This has been broken down into 5 pieces.
- How To Fund Your Digital Marketing Agency
- Experiment & Revise - Fine Tuning Your Product/Service & Message
- Amplify What Works
- How To Maintain A Steady Income With Your Digital Advertising Agency
- Put The Right Systems In Place For Growth
1. How To Fund Your Digital Marketing Agency
So, you’ve figured out what you want to do for your career.
Digital marketing is a growing industry, and there are a ton of businesses out there that need your expert services.
Unfortunately, when you’re first starting out, it can be difficult to compete with established agencies - namely, because they’re funded, and you’re not.
But now is not the time to dwell on the negatives - you got this.
Funding your digital marketing agency ,<--that one is mine 😉 ... is not an insurmountable challenge.
In fact, you can do it relatively easily.
We know because we’ve been there.
All it takes is some perseverance, drive, and ambition and you’ll be funded and growing in no time.
That’s not to say that you can get the money you need immediately.
It will be a process, so you have to be patient.
That being said, if you follow these steps, then you’ll be impressed by how well you can get the funding you need.
Part One: Master a Side Hustle
These days, we’re all living in the “gig” economy.
Because of this, it’s never been easier to find extra ways to earn money on the side.
Whether it’s ride-sharing, writing online, or helping people out with various tasks, you can find a side hustle that gives you extra income without taking up too much of your time.
Yes, your digital marketing agency is going to become your primary resource when the time comes, but right now you need to focus on bringing in some additional cash to build a solid foundation.
However, mastering a side hustle is more than just figuring out a way to improve your bottom line.
Here are some of the other benefits involved in having multiple revenue streams.
With most industries, it’s less about skills and qualifications and more about who you know.
While you can get your foot in the door with cold calling techniques, the fact is that you are going to get a lot more mileage if you can meet face to face with prospective clients.
When you master a side hustle, that’s going to put you in touch with a lot of new people you wouldn’t be interacting with otherwise.
For example, if you drive customers around for a few hours per day, that’s a potential networking opportunity.
Some of your fares may be business owners looking for digital marketing strategies, and you’re in a prime position to give your pitch.
As with any business, you have to be on top of everything at all times.
When you’re working multiple jobs, it forces you to get really good at managing your schedule and making the most out of every hour of the day.
If time management is one area you struggle in, use this as a way of improving your capabilities.
You want to be making the most money possible, right?
Well, how can you maximize profitability when you only have so many hours in the day?
Overall, you will get better and better at creating schedules for yourself that help you stay focused and on task.
These skills will help you transform your digital marketing agency and ensure that you can grow and sustain yourself without burning out.
One of the most significant drawbacks to side hustles is that they usually use you as an independent contractor.
This means that you have to figure out taxes on your own, lest you owe a massive tax bill at the end of the year.
Once you start making good money with your digital marketing agency, you will appreciate having these bookkeeping skills because they will help you maintain a stable bottom line and ensure that you can focus on profitability, not overblown expenses.
Also, getting this experience with taxes will make it a lot easier to deal with it for your business as well.
Unsure of what type of side hustle you want? I actually created this business in a box just for you!
Part Two: Keep Your Day Job
Obviously, the goal is to make digital marketing your day job, but until you can sustain yourself on that kind of income, it’s crucial that you stick to your 9-5 as long as possible.
All too often, people will jump into their marketing business with both feet before they’re ready, and they will fall flat because they weren’t adequately funded or prepared for what could happen.
We understand that it can be a little frustrating having to put your marketing skills on hold so that you can work a job that won’t be your career, but you have to have patience if you want to secure the funding you need.
Switching off without a strong, reliable foundation could spell disaster if you don’t get it right, so don’t rush into anything.
One thing you have to remember is that these things take time.
As hungry for business as you are, there’s no guarantee of clientele, so you can’t put all of your eggs into the digital marketing basket just yet.
Supply and Demand
Once you get your first client, you may be thinking “now’s the time to quit my job!”
While this may be tempting, you can’t take the risk right away.
What happens when you finish with your current client?
Will you have another lined up immediately?
One thing that you should be focusing on is building your resume and your portfolio.
Utilize your side hustle for networking purposes and start putting in some work.
A good rule to follow is that once you start having to turn clients away because there is too much demand for your services, you’re ready to go full-time.
Part Three: Live Lean and Save
What is your current lifestyle budget like?
How much money do you spend on bills per month?
What about non-essential items like eating out or going to the movies?
Are you paying more than you should?
When trying to fund your digital marketing agency, the best strategy is to come up with a baseline figure.
This will serve as your foundation, so it’s imperative that you reach that goal.
If you try to get off the ground before getting there, you may be setting yourself up for failure.
How long will it take you to get there?
Right now you want to scrutinize your budget and see where you can make cuts.
What you have to remember right now is that every dollar matters.
If you can save an extra $50 per month, that means you can be $600 closer to your goal by the end of the year.
No matter how small your contributions may seem at the time, they will add up until you get a substantial figure.
When breaking down your savings potential, look at it from a monthly and a weekly perspective.
How much are you earning with your side hustle?
Can you save all of that (minus taxes) for your fund, or are you spending part of your paycheck on other things?
Hopefully, you can put yourself on a savings plan that will get you to your goal in a relatively short amount of time.
However, if you’re looking at a span of 10 years or something, then you may need to make some significant changes to your lifestyle.
If living lean isn’t cutting it, then what can you do to maximize your current net income?
While it may seem drastic, think about the value of having your digital marketing agency.
Isn’t that worth a few temporary setbacks or adjustments to your life?
Part Four: Get Others to Invest in Your Agency
No matter who you are, chances are that you have a support network that wants to see you succeed.
Whether it’s friends, family, or co-workers, they are all potential resources you can use to get to your funding goal.
For many people, asking for money can feel like an impossible task.
The act itself can be a little nerve-wracking, which means that they try to avoid it at all costs.
However, when it comes to funding your digital marketing agency, don’t think of it as asking for money.
Think of it as asking people to invest in your success.
If it makes you feel better, promise that you will deliver a return on their investment, so they are more willing to give big.
Overall, you won’t know what’s possible until you try.
Start talking to your closest family and friends and see what kind of feedback they give you.
If they’re hesitant, then maybe you can try a different approach.
At first, you may think that it’s not necessary to ask people to invest in your agency.
After all, the experience is too awkward.
However, when you think about it, you have to do this all the time if you want to succeed, right?
What are you doing with your clients?
You’re asking them to give you money in exchange for services.
They are investing in your company.
That means that by practicing your sales pitch to friends and family, you can get better about doing it when it really counts.
Even if you don’t much in the way of actual funds, the value provided is the experience of asking for money.
This will be a remarkable skill to have if you want your agency to compete in this industry.
Funding your digital marketing agency doesn’t have to require taking out a loan or seeking angel investors.
If you follow these steps, you should be able to get your business off the ground in less time than you may think.
Just make sure you are having fun!
If you’re not enjoying the process, then what are you doing it for?
2. Fine Tuning Your Product/Service and Message
When it comes to marketing your business, you have to make sure that you stay on message.
When developing your brand, it’s imperative that you create a persona for your company that will resonate with customers and drives you to success.
But what if you’re not reaching the goals you want to be?
What if your target market is not responding as well as you’d hoped?
Perhaps now is the time to revise and edit your message.
If what you’re promoting isn’t working, then you can (and should) be doing better.
So, with that in mind, we want to go over the four steps you should take to fine tune your product/service and message.
When trying to resonate with your audience, there is no such thing as “good enough.”
There is always room for improvement, so utilize these techniques, and you’ll get there in no time.
Step One: Ask Your Target Audience Questions - and LISTEN
Who is the ideal person buying your product or service? What details do you have about him or her?
Too often, businesses have too broad of a demographic, so their message can feel too expansive.
Instead, it’s much better to pinpoint and target the people you want to attract to your product or service.
Don’t be afraid of niches, embrace them.
Until your business can span multiple countries and get millions of customers, you shouldn’t be worrying about attracting a wide audience.
But how can you tap into your target demographic?
Easy, talk to them.
Ideally, before you begin asking questions, the first thing you should do is establish your buyer persona.
The more specific you can be here, the better you can customize your message to resonate with them.
Thus, we’re looking for things beyond age and gender.
Think about what your customer needs and how you’re fulfilling them.
If you’re not sure what your customer wants, ask them!
Whether it’s through a survey, polite conversation, or an email, you want to find out why your customers are buying your product and what they want.
The other side of this step is that you actually have to listen to them!!
All too often, businesses have their customers take surveys, but they don’t really make changes because they already have an idea of what they want, and it doesn’t really matter what the customer says.
Instead, you should be poring over their responses with a fine-tooth comb.
What are they missing from your product or service?
What are they getting from your competitors?
What parts do they like the most? What do they like the least?
Overall, you want to get as many specific answers as possible.
This will help guide your rebranding, and it will make sure that you’re always on message.
If your questions are too broad, then you’ll be right back where you started, which can render the whole process moot.
The other thing to consider is that you may be way off base with your current presentation.
If that’s the case, you are faced with a decision - either you can radically alter your product/service to match the needs of your target customer, or you can change the demographic to whom you’re trying to reach.
Either way, it can be a seismic shift, but following through can ensure greater success in the long run, meaning that it’s worth every dollar and second spent to get there.
Step Two: Evolve the Product Presentation
Once you know what your audience wants and needs, now you have to make sure that your message highlights that as much as possible.
Ideally, you won’t be too far off target when you do your research, but as we said, there may be a vast discrepancy between what you’re presenting and what your customers desire.
What you have to keep in mind during this stage is that the evolution won’t happen overnight.
Chances are that the only thing keeping you from achieving your goals is something purely superficial (i.e., make the product red instead of blue), so you’ll have to go through some trial and error along the way.
To make sure that you’re getting the most out of your adjustments, you want to get feedback from your customers as you make changes and developments.
Here are a few ways to do this.
If you’re not familiar with this term, it refers to having two different landing pages and recording the results of each one.
Half of your traffic will go to one page, while the other half visits the second page.
The purpose of A/B testing is to allow you to make changes without fully committing to them.
A good idea to get started is to have your A page stay the same while adding adjustments to your B page.
This way, A will be like a control group so that you can record the results much more accurately.
While A/B Testing is excellent for digital content and website layouts, it doesn’t work if you’re trying to make your physical product more desirable to your customers.
Thus, at the same time that you’re changing your branding message, you also want to see how people react to your new items.
The best way to do this is with focus groups that provide honest feedback about your changes.
Take note of both positive and negative responses so that you can customize the product accordingly.
Cut Your Losses
One thing that you want to remember during all of this is that you don’t want to waste time and energy on elements that aren’t working.
Even if a small portion of your customers love a particular feature, if it’s hurting your bottom line, drop it.
For many businesses, they become married to a particular product or feature because it’s something that they value, even if their customers don’t.
However, clinging to these elements that are dragging your message down will only make the process more painful.
Eventually, you’ll have to get rid of it anyway, so why delay the inevitable?
Step Three: Price it Right for Perceived Value
There are some brands out there that command a higher price regardless of any of the specific features. (Think Apple!!)
Think of high-end companies that never offer discounts or sales on their products or services and people still buy them by the bundle.
What’s driving this unfettered success? Customer perception.
While quality and reliability are crucial, what matters most is how customers perceive your product.
Even if it’s a good item, people may neglect it because you’re not presenting it properly.
Thus, when trying to refine your message, you will want to figure out how you can adjust your audience’s perception of value.
If you can do it right, then you can price your products or services higher without causing any backlash.
As long as your customers believe that they are getting the right value for their money, then you don’t have to worry about lowering prices to increase sales.
Instead, you can earn more while also driving more traffic to your business.
When considering pricing, remember these crucial elements.
Influencers - if someone notable is using your product and recommending it, then the value is higher.
Rarity - items that are harder to find are usually more valuable than those that are everywhere.
Appearance - if your product looks more expensive and high-quality, people will pay more for it.
Marketing - adjusting your message to showcase the higher value of your product or service will make it so.
Overall, you want to take the time to develop your brand message to match the value you want to set for your items.
If there is any disparity between the two, it can create conflicting messages and lead to adverse reactions from your customer.
For example, hiking the price without making any changes can turn a lot of people off.
Step Four: Know When to Use Third-Party Services
Ideally, you will control the means of production and sales of your product or services.
This way, you can make sure that everything is up to your standards.
However, sometimes this just isn’t feasible.
For example... if you decide your marketing agency is going to get into the "Subscription Box" niche.
For smaller companies, it’s almost impossible to have the infrastructure necessary to produce items, fulfill orders, and deliver them to the customer on time.
Thus, in these situations, you may have to rely on third-party services to get the job done.
However, you want to make sure that doing so won’t impact your overall message.
Here are some considerations when shopping for different services.
Unless you own the factory that makes both your raw materials and your final product, chances are that you have to rely on someone else to produce items for you.
However, there is a difference between making the parts and assembling them, so it’s imperative that you understand that.
For example, you can have a factory produce the essential elements of your product and then you can assemble them in-house based on your specifications.
In some cases, this may be more cost-effective, and it allows you greater control over the quality of your items.
These days, ordering products on demand is becoming par for the course.
However, if you have a lot of demand, then you may be struggling to fulfill orders by yourself.
If you don’t have the means to do this quickly and efficiently, it’s always going to be better to outsource it to a business that can.
Overall, speed and attention to detail are going to matter more to your customers than where the product originated.
Using third-party fulfillment services to speed up orders will increase your success rate substantially.
With on-demand ordering comes on-demand delivery.
Modern consumers aren’t satisfied with products that take weeks or months to arrive.
Instead, you have to rely on delivery companies to expedite shipping so that you can get your products out in a matter of days.
Again, if you don’t have the infrastructure to do this, then utilizing a third-party service will help you out a lot in the long run.
With all this in mind... always be testing, and finding more efficient ways to get your products/services into the hands of your agency's customers.
And it won't always be easy... sometimes your actual agency might be that "test". (My current agency isn't the first one I started, and most likely won't be the last... but it sure is profitable!!)
3. Amplify What Works
Getting a business off the ground takes a daily commitment.
Trying to grow your group of consumers sounds like it costs an arm and a leg.
However, once everything goes right, the business that you’ve been working on for a while will slowly and steadily take off.
We understand, however, that not every business is the same.
The path to success is different for nearly every successful business.
Your path to success is shaped by many different factors, such as your industry and your demographics.
So how can you tell which are the best decisions to make while trying to market your business online?
Here are five helpful tips to help you amplify what works about your business’s marketing.
Take advantage of social advertising.
The more eyes that are exposed to your message, the more results that you will come across.
Your social media manager will have to strategize on how to increase the number of followers you have across all social media websites that are deemed appropriate for your product(s) and/or service(s).
Be sure that any loyal customers that you currently have are actively engaged with your business by following you on social media.
Post new content, updates on products and insight in your industry to all your customers.
Do this all frequently, and you will give customers more incentives to buy from you again in the near future.
People who look over your content are inclined to follow your business.
It is important to encourage them to subscribe additionally to your blog or newsletter so that it is easy for them to get notified for future updates.
You can also consider holding contests to help outsiders take advantage of following you, and get updates in return.
Organic advertising (ex. SEO) is great, but some companies may opt to pay for advertising (ex. Google Ads, FB ads, etc) so that their base of followers is sure to grow.
Advertisements are nice ways to reach out to consumers that would otherwise never even know that you exist.
Advertisements can be bought from various different websites, whether it be social media sites, news sites, blogs and more.
Use a major online retailer if selling a product.
If you are out to sell physical goods that consumers can buy, you might think that the best place for people to buy if from your own website, as buying from a website involves the consumer clicking on a link to your page and spending some time there.
The problem with that is that you would require them to sign up with their information.
Not only does it take some time to do, but they might not trust the site enough if your business is still fairly new to them.
That is why there are many businesses that find success on major online retailers like Amazon, where millions of consumers already have accounts and do not have to worry about the security of their money.
The one thing to know about Amazon is that they ask for $40 dollars monthly for “pro merchants” who achieve over 35 sales per month.
Or you can opt to pay the per-item fee, which individual sellers pay $.99 cents.
There are also referral fees to consider based on the category of the product that you are selling.
But don’t assume that you do not have to pay anything to sell on your website, either.
Paying for online shop security is definitely an ongoing expense.
Oftentimes, Amazon will be your best option, and in other scenarios, selling from your own website will be.
We recommend Shopify if going your with your own site.
If you are selling from your own website, however, just be sure that the process is as safe and as fast as possible.
Pick the proper social media platforms.
It might sound like a novel idea to manage accounts on every social media site, but it actually isn’t.
Yes, companies do hire social media specialists that manage each account separately, but the more social media profiles that a person has to manage, the less attention each account gets.
As a result, the person in charge becomes overwhelmed and next to no progress has been made.
We aren’t saying to just stick to one social media website, but put more attention on the ones that work best for you over others that might not be.
We all know that Facebook is just about the king of social media, with Twitter in a close second.
YouTube is where people go to host videos (and the world's 2nd largest search engine), and Instagram is the website of choice to share photos.
The website that you should be focused on depends on your business, and also your customers.
To help you determine the best social media platform for your business, you need to ask yourself who in particular needs your product or services and where is the competition going.
If you are selling directly to consumers, Facebook will be your best option.
For younger audiences that want images rather than text, Instagram is the way to go.
If you are looking to pitch opportunities to companies and groups rather than individuals, LinkedIn should be strongly considered.
It is also just as important to take a look around the web to see where popular competitors are doing their business.
Look at their activity and followers carefully.
While you’re not going to top their base of followers overnight, it is very important to join them on that particular platform to get in on that success.
Build relationships with social media influencers.
The users with the large followings on social media are called influencers.
On Twitter, nearly half of all consumers rely on influencers to impact their decision to buy or not buy a product or service.
With that said, you should find individual social media users with gigantic following that specialize in the industry that you are doing business in.
For example, if you are selling small kitchen appliances, it is a good idea to look for popular social media enthusiasts that focus on cooking and eating.
The goal of an influencer is to plug your product or service to his or her followers, causing thousands, if not millions of people to be exposed to your business for the first time.
To get the attention of an influencer, you should reach out to the person and build a relationship with him or her.
Expect them to ask what they could receive in return for mentioning your business.
If not money, offer them free products or have them show up at one of your events to gain exposure themselves.
It is very necessary to show how you can really bring them value.
The influencer should post an image or video that is meant to promote your business.
Usually, they will post a review of the product to let their audience know what it is like.
Look at it carefully and make sure that it is cohesive to your brand’s image.
There are oftentimes reviews where the influencer is not satisfied with the product.
With that in mind, be open to communication with the influencer and take their feedback seriously, rather than be alarmed by an unpleasant surprise on their social media channel.
Create visual social media
For followers to come aboard and stay on for the ride, your constant stream of content has to be appealing to them.
You likely have already become aware that 65 percent of consumers are visual learners, and that nine of every ten pieces of information that we obtain is visual.
Visuals are an integral part of engaging with audiences, no matter what your demographics are.
To create visual content effectively, you will have to find a style of imagery and make it your own, as well as optimize your content so that they can be best displayed on the social media platform that you use.
When working with photos, make sure that they are professional and high-quality images.
It is okay to share photos of other people who are engaging in your brand, so long as you portray the right messages.
When working with graphics and lettering, you would like to use the same fonts and color scheme (preferably your brand’s colors), so that people can easily recognize your posts as they scroll down their social media timeline.
You won’t have to start your visual content from scratch every time; if you save a template in your photo editing software, you can just simply change the text and image.
But it does not need to stop there.
Another type of visual content that you can post on social media are infographics.
They take complicated information and make a visual graph or story out of it that is concise for people to understand.
Infographics can span from graphics such as a list of “Top 10” facts compiled in large numbered bullets to creative looking pie charts that can be very informative to your audience.
Putting a marketing plan together does take a lot of time and commitment, but once everything is going, you are sure to give your company momentum, even if it’s not as fast as you would hope.
As long as you know your audience, and show them what they like to see in ways they want to see it, your presence online will be sure to spread.
4. How to Maintain Steady Income With Your Digital Marketing Agency