Marketing agencies in the past were considered to be one of the most difficult job markets to break into. Before the digital era that we are currently witnessing started, to initiate such a venture required a heavy initial investment. Considering the investment, such an operation was often extremely difficult to get started with. Furthermore, before the present digital era, one was restricted to the physical and traditional form of media.
However, with the advent of the digital age, resources have become much more accessible. In this day and age, materialising a plan of starting a fully operational marketing agency with the help of a smaller team is much more possible than it was before.
The digital medium is probably the most efficient way of marketing in the present age. With the number of people relying on social media and a vast number of other digital resources, the best way to get something across to the masses is by using digital advertising. This is guide will provide you with five steps using which you will be able to build a fully operational online marketing agency.
Develop The Necessary Skills
There are two aspects of managing such ventures. The first aspect is where the creative aspect of an individual comes into play. The second aspect of it is actually maintaining and fostering relationships with your clients. There are many skills with regards to maintaining a good relationship with your client that can only be acquired only with experience. Hence, it is advisable that you stick to a real job initially before venturing out on your own.
After establishing a certain client base, communicating with them becomes an important part of the relationship. There are a number of verbal and non-verbal methods of communication that need to be kept in mind while working with a client. In a work environment, client dynamics are also affected by politics. Hence, we see how a work environment is quite complex in nature with a range of things that need to be taken into consideration.
Moreover, it is also important to understand the kind of workspace your clients are coming from. This is essential as it will enable you to understand your clients better and act accordingly. While soft skills are a vital part of your work, you also need to constantly keep getting better at the kind of professional services that you are offering your clients. Only then you will be able to see a positive trajectory for your digital marketing agency.
If you are dealing with bigger clients, it is advisable that you get yourself a designated marketing team that can cater to your needs. There are going to be a plethora of things that you will be dealing with and in the case of a bigger client, it can become extremely difficult to micromanage work all by yourself.
It is crucial that you first experience what it is like to work at a digital marketing agency before you start your own. When you finally end up starting your own agency, you already would have had plenty of experiences that will enable you to deal with challenges better. More experience is always better as it will ensure that you are delivering quality services to your clients.
Be A Contractor Before Becoming A Founder
Having a 9-5 is extremely underrated. A job is basically a sandbox where you are allowed to learn and grow while getting paid at the same time. And you do all of this while not bearing any personal risks or losses. This should be the starting point for everyone who wants to become an entrepreneur. A job is essentially a place where you will be getting a lot the experiences that an entrepreneur should be getting.
Even while doing a job, you are required to put aside a certain amount of money for taxes and many other functions that are very similar to running a business. The aspect of time management also comes into play when you are planning on working full time as the owner of a digital marketing agency. A job will prepare you to stay up at night every now and then sometimes even work on weekends.
As a contractor, building relationships with the company’s clients become a key aspect of your job. The relationships that you make during your time with the company will also help you down the line when you start your own digital marketing agency in the future. Managing clients will also help you gain significant experience in the sphere of building contracts.
If you are able to land a side job using connections or any other source, you will gain the necessary experience required to maintain client relationships. When you are dealing with other individuals, negotiation will often be involved. Being good at negotiating the cost of your services will be another important skill that will come in handy while doing your job.
Develop The Right Business Model
There are numerous ways in which you can set up your digital marketing agency. The services that you provide will involve billing your clients and there a number of methods in which you can do so. The method that you will choose will greatly contribute to deciding how successful you are as it will play a role in how efficiently your business is managed over the years. Some of the most popular ways in billing your client are listed down below.
• Hourly – A lot of consultants spend their one-on-one with clients over the phone. Considering this, many opt to bill their clients on an hourly basis. However, this method of billing can often become extremely confusing in the longer run. The reason for this is because it becomes difficult to determine the exact number of hours that you have spent with your client.
Hence, such a method is only preferable when you only carry out one-on-one consulting with your clients. The hours spent on digital marketing for a particular client often varies. There is a range of factors in play, for instance, setting up and launching new campaigns or promoting the already existing ones, restructuring accounts, maintaining something that is already working out well for the client, and the time spent on calls.
• Flat Retainer – This is the simplest pricing model out of all the ones mentioned in the list. After assessing the nature of work and services you will be providing your client and amount of time you will be investing, your client and you agree on a flat monthly fee. It not only keeps the process of billing simple, but it also helps in avoiding any kind of friction while you are sending the invoice to your customer.
Since the client already knows the total amount of the fee, it does not leave room for any sort of confusion. And if you are fulfilling the client’s expectations, they will not have any problem with the fee you both agreed upon. However, the disadvantage of such a system of billing shows when you are dealing with a client who grows exponentially over time. This can be resolved by having an agreement that initiates renegotiation after a specific amount of time. This is one of the safest billing models to have as you can fully predict the income you will be receiving and make plans accordingly.
• Percentage of Spend – For people who want to take into consideration the growth potential and the scalability of the client right from the beginning, this pricing model is a good option. While this may not be the best pricing model to choose when you are just starting out, it will come in extremely handy when you start dealing with larger clients.
The downside to this, however, is that if you choose to run the business fully on this model, there are many internal factors within the business itself that decide the budget. You might have control over some of these factors but not all of them. It will become extremely difficult if you are in a situation where your client is spending very little per month and you are only getting a portion of that regardless of the time and effort you are investing.
• Commission Based – This is the kind of pricing model businesses use in order to get a competitive edge over other agencies. In this model, the agency only gets paid when the client successfully makes a sale. This helps greatly in building trust with the clients as it shows that you are doing everything that you can in order to ensure that the client is successful.
There is a common complaint from clients that they pay their marketing agency even when most of them were not getting any results. Such a pricing model addresses this particular issue. The disadvantage of this model is that you will have to invest a lot of time in understanding the ‘operations end’ of the client’s business. For companies that have complex sales funnels, such a pricing model could be very problematic.
It is advisable that such a pricing model is used only when dealing with clients with E-commerce business or the ones selling things directly. Another obvious downside of this model is the fact that it is heavily dependent on if the client makes the sale or not.
Taxes and liabilities are other important aspects of a business that a digital marketing agency should be well familiar with. In case the agency ever deals with lawsuits, having personal legal security will greatly help. It is also strongly recommended that your agency gets a designated person to handle taxes. Having a tax person is a small expense that will ensure that you save a lot of money in your entrepreneurial life.
Define Your Niche
As a newly formed agency, it can be tempting to sign up with any and every client that approaches you. In the early stages of a business, it can be quite difficult to turn down a client. However, in the longer run, having your agency specialize in a particular sector of clients will help a lot. Some of the most prominent benefits of having specialization in an industry or a client type are as follows:
• When you have already decided on your ideal type of customer, the process of collecting information in order to provide services to them becomes easier. It will also help you with billing them appropriately.
• A reputation as a specialized agency will give you a competitive advantage over the ones who work as a general agency.
• It strengthens your skillset to a great extent as you are constantly working with clients from a specific background. You can work with them more efficiently as the kind of problems that most of the clients come across will be of a similar nature.
Decide How You Want To Scale
The key to building a successful agency is by mastering all the different types of services that the company provides. If you want to grow as an agency, it is not possible to keep micromanaging all the work. Managing your accounts for the initial stage can work out, however, after a point, it is better to scout for people to work for you as you understand the kind of skill set and knowledge required for the job.
There are plenty of talented people who are willing to work for agencies on a contractual basis. Being able to delegate some of the tasks to trusted contractors will enable you to focus on the long-term goals of your agencies. This will also eventually enable you to have full-time employees and scale up rapidly as a marketing agency.
Video Credit – Santrel Media
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– Last Updated – August 24, 2022