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Analyzing Agencies in 3 Hot Niches: A New Business Perspective

Posted by Mark Duval on Oct 4, 2018, 11:15:30 AM
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Join me as I look at the websites of three agencies who have clearly positioned themselves in their niches: Cannabis, Amazon, and Healthcare/Pharmaceutical. These are all great niches to be in right now, rich with opportunity (perhaps you’ve considered one of them yourself?). These are my initial thoughts on their positioning based on their websites, which is the primary way most agencies are judged by their potential clients.agencies with hot niche positioning

All of these agencies appeared in the first page of my Google search results, and I didn’t include any agency websites that I thought were bad (because I’m not here to publicly shame anyone). I have given my honest critiques of good and bad aspects of these sites, but each of them is a strong example. Take a look and see if you agree with my observations. Think about how you might apply any of these insights to your own agency website.

Cannabis Niche

Who: Cannabrand

Where: Denver, CO

Niche: Cannabis brand-building (marketing and consulting)

Cannabrand home

Services:

  • Marketing:
    • Branding + Design
    • Public Relations
    • Digital Marketing
    • Technology and Analytics
  • Consulting:
    • Operational Controls
    • Go-To-Market Product Strategy
    • Investor Relations
    • Startup and Expansion Services

Positioning:

  • We don’t just make ads. We make headlines.
  • Building newsworthy cannabis brands that lead the pack since 2014.
  • Cannabrand is the world's first full-service marketing agency dedicated to the cannabis space. We partner with companies who share our vision of destigmatizing cannabis and breaking ground in this dynamic industry. Cannnbrand [sic] is also a consultancy which offers support in Operations, Supply Chain Management, and Investor Relations.
  • Cannabis Industry Branding, Marketing & Business Consulting
  • Cannabrand is a full-service cannabis marketing and consulting agency, dedicated to cannabis industry products and services.

Website notes: The homepage image is great. It shows who Cannabrand is and portrays a stylish, polished, professional image that straight away counters what you might expect (okay, I was definitely visualizing a very laid-back, relaxed group; possibly eating Cheetos). It doesn’t go unnoticed that Cannabrand has nailed diversity in multiple respects, so that’s one thing they are already doing better than many other agencies. (Yes, it does matter.) The photo is so compelling that I want to know about this team, “comprised of professionals from traditional industries and the cannabis space therefore having an agile approach to projects.”

Sadly, there is no “About” page, and “Our Mission,” in large part repeats information from the home page. Under the subheader “Why Choose Us,” it’s just the list of services I already saw on the home page. My interest in this team, piqued by their picture, goes unsatisfied.

I imagine that when they started, the space was so new that they didn’t need to carefully define what differentiates them as an agency and show off their leadership team’s experience. But the cannabis industry is becoming so trendy that Cannabrand will likely find themselves competing against a greater number of specialist and non-specialist agencies looking to bring their marketing chops where the money is. More competition is coming. As one industry insider confessed to Digiday about why they enjoy working with cannabis brands, “It’s disruptive and innovative. It’s the birth of a new industry. It’s really fun to be part of something like that.” So in the future, Cannabrand may have to step it up and fill some of the gaps on their site.

Additionally, as cannabis becomes more mainstream it will increasingly attract well-seasoned executives from other industries who have greater expectations of agencies than may have been the case with the earliest industry pioneers.

Why it’s effective: Overall, their site looks polished and they effectively demonstrate their work experience in their space. While their services are broad, their niche is tightly focused. As the industry grows, agencies may even get more hyper-focused within the cannabis niche (recreation vs. medical specialty, for example). But for now, it works. It’s clear what they do, who they serve, and how they can help. I would like to see more about their team’s marketing background for additional confidence, and how their team’s approach differs and is better for my (currently imaginary) cannabis brand than their competition.

Amazon Niche

Who: Quartile

Where: New York and London

Niche: Amazon experts

Quartile home

Services:

  • Advertising
  • Consultancy
  • Branding
  • International Expansion
  • A+ & Enhanced Brand Content
  • Product Launch
  • Direct to Consumer
  • Storefront Design

Positioning:

  • Maximize your Amazon Advertising
  • Our team of Experts help you plan, manage, optimize and grow your Amazon results
  • Quartile is a full-service, hands-on consultancy helping brands maximize the massive opportunity driven by the Amazon marketplace.
  • Quartile is a global leader Amazon Consultancy with a hands-on approach helping brands grow their product sales on the largest e-commerce platform in the world. We become your trusted advisors when it comes to Amazon, helping you make sense of the ecosystem, identifying new ways to grow, reach new customers and taking action to drive results.
  • An expert digital team with experience with clients and products of all sizes and industries.
  • We look to team up with established brands with room to scale on Amazon. If you feel like you could be have [sic] a better presence on Amazon, we can deliver those results.
  • Quartile is a specialized Amazon-focused consultancy helping brands launch products and get results faster on Amazon marketplace. We work with sellers, vendors, and international Amazon marketplaces. We have a team of PPC specialists who optimize Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) and Sponsored Products campaigns.

Website notes: Quartile is doing a lot of things right. Their messaging is consistent and clear about what they do and who they serve. They demonstrate their expertise through prominently-displayed thought leadership (embedded articles from the Wall Street Journal and eMarketer featuring Quartile). Their experience is clear through brands they’ve worked with and number statements about the volume of sales they have managed and the number of brands they’ve served. They show the actual dashboard that clients have to view their performance metrics in real time. And they highlight their proprietary system based on AI, which is completely on-trend. Data and technology are the future of marketing and here Quartile has illustrated that they have that covered by using images and language that is accessible and clear.

Where I would suggest improvements is the website is very anonymous. There is no team presence, no description of who Quartile is, how they operate, what they value, how they came to specialize in Amazon marketing. I’d like to see pictures of the leadership and read their bios, to know who I would be working with if I were to engage Quartile. It would also be beneficial to see a case study and/or testimonials from their clients.

Why it’s effective: Quartile’s site is effective in large part because it's serving the right need at the right time. The “rich” opportunity for agencies to specialize in Amazon has been covered recently by The Drum and Digiday. Additionally, Quartile’s expertise in data, tech, and analytics—as evidenced by their AI-based proprietary technology—is on-trend and in demand. Many agencies struggle to acquire and retain talent in those areas, making it difficult for them to compete. While Quartile has presented their technology in an easy-to-understand manner, where they could build out in the future is using case studies to demonstrate how they’ve solved client challenges and the results they’ve achieved. This would go even further to answer prospects’ questions about what they do and how they can help.

Healthcare/Pharmaceutical Niche

Who: Juice Pharma Worldwide

Where: NYC, San Francisco, Zurich

Niche: Healthcare advertising

juice pharma worldwide home

Services:

  • Oncology: Maximizing the potential of your oncology brand
  • Rare Disease: Giving voice to patients in need
  • Direct to consumer: Motivating your fastest growing healthcare decision maker

Positioning:

  • welcome to the BIGtique
  • Creativity you can love on
  • Bold yet caring. World-class yet hands-on. High-voltage yet fully in touch with our creative soul. Get ready to experience healthcare advertising the BIGtique way.
  • BIGtique. Full service. Activating your multi-audience customers in their multichannel worlds
  • BIGtique. Humongous ideas.
  • Smart strategy. Killer creative.
  • From motivating millennials to bonding with boomers, from mass market to rare diseases, we activate multiple audiences in their multichannel worlds.
  • One company, one powerful resource, and one of the world’s largest independent healthcare networks, ready to propel your brand from clinical to commercial greatness.
  • Entrusted for prelaunch, launch, and beyond
  • fully independent, owner-operated agency
  • unencumbered by the bureaucracy of a holding company

Website notes: Good job of leveraging awards (though it's time to add in some newer ones). On the homepage, healthcare is mentioned but once. A lot of other points are made about the agency, but it is surprising that the niche isn’t more front and center; I wonder if this creates a UX issue for some visitors. Is the home page written for prospects? For people who aren’t already familiar with the agency? Some of the home page copy seems better suited for the “about” page, while important information about what Juice is and who they serve (which would be helpful to include on the home page) is scattered through internal pages. They make clear on the “services” page who they serve in the healthcare industry, and on the “about” page they clarify when they serve clients (“prelaunch, launch, and beyond”).

Why it’s effective: While some aspects of the site could be tightened up for clarity, it does reflect Juice’s experience, professionalism, independent agency spirit, and their creativity. Their presentation is less buttoned-up than some competitor agencies with more of a B2B / corporate compliance feel, which will be particularly attractive to some healthcare brands. And unlike many other creative agencies, Juice also has deep familiarity with healthcare/pharma industry regulations and constraints. That could even be further emphasized in their positioning. If you look at their work, Juice has found right-fit applications in their space such as edutainment for children with rare diseases, and an over-the-counter drugstore vitamin brand in a crowded space. Their position is interesting and their chosen niche is an attractive one (and lucrative, as AdWeek recently pointed out).

Conclusion

I’m a big advocate of “putting a stake in the ground,” and adopting some type of clear niche positioning. But it’s very difficult for agency owners to do. I liken it to the time a friend gave me a five-page resume to review. It included various jobs and work experience in so many different industries over decades of work; it was a testament to her career ADHD. She was all over the place. Sure, each job had value. She had learned something at each job, and accomplished things in each position. But it was too much, it lacked focus. People were going to set her resume to the side because of her inability to focus. And when I told her that, she got upset because she was so emotionally invested in each experience that she couldn’t hear the truth in what I was telling her. She eventually got a job as a teacher; I’m sure in spite of her resume. But I think it's the perfect analogy for how agency leaders often respond to trimming back their positioning and going niche. You have to know that prospects will set your agency aside from consideration if you lack focus.

In an earlier post about agencies with niche positioning, I addressed positioning challenges and the importance of carving out a clear niche. The examples I used here are focused by industry niche; some other examples of ways you can differentiate your agency are by size, scale, geography, and end consumer focus.

What is your agency’s niche? Do you have one area that you own, that if people search for agencies specializing in that thing, that your agency will come up in the search results and when they visit your site, it's clear that your agency serves that purpose—and does so effectively? Agencies are often reluctant to specialize because they focus on the business they might lose by *not* stating everything they have done or could do. But what about all of the business you are losing by not having a single clear focus? How much more business do niche agencies close because they have already done more work upfront to demonstrate their fit to website visitors? Something to consider...

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Image credit: niche agency positioning ©iStockphoto.com/patpitchaya

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