Opinions expressed by londonbusinessblog.com contributors are their own.
It’s no secret that the advertising market is booming. Global ad spend is expected to increase of $58 billion in 2022, rising to $781 billion from $723 billion in 2021, and businesses of all kinds are vying for attention in the online market.
But what about aspects of the industry that are secret? For example, what are the unspoken rules your young agency should be aware of when starting out?
Related: How This Agency Is Using Creativity To Inspire Greatness In Others
1. Think small
How many times have you been told to ‘think big’, ‘dream big’ or ‘look at the bigger picture’? In the case of a media agency, it might be better to go against this advice and think small instead.
By ‘thinking small’ we mean identifying a corner of the market that you can really get the most out of. Think about your own background. In which sectors do you have direct experience? What marketing techniques have you mastered – is it traditional media, pay-per-click, or SEO? What do your previous customers, colleagues or employers consider your greatest assets?
Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Which do you think they would prefer: a jack-of-all-trades agency that claims to be able to do anything, or a fair and direct operation focused on specific fields and goals? In today’s highly competitive, highly granular landscape, it will likely be the latter again and again.
From my own experience, my first agency initially focused solely on traditional media, then grew to add digital and social capabilities. After developing a solid client base, our agency found that the best way to expand was to first build a strong relationship with our clients and then provide more services related to their needs.
Related: 10 Secrets to Building a Successful Digital Marketing Agency
2. Show what you can do
The best advertisement for your business is your business itself, especially in the digital space. In short, you need to lead by example and show exactly what you can do and why you are the best option for your customers.
Don’t just tell your prospects what you can do for them – show them. Agencies that can talk but can’t walk will struggle to get a grip on the market.
I’ve found client testimonials and case studies of our agency’s best work as great sales tools in converting prospects into full-fledged customers. Of course, these testimonials have to come from somewhere – in my early days, I offered free trials with the agreement to publish testimonials and studies, which gave me a solid foundation that I could use to attract new customers. This “show” rather than “tell” method is our biggest source of conversion, and it beautifully showcases our expertise as well.
3. Be selective, at least in the beginning
By thinking small, you develop a real area of expertise – a market niche that you can keep an eye on and make your own. Unfortunately, this means that your fledgling media agency will not be right for everyone. You won’t satisfy all your potential customers, and you’ll stretch yourself too thin if you try.
So be selective. At the beginning of your agency’s development journey, find the clients that best suit your organization and your skills. Personally, I have found it to be very effective targeting small to medium-sized brick and mortar retail businesses. This is due to their always active marketing approach and their consistent promotional efforts and budgets.
Don’t be afraid to say no to customers you don’t think you can properly help or to avoid customers with goals you’re not sure you can achieve. Doing too much will only get you negative reviews that hurt your business. It is also critical to check the potential customer’s credit history. I learned early on that a good customer is someone who spends money regularly and pays their bills on time.
This is of course easier said than done. It’s exciting when you discover a new prospect, especially a warm lead, and you may feel reluctant to pass up this company. Remember that growth must be steady and sustainable. You don’t want to hire staff for a specific project, only to find out later that you don’t need them.
Related: The 7 Steps to Manage Your Ad Agency
4. Identify specific recruiting needs with a focus on corporate identity
To grow your business, you need to hire staff. But as we’ve already mentioned, you need to hire sustainably. Start by handling as much as possible with your current internal team, or just on your own. Once you begin to understand your capabilities, you can determine where you need specific help and assistance.
Your company culture should always come first. Promote a strong corporate identity within the core of your team, then ensure that all employees are ready and willing to participate. Your culture needs to resonate with your prospects, which means it needs to resonate with your workforce as well.
The Covid-19 pandemic has hit recruitment hard and it has been extremely difficult to find and retain skilled staff. Therefore, don’t be afraid to hire outside staff, but remember to actively manage these hires rather than leaving them to their own devices.
5. Be good at new business
It doesn’t matter if you’re starting a digital agency or a more traditional agency – it will be crucial to find and convert new business opportunities. Some agency owners lament their “bad luck” when it comes to finding the leads and prospects they need to grow. While luck can play a part, I’ve always found that the harder you work, the luckier you are.
Strive for improvements in your acquisition process. One way to do this is by building excellent relationships with your existing customers so that these customers are a beacon for future prospects. However, you will still need to reach and find these prospects in the market, so hone your direct, outbound marketing skills as you grow your agency.
Related: How to Start a Successful Marketing Agency from Scratch
Become the go-to in your field
Getting your desk off the ground can be tricky. However, by fine-tuning your parameters to focus on your strengths, being selective in building your customer base, maintaining a strong company culture, and supporting both existing and potential customers, you can start building a strong presence in the market. Becoming the go-to agency in your niche is the key to success as you build your presence in the market. This is your goal.