I’m often asked for advice on how to start a local digital marketing agency by newbies looking to build a real business with their digital marketing skills. I readily give out what tips pop into mind at the time, but here I’m giving you the full consult on how to do it right. If you are ready to build your digital marketing agency, then this quick start guide is exactly what you need.
Before we dive in you should note that I’m working off of two assumptions with this quick start guide:
- You’ve got digital marketing knowledge and training. (If you don’t, check out the Offline Shark courses!)
- You’ve got the tools and resources to provided digital marketing services.
Which means you just need the know-how to build your local digital marketing agency, and I’m going to cover the basics here. But I want to encourage you to join the Offline Sharks Facebook Group where you can get answers to your questions and learn from others who are growing their digital marketing agencies.
QUICK START GUIDE TO BUILDING YOUR DIGITAL MARKETING AGENCY
1. Set Goals + Create a Plan + Stick to Deadlines
What is your main goal?
What do you have to do to reach that goal?
When are you going to do these things?
It’s easy to say you're going to start a local digital marketing agency, but it’s actually a lot of work to set up a successful business. Now is the time to move past big ideas and into big actions. To do that you first need to establish your goals and the best way to do that is with the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting method:
S.M.A.R.T. Goal System
S = Specific: Your goal should be clear and specific. Otherwise, you won't be able to focus your efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve it.
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why is this goal important?
- Who is involved?
- Where is it located?
- Which resources or limits are involved?
M = Measurable: Tracking and assessing your progress helps you to stay focused, meet your deadlines, and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving your goal.
- How much?
- How many?
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
A = Achievable: Your goal needs to be realistic and attainable so that it stretches your abilities but still remains possible.
- How can I accomplish this goal?
- How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as financial factors?
- Is it applicable in the current economic environment?
R = Relevant: Make sure this goal MATTERS to YOU and aligns with other relevant goals in your life. The answer to each of these questions is ‘YES’ if the goal is relevant:
- Does this seem worthwhile?
- Is this the right time?
- Does this match my other efforts/needs?
- Am I the right person to reach this goal?
T = Time-bound: Goals need target dates. You need deadlines to focus on so daily activities don’t take priority over the activities that need to happen to reach your long-term goals.
- When will this goal be reached?
- What can I do today and daily?
- What can I do weekly?
- What can I do monthly?
Using SMART goals provides you with structure and motivation, so you have the clarity to focus on getting things done. Defining your objectives and setting deadlines helps you create a road map to success.
2. Niche Down and Be a Specialist for a Specific Audience
When you start a digital marketing agency, it seems like a good idea to offer every service to every business because you will literally work with anyone to get started. But that is actually not the best way to go about building your agency.
What you want to do is find the group or community that needs your services and specialize. You’re going to get to know your audience, learn their challenges, and present a detailed and effective solution.
Roofers want to work with marketing people who know their industry and have gotten results for other businesses like theirs. Spas and beauty salons have different marketing priorities than car dealerships and gas stations. Figure out who you want to work with and how you can differentiate your digital marketing agency from the rest by specializing.
Personalized and audience-specific marketing messaging and branding is a much quicker and easier path to your first sales.
3. Build Relationships within Local Networks by Giving Away Value
By “giving away something valuable” I don’t mean stress balls or notepads with your logo on it. I mean valuable information, valuable advice, something that improves their business. Most local businesses believe they lack the resources to have their own marketing agency so they don’t know even the simple things they could do themselves that would have a big impact on their visibility.
Visit local businesses, join community business groups, and network at chamber and niche events. Learn about how people are currently doing things, and you’ll easily find a way to brand your services to help them do it better. While you’re out there, though don’t forget to be as helpful as possible WITHOUT selling.
If you see a business that isn’t showing up in “near me” searches or hear someone talking about how they just can’t figure out Facebook Ads you’re being presented with an opportunity to reach out, offer valuable help or actionable know-how.
By building relationships while being helpful not only are you learning what your niche needs, but you’ll become the person they are talking about when they say, “I actually know this company that does exactly that. They gave me one little tip, and it really worked.”
4. Build It, Brand It, and Get Your Local Digital Marketing Agency Everywhere Online
Building a local digital marketing agency means you’ve set a business that is ready to take on clients. Your branding will influence how people feel when they see your business, so don’t underestimate the importance of perceptions.
Check these off and your agency will be ready to go:
Ο Pick a business name – think about niche and location for SEO, availability, and what makes your agency different.
Ο Get a logo and colors that reflect the energy of your business. There is an infographic in this Color Psychology: How Color Meanings Affect Your Brand post that gives a quick reference of the main colors and the emotions they invoke.
Ο Have your list of services and prices They should reflect the type of agency you want to be known as, who you serve and what you think your services are worth.
Ο Test your reporting tools to ensure you’ll be able to provide clients with the metrics and results you’re charging them for. You’ll need this to track your own effectiveness so you can continuously make improvements.
Ο Pick an accounting or bookkeeping software that allows you to quickly send invoices and easily accept payments from your very first client.
Ο Create an onboarding process that makes life easier for both you and for new clients:
- Define expectations for deadlines, processes, communication, and billing.
- Gather information you need to market the business such as contact information for the person you’ll be working with, logins, brand guides, logos, images, budget info including ad spend, buyer personas, info about their current customers, and all existing marketing collateral such as blogs, flyers, ads, mailers, and coupons.
- Get signatures on your contract. Don’t have a contract? Then you're putting your new business at risk already! A website called PandaDoc has a great example of a Marketing Agreement Template you can use as a guide to create your own contract.
Get your agency seen online everywhere an optimize everything.
SEO services are part of any local digital marketing agency’s business, so this should be easy for you. Plus, when you don’t have any past clients to showcase, showing how quickly you grew, your agencies visibility is the best example.
Blanket social media with your business profiles to secure your name and brand on the major networks.
Social media is free marketing, easy to use, and the best place for customer engagement when you can’t touch every potential customer in person. You’ll want only to focus the one or two networks that matter most to your niche and community to really build engagement and gather leads.
Starting a Local Digital Marketing Agency is Easier Than Ever
Use this quick start guide to building a local digital marketing agency to help you create a plan that gets you started off with a solid foundation and quickly growing your business. Starting your own digital marketing agency, I’ve seen people just like you and our other blog readers go from zero clients to making over $10k a month in less than six months. Yes, six-figure revenue is a realistic first goal for those passionate and committed to building a business that truly helps their clients.
To serve your clients and grow your business, make sure your plan includes continuously learning about all aspects of digital marketing so you can provide more services and serve your clients better. You and your employees (because you’re going to grow so big you can’t handle all of it alone) can never know enough.
Join us and be part of the Offline Shark Community!
While focused on Local Marketing, in our global community (with 6k+ members in over 13 countries) you’ll feel at home surrounded by fellow marketing consultants and digital agency owners who are facing the same challenges, ready to help solve each other’s problems, and eager to celebrate your wins.
Offline Sharks is committed to practicing and teaching ethical marketing, so while financial goals are important, you’ll instantly see that maintaining our stellar reputation and supporting our community of beginners and veterans is more important. Come see for yourself!