Humanity is living in an ever-changing world that is led by digital transformation across all industries and infrastructures. In this fast-paced, consumer-driven digital era, the need for marketing specialists to put businesses in front of their competitors and customers is at an all-time high. In a world of AI and smart technology, the personal touch of a well-thought-out marketing campaign can do wonders for a brand’s reputation as well as revenue. This is where the need for marketing professionals stems from, but in the digital world of marketing where there are many facets and niches that all fall under one umbrella, choosing to start your own digital marketing agency can be both daunting and difficult. By equipping yourself with the necessary tools and making smart decisions from the beginning, starting your own digital marketing agency doesn’t have to be as daunting and difficult as many may believe.
There is a high demand for digital marketing services – the number of businesses that move their operations online is increasing day by day, and so does the competition. More competition means more demand for digital marketing services.
One of the main advantages of starting your own digital marketing agency is that you don’t need to have a physical office address, as everything can be done online. From generating leads, managing teams, and bringing an online marketing campaign to fruition, it’s possible to deliver successful digital marketing strategies and campaigns without the use of an office. This means less commuting, which, in turn, will minimise expenses for both you and your employees, as well as eliminating a big overhead cost – office space.
Although having prior digital marketing experience will, of course, be an advantage, it is not completely necessary from day one. With the right team, you can afford to gradually build up your digital marketing skills by making use of a digital marketing online short course to gain the necessary skills you need to run a successful digital marketing agency; or you can even build up the necessary skills by learning on the job if you have surrounded yourself with the right people in your team.
If you are an SEO specialist, for example, you can focus on your strength and outsource the rest to either a freelancer or a digital marketing agency who specialise in the area of marketing you need. Just because you are the owner of the agency does not mean you need to be efficient in all areas of digital marketing. It is important to know your strengths and weaknesses so that you can either hire the right team members to compliment you or outsource the work where necessary. Another plus is that you are in complete control over who you bring into your business, which means that you can build the team of your dreams.
When looking to start any business, scalability is extremely important as it allows you to start small and grow naturally. This means that a massive outlay is not needed to start a digital marketing agency as you can start your business by providing the services yourself at first, and then as you get more clients, you can hire people and grow your business without having to stretch your budget too much. A slow and steady growth rate is always good for a business as it allows you to scale up when it suits you, and is a safer business option than many others that require massive amounts of outlay before you can even get started.
Digital marketing agencies are a great source of income that can provide a steady amount of monthly cash flow that you can then use to start new ventures. Capital from your digital marketing agency will, of course, be a benefit, but also the skills you and your team use in your agency will help you in your new ventures as digital marketing skills are used across the board, in all industries.
As stated before, you don’t have to make a big investment from the beginning. You can start your digital marketing agency with just yourself, providing the services and slowly growing as your customer base increases. In the beginning, all you need is an internet subscription, or a coffee shop that has one, a couple of helpful industry tools, and a website so that your customers know you exist. Anything else is not a necessity from the beginning and can be acquired over time, such as office space, employees, etc.
Now that the benefits of starting your own digital marketing agency have been covered, here is a look at the steps needed to start your business.
The first step when starting a new business venture is to educate yourself on both the industry and your competitors. It’s important, even more so if you are starting it on your own, to have a thorough understanding of the ins and outs of digital marketing as well as understanding the best way to market digitally for agencies.
The first question to ask yourself is; are you going to be a specialist digital marketing agency or a generalist digital marketing agency? When deciding between the two, it’s important to take into consideration your set of skills, budget, your industry knowledge and capabilities as this will be the deciding factor when deciding which is feasible and which is not for you. Unless you have a massive investment, going specialist is your best bet to be a success as it’s not possible to become an expert across all the fields of digital marketing, and without a massive startup investment, it won’t be possible to hire the people you need to offer a one-stop digital marketing service.
Another factor to take into consideration is that businesses like to hire specialists because different business sectors require a different marketing approach. Although choosing to become a specialist digital marketing agency may seem like it’s closing off opportunities, it’s better to think of it as knowing your strengths and sticking to them until your capacity and skills improve. It’s better to offer one quality service so that your customers trust you than to offer a range of services that you can’t quite deliver quality results on. This will lead to dissatisfied customers, and could in fact be a detriment to your business. Once you have developed an all-rounder team, you can start to branch out and become a generalist or a one-stop digital marketing shop that offers a full range of digital marketing services to customers.
With an overcrowded sea of competitors, it’s important to differentiate yourself against your competitors. The easiest way to do this is to pick a niche and specialise in it. Below are just a few opportunities to specialise in within the digital marketing world;
When choosing your niche, or services you wish to offer, it’s important to be realistic about what your agency is capable of producing quality results in. Too often, agencies go wrong by thinking they need to offer the full range of services, only to lose customers because they’ve spread themselves too thin.
When starting any business, it’s important to know what your competitors are doing so that you can understand how to surpass them. By conducting a thorough competitor analysis, you’ll find out how your competitors are monetising their services, which services are the most popular, the pricing of said services, and more, along with other valuable industry insights. Your competitors have laid the groundwork, they’ve done the trial and error testing to find what works, so it’d be a waste not to utilise this information.
In order to run a successful digital marketing agency, you’ll need to develop a clear business model that includes a list of past, if applicable, present, and future clients, all the services you are going to provide, and your billing process. Without this in place, any business will be set up to fail. Without this information, you’ll be running a business blind, and if you don’t clearly know what you offer, your customers definitely won’t.
One of the most important parts of a business model, apart from clearly defining your services, is deciding on your billing process. Are you going to be charging your clients a flat hourly rate, per project, or a monthly retainer fee? This question is of vital importance as it sets the standards of billing, and without a defined scope of work and billing processes, you may end up doing hours of free work without even realising it.
As your digital marketing agency grows, you’ll need to hire staff. Hiring the right people for your agency who not only bring the necessary skills to the table, but also fit into the work culture you have created, is important. Ensuring that the people you hire have good synergy is key to both a happy work environment and a successful business. Employees who are happy will give you their best and go above and beyond without even having to be asked. This is why it’s so important to build your team from the ground up to ensure you have a nice mix of skill sets that complement each other so you can give your customers the best service possible.
As one of the fastest growing careers, digital marketing experts are on the rise and the need for their services is constantly expanding. Help your agency grow by hiring the right people with the right skills, offering quality services that are within your capacity, and continuously educating and upskilling yourself and your employees to ensure a successful future in the digital marketing realm.