It seems like every year, more and more graduates flood into the world of marketing. It’s not hard to see why. Marketing offers a dynamic, creatively led environment in which people can demonstrate creative problem solving skills while flexing their artistic muscles, bringing creative solutions to bear on the needs of businesses of all shapes and sizes. It offers the exact balance of challenge and reward upon which many professionals thrive. It’s one of the few industries that genuinely rewards creativity while ensuring that creative talent is also tempered with other problem solving skills.
When a new graduate is taken on by a marketing agency it can feel like a dream come true and in those early years the industry provides them a steep learning curve while providing them every opportunity to hone their skills and gain valuable insights into the world of business and the vitally important part that marketing plays within it. If you’ve been in the marketing industry for a good few years, however, it can feel that as long as you’re with an agency, there’s a glass ceiling over your career progression. The more you learn, the more certain you become that you could start your own marketing agency. You have the talent, you have the knowledge, you even have a few of the contacts. But how do you make that big jump? As with anything worth having there are no shortcuts to be found, and no quick fixes. Yet, if you’re willing to put in the work, and take risks, you may well find yourself at the helm of a 6 figure marketing agency of your very own.
By following these steps, you can go from laboring under an agency that refuses to invest further in your career progression to taking your career into your own hands and striking out on your own…
Invest in credentials
Some clients will be happy with your years of industry experience, but it behoves you to get some credentials behind you. The good news is that you can get these in your free time without compromising your future finances by studying through a specialist institution like the Digital Marketing Institute. They will likely offer a range of entry level to advanced courses up to Master’s Degree level. Whichever qualification you choose will depend entirely on you, your skill set and the needs of your nascent business.
Stay positive and set clear goals
Despite your years of experience, your new agency will still be an unproven commodity, so don’t get too deterred if your attempts to secure top drawer clients result in some rejections. Remember that every “no” is a stepping stone to your next “yes”. To keep yourself motivated, it’s important to set clearly defined and achievable goals. Goal setting is an integral part of success in any business, but especially one that is still in its infancy. While the SMART model of goal setting may cause an eye roll, the reason this is such a well worn business cliche is because it actually works. Your goals should be (altogether now…);
You may not know what your goals are now and that’s fine, but it’s a good idea to figure them out. Think of all that time you spent establishing marketing goals for your clients’ businesses in your agency job. It’s merely a matter of taking some of those and reappropriating them for your own business. You may want to have $100,000 worth of SEO contracts within 6 months, you may want to expand your team or your client base into double figures within your first quarter. Your goals will depend entirely on the kind of agency you wish to create.
As a marketing professional, you likely impress upon your clients the importance of finding your niche. The more focused you are on the kinds of clients you want to pursue, the more likely you are to find success. One of the easiest ways to hobble your marketing agency in its infancy is to try to be all things to all clients. By knowing who you want to appeal to, you’ll glean a better sense of what they want and over time your agency will become better equipped to deal with the specific needs of clients within your niche.
As with any small business, you will need to establish your USP and this will go some way in helping you to work towards this. You will also develop a better understanding of the kinds of entrepreneurs who tend to start up businesses in your chosen niche. You’ll get better at talking to them, you’ll get better at understanding their concerns, you’ll be able to preempt any questions or anxieties they may have and you’ll establish yourself as an expert at providing the specific kind of service they need.
Generating quality leads is an area in which all sorts of small businesses find themselves frustrated. While you’re likely conversant with the use of landing pages and lead capture forms, these are probably better solutions for your clients than they would be for you agency. If you want the kinds of clients that will facilitate growth for your agency, you’re going to need to get creative and put some leg work in. Find businesses that demonstrate a specific need that you know your business can address. Reach out to them and demonstrate that you can offer something of value to them. They need to feel that they need you more than you need them. Talking at industry specific events are a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your field.
Build your brand
Now that you’ve approached some businesses, offered something of value to them and begun to operate, it’s time to start building your brand in a way that will enable your business to grow.
Any brand worth its salt makes a promise to its target market. What will yours be? Will you offer the best value for money? Will you deliver bespoke marketing packages tailored to the needs of the business without necessary and expensive overheads? Will you offer a more customer focused approach than your competitors? Whatever promise you make, it’s vitally important that you’re able to follow through on it.
When you have this infrastructure in place, your agency is well placed to grow in whatever direction you choose.