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CHECKLIST: How to Start a Digital Marketing Agency & Hit $5K in Less than 90 Days

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KushShah9492

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Jan 2, 2021
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Great thread. So much value here.

Quick question: do you think the digital marketing industry is getting saturated in 2021?

I see a lot of people around getting in this field, making it a lot harder for newbies to get started from scratch.
 
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Sean Marshall

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Quick question: do you think the digital marketing industry is getting saturated in 2021?

Is every business owner getting the perfect amount of traffic and revenue from the internet? If not, then it's not yet saturated.

As Gary V once said, "It's never a bad time to start a good business." As long as there are businesses and people using the internet, there will be a need to market online.
 

Sean Marshall

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Hi Sean,do you suggest any book about digital marketing ?

Not really. Books on general marketing principles which stay relatively the same (like copywriting and persuasion). But I wouldn't recommend any one book on digital marketing specifically. YouTube and Google will have the latest best results. Just take a topic, SEO, for example, and Google it and study. Within a week of solid studying, you'll know more than the average business owner.

Of course, it helps when you niche down on a particular service and industry (leads for orthodontists, for example). Then you can focus your studying.

The only book I can whole-heartedly recommend, for any business, is of course, The Millionaire Fastlane !
 
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harlansjobs

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Hello Sean. Glad to see that this post is still so active since its inception. A lot of time, older posts in all forums, tend to fall by the wayside or don't always get updated.

I am looking to approach businesses that usually don't get affected by covid because people always need the service and once they get a client, they keep them for a long time. The first are chiropractors as people usually use a chiropractor for a long time I know because I used one for a long time and went from seeing her 1 x a week to 2x a month to 1x a month. So the life span of the customer can be long term.

The second group also has customers that have a long-term value and that would be lawn care companies. Not just lawn mowing, but leaf blowing and snow removal.

I have a pdf that I created that is 12 pages and shows the benefits and how to set up a GMB account, and I was thinking of giving it away, with a link to my calendar page to see if they want to book an appointment to discuss if that would be a good opportunity for them.

Now my services would be 350 a month and I was wondering about upsells. I want to sell them on things like social media services, pr and more. Do I upsell them right away, the way many who are selling Information marketing usually do, or as I am thinking waiting until I have shown them what I can do for them?

Is this a good approach or am I missing something? Thank you for your time.
 

S.M.

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1) For my agency I have chosen European soccer teams as a niche. Is it a good niche or do I need to make some changes, since soccer teams are organizations, not individuals? Can their digital marketing be different?
2) When choosing staff, is it better to focus on quality or on countries with low labor costs?
3) Is the payment of staff based on working hours? How many hours on average should they work?
4) From what I understand your tasks are to get sales and manage the team, so is it possible to delegate all the marketing to the staff and manage the managerial part of the agency?
5) Is it possible to delegate the management of the agency's social pages to the staff or do it personally?
 

Sean Marshall

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I am looking to approach businesses that usually don't get affected by covid because people always need the service and once they get a client, they keep them for a long time. The first are chiropractors as people usually use a chiropractor for a long time I know because I used one for a long time and went from seeing her 1 x a week to 2x a month to 1x a month. So the life span of the customer can be long term.

The second group also has customers that have a long-term value and that would be lawn care companies. Not just lawn mowing, but leaf blowing and snow removal.

I have a pdf that I created that is 12 pages and shows the benefits and how to set up a GMB account, and I was thinking of giving it away, with a link to my calendar page to see if they want to book an appointment to discuss if that would be a good opportunity for them.

Now my services would be 350 a month and I was wondering about upsells. I want to sell them on things like social media services, pr and more. Do I upsell them right away, the way many who are selling Information marketing usually do, or as I am thinking waiting until I have shown them what I can do for them?

Is this a good approach or am I missing something? Thank you for your time.

Looking to approach businesses unaffected by covid? Brilliant! I would add something along the lines of "recession-proof" as well, if possible.

But yes, I think your approach is great. Leading with value (and GMB has never been more relevant than right now) and starting relatively small at $350/mo. That's fine. Yes, prove yourself in that first month or so, then upsell to more services as their trust in you grows AND you've shown results for them.
 
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Sean Marshall

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1) For my agency I have chosen European soccer teams as a niche. Is it a good niche or do I need to make some changes, since soccer teams are organizations, not individuals? Can their digital marketing be different?
2) When choosing staff, is it better to focus on quality or on countries with low labor costs?
3) Is the payment of staff based on working hours? How many hours on average should they work?
4) From what I understand your tasks are to get sales and manage the team, so is it possible to delegate all the marketing to the staff and manage the managerial part of the agency?
5) Is it possible to delegate the management of the agency's social pages to the staff or do it personally?

1) Do they see the need and have the budget? If not, you've got to choose another niche. Also, can you handle the work involved for these teams?
2) Quality! You pay for what you get. If you want cheap, then your results will suffer.
3) Payment, at least how I pay my people, is based on the work completed. I don't care how many hours someone puts in. I care about the work getting done for the clients.
4) Yes, you can delegate all the marketing to your staff
5) Yes, it's possible to delegate the agency's social pages to the staff
 

S.M.

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Okay got it. But is it mandatory to choose a niche to serve or can the USP be, for example: "We provide SEO services for local companies"? Can a niche also be choosing to provide services for all companies within a certain geographic area ex:"We provide SEO services for companies located in North Italy ",or within a country: "We provide SEO services for companies located in Italy"?
 
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fridge

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Hi Sean,
You talked about the best kind of agency to start right now would be an ad leads conversion agency - so you'd use something like click funnels to set up a funnel, then run google ads (?) to that click funnel site, then automate it so it's sending the leads right to your client? If I understand that right, that's incredibly interesting because instead of having to create a full website for each client (or have a client having a pre existing website) you could create a click funnel site, run ads, then direct it right to click funnel site and have results extremely fast..
 
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otaku_ch

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Not really. Books on general marketing principles which stay relatively the same (like copywriting and persuasion). But I wouldn't recommend any one book on digital marketing specifically. YouTube and Google will have the latest best results. Just take a topic, SEO, for example, and Google it and study. Within a week of solid studying, you'll know more than the average business owner.

Of course, it helps when you niche down on a particular service and industry (leads for orthodontists, for example). Then you can focus your studying.

The only book I can whole-heartedly recommend, for any business, is of course, The Millionaire Fastlane !
I started to read again the book "Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman.

This book is great. I had no background in business at all before reading this book. While reading it I developed new ideas and after reading it, it changed the way I think about certain things. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to start their own business, be it a lemonade stand or a startup company.

This is the main book that I'm using to help my girlfriend for starting a coaching venture as well as my digital consulting
 

Sean Marshall

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Can a niche also be choosing to provide services

Yes. You can dive deep into one particular service if you like.

There's going wide (x-axis) like a particular service - SEO for all northern Italian businesses. OR, you can go deep (y-axis) like a particular niche/industry/vertical - working with dentists only. (Just examples).

You can also do both - SEO for Dentists in Northern Italy.

If you go wide, then your geography will actually help you. If you do deep, then you need to branch out to other places, otherwise you run the risk of having competing clients.
 

Sean Marshall

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so you'd use something like click funnels to set up a funnel, then run google ads (?) to that click funnel site, then automate it so it's sending the leads right to your client?

Yes, something like that. I feel the future of digital marketing won't be posting on FB for clients. It will be customer acquisition (from start to finish). Setting up funnels, running ads, etc is the start. But then you need to make sure that the client actually calls those leads, can actually handle them all, and so on. When they see that you drive money their way, it makes you as asset to their business - which, especially now, is exactly where you want to be (NOT an expense).

Hope that makes sense!
 
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otaku_ch

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Yes, something like that. I feel the future of digital marketing won't be posting on FB for clients. It will be customer acquisition (from start to finish). Setting up funnels, running ads, etc is the start. But then you need to make sure that the client actually calls those leads, can actually handle them all, and so on. When they see that you drive money their way, it makes you as asset to their business - which, especially now, is exactly where you want to be (NOT an expense).

Hope that makes sense!
I consider the best way to approach digital marketing is to be able to become an "attention magnet" for your clients via value creation - Value Creation - The Personal MBA
 

GivingItMyAll

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Dec 14, 2021
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I've been meaning to write this post for a long time. It's basically the story of how I started a digital marketing agency to be able to do cool stuff. And I would like to give you a nice little checklist that you could use as well if it interests you.

I started my business in 2010. Since then, I reduced my own work load to less than 10 hours a month, lived in Mexico for 4 1/2 years, traveled to 15 countries, and am prepping to head to Scotland for 6 months in Sept - all together with my wife & 3 kids.

I cracked the code to scaling a service-based business using detailed systems (a fancy checklist on Asana) and a good team (all based in the Philippines).

I made $2,450 in my first month. Not crazy I know but it was a big deal for me just starting out. More importantly, that number increased every single month afterwards.

At about month 11 is when I read The Millionaire Fastlane and it completely changed how I viewed my business. I made a bunch of changes based on MJ's advice and started hitting 5 figure months about two months later.


DOES IT FOLLOW MJ'S COMMANDMENTS?

I need to mention that a digital marketing agency does NOT follow all of MJ's 5 business commandments. It breaks one - Barrier to Entry. Basically, anyone can do this. They really can.

BUT, that's also the catch - most people DON'T ACTUALLY EXECUTE! You can give them all the tools, step-by-step instructions, templates, etc and they still won't do anything. I know because I offer a course giving people literally everything they need and only a handful of people actually do the thing.

So in a way, the barrier to entry commandment is almost a non-issue. Besides, there's more than enough business out there.

With the other commandments (time, scale, control, & need), this kind of business passes with full marks.


MAKING $5K IN UNDER 90 DAYS

Why $5,000? Two reasons:
  1. It’s usually enough money for most people to quit their jobs to focus full time on the business
  2. It’s totally realistic & achievable
This is a number that most people can hit with some focused work. How fast you’re able to hit $5k is up to two things:
  1. Your Prices
  2. Your Hustle
Obviously, the more you sell, the more you’ll make. Keep in mind that some services typically cost more than others (for example: websites cost more than social media management)

Like I said, I made $2,450 in my first month. How did I make that money? I networked with people I already knew and got in touch with a few key business owners. I shook hands and spoke with everyone I knew.

Simply put, I hustled.

Hitting $5K in under 90 days is totally doable. I have students in my course that have done much more in less time.


WHAT IS AN ONLINE MARKETING AGENCY?

Before I give you a checklist, I have to answer, what is an online marketing agency?

There are a lot of names for this kind of business - internet marketing company, digital marketing agency, online marketing business, and more. They’re all the same thing.

In a nutshell, it’s a service-based business that manages the online marketing activities for companies of any size that are in need of growing their presence online – which is all of them.

This includes services like SEO, social media management, reputation management, website design, and more.

You can choose to focus in on just one branch of online marketing (like website design or SEO) or you can choose to do it all.

As the business owner, you’re responsible for creating the services that your clients will choose from.
Then you will need to recruit a team of people to do the actual work. You can even hire salespeople or a sales company later on and scale it infinitely.

There’s no shortage of businesses that need help with their online marketing so the sky’s the limit. There’s also no shortage of people who can do the actual work and you can contract them relatively inexpensively.

*NOTE: Building an online marketing agency might not be your passion.

It really doesn’t matter.
What matters is that it offers you a way to sell a valuable service to real people who pay real money. You can quickly build this business, scale it up, and then do whatever the heck you want!

QUICK BENEFITS OF AN ONLINE MARKETING AGENCY

The benefits primarily include:


  • You can get started for less than $300
  • Extremely low overhead
  • Large profit margin - you literally set the prices
  • Huge potential - an extra $50K/year or $500K/year - it's up to you
  • Work online
  • Flexible schedule

Benefits.png


THE 5 S's OF YOUR ONLINE MARKETING AGENCY

Starting and running a digital marketing agency breaks down into what I call the 5 S's.

1. Setup
2. Sales
3. Systems
4. Staffing
5. Scaling-Up

5-S.png


I'm going to break down the checklist into those 5 groups.

The rest of this post is literally made up of the steps you can follow to start your own digital marketing agency. If you have any questions, obviously I'll be paying attention to this thread. I won't hold anything back.

Just ask.

***

SETUP
This portion is to help you get started by establishing your business services, messaging & branding, website, and so forth. The goal is to move quickly to hurry and get to making sales.



  • Start thinking about your business brand including your business name. Think about what kind “feel” you want your business to have. Write out at least 10 possible names.
  • Look up “online marketing company” and check out the first few sites – the goal is to get a feel for what they do and what you’ll be doing.
  • Consider taking a class or two on Udemy.com or Lynda.com to get an overview of the online marketing world. Strongly consider also going to QuickSprout.com/University
  • Think about an industry you might like to serve (i.e. – chiropractors) and then look up “online marketing for chiropractors” or similar terms and study what comes up.
  • Write out (or type out) your motivation. Why are you interested in starting this business? Answer this with something more specific than “to have more money”. Get as specific as you can. Don’t skip the mental work!
  • List out the amount of money you would like to make in your first month, second month, following months. Include your first year’s goal.
  • Go online and look up other online marketing companies (again) – jot down everything that you like and that you would like to emulate.
  • Start thinking about what sets you apart. Ideally it can be summed up in one sentence. i.e. – “We provide SEO services for dental professionals”. This is your USP (unique selling proposition)
  • Come up with your 3 packages. List out the services that each package entails. Yours may be just offering social media or just website design or whatever. Be sure to be detailed - list out everything.
  • Come up with your package pricing. Decide what you think is valuable for all parties involved and use this as a starting point (you’ll most likely adjust this as you get more experience). Use this pattern: $499/$599/$999 OR $999/$1199/$1699 and so on.
  • Identify and write out your USP.
  • Write what your ideal client looks like – the more details the better.
  • Decide right now you will stay true to your niche and not take on anyone and everyone who needs help “online”. It’s better to focus on a core audience to avoid wasting time and money. Don’t be afraid to say no.
  • Come up with your business name. Come up with your business tagline (if you need one).
  • Pick your colors. These can literally be your favorite colors. Don’t stress on this one.
  • Get a logo done (use 99designs.com, Upwork.com, or Fiverr.com) – don’t do it yourself unless you’re a graphic designer.
  • Write up your business plan. Print it out. Change as necessary. Just answer the following questions:
    o What is your company name?
    o What is your company tagline?
    o What services do you provide? What problem do you solve?
    o Who is your target audience or what does your ideal client look like?
    o What is your USP?
    o How much do you charge?
    o What is your monthly revenue goal?
    o How many new or repeat clients do you need to achieve this goal?
    o How do you get new clients?
    o How will you fulfill your services? Who makes up your production team?
    o Who are the other key players of your team? List their names and titles.

  • Set up your corporation (use LegalZoom – for now, just get a DBA and then incorporate once you’ve brought on a few clients and know this is going to work for you)
  • Set up your business checking & savings account. Set up your PayPal (or Stripe) business account.
  • Buy your domain name (use a registrar like GoDaddy.com). Buy your hosting (use a reliable & affordable host like SiteGround.com. Set up your website (use Wordpress – it’s super easy & all you need). Your host should have a 1-click Wordpress install.
  • Create a home page, about page, services page, & contact page to start. This is the minimum. Set up your social media platforms (Facebook business page, Twitter, Google+/YouTube, LinkedIn all a must. Pinterest, Instagram, etc are bonus).
  • Buy your business cards (and nothing else) Use VistaPrint.com because they’re super cheap. Only order 250 for your first cards. You may change some info later.


SALES
This portion is to help you start making sales - the lifeblood of your business. If you’re not making sales, you don’t have a business.



  • Get your first sale (work your own personal network to get started – make a list of 10 business owners you know or your friends/family might know and approach them offering them a discount or added value to get started).
  • Complete the work of your first sale and be sure to get results! If you don’t know how to do any of it, go to UpWork.com and hire someone immediately – see next section.
  • Document all of your work – you’ll need this to scale & build a team.
  • Get your next 3 clients quickly. Go to networking meetings in your area. Consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce and possibly a BNI group or other networking group.
  • Use online directories like Manta.com to find more businesses in your chosen niche. When you find their contact info, reach out to them leading with value - do a mock-up website with their info, list out specific tips to drive more business, or share exactly how they could tweak their online presence for increased traffic and conversion, etc. Think value!
  • Reach out to associations in your chosen niche and offer to give free webinars.
  • Optimize your company website to reach your target niche and drive traffic to it – have specific pages on your website that you get to rank in Google for organic traffic (i.e. – a page on “Search Engine Optimization Services for Chiropractors”). Then get it ranking and collect leads.
  • Continue to look up the Chambers of Commerce in your area and other mixers and networking opportunities. Look to set up 1-on-1’s with potential clients but only ones in your niche. Don’t waste time with anyone else!
  • Set up speaking and teaching gigs to get in front of a lot of people at once. Be as helpful as possible. Give your best stuff away for free - be incredibly detailed.


SYSTEMS
Once you have some sales coming in, you need to make sure you document everything and create systems in order for others to do the work for you. This also includes establishing what tools you use in your business. It’s simple but incredibly important.



  • Create a sales manual and a production manual. Be detailed and use bullet points.
  • Set up your work email (use Google apps or even just gmail to make it easy and route your Name@Company.com email through it)
  • Set up your account in Asana.com – it’s free and it will be your project management tool. Name each new project after your client name. Each project is a client & list out in the project all of the work you said you would do in the list of services.
  • Set your file storage using DropBox or Google Drive.
  • Set up your bookkeeping with Quickbooks


STAFFING
Getting a team in place to do the work for you is key to your growth. You need to hire, train, and lead your team members. As soon as possible, you’ll hire more team members to make sure all work is being done effectively.



  • Create a company org chart with you as owner. Create a general manager position with manager positions also in sales, production/operations, & finance.
  • List out the work for your first job (base this off of your services in your game plan). Then go to Upwork.com or OnlineJobs.ph and post your job.
  • Interview your top 3 candidates. Hire 1 but keep the other two on a short-list for when you need them in the future. Start them off on a part-time basis with the expectation of them doing more soon.
  • Hire your first employee or contractor – generally this is a production staff member first (you should not be doing the actual production beyond your first client).
  • Take time to train your first team member. Refine your systems and make sure they can operate independently of you as soon as possible. Use Asana (or Basecamp or Trello) to manage everything. If you’re concerned about tracking everything, consider using HubStaff.com.
  • As soon as revenue and need justifies it, hire another contractor. And then another. And another.


SCALING-UP
Once you have sales coming in and a team and systems in place, it’s time to scale-up. This section is all about refining your processes so that you can handle 5 or 500 clients while the work to you remains the same. In other words, this is how you make more money while working less.



  • Refine your services – productize them! When mapping out your services, make sure your offer is the same to everyone. If you choose a service like SEO for example, then it’s relatively the same regardless of the industry your client is in. Don’t match a service to the client. Match the client to one of your preexisting services.
  • Refine your clients - it’s OK & very necessary to the growth of your business to be choosy. Stay away from any "high maintenance" clients. Choose early on how you will handle communication with your clients. Most are just fine with email.
  • Refine your systems. Look for ways to save money, increase productivity, and so forth. When possible, swap out human effort with software and automated work.
  • Refine your sales. Spend money if necessary on advertising, always targeting your ideal niche/industry.
  • As soon as you have at least 90-day’s worth of savings in the bank, have made at least 3 sales (with a lot more in the pipeline), consider going full-time with your business. If you have a significant other, be sure to be on the same page.
  • Over-deliver with your clients. If the relationship is there, try asking for a referral but only if you’ve already done a great job.
***

That's it! Just sell. There's plenty of businesses out there. I don't mean to downplay it at all but really, I'm nobody special. I'm not like most of the successful hustlers in this forum. I'm a pretty average dude that managed to create a sweet business.

You can do the same. Just follow the checklist above.

If you have any questions, just ask!

-Sean
Thank you for writing this out! I've been action-faking for a while now by stressing over what business I should do. If by Tuesday I can't come up with anything I'm going to go do this!
 

GivingItMyAll

New Contributor
Read Unscripted!
Dec 14, 2021
12
6
20
I've been meaning to write this post for a long time. It's basically the story of how I started a digital marketing agency to be able to do cool stuff. And I would like to give you a nice little checklist that you could use as well if it interests you.

I started my business in 2010. Since then, I reduced my own work load to less than 10 hours a month, lived in Mexico for 4 1/2 years, traveled to 15 countries, and am prepping to head to Scotland for 6 months in Sept - all together with my wife & 3 kids.

I cracked the code to scaling a service-based business using detailed systems (a fancy checklist on Asana) and a good team (all based in the Philippines).

I made $2,450 in my first month. Not crazy I know but it was a big deal for me just starting out. More importantly, that number increased every single month afterwards.

At about month 11 is when I read The Millionaire Fastlane and it completely changed how I viewed my business. I made a bunch of changes based on MJ's advice and started hitting 5 figure months about two months later.


DOES IT FOLLOW MJ'S COMMANDMENTS?

I need to mention that a digital marketing agency does NOT follow all of MJ's 5 business commandments. It breaks one - Barrier to Entry. Basically, anyone can do this. They really can.

BUT, that's also the catch - most people DON'T ACTUALLY EXECUTE! You can give them all the tools, step-by-step instructions, templates, etc and they still won't do anything. I know because I offer a course giving people literally everything they need and only a handful of people actually do the thing.

So in a way, the barrier to entry commandment is almost a non-issue. Besides, there's more than enough business out there.

With the other commandments (time, scale, control, & need), this kind of business passes with full marks.


MAKING $5K IN UNDER 90 DAYS

Why $5,000? Two reasons:
  1. It’s usually enough money for most people to quit their jobs to focus full time on the business
  2. It’s totally realistic & achievable
This is a number that most people can hit with some focused work. How fast you’re able to hit $5k is up to two things:
  1. Your Prices
  2. Your Hustle
Obviously, the more you sell, the more you’ll make. Keep in mind that some services typically cost more than others (for example: websites cost more than social media management)

Like I said, I made $2,450 in my first month. How did I make that money? I networked with people I already knew and got in touch with a few key business owners. I shook hands and spoke with everyone I knew.

Simply put, I hustled.

Hitting $5K in under 90 days is totally doable. I have students in my course that have done much more in less time.


WHAT IS AN ONLINE MARKETING AGENCY?

Before I give you a checklist, I have to answer, what is an online marketing agency?

There are a lot of names for this kind of business - internet marketing company, digital marketing agency, online marketing business, and more. They’re all the same thing.

In a nutshell, it’s a service-based business that manages the online marketing activities for companies of any size that are in need of growing their presence online – which is all of them.

This includes services like SEO, social media management, reputation management, website design, and more.

You can choose to focus in on just one branch of online marketing (like website design or SEO) or you can choose to do it all.

As the business owner, you’re responsible for creating the services that your clients will choose from.
Then you will need to recruit a team of people to do the actual work. You can even hire salespeople or a sales company later on and scale it infinitely.

There’s no shortage of businesses that need help with their online marketing so the sky’s the limit. There’s also no shortage of people who can do the actual work and you can contract them relatively inexpensively.

*NOTE: Building an online marketing agency might not be your passion.

It really doesn’t matter.
What matters is that it offers you a way to sell a valuable service to real people who pay real money. You can quickly build this business, scale it up, and then do whatever the heck you want!

QUICK BENEFITS OF AN ONLINE MARKETING AGENCY

The benefits primarily include:


  • You can get started for less than $300
  • Extremely low overhead
  • Large profit margin - you literally set the prices
  • Huge potential - an extra $50K/year or $500K/year - it's up to you
  • Work online
  • Flexible schedule

Benefits.png


THE 5 S's OF YOUR ONLINE MARKETING AGENCY

Starting and running a digital marketing agency breaks down into what I call the 5 S's.

1. Setup
2. Sales
3. Systems
4. Staffing
5. Scaling-Up

5-S.png


I'm going to break down the checklist into those 5 groups.

The rest of this post is literally made up of the steps you can follow to start your own digital marketing agency. If you have any questions, obviously I'll be paying attention to this thread. I won't hold anything back.

Just ask.

***

SETUP
This portion is to help you get started by establishing your business services, messaging & branding, website, and so forth. The goal is to move quickly to hurry and get to making sales.



  • Start thinking about your business brand including your business name. Think about what kind “feel” you want your business to have. Write out at least 10 possible names.
  • Look up “online marketing company” and check out the first few sites – the goal is to get a feel for what they do and what you’ll be doing.
  • Consider taking a class or two on Udemy.com or Lynda.com to get an overview of the online marketing world. Strongly consider also going to QuickSprout.com/University
  • Think about an industry you might like to serve (i.e. – chiropractors) and then look up “online marketing for chiropractors” or similar terms and study what comes up.
  • Write out (or type out) your motivation. Why are you interested in starting this business? Answer this with something more specific than “to have more money”. Get as specific as you can. Don’t skip the mental work!
  • List out the amount of money you would like to make in your first month, second month, following months. Include your first year’s goal.
  • Go online and look up other online marketing companies (again) – jot down everything that you like and that you would like to emulate.
  • Start thinking about what sets you apart. Ideally it can be summed up in one sentence. i.e. – “We provide SEO services for dental professionals”. This is your USP (unique selling proposition)
  • Come up with your 3 packages. List out the services that each package entails. Yours may be just offering social media or just website design or whatever. Be sure to be detailed - list out everything.
  • Come up with your package pricing. Decide what you think is valuable for all parties involved and use this as a starting point (you’ll most likely adjust this as you get more experience). Use this pattern: $499/$599/$999 OR $999/$1199/$1699 and so on.
  • Identify and write out your USP.
  • Write what your ideal client looks like – the more details the better.
  • Decide right now you will stay true to your niche and not take on anyone and everyone who needs help “online”. It’s better to focus on a core audience to avoid wasting time and money. Don’t be afraid to say no.
  • Come up with your business name. Come up with your business tagline (if you need one).
  • Pick your colors. These can literally be your favorite colors. Don’t stress on this one.
  • Get a logo done (use 99designs.com, Upwork.com, or Fiverr.com) – don’t do it yourself unless you’re a graphic designer.
  • Write up your business plan. Print it out. Change as necessary. Just answer the following questions:
    o What is your company name?
    o What is your company tagline?
    o What services do you provide? What problem do you solve?
    o Who is your target audience or what does your ideal client look like?
    o What is your USP?
    o How much do you charge?
    o What is your monthly revenue goal?
    o How many new or repeat clients do you need to achieve this goal?
    o How do you get new clients?
    o How will you fulfill your services? Who makes up your production team?
    o Who are the other key players of your team? List their names and titles.

  • Set up your corporation (use LegalZoom – for now, just get a DBA and then incorporate once you’ve brought on a few clients and know this is going to work for you)
  • Set up your business checking & savings account. Set up your PayPal (or Stripe) business account.
  • Buy your domain name (use a registrar like GoDaddy.com). Buy your hosting (use a reliable & affordable host like SiteGround.com. Set up your website (use Wordpress – it’s super easy & all you need). Your host should have a 1-click Wordpress install.
  • Create a home page, about page, services page, & contact page to start. This is the minimum. Set up your social media platforms (Facebook business page, Twitter, Google+/YouTube, LinkedIn all a must. Pinterest, Instagram, etc are bonus).
  • Buy your business cards (and nothing else) Use VistaPrint.com because they’re super cheap. Only order 250 for your first cards. You may change some info later.


SALES
This portion is to help you start making sales - the lifeblood of your business. If you’re not making sales, you don’t have a business.



  • Get your first sale (work your own personal network to get started – make a list of 10 business owners you know or your friends/family might know and approach them offering them a discount or added value to get started).
  • Complete the work of your first sale and be sure to get results! If you don’t know how to do any of it, go to UpWork.com and hire someone immediately – see next section.
  • Document all of your work – you’ll need this to scale & build a team.
  • Get your next 3 clients quickly. Go to networking meetings in your area. Consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce and possibly a BNI group or other networking group.
  • Use online directories like Manta.com to find more businesses in your chosen niche. When you find their contact info, reach out to them leading with value - do a mock-up website with their info, list out specific tips to drive more business, or share exactly how they could tweak their online presence for increased traffic and conversion, etc. Think value!
  • Reach out to associations in your chosen niche and offer to give free webinars.
  • Optimize your company website to reach your target niche and drive traffic to it – have specific pages on your website that you get to rank in Google for organic traffic (i.e. – a page on “Search Engine Optimization Services for Chiropractors”). Then get it ranking and collect leads.
  • Continue to look up the Chambers of Commerce in your area and other mixers and networking opportunities. Look to set up 1-on-1’s with potential clients but only ones in your niche. Don’t waste time with anyone else!
  • Set up speaking and teaching gigs to get in front of a lot of people at once. Be as helpful as possible. Give your best stuff away for free - be incredibly detailed.


SYSTEMS
Once you have some sales coming in, you need to make sure you document everything and create systems in order for others to do the work for you. This also includes establishing what tools you use in your business. It’s simple but incredibly important.



  • Create a sales manual and a production manual. Be detailed and use bullet points.
  • Set up your work email (use Google apps or even just gmail to make it easy and route your Name@Company.com email through it)
  • Set up your account in Asana.com – it’s free and it will be your project management tool. Name each new project after your client name. Each project is a client & list out in the project all of the work you said you would do in the list of services.
  • Set your file storage using DropBox or Google Drive.
  • Set up your bookkeeping with Quickbooks


STAFFING
Getting a team in place to do the work for you is key to your growth. You need to hire, train, and lead your team members. As soon as possible, you’ll hire more team members to make sure all work is being done effectively.



  • Create a company org chart with you as owner. Create a general manager position with manager positions also in sales, production/operations, & finance.
  • List out the work for your first job (base this off of your services in your game plan). Then go to Upwork.com or OnlineJobs.ph and post your job.
  • Interview your top 3 candidates. Hire 1 but keep the other two on a short-list for when you need them in the future. Start them off on a part-time basis with the expectation of them doing more soon.
  • Hire your first employee or contractor – generally this is a production staff member first (you should not be doing the actual production beyond your first client).
  • Take time to train your first team member. Refine your systems and make sure they can operate independently of you as soon as possible. Use Asana (or Basecamp or Trello) to manage everything. If you’re concerned about tracking everything, consider using HubStaff.com.
  • As soon as revenue and need justifies it, hire another contractor. And then another. And another.


SCALING-UP
Once you have sales coming in and a team and systems in place, it’s time to scale-up. This section is all about refining your processes so that you can handle 5 or 500 clients while the work to you remains the same. In other words, this is how you make more money while working less.



  • Refine your services – productize them! When mapping out your services, make sure your offer is the same to everyone. If you choose a service like SEO for example, then it’s relatively the same regardless of the industry your client is in. Don’t match a service to the client. Match the client to one of your preexisting services.
  • Refine your clients - it’s OK & very necessary to the growth of your business to be choosy. Stay away from any "high maintenance" clients. Choose early on how you will handle communication with your clients. Most are just fine with email.
  • Refine your systems. Look for ways to save money, increase productivity, and so forth. When possible, swap out human effort with software and automated work.
  • Refine your sales. Spend money if necessary on advertising, always targeting your ideal niche/industry.
  • As soon as you have at least 90-day’s worth of savings in the bank, have made at least 3 sales (with a lot more in the pipeline), consider going full-time with your business. If you have a significant other, be sure to be on the same page.
  • Over-deliver with your clients. If the relationship is there, try asking for a referral but only if you’ve already done a great job.
***

That's it! Just sell. There's plenty of businesses out there. I don't mean to downplay it at all but really, I'm nobody special. I'm not like most of the successful hustlers in this forum. I'm a pretty average dude that managed to create a sweet business.

You can do the same. Just follow the checklist above.

If you have any questions, just ask!

-Sean
Question for you, do you still think this'll be doable in 2021?
 

fridge

Contributor
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Jun 4, 2020
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I choosed my niche (dentists and dental surgeon).At the beginning my niche was waste management companies,but they aren't private companies and works through announcements issued by municipalities.So, I choosed dentists and dental surgeon.what do you think about ? Is it a good niche ?
I noticed that there are already companies in this market and one of them describes itself as leader in the market. Can I still fit in or should I change my niche?
Just do it and see if it works. If not, at least you learned something.
 
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harlansjobs

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As I'm looking at this thread I have to ask, is what we want to accomplish really necessary. Are we wanting to start an agency because we want the money that it can bring us or do we want to actually fulfill the needs of our clients?

TMF , on page 227 it says if you want to make a million dollars you need to make 1 million people achieve any of the following;
Make them feel better.
  1. Help them solve a problem.
  2. Educate them
  3. Make them look better-health, nutrition, clothing, makeup.
  4. Give them security-housing, safety, health.
  5. Raise a positive emotion-love, happiness, laughter, self-confidence.
  6. Satisfy appetites- food, to the risque.
  7. Make things easier.
  8. Enhance their lives, give hope.
    Then you will be worth millions.

So do any of these meet the criteria of why you want to start an agency. Do you truly believe that you can help a business stay afloat, help them survive and thrive and continue to give good service to their customers and take care of their employees?

Or do you just want to be like everyone else who has started a business for the reasons of me, me, me? If you go with the second choice then you will fail.

I want to help local businesses survive and grow as that is the backbone of America. I am still trying to find the niche- I was looking at local lawn care but it is winter and they are mostly idle so that might not work unless I look at FL or CA. Why lawn care? Because it is something people need all year long in warmer climates.

I have other niches in mind that the customer would need the services several times a year, but that these might not be able to afford it. Need to retrench and rethink and the above list sparked a lot of ideas. Thanks @MJ DeMarco. It had been too long since I had read @TMF and I am rereading and taking notes.
 

mxx

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Hello Sean,
First of all: Merry Christmas to you and your family! I hope you are doing well and enjoying the holidays.

This is probably one of the best threads and posts I read on this forum. There is so much insane value here. In fact, this even is my first time commenting on this forum!
Anyways I have two questions:
1. Why is it important to niche by industry? I understand why you could niche by service - it just makes it easier to scale your business and to get referrals on that particular service. But why by industry? What am I missing here?
2. I will offer WordPress websites for small german businesses(going to be my service/country niche). During my research on other agencies doing web design, I saw that most do not list prices on their website. They instead want clients to get into personal contact with them first. In your "Clone My Business Book", you said it is important to have 3 packages. Why do you think that this is a better approach?

Thank you for your time!!
Max
 

S.M.

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Feb 15, 2020
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I choosed my niche (dentists and dental surgeon).At the beginning my niche was waste management companies,but they aren't private companies and works through announcements issued by municipalities.So, I choosed dentists and dental surgeon.what do you think about ? Is it a good niche ?
I noticed that there are already companies in this market and one of them describes itself as leader in the market. Can I still fit in or should I change my niche?
 

Sean Marshall

Independent since 2010
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I want to help local businesses survive and grow as that is the backbone of America.

Absolutely! Now, more than ever, the businesses who survived this craziness need more help than ever. When we really do our jobs are digital marketers, then we're literally working to help build other people's businesses - pretty cool.
 
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Sean Marshall

Independent since 2010
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1. Why is it important to niche by industry? I understand why you could niche by service - it just makes it easier to scale your business and to get referrals on that particular service. But why by industry? What am I missing here?
2. I will offer WordPress websites for small german businesses(going to be my service/country niche). During my research on other agencies doing web design, I saw that most do not list prices on their website. They instead want clients to get into personal contact with them first. In your "Clone My Business Book", you said it is important to have 3 packages. Why do you think that this is a better approach?

1. Yes - it's vital. At least when starting out. You could choose to niche by service. That's fine. Lots of companies do that.

IMO, niching down by industry helps you develop an intimate knowledge of the people in that field. You know their problems and also what they consider wins. You can talk their talk. You get them. In all ways it helps to be specific to a vertical. Again, especially when starting out.

Once you get a good grip on that industry, then you can branch out to similar industries. For example, say you started with roofers. It's not too much of a stretch to then target gutter companies. And then solar. And then painters. And so on.

2. If you go "custom" then it's hard to scale. Especially if you're working with such a broad group like "small German businesses." You could speak with a bakery one day that has very little money. Then you might speak with a cosmetic surgeon another day that has much more money. And so on.

If you want to stay relatively small, then there's no problem being general and providing "custom solutions." BUT, if you want to go big, then you need to scale up with set packages (ideally for a set industry).

Don't let your clients funnel you into doing something you have to make every time. Funnel them into something you already have and can get them duplicatable results every time.

Hope this helps!
 

S.M.

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You wrote:
  • Set up your corporation (use LegalZoom – for now, just get a DBA and then incorporate once you’ve brought on a few clients and know this is going to work for you)
but DBA works only for USA. If I live in EUROPE,how can I do ?

I have doubts also about setting up business checking & savings account. Is it just a matter of creating a Paypal or Stripe account from the computer, all online, or do I first have to go to the bank and create a new bank account, then connect it to the Paypal/Stripe account?
 
Last edited:

Sean Marshall

Independent since 2010
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Aug 17, 2011
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You wrote:
  • Set up your corporation (use LegalZoom – for now, just get a DBA and then incorporate once you’ve brought on a few clients and know this is going to work for you)
but DBA works only for USA. If I live in EUROPE,how can I do ?

I have doubts also about setting up business checking & savings account. Is it just a matter of creating a Paypal or Stripe account from the computer, all online, or do I first have to go to the bank and create a new bank account, then connect it to the Paypal/Stripe account?

Before setting up a corporation (regardless of which region and which service), I would make sure you've got your services set up and at least a couple of potential clients.

I'm not a corporation attorney so you'll have to double-check the proper structure in Europe.

You're going to have to be able to accept payment as a business. The details of HOW to actually do that depend on the region. I do like Stripe which makes things secure and easy.
 
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S.M.

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Before setting up a corporation (regardless of which region and which service), I would make sure you've got your services set up and at least a couple of potential clients.

I'm not a corporation attorney so you'll have to double-check the proper structure in Europe.

You're going to have to be able to accept payment as a business. The details of HOW to actually do that depend on the region. I do like Stripe which makes things secure and easy.
Ok,thanks Sean
1)So,which type of corporation is better ? LLC ,S-Corporation or C-Corporation?
2)On SiteGround should I choose "Web Hosting" package or "WordPress Hosting" ?
 

Sean Marshall

Independent since 2010
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1)So,which type of corporation is better ? LLC ,S-Corporation or C-Corporation?
2)On SiteGround should I choose "Web Hosting" package or "WordPress Hosting" ?

1 - Disclaimer: I'm not a legal professional. I'm just a random dude. But at least for US companies, starting out, there's a trend to LLC's for the flexibility.

Again though, how to make the first sale should be the most important question when first starting out.

2 - If you're planning on building your site on Wordpress, the Wordpress hosting would be just fine.
 

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