If entrepreneurs and businesses haven’t really perceived it before, the post-pandemic landscape ought to make everyone aware of the profound importance and enormous power of social media platforms for marketing purposes.
Studies into the future of the digital scene further bolster that. For example, Statista’s report of 2021 marketing trends predicts that social media advertising spending will reach $48 billion in the United States alone.
Social networks are experiencing a massive influx – of users attracted by fresh content, businesses eager to advertise on them, and of digital marketers seeking opportunities to put their knowledge and ideas into action.
Whether you’re an experienced digital agency marketer looking to set up your own business, a freelancer who dabbed into social media as a side gig, or perhaps you’re just an avid social media user – 2021 is the perfect time to set out into starting your social media marketing agency.
However, with the digital market quite saturated and clients’ expectations (sometimes unrealistically) high, establishing your social media marketing agency won’t be a walk in the park.
Therefore, dive into our step-by-step guide where we will walk you through all the essential steps of starting your marketing business – from defining your niche, setting up a trustworthy online presence to acquiring your first satisfied client.
Step One – Weigh, Analyze, and Define
The initial steps are the most crucial ones, as these will determine the later course of actions of your newly established business. In this stage, your main task is to find the balance between your strong points and market opportunities and accurately determine who you are as a business, what you offer, and whom you offer it to.
#1 Determine Your Area of Expertise
Your social media agency is at its outset, and you cannot afford a bad reputation.
But how do you avoid it? Well, by doing what you do best.
If you’ve never quite understood the Twitter community, don’t offer running ads on this network. You have no idea what interests and troubles attorneys – don’t take law firms as clients.
Thus, your first step should be to ask yourself the following questions:
What industry do I understand well?
Look back on your previous experiences, personal hobbies or interests, or even a family member or a friend whom you can pick brain – all these can be invaluable when opting for a niche your social media marketing agency will center on.
On the other hand, you aim to set up a profitable business, one that will expand its market and grow. And choosing industries that don’t make money won’t help you much with that.
Do a SWOT analysis of different niches at play, and choose one or a few of them to start with. Your final choice of industries should be a perfect balance that portrays your interests and expertise, and on the other hand, yields a reasonable financial gain.
What social networks do I feel comfortable at?
At first glance, social media boils down to achieving awareness, engagement, and lead generation – a path that finalizes with signing a new client. However, each social network entails numerous intricacies, from the type of content and tone of voice to adopt on the specific platform, to the target audience and advertising opportunities available.
So, are you an expert in informal discussion and visual content loved by Instagram and Facebook users? Perhaps you know the ins and outs of professional B2B communication of LinkedIn? Or you’re great at creating video content for TikTok?
Can I offer value in a specific area of social media?
Do you write a killer copy? An actionable ad text to which the target audience clicks to without hesitation? Can you design show-stopping graphics, or create a shareable video?
Perhaps you’re more into mapping out an effective social marketing strategy or your organizational skills are amazing for social media management?
Social platforms are so multifaceted that you can build a reputable, successful digital agency by providing a single service.
#2 Define and Blueprint Your Agency’s Marketing Strategy
You wouldn’t start a client’s social media marketing without coming up with a detailed plan? So, why would it be any different with your agency?
Analyze Your Competitors
During your time in the world of digital, you’ve probably crossed paths with one or two of your competitors. Perhaps you’re familiar with their services, methodology, prices.
Getting to know who you’re up against out there will be a game-changer, so take your time to thoroughly research and assess other marketing agencies, build up their positive aspects, and succeed where others fail.
Outline Your Agency’s Costs and Formulate Business Strategy
Your business decisions, especially those made in the initial stages, have to be data-driven and planned.
Work out your running costs, from offices and bills to accountant and software licenses – and of course, marketing efforts. Without a definite strategy on how to achieve a return on investment, your social media marketing agency will turn into a money pit.
In addition, jot down all aspects of your business and define processes and organization methods. Opt for communication channels, project management tools, content creation, and planning software, file hosting and sharing options, etc.
#3 Define Service Rates and Payment Options
When setting up your agency’s fees, factor in all the costs and ensure a proper profit that will allow your agency to grow.
Besides, work out the payment methods your clients’ are eligible to – whether it’s project-based, monthly, or hourly rates. Setting up these in advance will help you be more streamlined and organized when meeting with a potential client.
Step Two – Build Your Brand Online & Offline
After you’ve defined your offer, target audience, and industry niche, it’s time to get down to some real work. On one hand, the quality of your online presence will directly reflect your expertise as a digital agency – thus, it has to be flawless. On the other hand, establishing your agency in legal terms will help you appear more trustworthy to potential clients and entice them to partner with you.
#1 Create an Online Presence that Reflects Your Agency
You want to attract business individuals and companies interested in creating a high-quality social media presence? Of course you do.
Therefore, create an online presence for your digital agency that will give your prospective clients a sneak peek into what they’re getting if they sign with you.
Persuade interested parties that you’re an expert in social media from the very moment they visit your website. It might be a bit costly, but creating a branded, fast, reliable, and well-structured website will pay off in the long run.
Research your hosting options, choose a domain name that will reflect your services or brand, do full-scale branding, and work on positioning your website in Google’s search results.
Land Your Clients With a Powerful CTA
As a marketer, you probably know that a website’s homepage is rarely a landing page, especially when a query is a niche-specific keyword. That’s why creating actionable, informative, and engaging landing pages is crucial.
Even if your landing pages aren’t targeted at converting visitors into clients right away, you can still use them to evangelize potential clients and entice visitors to sign up for the newsletter.
Set up Your Social Media Profiles
Social media is your turf, and there’s really not much to advise here – except that you should always give a 101% of yourself when creating content for your agency’s social accounts.
Content is King
The mantra of digital marketers applies to both your website and social media profiles. Going heavy on content will establish you as an authority in your industry, provide value to users and clients, and ultimately – a signal to Google and other platforms that you’re the leader in your business.
May it be your homepage, landing pages, service pages, about us page, or blog posts – providing original, useful, and actionable content is the key.
Be Present Across the Board
At first, not many people will know that you as a company even exist. Of course, you will do what you know best – social media marketing.
However, not all your potential clients will be on social platforms. Therefore, you ought to adopt a more comprehensive approach – from utilizing Google’s services such as Google Ads, Google My Business, and Google Maps, to enlisting in business directories and publishing valuable articles on relevant websites.
#2 Consider Legal Issues
Running a social media marketing agency entails being in possession of a client’s private and sensitive information and data. On the other hand, you will want to protect your agency’s intellectual property, employees, brand reputation, and ultimately – sanity.
The exact legal requirements will heavily depend on the exact services you offer, clients you take on, project details, your agency’s location, the country your clients are from, and much more, but here, we’ll outline some of the basics your digital agency will certainly need.
Set Up an LLC
Limited Liability Company is a type of business organization allowed in all US states. The foremost advantage of an LLC is the ability to protect your assets by limiting the liability to the resources of the business itself. For example, setting up your business as an LLC will protect your assets from claims against the business, such as lawsuits.
Steps for forming an LLC vary depending on the country, so before you set out into the paperwork, you should always consult an expert.
SOW and NDA Agreements
Statement of Work and Non-Disclosure Agreements are the basis for protecting the terms for conducting your services, as well as your and your client’s sensitive information.
With increased concerns regarding private information protection and possible abuse of personal data, the Internet has become a more legally regulated place.
Since 2016, the European Union has issued the General Data Protection Regulation, a law on data protection and privacy. GDPR involves various aspects of online behavior, such as cookies used for website tracking.
Step Three – Nail Your First Deal
Now that you’ve set up your business legally and online, and defined your services, methods, and costs, it’s time to acquire your first client. This might take time – but don’t get disheartened. Here are a few things you can do to speed up the process of evangelizing your prospective clients into handing you over their social media profiles.
#1 Build a Portfolio
To remove ‘potential’ from ‘potential clients’, you’ll need to provide social proof of your expertise by presenting previous projects and satisfied clients.
Create an in-depth, information-packed portfolio of projects you’ve done, outlining the work you’ve done, and highlighting the results you’ve achieved. Besides portfolio, testimonials are another amazing way of presenting your experience as a social media marketer.
#2 Draw Up a List of Target Clients and Reach Out
Already have some clients in mind? If so, make a list, detailing the weaknesses of their current social media presence, the areas you can help them improve, and your ideas for their new marvelous marketing strategy.
How to reach out in the right way? Firstly, choose a communication channel preferred by your target client – if they are an influencer – go for Instagram, if they are a B2B business – LinkedIn would be the best choice. Emails, of course, are still very much alive and kicking.
Secondly, always write a personalized message to your potential clients. To entice them further, give them a sneak peek of their current marketing flaw and suggest you have a solution. Keep them wondering so that their next step is to reach out to you.
#3 Be Proactive
As a new company, the best way for acquiring new clients is simply to be out there.
Post content on social media, publish blog articles, organize webinars, create tutorials and kits – in other words, be active and provide clients and colleagues with useful pieces of advice.
To Wrap Up
Starting a social media marketing agency is a daunting task. The advertising market is saturated, trends are incessantly coming and going, and there’s a lot of money to invest initially. Moreover, running a digital agency requires an impeccable online presence, with actively posting engaging, original, and valuable content you won’t be regretting in five years’ time.
But the entire hard work will wane once you feel the independence of doing the things your way, the pride of seeing your ideas being carried out, and the thrill of doing what you actually love. Your passion, motivation, and knowledge will radiate and help your digital agency grow to a renowned social media marketing brand.
Andrey Doichev is the founder of Inc and Go – your one-stop shop for all things related to online business formation. Whether you have questions about how or why, he’ll be there every step of the way with guidance on a successful start up!