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3 common agency proposition mistakes to avoid in 2024

By Joe Daniels | Strategic Director



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January 31, 2024 | 7 min read

Joe Daniels of agency proposition specialist agency Treacle shares some of the biggest mistakes he’s seen agencies make with their value propositions.

A tightrope walker over a vast chasm

/ Loic Leray via Unsplash

Agencies had a tough year in 2023 – especially that messy period towards the end. But hopefully you’ve come through relatively unscathed and are thinking about how to make 2024 a successful year for your agency’s growth.

Well, one surefire way to help that happen is by making sure your agency’s proposition is as clear and compelling as possible. Here are some proposition mistakes I see time and time again.

What’s a proposition?

Your agency’s (value) proposition is the offer that your agency presents to potential clients. These can take many forms but generally should include information about what you do, who you do it for, and the value clients get from working with you. Bonus points if you can include a specific problem you solve, and a unique solution you provide.

You’ll commonly see these propositions in the hero copy on an agency’s homepage. This makes sense; it’s prime real estate for your marketing efforts, and it’s probably the thing prospects see the most.

So, without further ado, here are the three of the most common mistakes I’ve seen agencies make with their propositions.

1: Being clever over clear

A lot of agencies treat their proposition as a creative writing exercise. They try to make it sound as clever as they can, forcing in rhyme or alliteration or abstract imagery. Sure, this sounds nice to read. But it comes at a cost: your prospects might not understand a word you’re saying.

What’s the primary purpose of your proposition? To entertain or to educate? I’ll answer for you: it’s to educate. The whole point is to communicate to prospects exactly why they should choose your agency. And if you prioritize being smart over being understood, then you’ll fall at the first hurdle.

So, focus on what you’re saying first. If it’s not very interesting, then don’t dress it up with flowery language. Instead, work on your offer and make sure it’s actually interesting. Otherwise, you’re just sprinkling glitter on a… well, you know the rest.

2: Being too generic

If you go and read through a load of agency propositions in your spare time (like I do) then you’ll notice a bit of a trend. So many agencies make the most generic claims in their proposition. I’m talking about things like “we deliver results” or “the creative agency for ambitious brands” or “we’re a marketing agency based in London”.

None of that is even remotely compelling. Why? Because it’s generic. Countless agencies can (and do) claim the same. You might as well lead with “we breathe oxygen”. The reason this happens is because agencies like to please as many people as possible. They don’t narrow their target client or service and end up offering anything to anyone. No wonder they have to resort to these vague, intangible claims.

Instead, be as focused as possible. The more specific your proposition the more compelling it is to your target clients. It means you can speak directly to them and their needs. And it sets you apart from your competitors. Win, win, win.

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3: Being unoptimized

Pretty much every agency does some form of testing and optimization for their clients. Whether it’s testing landing pages, ad copy, or email subject lines, it’s become commonplace to make sure what you’re doing works (and, more importantly, tweaking it if it isn’t. But not many agencies – hardly any – do this for their own marketing assets. And even fewer do it for their proposition. This lack of testing might be the reason so many propositions don’t cut the mustard. Because if you don’t test, you don’t know how to improve.

The best approach is to constantly test, refine, and optimize your proposition. See it as a living thing. It’s not a one-and-done asset. It should always evolve as clients’ needs change or the market shifts. At the very least, this prevents you from falling behind. At best, it puts you at the front of the pack.

Make sure your proposition isn’t hindering your growth plans

If you can avoid those three common mistakes, your agency’s proposition will already be in a better place than 90% of agencies out there. Remember: your proposition is arguably the most important marketing and sales asset you have. Look after it. Keep it clear. Keep it specific. And keep on testing.

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Content by The Drum Network member:


We're Treacle; agency proposition specialists. Because there are tons of soundalike agencies out there. Everyone's saying the same old things. So you see, if you're blending in, you're losing out.

That's why we take you through our agency proposition process to define your difference and own your space. Then we craft that cut-through messaging that makes clients weak at the knees.

This isn't sleazy lead-gen or fluffy brand bullshit. We set the foundations for sustained growth, giving you and your team the confidence to attract better clients and close better deals.

Keen to know more? Drop us a message and check out

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