Since 2019, two million more Americans are freelancing, 36% of the entire U.S. workforce (Upwork). Accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are starting their own businesses than ever before. Marketing agencies aren’t an exception. More people are venturing out and starting their own marketing agencies. So, we thought we’d put together a list of the top 5 tips and tricks we’ve seen for people starting their own agency.
Top 5 tips for starting your own marketing agency
As with any entrepreneur, starting your own business is intimidating. Not only is it mentally intimidating, but there will be constant challenges and problems to overcome when you open your own agency. In order to build a successful marketing agency, you must first go into the process with a flexible, resilient mindset. You need to be willing to take marketing courses, learn new skills, adapt to a rapidly changing business landscape, and make speedy iterations to your offer(s) depending on what’s working and what isn’t.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top 5 tips and tricks for starting your own marketing agency:
Develop skills and define your niche
I’m assuming you’re an expert in at least one area of marketing if you’ve ventured into starting your own marketing agency. Establishing your area of expertise and deciding how you want to sell yourself and separate your offer from the competition allows you to grow much faster as well. Don’t come out the gate trying to sell every marketing service imaginable. Focus on social media marketing only, manage paid ads, or act as an SEO expert and then expand from there.
A lot of people starting agencies think they need to offer everything in order to cast a wider net for client acquisition. But, defining your niche and area of expertise actually helps you acquire clients much faster. And, you can spend more time scaling and automating operations in your one specialization — helping you make revenue faster.
Create packages and tiered pricing strategies
Now, let’s look at a lot of common pricing strategies for successful marketing agencies. The key is to always look for ways to acquire clients quickly and easily then upsell them into more “premium” services. For instance, offer organic social media marketing services at a low rate and then offer to manage a client’s paid ads as well for a higher fee. Getting yourself embedded into one client’s workflow can help you land the deal and expand into other operations as they grow and you grow too. Simplified, packaged prices can make it easy for prospects to decide if they even want to talk to you in the first place and then makes it easier for you to upsell additional product offerings.
Master client acquisition and storytelling
Once you’ve identified your core service and your most base pricing structure, you can focus on attracting clients. Learning to tell the story of your business and why it’s different from other marketing agencies will open up more initial sales opportunities. Spend time testing new methods for acquiring clients and new messaging tactics until you feel like you’ve found a highly successful, easily repeatable process.
For any new marketing agency, mastering client acquisition will be the hardest part. Client acquisition is often time-consuming and forces you to spend less time on the actual work you need to do for your clients. Finding ways to simplify the process and automate your agency’s workflows for customers will help you scale faster and faster.
Become analytics driven
When you’re first starting your marketing agency, you’ll be hyper-focused on simply attracting clients, retaining them, and doing good work for them. But, as you grow, you’ll need to track KPIs and measure all kinds of analytics and metrics to ensure your business grows the way you want it to. Tracking metrics like customer acquisition cost and cost per lead can help you figure out how much money you’re spending to find new customers. You’ll also want to measure all of your lead sources and channels and attribute revenue back to the places you advertise — helping you find out which channels are working best.
Track the attendance rate of meetings with your clients or some other engagement metric with your product or service to determine how bought-in they are with your agency. You can start to detect early attrition if you see that a customer is disengaging with your agency. Analytics and detailed client reports can also help you show your customer that you care about their success metrics. Tracking the right metrics and KPIs not only helps your agency grow but will help you build trust with your clients.
Scale by building brand authority & trust
Growth isn’t going to happen overnight. Starting your own marketing agency will take time and require patience. You can do a lot to accelerate the growth of your business but, at the end of the day, it requires persistence and resilience. Starting to build brand authority and trust with your clients early will allow you to build a more consistent stream of leads and revenue. For instance, you may talk to someone who isn’t quite ready to leverage your services in January but they may come back in September later that year if you stay top of mind for them.
Putting up a professional, educated face on your website, in email communications, social media, and other content marketing assets can lead to more business over time. You can help give your clients value before they even sign up for your product or service. Building trust as a thought leader early on increases brand recognition and attracts more clients, faster. Being trustworthy also allows customers to feel comfortable referring other people to sign up for your service(s).
You don’t need experience
You don’t need to start out as an expert in everything about starting a marketing agency. Just build yourself up in the market as a thought leader in social media marketing, SEM, paid advertising, etc. Marketing yourself first can help you show others why they can trust you to make good decisions with their money and win new clients. Talk the talk in your advertising channels and then walk the walk for your customers. You can leverage all the tips above whether you’re a veteran or you’re starting a digital marketing agency with no experience.
A step-by-step guide to building an agency
Follow the above 5 tips for starting a marketing agency, in order, as a step-by-step guide to success. Mastering each tip, in succession, will ultimately lead to a marketing agency that scales quickly and provides value to clients. An agency-client relationship should be symbiotic in nature — helping you grow as your clients grow. Focus on what makes your agency stand out from the crowd, build yourself up as a thought leader, and streamline your client acquisition to start building your own marketing agency today.