Starting a digital marketing agency can be one of the most rewarding businesses you will ever create. In 2006, she created her first digital website selling agency. I soon learned that despite knowing “everything”, what I was doing was setting me up for failure. There were so many other companies my clients could choose from, so why would they choose me? What made me different?
Over the next 8 years and 3 different companies, I learned what it takes to build a thriving agency. This has helped me grow relationships, a brand for me, and make a very good living over the years.
Here are some mistakes I made along the way to learn from on your way to building a great digital marketing agency.
Sometimes it’s best to start with one product
Many new agencies make the mistake of trying to be a full service or “one stop” company where anyone can get anything. The problem is that unless you have significant financial backing, you will spread your resources and capital very little trying to sell and then provide all these different services. I made this mistake when I created my first Adogy. Find the one service where you are the strongest, be the best at it, and be known as the go-to company for that service. This generates huge profits over time.
Resist the constant urge to do everything. As entrepreneurs, we have a lot of passion for what we do and this leads us to wanting to be involved in every detail. But if you are going to successfully scale an agency, an absolute focus on higher value tasks is only critical. Know your strengths and delegate everything else. If selling and team building is your strength, focus on doing just that. You also can’t be an accountant, web designer, and author. It will burn quickly.
Know your numbers
To be successful, you need to have a great deal of clarity about what you want and what it takes to get it. Although you won’t see the full path to your goal, you need to know exactly how much of your product or service you need to sell, what and exactly what selling that much will cost you. to reach. This is something that gets said a lot, but the truth is that if you don’t know all your numbers inside and out, you are going blind as a CEO.
The processes behind it all
“An agency cannot expand without systems and procedures in place for every aspect of the operation,” says my friend and agency owner Richard Lorenzen of Fifth Avenue Brands. “It is not enough to hire talented people and expect them to know only what to do with minimal guidance. You need policies and procedures Specifics in place to follow on a daily basis This isn’t partial management It’s about providing your team with best practices and a solid framework for how they carry out their jobs One of the most common reasons people quit agencies is because of a lack of support and infrastructure You can’t just hand over a phone and computer to people and expect them to deliver things. A super star comes along every now and then, but even so, all teams need specific guidance and expectations to be set.”
Sales beat everything
No matter the size of your team, you’ll always be in sales. Even when you have a room full of salespeople selling to you, you’ll still be your best salesperson, you won’t go wrong, and you’ll always sell everywhere you go. Always have a sales mindset.
Avoid complacency like the plague
Once you’ve had some success, it’s tempting to relax a bit and not be too fussy. Don’t fall into this trap. If you want to keep growing, you can never take your foot off the gas. You should know only one speed and one direction: fully forward. Always think about your next goal or the next mountain to climb.
Agency life means long hours, high pressure and deadlines. No amount of growth, profit, or delegation can change this. As long as you have clients who depend on you for performance, you will always have to participate. Learn to deal with it and never become complacent.
Hire the right people
When you are hiring people, skills and competencies are important but personality is more important. Find the right culture first and foremost. You have to get along with the people you hire and love. Skills can be taught but characters can never be changed.
Don’t take the ups and downs personally. It’s part of the job and especially part of the agency’s life. There will always be problems to solve. If you don’t always create new problems, you probably aren’t growing. Keep this in mind when you are hiring and firing people.
Take every opportunity to connect
Your biggest opportunities and clients often come from chance meetings. Attend every conference, connect with everyone on social media, and always keep your eyes peeled for a chance. I’ve made some of my biggest deals in the most unexpected ways. You have no idea where your next big customer will come from.
Don’t forget to promote and brand yourself
I don’t describe myself as anything else, I even teach branding to college students just to keep up with it. Treat yourself as one of your customers. Your business cannot grow if people don’t know who you are. You should be promoting yourself, speaking at events and doing a case study through your own success. Too often we spend so much time working on our clients’ brands that we ignore our own. Always make time to build your own brand. In the long run, it pays off big profits.
Here’s to creating your next great digital marketing agency! What additional tips would you recommend for people starting the next big agency?