Nobody wants to continue the nine to five grind for a lifetime. Furthermore, with so much job certainty in the market, people want to start their agencies. However, running a digital agency successfully and growing it to a 7- figure agency is not easy. So, we decided to share the complete modus operandi of starting and growing a digital marketing agency with tips from experts and successful agency owners. We have explained different steps in detail so that even a novice can understand them and implement them on their own. Each phase follows a small action list that sums up the steps you need to take to accomplish your goals.
Here we split the journey of a successful 7-figure digital marketing agency into three phases:
- Phase 1: Priming the pump (You go from $5k to $20k per month)
- Phase 2: Erection of an agency’s structure (From $20k to $50k per month)
- Phase 3: Scale your agency even further (Rise upwards of $50k+ per month)
Phase 1: Priming the pump
It is the first phase, where you focus on building your cash flow. During this phase, you should focus on the following things:
Step 1. Pick a Niche and Identify Your Target Market
Choosing a niche is exceptionally beneficial for new agencies. Since you target a particular segment in niche marketing, you get some fantastic perks. Some of these perks are as follows:
Step 2. Build Strong Relationships
It helps you to focus on quality engagements and use more personalization in your communications. When you target a niche market, you will be able to offer custom services tailored to your customers' needs and handle their special requests. Better customer support and dealing with your customers on an individual level will always pay off in customer loyalty and long-term relationships.
Step 3. Shrink Competition
When you target a niche, you automatically minimize much of your competition. For example, if you sell a keyring, you face stiff competition from suppliers, but you offer keyrings with the customer's name inscribed on them, your competition lessens to a great extent. Furthermore, when you sell a keyring with the name and pics of your customer and their fiance or better half, you position yourself as a rare seller with very little competition. Your competitors will find it difficult to emulate your strategies if your product or service mix is highly specific.
Step 4. Enjoy Increased Visibility
With unique product offerings, you gain increased visibility and a chance to stand out from the crowd. It also means more customers and an increased online presence. As an additional perk, you get featured in media outlets but getting in front of the right people is often more important than getting in front of the masses. That's where conversion happens.
Apart from that, there are several other benefits of marketing to a niche audience are as follows:
- Achieve Brand Loyalty
- Spend Less on Marketing and Advertising
- Enjoy Higher Profit Margins
- Acquire Expertise
Caution: However, while targeting a small niche, make sure that your efforts boost your prospects and not detract the rest of your audience.
Ogilvy is a super-successful agency that specializes in digital marketing for the media and entertainment industry and has 131 offices across 83 countries! Ogilvy has an impressive turnover and annual gross income.
But specializing in a particular niche is easier said than done. First, you need a big pool of experts, cash flow, and other tools, strategic alliances, and partnerships.
A white-label service provider can be beneficial if you want to achieve specialization in a particular segment. They will also assist you in increasing your gross income, which is a core achievement for an agency.
- Create marketing assets
- Free online educational resources (such as blog posts)
- Free video tutorials (see video blog)
- Educational webinars (see webinars)
As a successful marketing agency, you should offer your clients free educational material and tools to empower them and make their life easy. Make sure that these resources provide value, so during the initial phases of your agency, you can earn free organic traffic from Google.
Free Facebook Group (see Facebook Group)
Building a community offers many benefits, such as creating awareness and earning loyalty and credibility. It would help if you used the most popular keywords on your Facebook group description as Facebook is also a vast search engine.
Source: Marketers Mindset by DashClicks
A Landing Page for Paid Ads and Organic Search
The importance of a landing page increases as an agency grows and scales. This page is crucial because all the traffic coming through retargeting ads and organic searches is diverted.
Tips for Creating a Landing Page
- The page addresses the pain points of your niche tactfully and offers value to your targeted audience.
- To add an element of credibility and trust, it should contain a lot of social proof and testimonials from your customers.
- Last but not least, don’t violate the advertising guidelines of your social network.
Make a Lead Generation Strategy
- When you start building authority and gaining exposure to your target audience, you also start generating sales leads.
- It has two steps. First, you need to create a marketing message and then find the channels and avenues to spread your message.
Create a Marketing Message
Create a marketing message or a pitch to use while addressing your audiences on different social channels. For example, these messages could be along the lines of the following statement.
"I help media and entertainment companies by delivering cutting-edge digital marketing and PR solutions using the services of experienced digital marketing and PR professionals across the world."
Once you have different variations of your marketing messages ready for use, it's time to build your digital footprint. Then, take your high-value content to your prospective customers using the unbelievable reach of the web.
You can use the following steps to spread your message:
A. Use Your Social Media Profiles for Posting
Use your personal profile on different social channels and use it as a sales page. Publish your marketing message and high-value content. It will act as your top-of-the-funnel activity.
B. Post in Your Own Facebook Group
Create your Facebook group and build a community by posting high-value content. Later on, you can use a content marketing funnel and create high-quality content to engage these people.
C. Post in Other Groups in Your Niche
The next step is to introduce your content to a wider audience by posting your content in other people's groups. But, again, make sure it doesn't look like spam, as spammers are not welcome in most groups.
You should also not publish the same content in more than one group because it will look like it is stacked to a person who is a member of both groups.
D. Share Your Content via Newsletters
It's also essential to build your email list and start sending your high-value content in the form of newsletters.
You can follow this flowchart:
1. Create high-quality content and craft marketing messages and share them via the following:
a. Your personal profileb. Your own Facebook groupc. Other groups in your niched. Newsletters
2. Identify 10-20 Facebook groups that have the same buyer persona as yours.
3. Create a content calendar and have a well-planned content posting schedule to target all the customer segments and buyer personas.
4. Repurpose content to increase the volume and number of pieces of shareable content.
E. Attract New Audiences
Now that your marketing roadmap is ready, you can start connecting with new audiences on different channels. For example, as your social sphere grows, more and more people start visiting your website.
Action List to Engage With Your Audience
Here is an action list to attract and engage with your audience:
1. Write Attention-Grabbing Posts
Create engaging, informative, and entertaining posts on social media. However, you should keep them short, crisp, and to the point. The length of your post should be between 40-80 characters.
2. Establish a Dialogue With Your Audience & Prospects
Connect with anyone who likes, comments, or shares your content. Whether they are looking for information or writing a review, it's essential to make sure you respond to everyone, whether itā€™s positive or negative.
3. Positive User Experience
Improve the user experience on your social media pages and add a call to action so that the users can contact your business efficiently. A positive user experience makes the visitors return to your website or social channel. Use attractive pictures and graphics.
4. Track Customer Engagement
Track engagement such as actions, clicks, and impressions using the built-in tools in social networking sites. It helps you know what kind of content you should produce and the best time to post on social channels.
5. Trending Hashtags
Use the appropriate hashtags that people are using or topics that they are searching for. Hashtagify is just one online tool that provides a percentage of how popular a word or term is.
6. Video, Images & Graphics
While Facebook Live is gaining popularity, the best way to attract social media users to your post is to use an engaging photo or short video. It attracts "likes" and "follows."
7. Freebies & Offers
People love offers. So, organize a quiz, run an offer, or giveaway. You can also use it for contact capturing.
8. Do Social Media Marketing Every Day
Follow a definite number of accounts on Instagram every day. You can do the same on Twitter and LinkedIn. Participate in social events, discussions, and conversations. Collaborate with influencers.
9. Spend Some Time for Lead Generation
Use tools like Expandi and put your lead generation and LinkedIn outreach campaigns on autopilot.
How to Make a Sales strategy?
Sale is often considered the most challenging part of business, and the very survival of enterprises depends on it. Here are ten points strategy to boost your sales without working too hard for it:
- Change your mindset by focusing on the process.
- Help your prospects understand where they stand at the time of conversation and where they want to be.
- Use this gap to fill with your products and services.
- Visualize the future and help your prospect visualize it too.
- Spend five to ten minutes to demonstrate the value of your product or service. Respond with an open mind to their objections and what’s holding them back.
- Focus on the specific thing your customer wants to know, and don’t try to skip or divert them.
- Continue adding value till a customer asks for a price, which is often a green signal and closing part of the sale.
- Make your prospect feel important and convey that you would specifically want to help them. Also, use soft selling, offer choices, and elaborate on what your deal will look like. Such kind of pitching has a high success rate.
- As an agency, you have an unfair advantage as you offer direct value. So, ask them how much they want to make (the value attached to your services) vs. how much you are charging. Such calculations act mainly as an opportunity to close the sales immediately.
- You can ask the above question immediately after the objection handling.
Project Management Tools
In the pump-priming stage, it’s crucial to save money. You can do it very well by using project management tools. The two most popular project management tools are Trello and Slack. However, both tools have different functionalities.
Trello helps you with managing projects that require different stages of approvals and checks. It also makes client onboarding smooth and helps your team with managing multiple tasks with a single dashboard.
Slack is a project management tool that helps you manage large campaigns where different team members are involved. It also facilitates robust communication between the team members working on those projects. Therefore, it saves time and helps you organize your projects and tasks effectively.
Recruitment of Team
It is not recommended for you to go on a hiring spree, especially in the initial stages of an agency. However, when you start earning between $5,000 $20000 per month, it is time to start hiring. It becomes inevitable because you cannot handle all of your tasks alone. Furthermore, you are also required to invest your time in business development, marketing, and operations. You can hire an assistant who will help you execute mundane tasks such as communications, client handling, graphic designing, and social media marketing.
- If hiring a full-time employee is not feasible for you, you can go for a virtual assistant. You can find a virtual assistant on sites such as Fiverr and People Per Hour.
- Make sure the person you’re going to hire is committed and hardworking, and he/she doesn’t shy away from getting their hands dirty while performing mundane tasks.
- So, you have now understood how to define your target audience, find new clients, and maintain cash flow. You have also hired your first employee. Then, it’s time to move to the second stage, which is making the structure of an agency.
Phase 2: Erection of an agency's structure
Now that you have successfully launched an agency and have managed to maintain its cash flow, it is time to move to the next phase, making your agency's structure. In this phase, the agency owners create systems, processes, and structures. Unfortunately, many agencies don't grow beyond a point because their owners are not ready to decentralize them and keep everything in their control.
Step 1. Building a Team
Even if you hire assistants and employees, they cannot work independently, and everything goes back to the owner again for approval, evaluation, and assessment. So here are some practices that you should consider following to avoid the trap of micromanagement.
Step 2. Decentralization
You need to hire a media buyer or marketer, and they should be trained to replace you. There is no point in hiring employees if you can't delegate essential assignments to them. For example, the assistant you had hired in the first phase can now be promoted to become a project manager. All the operational and client servicing tasks are currently assigned to the media buyer and project manager. You might still be involved with client strategy by a significant part of your load would be shared by the media buyer. He will be in charge of the day-to-day operations and communications with the client. It becomes even more crucial if you have more than 5-6 clients.
Step 3. Client Retention
According to a survey conducted by Blair Nicole, the CEO of Media Moguls PR, adding new clients and retaining the existing ones are among the biggest challenges faced by agencies worldwide.
The average client churn rate is 30% per month which is relatively high. It means that if you have ten clients, three will leave every month. So you should have a proper strategy to check the churn rate. A client retained is a client earned.
The media buyer you hire is generally responsible for Quality Control and managing the new team members. They are not directly involved with project management or its implementation part. In the new agency structure, your media buyer would be handling a significant portion of the tasks you managed earlier.
Here are a few proven methods to lower the client churn rate:
Step 4. Onboarding
It sounds strange, but it’s true. A highly organized, fast, and well-planned onboarding can reduce the churn rate to a great extent. During the onboarding process, you need to complete many tasks such as:
- Get the account information form filled
- Link client’s Facebook Business Manager to agency
- Create spreadsheets with crucial content, log in details of client’s assets, content calendar, and digital marketing strategy documents and add them to Google Drive
- Send onboarding email with payment methods
- Set up invoicing
- Create KPI worksheet
Automated onboardings can save you a lot of hassle and time. Fortunately, various onboarding tools can help you onboard clients, on autopilot such as DashClicks's white-label onboarding tool.
Step 5. Communication
Communication plays a vital role in client retention. Conflict and mistrust occur when proper communication is absent. Some project management tools allow you to communicate with the client. You can also use white label tools that are pretty user-friendly and easily accessed from the dashboard.
Step 6. Setting KPIs
Setting KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for at least three to six months helps you in multiple ways. First, it helps in setting expectations and gaining clarity about the campaign. Secondly, it subconsciously makes up their mind to think in longer terms to achieve tangible results. So even if you sign a contract for one or two months, it's advisable to set up KPIs for at least three months.
Step 7. Use a Project Management Tool
Move over Trello. It's time for a project management software that is more advanced and powerful. You can try Basecamp for team management and internal communications. It is even more advanced than Slack or Asana.
Basecamp has the following features:
- Campfire – A place where team members can communicate with each other regarding the project
- Message board – A feature specifically built to enable your client to communicate with you and your team
- Docs and Files – The tool can store data and information, i.e., content, forms, and files
- Automation check-in – Send automatic messages to your client
- To-Dos – Useful for the current tasks and also onboarding process
Step 8. Predictable Lead Generation
During the pump-priming phase, you heavily relied on organic campaigns to generate leads. All this will change in the second phase, as you need some predictable lead-generation model to ascertain consistent cash flow.
Start investing $50 per day on retargeting your website visitors. However, this doesn’t mean that you will stop your organic activity. The other marketing campaigns will remain as they are. The only difference here would be that you would start investing a small amount into paid ads to see some easy conversions down the line.
To attract visitors through paid ads, you should focus on promoting the following three things:
- A high-value lead magnet (such as a free eBook download, membership, or access to a tool)
- Daily newsletter
Tips: The ad you create should be a video that highlights the following:
- Explain why the client’s current marketing campaigns are not yielding any results; cite specific reasons and ways to fix them.
- Tell them why your agency is remarkably different and give them some strong reasons to provide their email address.
- You can mention the lead magnet, educational webinars, and newsletters as the main reasons. The CTA should contain these three offers.
- Create a landing page
- Connect page to ActiveCampaign
- Create a powerful lead magnet
- Choose an email marketing tool such as Constant Contact, GetResponse, or MailChimp. Design a daily newsletter
- Shoot a video to promote your lead magnet
- Create marketing copy for the video ad to target cold website visitors
- Now that you have a structure ready for your agency, you can easily attain the target of $50k per month by creating systems and processes. Your lead generation is also on autopilot, and fresh leads are coming. It’s time to enter the next phase — scaling.
Phase 3: Scale and Grow Your Agency
With all the systems and processes in place, you need to move to the next scaling phase. In the 2nd stage, you built a small team to manage your limited projects. However, now that your client portfolio has increased, you need a larger team to manage them.
Step 1. Expand the team / Outsource / White Label
With an increasing client portfolio and an increased focus on building the teams, you should hire more professionals, media buyers, and project managers. You may need to hire SEO professionals, graphic designers, and paid advertising experts. Media buyers are account managers who manage client relationships and customer support.
Step 2. Try Outsourcing
Apart from hiring a full-time team, you can also outsource various services or processes to cut costs and boost workflow. But, of course, apart from full-time employees, you also must have freelancers and virtual employees, so your projects don’t suffer in the absence of the required headcounts.
Step 3. Resell White-Label Services
Reselling white-label services is another smart option these days. White-label services are offered by trained professionals and sold as they are to the clients. Reselling white label services allows you to scale your agency while staying lean and agile.
Step 4. Create a Repeatable Upselling Process
You can build upsell processes by guiding your clients through the upgrading process to use more premium products or services. Renewing a pre-existing customer’s subscription also falls into this category. You can create a checklist to see if you can upgrade your existing customer to a premium product. You can do it in simple steps by assessing the individual needs, their purchasing power, and willingness to scale. The checklist involves the following points:
- Record important details
- Fetch the contact details of the customer
- Send an email to see if they are interested
- Record their response
- Schedule a phone call if the email has been read
- If not, then get ready for a cold call
- If they don’t express interest or not ready to buy, send them a “thank you” letter.
- Initiate a call with a customer-centric approach
- Ask questions like:
- What motivated you to use our product, to begin with?
- How did you start using our product?
- Have you expanded your operations since then?
- How do you feel about the recent changes and upgrades made to the product?
- Would you like to share the current limitations of the product, if any?
- Where did you register the most significant success in your business operations with this product?
- Would you like to give some suggestions regarding the product improvement?
If your customer has mentioned that it would be nice to have more users on their team within the platform, you could explain that the next subscription level would alleviate that problem.
As a sales representative, do some due diligence. If the premium features can make a task more accessible and more straightforward for the customer, then go ahead and explain those advantages. But first, you need to investigate if the customer regularly executes those tasks.
Brush up your product knowledge and explain how the pricing of the premium product would work in favor of the customer and not against them.
Be ready to face the common objections from your customer and offer them rebuttals.
Tip: Be honest throughout the sales process, and it will work in your favor. If your customer doesn’t need the premium product, don’t push it aggressively. On the other hand, don’t try to rip off the customer if you want to retain them for a long time.
Step 5. Hire a Business Development Team
To free up your hands and delegate the day-to-day sales-related tasks, you need to hire a Business Development Manager. He will be responsible for building lists, generating and nurturing leads, funneling, and closing the sales. He/She would also maintain the sales data collected from different channels and internal processes. In addition, the Business Development Manager may recruit telemarketers and sales representatives for prospecting and making cold calls. Thus, the sales team will take a lot of the burden off your shoulders.
Step 6. Review and Analysis
In the end, you should learn the analytics and numbers to add an element of predictability to your agency’s operations and revenue targets. For example, you should know the hiring cost of an individual and their total contribution to the process.
Now that you have a sound understanding of how to launch, sustain, and scale a digital marketing agency, your agency is up and running and heading towards $100K per month. You are all set to achieve a 7 figure target for your business that too shortly. However, the understanding of the minutiae can be crucial to the survival of your startup. We have outlined the best strategies and what you need to do to become a 7-concrete. All you need to do is to approach it with passion and intensity.