Feb 28, 2021
How To Start Your Own Digital Marketing Agency
Want to start your own digital marketing agency but not sure how to get started?
Here’s a complete guide how to open your doors and to start taking on new clients.
Working with a lot of digital marketing agencies that use BounceHelp’s agency program, I speak to many that want to learn how to start their own agency.
I find many don’t know where to begin in their online entrepreneur journey, so I want to make a quick guide to help.
Here’s a quick, no B.S. step-by-step guide to help get you started on your path to success.
STEP 1: Learn and develop the needed skills
If you’re someone that thinks you will just be able to put up a website, get some clients automatically and take over the world, well… the chances of your success are not going to be very good.
Let’s get real, you’re going to need to take the time to learn and hone your digital marketing skills.
There are some very good resources online, some paid, some free.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages other than just money.
As a quick side note, If you’re short on money, don’t let that stop you from your dream.
Let’s look at both:
Free Digital Marketing Resources
Digital Marketing Online Communities
There’s some great 100% free online Forums, Facebook groups, Slack communities and more all over the internet.
You can find these with some quick browser search.
When you’re around more experienced digital marketers you will pick up on strategies, tactics and growth hacks much faster.
Make sure to ask questions, you’ll be surprised how helpful people can be.
Free Digital Marketing Courses
Free digital marketing courses, are another great resource you can find online.
Here are some you can signup for free right now:
Udemy has both paid and free courses, some are more quality than others.
There are plenty of paid courses and pay-for resources online, if this is the direction you want to choose then a quick search will easily find you what you’re looking for.
Make sure to follow some marketing influencers on social media and to sign up for their newsletters to learn some great techniques, hacks and current trends.
Here is a list of the Top 100 Marketing Influencers, according to Relevance.com
1. Erik Huberman
2. Jason Hennessey
3. Michael Brenner
4. Ann Handley
5. Danny Sullivan
6. Danny Brown
7. Rand Fishkin
8. Neil Patel
9. Jay Baer
10. John Hall
11. Juntae DeLane
12. Avinash Kaushik
13. Scott Stratten
14. Mark Schaefer
15. Peter Shankman
16. Joe Pulizzi
17. Barry Schwartz
18. Seth Godin
19. Lee Odden
20. Renee Blodgett
21. Christopher Penn
22. Ian Cleary
23. Brian Halligan
24. Christoph Trappe
25. Aleyda Solis
26. Mitch Joel
27. Ann Smarty
28. Chris Ducker
29. Robert Rose
30. Kristi Hines
31. Bill Slawski
32. Jeff Bullas
33. Heidi Cohen
34. Bernie Borges
35. Todd Wheatland
36. Oli Gardner
37. Andy Crestodina
38. Chad Pollitt
39. Jon Loomer
40. Carla Johnson
41. Ramon Ray
42. Ardath Albee
43. Justin Cutroni
44. Marcus Sheridan
45. Nadav Dakner
46. AJ Kohn
47. Nadya Khoja
48. Paul Roetzer
49. Andrew Davis
50. Arnie Kuenn
51. David Beebe
52. Allen Gannett
53. Alex Hisaka
54. Julia McCoy
55. Michele Linn
56. Pam Didner
57. Rebecca Lieb
58. Deana Goldasich
59. Erika Heald
60. Jon Wuebben
61. Jon Burkhart
62. Bert Van Loon
63. Ahava Leibtag
64. Joe Lazauskas
65. David Reimherr
66. Heather Taylor
67. Carmen Hill
68. Pamela Muldoon
69. Barry Feldman
70. Peter Loibl
71. Jacquie Chakirelis
72. Tim Ball
73. J K. Kalinowski
74. Pam Kozelka
75. Russell Sparkman
76. Ehsan Jahandarpour
77. Brian Sooy
78. Paul Aitken
79. Brody Dorland
80. Craig Coffey
81. Jesper Laursen
82. Brock Stechman
83. Lisa Murton Beets
84. Mike Murray
85. Jason Stewart
86. Michael Kolowich
87. Gina Czark
88. Martin Sumichrast
89. Anuja Lath
90. Jeannine Rossignol
91. James D’Orazio
92. Laura Kozak
93. Vince Giorgi
94. Michael Marzec
95. Clare McDermott
96. Colleen Weston
97. Kelley Whetsell
98. David Drickhamer
99. Christina Hoffman
100. Jonathan Kranz
STEP 2: Choose your niche
When you’re first starting out one of the best things you can do is to decide on your niche.
Decide on a target audience and what services you are going to offer.
Make a goal to become an expert for that specific industry.
When you decide on an industry and stick with it, you become more of an expert for that specific niche and over time will find word of mouth will send you more clients.
Trying to take on every client from every industry is one of the biggest mistakes a startup agency founder can make.
Take the time to learn everything you can about that industry.
Read books, find industry influencers, ask questions, learn the “Lingo” of that industry, absorb any material you can find.
What works for one industry will not work for another, once you learn the “in’s” and “outs” of your niche then you can add a second, then a third and so on.
You’ll also find it easier to get clients if you know their pain points that are specific to them.
STEP 3: Structure your business model
You’ll need to think about how you’re going to bill your clients, what services you are going to offer among other details.
Some consultants will charge their clients hourly due to the amount of time they spend on the phone and one-on-one meetings they have but this model can become confusing and complicated for both the client and the agency.
Hours spent on different clients can vary greatly depending on the amount of work and communication between parties.
This model can end up costing you business as some clients can become untrusting of the amount of hours you are billing them, especially if they are not seeing results as fast as they would like.
The simplest pricing model is a flat monthly fee for the recurring services your provide.
Now the business relationship is more based on services delivered that the client can easily see, which can be more reassuring for the long term relationship you are building.
What services are you going to provide?
Are you going to do SEO (Search Engine Optimization), PPC (Pay Per Click), Paid Ads, Facebook Ads, Google Ads, SMM (Social Media Marketing, etc?
While you may think you need to provide everything under the sun, the reality is most agencies concentrate on specific types of digital marketing.
If just starting out it could be a good idea just to start with one.
But, you’re asking what if a client wants other digital marketing services?
You can always hire someone from a freelancer site or even another digital agency.
Don’t downplay the power of networking with other agencies especially in your local area.
Let’s say you only provide paid Google Ads services and your client is requesting some SEO work to be done.
Reach out to some local SEO agencies that only provide this service, you’ll also find these agencies get requests for services they do not provide that you can help with.
Register Your Business
You’ll need to decide on your business name and register your business for tax reasons.
Plus having a registered business will build trust with your potential clients, otherwise you’re just another freelancer.
Decide on which business type will work for you before you register, make sure to look into all local and state laws for the state you live in.
The business types you will need to choose from are below:
- Sole Proprietorship
- Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Each state has it’s own offices for business registrations.
Below is a list of each states business corporate regulations office:
Business / Commercial Services
Commercial Recording Division
Division of Corporations
Division of Corporations
Business Services Department
Businesses – Taxpayer Services
Division of Corporations
Division of Business Services
Business Information Center
STEP 4: Get Digital Agency Clients
Finding digital agency clients is the step a lot of new founders get stuck on and sometimes just plain give up on.
There are so many ways to onboard new clients it would be impossible to cover them all here so let’s just stay on the basics.
There is no magic solution and every marketer has found their own unique way that works for them, don’t worry eventually you’ll find yours.
To start your going to need to decide if your sales strategy is going to be inbound or outbound.
My advice would be to do a little of both.
The idea of jumping on the phone and making 20 to 100 calls a day to find clients is a scary prospect for many new startup founders, no worries there is plenty of other options if this is not your thing.
Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing
Inbound marketing would consist of some of the following examples:
- Blog Posts
- Social Media
- Email Marketing
- Video Marketing
Outbound marketing examples would be some of the following:
- Print Ads
- Door-to-door (or Business Door-to-Business Door in our case)
- Cold Calling
- Banner Ads
- Cold Emails
- Social Media Outreaching
- Direct Mail
No matter what you decide on for your main client acquisition process, you will still want content to share with your clients,
Your main target for content should be based on your target audience choice, your “niche”.
Create content that show you specialize and are an expert for a certain industry, on your blog, your social media and of course your website.
Set up your social media account to not only show off your knowledge but to follow and network with people in your chosen niche.
Webinars and “Lives” on social media platforms are great ways to build up your following and networking tribe, let people see you and you’ll find potential clients coming to you for advice.
Again there is no “right” or “wrong” here, there is only “what works” and “what doesn’t” for you, everyone is different.
STEP 5: Building Long Term Relationships
Let’s face it, without clients, you don’t have an agency, so you’ll want to make sure your doing everything you can on retaining your best clients.
Clients will come and go, not every project you take will be the best fit for you or your client, focus your energy on your best clients and a strong ongoing relationship.
Here are some tips on how to help with this:
- Expectations should be set in the beginning of the relationship to avoid any miscommunication.
- Set up clear methods of communication, you’ll build trust faster when your client knows you are always there for them.
- Ask for feedback, consider this your scorecard from your client. Are they happy with your work, is there something they think you can do better on to help them out, etc?
- Being proactive with your clients goes a long ways on building trust.
STEP 6: Take Action
A lot of people will spend a lot of time deciding on things like choosing a cool business name and finding a domain, deciding how to get clients among other thoughts.
My best advice is… STOP IT!
Don’t spend a lot of time on these things, you can always change business names and domains as well as strategies as you’re going.
Take action and get started, everything else will fall into place.