If 2020 has proven anything, it's that the digital world is here to stay. As more businesses move to an online-based set-up, the demand for digital marketing assistance will increase.
If you've been considering starting a digital marketing agency, the time is now. Here are some helpful tips to get your business up and running.
1. Identify Your Offerings
There are a lot of different tasks that fall under the digital marketing umbrella. As such, there are a lot of different approaches to starting your business. Some common digital marketing offerings include:
- Website development and design
- Social media management
- SEO and keyword research
- Email marketing
- Blog monetization (pay-per-click, affiliate marketing)
- Lead generation
- Content marketing and outreach
When considering your offerings, focus on the aspects with which you have the most knowledge and experience. It also makes sense to offer things that often go hand-in-hand.
2. Identify Your Niche
Once you've figured out what you're offering, consider who you'll be offering your services to. Drill down to find your niche and identify your ideal client. By doing so, you'll be able to tailor your messaging to suit their needs, thus improving your conversion rate and brand alignment.
Fortunately, there are endless options when niching down your business. You could target fitness businesses that are exploring the digital landscape in the wake of COVID-19.
Alternatively, you could target bloggers who want to engage in affiliate marketing to monetize their traffic. Consider what problems your business will solve and how you can highlight that effectively.
3. Create a Business Plan
Once you have some of the finer details outlined, bring them together in a robust business plan. This exercise will walk you through the steps of getting started, from choosing the legal structure of a business to how you'll finance the tools you need.
There are plenty of business plan templates online. Take some time to work through this process, looking at the market and the competition. The better you plan in the initial stages of your business, the easier it will be to get established.
4. Choose a Payment Model
As a part of your business plan, you'll need to identify your preferred payment model. This plays a key role in financial planning because it ultimately outlines when money comes into your business.
As a digital marketing agency, you have a few options:
- Retainer model - you get paid a flat monthly rate based on the quote you've provided for services rendered.
- Hourly rate - you track your hours and submit them for an hourly rate.
- Revenue sharing or commission - you receive a percentage of sales generated through the work you've completed.
Regardless of which structure you choose, ensure that you have a legally binding contract in place for each client that clearly outlines your payment methods.
5. Keep Scaling in Mind
Another consideration when outlining your business plan is how you'll scale over time. Many digital marketing agencies start with a few core offerings and grow based on demand. By exploring how you'll scale, you can outline if you'll outsource work to contractors, make strategic partnerships, acquire other agencies, etc.
6. Build a Network
As soon as you know what you're offering and to whom, it's time to start networking. Tell everyone you know about what you're doing. Leverage your connections and position yourself as an industry expert.
This phase is also where you'll build a social media audience through which you can market your services. Post answers on Reddit and Quora, share valuable articles on LinkedIn and reach out to make contact with mentors and potential clients.
7. Generate Social Proof
Clients won't want to hire you without seeing proof of what you can offer. However, you can't prove your success metrics until someone has used your services. Reach out to businesses in your customer demographic to offer your services for free in return for using the results to market yourself. This approach is how Slack became a billion-dollar company.
Make this experience your time to shine. Remember that these beta test clients could potentially be your first paying clients as well!
8. Create a Sales Funnel
Outlining a sales funnel is the best way to generate consistent leads and customers over time. The basic stages of a sales funnel include:
Outlining a sales funnel will help you structure how you get new leads, how you convert those leads to customers, and how you keep customers for years. In other words, it's the key to your long-term success.
9. Deliver on Your Promises
The final step of starting a successful digital marketing strategy is to deliver on your promises. Being a business owner is tough work with a lot of moving parts. You'll have to wear many hats, from salesperson’s to project manager’s. However, your greatest success will come out of doing your job well and generating word-of-mouth referrals.