Starting a digital business requires creativity, grit and determination. And talking about how to start a social media marketing agency can be a tricky prospect for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Creating a marketing agency around a couple of decades back was thought to be a colossal task. The barrier to entry was tedious, and the primitive operational landscape made it nearly impossible for business owners to work without a considerable initial investment.
Besides the overhead and startup costs, you were bound by physical and traditional media with a limited audience reach.
Fortunately, times have changed and the digital revolution has helped startups and aspiring entrepreneurs to establish their ventures.
How to start a social media marketing agency?
Here are the preliminary steps you need to take to create a social media marketing agency and getting small businesses to hire you.
Pick a niche
According to Statista, the total number of social media users will reach around 3.1 billion by 2021, that’s about one-third of the global population.
Hence, brands that are missing out on the use of social media are making a huge mistake with grave repercussions in store.
Are you a specialist or a generalist?
There are countless social media agencies out there, which niche you wish to choose?
But first you have to decide whether you want to run a specialist agency focused on a particular sector such as sports, IT, legal, electronics, etc., or is your business model more of generalized in nature welcoming social media projects from any industry.
Although, each option has its own share of pros and cons, but as a beginner, it is recommended to start as a specialist. With time as your agency is better equipped with experience and clientele, you can opt for a more generalist role by including more industries in your services.
On the other hand, if you’re a new agency struggling to acquire clients and ensure survival, you may start with any sort of project coming your way.
Social media management
Besides the most popular social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc., you also need to keep an eye out on lesser known platforms depending on the location, industry, and the type of campaigns you’re running.
Easily, the best recommendation is to start using the platform your target audience is mostly found on.
However, if you still insist on staying on the mainstream channels, decide whether you’ll be using all the channels or only specific networks.
Again, this needs to be determined on the basis of your on-board expertise and which way you want to head your business. For instance:
- If you’re working as a one-man army, it would be wise to conduct social media marketing on your most preferred channels.
- If you’re running a boutique agency in the fashion industry, you’ll be more inclined towards visual marketing services in Pinterest and Instagram.
- In case of B2B clients, you might be tempted to stay on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Social media advertising
Organic marketing, or non-paid marketing, is gradually declining and increasing number of businesses are ready to invest in paid marketing and extend their reach on social media.
According to Statista, the social ad spending is expected to grow by 17% year-on-year to $187,633m by 2023.
Advertising is a specialist skill, and some companies acquire expertise specifically in advertising on one or more platforms.
Therefore, you have to make a decision if you’re doing social media advertising, which platforms you wish to choose.
Each social media platform has its own advertising requirements and minutiae. Hence, specializing in one or more selected platforms can help you provide a full-fledged service.
Creating any type of content for social
Deciding which type of content to create is another work in narrowing down your niche.
For instance, Creative Moose offers a wide range of social media video packages where clients can acquire different video-based content on monthly basis.
In another example, RedPepper Marketing creates animated GIFs, short clips, and tempting cinemagraphs for social media users.
Determine your pricing model
Now that you’ve selected your niche, it’s time to decide the pricing model of your social media marketing services. Let’s start by creating a value proposition.
Creating a value proposition
Often a neglected thought, but value proposition is one of the essentials in how to start a social media marketing agency.
Value proposition identifies your business from a unique standpoint, it gives your prospects a reason to try your offerings.
Importantly, do not mix value proposition with a slogan or a tagline, for instance, American Express’s slogan, “Don’t leave home without it”, and Airbnb’s tagline, “Belong anywhere”.
A value proposition digs deeper, solving problems about clients, and answers “why I am the right agency for any particular client“. In short, you’re answering the following three traits.
- Relevancy—how is your product/service relevant and solves your customers’ pain points or any particular problem?
- Quantified—are the benefits measurable and deliver specific results?
- Differentiation—why your target audience should prefer purchasing from you over your competitors?
The most difficult, technical discussion is offering something unique when the competition of congested with numerous other social media agencies.
Obviously, your prospects will browse through various other agencies. Hence, coming up with a powerful value proposition is the key.
Understandably, your value proposition statement should be powerful enough to grasp your users’ attention within the first few seconds of reading.
Consider the example of Socialistics, a social media marketing agency. Here are the following three traits that are applied to the company.
- Relevancy, offering a wide range of services including social media content, paid social, social media campaigns, storytelling, and strategy and brand credibility development.
- Quantified, a cost-effective approach in contrast to the cost of each employee on board.
- Differentiation, helping B2B clients with their social media marketing goals.
Remember, the message should be clear and concise and answer the following questions: Who/What are you as an individual or agency? What do you do? Who is your target audience? How do you do what you do? What benefits are you providing with your services?
Bundling your services into different packages
Agencies often use a variety of packages for their services to accommodate different types of clients. Apparently, clients can range from soloprenuers to established businesses, and providing different range of services is important to cater their custom needs.
On the other hand, offering too many packages can also backfire. You don’t want to confuse your prospects as to which one to choose.
As a standard, three packages are considered ideal for social media marketing and management.
The packages, typically named as, basic, professional, and enterprise, are often differentiated by the amount of work input, parameters considered, scope of campaign, and other qualitative and quantitative factors.
See how Lyfe Marketing has individualized each of its social media management package.
You can even add relevant details with a direct CTA under each package.
Related content: How Much Should I Charge for Social Media Marketing in 2020
Here are the different payment options to consider for your services.
As the name suggests from the example above, monthly option is used to provide services with payments collected on a specified date each month.
It is used for bespoke services, mostly as a one-time payment typically for consultations, audits, trainings, or strategy development. Payments are usually done beforehand at predefined milestones; a 50/50 split between advance and completion; or after the completion of the project.
Often used where the project is indefinitely ongoing or any other uncertain variable involved. For instance, consultation, mentoring, etc. that will be invoiced with time.
Whatever the payment option you provide to your clients, you need to be clear with the currency involved alongside other aspects such as additional sales tax or VAT.
Establishing social acceptance and brand credibility
According to WordStream, about 37% of marketing firms admitted that acquiring new clients is their biggest challenge.
Hence, starting your social media marketing agency and trying to land your first client can be a real struggle. This is where you need to build your brand credibility and social acceptance.
Announcing you’re starting an agency
The time has come to leverage the right use of social networking. I’m talking about 1st degree connections you’ve on social media, acquaintances from your past workplaces, and friends and family. You’re announcing the opening of your agency.
Never make the mistake of undermining the power of your close connections. There are the people who know you, trust you, and will do whatever they can in their influencer to spread your business’s word of mouth.
Create a website and add relevant testimonials
Understandably, prospects will want to check out your digital presence before contacting you. And a powerful, aesthetically pleasing website or mobile app will do that.
The user won’t be there to check the UI of your website, but a mobile-friendly, quick to load platform should help. Rather, they’ll be more inclined to read what your past clients have to say about your work.
Interested clients want to know who are you, and what can you do for them. Remember we talked about creating a value proposition earlier, this is where you expand on it by adding powerful testimonials or success stories.
Yes, the one question that might be bothering you right now.
What if I am starting and don’t have any client testimonials?
Agreed! But you have some prior experience that made you capable of starting a social media marketing agency, put that into use!
For example, all the work such as extracurricular projects, CSR activities, and other unpaid jobs you did on non-profit basis can be added as relevant experiences.
In your website’s “About Us” page, you can tell a story on how you started the agency, challenges encountered, and the aspirations you wish to pursue with your business.
Then start introducing your team members with their corporate pictures, skills they possess, and their specialties. Seemingly, clients want to see the people who they’re working with.
Consider the example of Sculpt, a social media marketing company. Here is how their About Us page starts.
- The content starts with a quick overview of what the company does for its clients.
- Then comes a brief history along with the company’s mission and vision statement and its core values.
- A short introductory video about its employees, Sculptrons, followed by individual pictures of each employee and their designations.
Do note that the company hasn’t listed any client testimonials on the About Us page, but has created a separate page of Case Studies and highlighted some of their best work over there.
Sculpt shows the perfect example of acknowledging your business’s presence in a comprehensive manner.
It doesn’t matter if you create separate pages of your offerings brief and portfolio or merge into one, you need to include the client’s brief, your completed projects, quantifiable results produced, and a couple of testimonials from your satisfied clients.
Case studies tend to become convincing social proofs and a great way to build your agency’s credibility in the market.
Show you know what you’re doing
Practice what you preach, as we say it! Your claim on acing the art of how to start a social media marketing agency is utter nonsense if you cannot excel your own social media marketing profile.
Unsurprisingly, users and potential clients are going to see how well your own social game is faring.
For example, if Sprout Social claims to be a social media management solutions provider and writes a detailed piece giving valuable tips for small businesses, you’d better listen as its 24k followers on Instagram, over 43k followers on LinkedIn, and about 80k followers on Facebook speaks for themselves.
Building prospects and finding more clients for your business
Connect with your 2nd and 3rd degree network
LinkedIn is a great lead magnet to find new clients for your agency. Given that you have a healthy pool of 1st degree connections, you can now connect with 2nd and 3rd degree connections too by pitching your business and offers to relevant profiles.
Engage with brands you want to work with
Prospecting, reaching out, and cold calling can be seem a mountain of a task to do all at once. Undoubtedly, people love to work with people who understand them, so this is your chance to build quality, lasting relationships and extend your social network.
Start by following the pages of brands you have always admired or inspired from. Try to connect with their business owners or marketing team whose content you particularly enjoy.
Once you’re acquainted well enough, ask them if they need any kind of social media marketing help or invite them to a free demo call.
Use Facebook groups and community engagement channels
Facebook groups provide a great way for you to meet industry peers and make your brand name popular in the industry. Although there are numerous other groups you can join, but joining groups where you can provide some real value is the best option.
Besides Facebook groups, community engagement forums like Reddit, Quora, etc. also allow solo professionals and business owners to market themselves in front of interested people. Still, you need to be careful of not being overly promotional or risk getting kicked out.
Leverage coworking spaces
At the time of starting your own agency, its most probably you’ll be working from home while keeping costs at the minimum. But you can connect your home and office by using a coworking space once or twice a week.
By connecting with like-minded aspiring entrepreneurs, there is a possibility a chance of providing your services to a coworking partner might arise. Moreover, these spaces typically offer free workshops, hence, a chance for you to conduct a social media workshop and gain exposure for your agency.
X more ways to market your agency
…and sky is the limit. You can literally come up various creative ways to host your business.
For example, meeting people at local pubs, attending online startup, PR, design, etc. meetups, contributing in large, popular sessions by helping them organize as per your capacity, making guest appearances on podcasts, webinars, live chats, etc. and you name it.
This concludes the preliminary steps you need on how to start a social media marketing agency.
We talked in detail on how to pick a niche, deciding your pricing model, garnering social proof, building agency credibility, and creating prospects and hunting clients for your business.
In the 2nd part, we’ll be continuing the discussion with further steps on how to start a social media marketing agency in order to equip you with the required strategic and technical arsenal for running a full-fledged business.