It's not that you can't grow your agency. It's that you can't market it.
You're more than "just another agency"
Harness & Hone is an Agency Niche Design firm that moves solopreneurs, independent consultants, and small marketing agencies from Interchangeable to Niche. This means no competition or comparisons for you and exponential results for your clients.
What's the problem?
The problem is that most marketing agencies can't tell you the problem they solve or what makes them different. Unknowingly positioning themselves, in the eyes of the buyer, as an Interchangeable Agency.
Claiming they are “better” than everyone else that offers the same solutions and fighting over the same customers. And because no one’s dying to work with an agency that makes the same promises as a thousand others, all this does is frustrate and confuse buyers.
If your homepage says something like this:
"We create experiences"
“We drive revenue growth”
"We help companies grow"
"We build revenue engines"
"We drive better outcomes"
"We implement your software"
"We solve business challenges"
"We help large companies grow"
"We build websites for companies"
"We help you overcome challenges"
Your buyers see you as an Interchangeable Agency
How most agencies try to solve this problem
Most agencies have attempted to solve this problem by specializing in a vertical or service, licensing IP, joining partner programs, and putting badges on their website, hoping it will help them "stand out from the crowd."
These "solutions" don't work because they produce thousands of agencies that fight over the same buyers, with the same solutions, and the same language.
If you want your agency to stand out, you don't need to be better than the alternatives, you need to become a Niche Agency.
What is a Niche Agency?
Niche Agencies combine their deep understanding and passion for the problem they solve, a clear view of who suffers from the problem, and a complete, unique, point-of-view (POV) to create clear distinctions between them and every other agency.
Generalization is an agency's downfall
Here are the three most common ways it shows up:
Do your clients see you as interchangeable?
When you offer the same services as other agencies, buyers have no choice but to compare your work with others, eliminating the urgency to choose you over them.
Can you grow without referrals?
Agencies that say the same thing as everyone else in the category don't invest in marketing. Instead, they are forced to rely entirely on referrals for new business.
Are you always competing on price?
Competing on price puts you in a race to the bottom. It is the fastest path to taking on more work than you should and being undervalued by clients and potential buyers.
Once you see it, you can't un-see it
Most agencies can't answer the question “What problem do you solve?” without telling you the solution they provide.
The inability to answer this simple question is the root of the problem. Most are quick to say what they do — offer the same generic, catch-all "solution" everyone else in their super-mega-oversaturated category offers — but can't put into words what problems they actually solve.
The unfortunate truth is that we've been taught that the more general your expertise, language, and solutions are, the broader range of businesses you can help.
The reality is that generalized expertise, language, and solutions are for no one.
And because no one’s dying to work with anyone that makes the same promises as a thousand others, most end up making the unconscious decision to compete with an identical position as everyone else, attempting to "win" customers with a better/faster/smarter/cheaper service.
In other words, you're positioned as an Interchangeable Agency fighting over who can get to the bottom first.
If you want out, you don't need to be better than everyone else, you need to be different.
The Agency Niche Design Program
Design a niche in 90 days that only your agency can own.
Here's how it works:
Discover the one, different, massive problem you solve
Solutions don't inspire action. Problems do. Yet most agencies still lead with their solutions, believing that "the best service wins." When you lead with a clear, articulate, massive problem your buyers face, they can't help but see it. And once they see it, they will demand the solution from you. The bigger, more urgent the problem, the more time and money they will throw at it.
Develop your unique point-of-view (POV)
Your POV is what creates your niche and organizes the narrative. Creating a frame for the problem that stops people in their tracks, starts the conversation, and evangelizes a different future that shows buyers your solution is the bridge they need to cross to get there. Without a POV, you make the same promises as a thousand other agencies, forcing a comparison between you and everyone else who claims they do the same things.
Deploy your POV, market the problem, become the solution
Leveraging both intent and discovery content distribution channels, you will have a deployment strategy that moves your POV out of Notion and into the market in a way that creates excitement and urgency by making the problem you solve highly visible to everyone who experiences it. Once people see it, they need a solution — urgently.
The benefits of differentiating far outweigh the safety of being a generalist
Agencies that design a niche see outcomes in three main areas:
While everyone else is "marketing" (read: competing for space in a search engine result page) with commodity information like blogs called "5 best CRMs for manufacturing companies," or posting videos to YouTube on how to click around the workflows tool.
You will be marketing a massively valuable problem, positioning yourself as something entirely different from everyone else. For buyers, investing in your niche is a choice, not a comparison.
Most agencies can't apply force to word-of-mouth because they market using language someone else created. When you use someone else's language, you're marketing their business, not yours.
As a pioneer of a new and different niche, you leverage your new Languaging to intentionally move the right words into the market, not haphazardly making it up as you go. By marketing a massively valuable problem, evangelizing a future without it, and using your solution as the bridge to the future, you attract people who want to amplify your POV and drive word of mouth.
When every other agency is fighting over the reach of their transactional information, you're marketing a niche that frames and names a massively valuable problem.
When problems are massively valuable, they create urgency. You will help buyers see the problem through your eyes, and once they do, they will need a bridge to a future without it. Your solution is that bridge, and they need to cross it — urgently.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Agency Niche Program is for solopreneurs, independent consultants, and agencies with ~10 employees or fewer.
Once you sign on you will receive an onboarding survey and access to the Agency Niche Design Slack workspace where all communication will take place.
Once the onboarding survey is complete, I will send out the first assignment that will get you prepared for our kick-off call together.
We meet each week for 60 minutes. On these calls, I will guide you through the three phases of the Agency Niche Design process.
Remember, this is an iterative process and requires thinking.
Between each call, you will have specific action items to complete to keep us on track for a 90-day completion.
My role is to get you to the result, not be the sole author and creator of your niche. I work with you to uncover the real problem you solve, work through the languaging hurdles, stack the building blocks of your unique POV, and strategize the most effective way to launch your niche into the marketplace.
This is a 90-day sprint that moves you through all four stages of the agency niche design process. And yes, you can finish early if you invest more time each week.
Pricing for established solopreneurs and independent consultants starts at $1,000/month.
Pricing for small agencies starts at $3,000/month.
Yes, you can run this playbook on your own.
If you choose to go it alone, here are a few reasons the majority of DIYers can't successfully execute Agency Niche Design:
- they skip steps.
- they don't niche deep enough.
- they focus entirely on messaging.
- they never move their POV into the market.
- they use the wrong channels to move their POV into the market.
Most agencies that hire me to guide them through the process have either stalled out in a DIY implementation as outlined above and/or they want to:
- shorten their runway to a successful implementation.
- avoid problems and not get stuck in the minutia.
- guarantee they reach the finish line.
- spend money to save time.
You get 1:1 access to me in the Agency Niche Design Slack workspace as well as one (1) 60-minute coaching session each week of the program.
In addition to the 60-minute weekly coaching sessions, a minimum time investment of 1-2 hours a week to complete any action items and iterate on your language and POV.
Who are you and why should I care?
Hey, I'm Nick.
I spent the last 5+ years growing a globally recognized HubSpot Agency Solutions Partner in roles from client services to sales, and most recently, the Director of Demand.
My time at this agency revealed a mistake so many agencies make: thinking "The best service wins."
Once I saw this was happening, I couldn't un-see it. And it changed my life forever.
These agencies are competing in a category of thousands. The majority of which do no marketing at all. If they are marketing, it's the same undifferentiated POV, language, and message with the same strategy and tactics as everyone else in the category.
Worst of all, this frustrates and confuses consumers. Forcing them to compare you against everyone else.
This invitation to compare repositions the conversation FROM "Who can solve my problem?" TO "Who can give me more?"
This is the race to the bottom so many agencies find themselves in.
And no matter how great your service, your logo, or your website are, if your business doesn’t solve a massively valuable problem and lead people into the future, you’re dooming yourself to life as "just another agency" in a super-mega-oversaturated category.
I distilled everything I learned over the last 5+ years into The Agency Niche Program.
My mission is to get you out of the race to the bottom so you never feel like an interchangeable agency, compete on price, or wonder where your next deal will come from and into a niche only you can own, and seen as something different, not better.
What do other people say about niching down?
1. Increased brand recognition: Niching down helps you become known as an expert in a specific area, leading to better brand recognition. (Source: Forbes)
2. Higher conversion rates: By targeting a specific audience, you can tailor your marketing messages, leading to higher conversion rates. (Source: Neil Patel)
3. Improved customer loyalty: Niche businesses can build stronger connections with their customers, fostering loyalty and repeat business. (Source: Shopify)
4. Reduced competition: By targeting a niche, you face less competition compared to broader markets. (Source: Entrepreneur)
5. Easier content creation: Focusing on a specific niche makes it easier to create relevant and valuable content for your audience. (Source: HubSpot)
6. Enhanced customer understanding: Niche businesses can gain deeper insights into their customers' needs and preferences. (Source: Inc.)
7. Higher pricing potential: Specializing in a niche can justify premium pricing for your unique offerings. (Source: Quick Sprout)
8. Increased word-of-mouth referrals: Satisfied customers within a niche are more likely to refer others with similar interests. (Source: Duct Tape Marketing)
9. Improved search engine rankings: Niching down can help you rank higher in specific keyword searches. (Source: Search Engine Journal)
10. Better networking opportunities: Focusing on a niche allows you to connect with other industry experts and influencers. (Source: Business News Daily)
11. Greater customer retention: Satisfying a specific audience's needs can lead to higher customer retention rates. (Source: Small Business Trends)
12. Streamlined product development: Serving a niche market allows you to develop targeted products or services. (Source: Entrepreneur Handbook)
13. Efficient advertising: Niche businesses can optimize their advertising budget by targeting specific, relevant audiences. (Source: WordStream)
14. Increased innovation: Focusing on a niche encourages innovation and unique problem-solving approaches. (Source: Forbes)
15. Reduced marketing costs: Niche businesses can avoid wasting resources on broad marketing campaigns. (Source: Entrepreneur)
16. Easier market penetration: A niche strategy can help you penetrate a market more effectively. (Source: Medium)
17. Stronger customer relationships: Serving a specific audience can lead to more meaningful interactions with customers. (Source: Inc.)
18. Higher customer satisfaction: Specializing in a niche enables you to meet the specific needs of your target audience. (Source: Forbes)
19. Improved business focus: Niche businesses can maintain a clear focus on their core offerings. (Source: Bplans)
20. Opportunity for scalability: Successful niches can grow into broader markets over time. (Source: Entrepreneur)
Read The Agency
Niche Design Playbook
Get out of the super-mega-oversaturated “marketing agency” category and design a niche you own, on your own.
This playbook is the map that will guide you through the same niche design process I use with clients.
Fill out the form to get the playbook and a free 30-minute strategy session.