Episode #23 - Interview with Tim Williams

Ed and I were honored to be able to interview Tim Williams, Founder, Ignition Consulting Group, and VeraSage InstituteSenior Fellow. Tim is the author of two excellent books, Take a Stand for Your Brand: Building a Great Agency Brand from the Inside Out, and Positioning for Professionals: How Professional Knowledge Firms Can Differentiate Their Way to Success.

Tim was the CEO of R&R Partners, the ad agency that did the “What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas” campaign.

Tim's book1
Tim's book1

Take a Stand for Your Brand

Agencies need to do for themselves what they do for customers: build a strong, distinctive, memorable brand.

Standing for everything is just another way of standing for nothing.

You can measure our agency by the clients we don’t have.

Specialist vs. Generalist—traditional dept stores died, Home Depot, PetsMart, etc. The goal is to exclusive, not inclusive.

The essence of positioning/strategy is tradeoffs, and being clear about what you won’t do. Steve Jobs said he was most proud of what Apple didn’t do!

Tim's book2
Tim's book2

Positioning for Professionals: How Professional Knowledge Firms Can Differentiate Their Way to Success, 2010

In business, imitation is not the most sincere form of flattery—it’s just lazy.

Positioning is the foundation of branding because it identifies what the brand stands for.

A brand can’t stand for two things at once.

Specialist vs. Generalist (we’d all fly to the Mayo clinic for a specialist, but not generalist). Of the two, which has:

  1. The greatest earning power?
  2. The largest geographical market area?
  3. The fewest competitors
  4. The greatest degree of respect from customer?
  5. The most sophisticated customers?

Instead of being afraid of focus, you should be afraid of mediocrity!

Check out the humorous our late colleague, Paul O'Byrne shot in Australia on the difference between the generalist and specialist.

Service is a commodity. Smart thinking is not.

Size is not a strategy!

Nobody buys a product or service because it can do everything, but rather because it can do something. Diversity Tax: Coke vs. Pepsi

Stop focusing on reclaiming old territory and instead discover new territory: Columbus, not Napoleon

Successful brands able to position on spectrum: Love and Hate. Either side desirable; middle is death

Tim quotes Rush Limbaugh: “Moderates by definition have no principles.” Ron adds: There’s not big in the library, Great Moderates in History.

“The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous”—Peter Drucker.

Defining Your Brand Boundaries




Culture—The formal and informal standards by which your firm makes decisions about serving its customers

Knowledge Workers Are Volunteers

Psychologist Howard Gardner:

If you are not prepared to resign or be fired for what you believe in, you are not a worker, let alone a professional. You are a slave.

Be sure to subscribe to Tim’s Propulsion Blog. We recommend you read as much as you can of Tim, a brilliant thinker and marketing strategist.