How to Start a Digital Marketing Agency

What does it mean to market something?

For most people, sales and marketing seems like a type of magic, a mythical skill that only a select few people in the world know how to master. Throw in the idea of digital marketing, or utilizing technology to enhance and accelerate the marketing process, and people are even more impressed. Tell people that you're building a digital marketing agency, and they'll look at you like you're speaking another language, half because they're impressed, and half because they have no idea what you’re talking about.

But the truth is, people like you buy products and services every day because someone figured out how to get their attention and their dollars with digital marketing. And now it’s your turn.

To understand what building a digital marketing agency is all about, you have to go back to the idea of sales. Selling something is not an inherently complicated endeavor; it’s simply exchanging one value for another. You have something valuable to give to someone, and you've determined that what you have to offer is worth the money they have, and you negotiate an exchange. That's the essence of sales: proving to people that you have something valuable enough to their life that they'd be willing to give you money for it.

Marketing is not terribly different in essence. The only distinction is that marketing means selling one thing to many people at the same time, exponentially beyond what you could do by selling to people one-on-one. In other words, if sales is selling one thing to one person, marketing is selling one to many. It means you've determined a substantial amount of people who want your product or service, or a market, and you've determined the right message or hook to get them interested.

There are traditional forms of marketing of course, but because of the power of the Internet and social media, a new field has opened up which we call digital marketing: selling one to many through the power od technology. When you think about the stack of concepts I’ve just communicated, it starts with value that you've determined another person needs, and it ends with utilizing technology to bring that value to the attention of as many people as possible. Not too crazy, right? If you've ever been scared of the idea of opening a digital marketing agency, hopefully this breakdown has helped curb your fears some.

But let's say you're actually ready to get going and create a digital marketing agency. If you’re like most of us, you don't have a lot to invest in making this happen. That's okay. You can start with zero dollars as long as you have some dedication, clear value propositions, resilience, and of course, access to the greatest gift of the 21st century: the Internet.

Most people have the Internet. Few have dedication. Are you one of them?

Good. Keep reading.

Next, you need to get confident about your brand and the particular style you bring to the table. The fact is, because opening a digital marketing agency is not too difficult, and actually doing digital marketing is difficult, there are a lot of people out there with not a lot of skill. You’re in a saturated market filled with kids who think they’re digital marketers because they have a Facebook or Instagram account. Those people are your competition, and you need to find a way to be unique among the group.

I recommend starting with LinkedIn, as this is the perfect place for businesses who are looking for people like you to develop their own brands and increase their exposure and reach. Build strong relationships at the beginning, and treat every potential customer like gold, because they are. Begin with your immediate connections, ask for referrals, and find companies who are lacking the type of marketing you can provide.

Once you've done a solid job at creating a unique niche for your agency and for the people you're trying to serve, and once you get lucky enough to have some people who want you to serve them, then comes the hard work that separates most digital markers from the select few who actually flourish: adding value. Now, it's time for you to find ways to add value to your potential clients. What do I mean by this? Without any expectation of being paid, you need to become a master at finding a handful of items your clients need to change about their marketing and positioning process and give them well-researched and viable solutions. Yes, I said “research.” You're going to have to learn a ton about marketing in order to be a superstar digital marker. I said it was free to become one, but I didn't say you didn't have to work for it!

As you begin learning and teaching your potential clients how to improve their marketing and showing them that your competent to deliver results in changes for them, you will begin converting leads. It may take time, and you may get 10 times as many “nos” as “yeses”, but it will begin to happen. Businesses are built by one great customer experience at a time, and it's on you to provide that experience. Keep in mind that they are buying you as much as they are buying your digital marketing agency.

Restaurants are a great example of potential clients you can begin working with from the beginning. They're everywhere, they're desperate for sales, and usually they're not very good at marketing themselves. Develop your skills to become great at social media marketing, pick up the phone (yes, actually cold call somebody), and reach out to restaurants about what you can offer. Will you get some rejection? Of course you will. But every “no” leads to a “yes.” And if you believe in the law of averages, if you communicate with enough people over time, eventually things are going to work out in your favor.

Keep it simple: determine how you want to communicate with people and how you want to express your personality, research and learn about marketing, and utilize the two most powerful and free ways to get leads, LinkedIn and cold calling. Be persistent, hustle, and don't give up when you get rejected a few times. If you create enough value for people, and if you talk to enough people who match that value, you will close deals. Time to get to work.

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