So you want to start a social media marketing agency. Social media isn’t really a new thing these days, with Facebook becoming a staple in our everyday lives for communication, Instagram being the new magazine and Youtube replacing our TVs. It’s an ever-changing environment, and as of today, Tik Tok is the new game-changing medium just like how Snapchat was back in 2016.
Social media is never short of opportunities, and as an agency, you have endless opportunities to help businesses grow in the digital space. In fact, with the COVID-19 situation, digital marketing has become more important than ever, as traditional retail and offline channels are forced to close due to government regulations.
As a marketing agency, you’re in the business of helping others succeed online. You have all the channels out there up your arsenal and business are needing your expertise more than ever.
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1. Don’t Quit Your Job!
Let’s get this clear. Starting a business is easy. Running a business FULL TIME is hard. Setting up a social media marketing agency at home comes with its own set of nuances and is more than just sending proposals to clients and then waiting for their response.
It may sound cliche for me to tell you that business is a marathon, not a sprint, but I want to get this message to you early on.
people that tell you to quit your job (and cut your dependable income stream) and start your business rarely practice this themselves.
In fact, I never recommend anyone to do such a thing. Stay in that job you have that gives you a steady paycheque once a month. Use your nights and weekends to work on your project.
Then one thing at a time, when you start getting clients that pay you consistently, you can switch from full-time to part-time then part-time to contractor, and then FINALLY take the leap and go all-in in your business when you can generate enough income to sustain yourself.
Enjoy the ride my friend, because it’s going to be one hell of a journey.
2. Learn the channels you sell inside out.
This is a given. You might even think this is common sense. But when you’re in the industry long enough, you’ll be surprised how many people selling their service can’t actually do the work. If you’re going to be helping clients with their social media management, try setting up a hobby account to start. Learn everything you can to grow the channel.
Start with mastering the basic functionalities and measuring tools. Then, move on to more advanced features such as meta tags. From paid advertisement methods to guerrilla tactics such as using automation systems for your account, there is so much for you to test out before you can sell your services.
Want a useful tip that I learned personally? If you want to supercharge your learning and be a pro in no time?
3. Get a job in a marketing agency.
Surprised? You came to read this article expecting a guide to learn how to start an agency but 2 paragraphs in and I’m telling you to get a job?
Let me explain. Working at a marketing agency will teach you the skills to not only run accounts but the technical skills on how to implement a marketing strategy. You will get to see in person how the systems are built and when you observe hard enough, you can take home improvements for your own marketing agency when you build one in the future. Plus, you get paid while learning all this.
Know why you’re there at the agency. You’re there to learn. So don’t be afraid to overload yourself and learn and implement as much as possible.
Once you’ve learned the inside out of an agency, you’re ready to find clients.
4. Pick lucrative niches.
Niches niches niches. Everyone talks about this. Everyone wants to know the best niche to go for. The niche with the most money. The niche that’s destined to grow forever. There’s so much you can do to find your niche and here’s the steps you should take:
- Your past experience
What jobs have you work in before? Are you still in touch with people in those industries? Yes? You have a step up from the rest who are starting. By having people you know in other industries, you can ask them if they need marketing help in their business.
- Look on a job site
Talking about jobs again? Yes, look at who’s hiring for marketing help, and that should give you a good idea on what industry to focus in
- What’s your hobby?
Remember when I said you should start a hobby account for fun? Whatever industry you decided to start the account in, that could be a good indication on what niche to go into. In fact, there’s nothing better than being able to work with businesses you engage with anyways. Did you start a food account? Maybe you can help cafes with their marketing? Did you start an automation channel? Can you help your local mechanic out on Facebook?
In the end, don’t stress too much with your niche. Once you’ve got the ball rolling, you will know which niche to go in. But at the start, just focus on moving the ball an inch.
5. Create packages.
Put together some packages for you to offer clients. I recommend going with 3 packages to start. There’s a few ways you can sort out your packages, but the most common one people use is by the time spent on each account or the benefits each package will give the client.
The budget one. This is your lowest priced package, usually taken up by businesses just starting out or who want to test the waters with you first. By no means should you do a crappy job, because these are the clients that will grow as you grow. Once you make them more money, you can up-sell them more services.
The mid tier. This package is your most common package. It’s the package where you offer almost as much as you can, and the package should be quite profitable for you. For example, if you’re doing social media management services, this package could be the one where you take over their social channels and manage it on a daily basis.
The top tier. This is the premium service you can offer. The crown jewel of your services. Clients with a big stash of cash (I’m looking at you, venture-funded startups) will be interested in this package, as they’re the type of business that will want results over anything. And results are what you must deliver if you plan on keeping these whale clients. Do celebrate too early when you land them, because the moment they sign that contract, it’s a pedal to the metal for you to deliver.
6. Find your first client.
Ahh… every business owner will never forget their first sale. Their first dollar earned. If you haven’t had this feeling yet, it’s one to look forward to. Because once you have a taste of blood, you’ll be addicted to selling.
There’s no straightforward way to get your first client. Cold calling, cold emailing, setting up ads in your local business directory or just reaching out to your network and seeing if anyone wants help. There’s endless ways you can find your first client.
Here’s some advice to take away. Give every channel a try, and stick to it for a while. Cold emailing? Force yourself to email 10 businesses every day for one month. After a few days, if you don’t get any response, review your strategy. Are you emailing directly to the decision makers? Can your email copy be written any better? Test everything. That’s how you’ll learn and see results.
7. Focus on Retaining Your Best Clients
In fact, any client is a good client. As an agency owner, you will find that you make more when you deliver fantastic results and retain the client, rather than focusing on getting new clients everyday and delivering mediocre results.
You should know this, just like how you can make more staying at your current job than jumping around and having periods with no income.
It may sound simple, but we all chase shiny new objects. As business owners, we always want that next whale client signing up and cashing it in. But don’t get distracted. Your agency reputation is built on clients staying with you and growing as you grow too.
The longer you keep them, the more money you’ll make.
8. Track results.
Results are what makes or breaks a client relationship. It may sound like a no brainer now to track your results, but you’ll be surprised to see how often this mistake happens when an agency starts working with a new business.
Make sure you set up all your website tracking and more importantly your lead generated.
But what happens if you don’t get any results to start off with? You can’t just tell the client results will come… just keep paying me (I’ve tried this, it doesn’t work)! The trick is to report your tasks. At the end of the month, generate a report with all the tasks you’ve done and present it nicely for your client to see. That way, they’ll know their investment in you doesn’t go to waste.
9. Find Talent and Grow.
Scaling… this is when the fun starts. From a one man band to a small team to one where you don’t know everyone in the office, it’s a journey to look forward to. Once you’ve a good number of clients bringing in decent revenue, you can look at hiring talent to help you out.
You can outsource some tasks. This is the most common way to grow. Use sites like Online.ph to help you find international talent to help with your business. From designers to web developers to blog writers, you’ll come across people that can help you grow your business and resell their services with a good markup.
Talent is what will bring your business to the next level, so never stop looking for a fresh pair of legs to take tasks off your plate.
To wrap things up, starting a marketing agency is one of the best businesses out there you can do. You don’t need a lot of capital to start and you can do it while you still have a job.
You will get a chance to work with businesses that you’ve never dreamt of working with and meet people outside of your network and potentially grow into lifelong friendships.
So that’s enough reading, give it a go, and get started!
Felix is the founder of Society of Speed, an automotive journal covering the unique lifestyle of supercar owners. Alongside automotive journalism, Felix recently graduated from university with a finance degree and enjoys helping students and other young founders grow their projects.