: Do Original Research

If there’s one thing the internet marketing world needs less of, it’s a regurgitation of the same old information. One great way to differentiate your marketing agency is to conduct original industry research and publish it on your site. Not only will you be contributing something new to the conversation (and more likely to see your agency website rise up in SERPs), but you can repurpose your primary research into valuable content marketing tools like eBooks, whitepapers, case studies, and quizzes.

Agency Differentiator #5: Be Memorable

One of the great liberties of being a marketing agency is that you’re equal parts artist and scientist — meaning you can take creative leaps in your own branding and advertising. Take a hard look at your brand presence both online and offline: does it gel with your actual company culture and identity? How can you make your brand more memorable? Some achieve this with humor, others with controversy, and yet others do it with stunning or cutting-edge media. When you set out to be true to yourself and your brand, this authenticity will radiate to your potential clients (and attract clients who share your ideals and values).