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Positioning your own agency, part 1: Dentists, Cobblers, and Dog Food

By Beneath

When I was a kid I had a book of lateral thinking puzzles.

In one of the puzzles, you’ve just moved to a new town and have to choose which of the two local dentists to use.

The first dentist has a perfect smile and a swanky office. The other has bad teeth and run-down premises.

I’ve been thinking about those two dentists recently. Thinking about how buyers judge a business by looking at how well it’s served itself. Thinking about how people will judge a B2B marketing agency by looking at how it positions and markets itself.

A case of the cobbler’s

Of course, if you know the Two Dentists puzzle, you know the logic goes: Dentist A’s pearly whites must in fact be the handiwork of unassuming Dentist B – and vice versa.

Plus, the picture-perfect dental professional must be charging a fortune for their substandard service, if their offices are anything to go by.

So it’s not a straightforward case like the proverbial cobbler with no time to put shoes on his own children’s feet. (Yes, I’m mixing my metaphors liberally.)

But it does remind us that if you eat your own dog food, you’d better have a glossy coat and, um…be good at fetching sticks? And if you don’t eat your own dog food, you’d better have a damn good reason.

Basically, when you realise that your first customer is actually your own business, that’s a powerful thing. It’s free advertising. (Or it’s advertising at cost-price, at least.)

Peek behind the curtain

When you’re a marketing agency, it’s easy to come up with cobbler-esque excuses.

“We’re just too busy serving our clients!”

“Oh yeah, we really need to revisit the minimum-viable positioning we launched with…next year.”

“An agency should be more of a, like, chameleon brand, y’know?”

We’d rather shoot our shot and turn our positioning powers on ourselves. And while we’re at it, we thought we’d break down our thinking in a little behind-the-scenes blog series. And by “series” I mean…two blog posts.

Interested? Then here’s the second post: Positioning your own marketing agency, part 2: Doing it for ourselves.