Thanks to the power of the internet, you can start your own marketing business in a matter of days. With enough effort and hard work, you could have a fully operational marketing agency in just a few months. While the marketing industry presents a lucrative business opportunity, it can be overwhelming to start from scratch.
From choosing a niche and finding clients to optimizing your processes, there are many ways to start your marketing business. How do you know which way is best? It all depends on your goals and personal experience. But it doesn’t have to be difficult. You can get all set up – legalities included – in just 8 steps. Here’s how.
8 Steps to Start a Marketing Business
1. Refine Your Skills
Chances are, you already have some marketing skills if you’re looking to create your own business. Still, it’s critical to hone in on those marketing talents before you start making promises to paying customers.
Starting as a small business, you’ll wear many hats. Some of the marketing work you’ll do can include:
- Ad design
- Landing pages
- Messaging and copywriting
- Tracking implementation
One way to work on your skills is through hands-on experience. You could start as a freelancer, taking on one-off projects to build your skills. Or, you may want to partner or intern with a marketing expert and learn from them. You can even do mock projects for the sole purpose of learning. Plus, there are plenty of online courses that provide structured training.
You’ll also need skills beyond the technical realm. As a marketing professional, you’ll need to manage accounts and relationships with clients, so you need to learn people skills. Practice with freelance clients, via an internship, or even in your current day job.
2. Choose a Niche and Target Market
Although the world of marketing is growing, there’s also a ton of competition. To have a successful business in this industry, you need to set yourself apart from other companies and give clients a reason to choose you. You can easily do this by niching down, which makes you the expert in a specific area.
There are several ways to choose a niche. Consider the type of client you want to serve. Who are they? How big is their company and what stage of growth are they in? What industry do they work in? Where are they located?
You can also niche down by only offering certain marketing services – for example, you might be the go-to expert for landing pages, and that’s all you offer.
It’s always a good idea to perform some competitor research to see what you can do better than your competition.
3. Develop Packages and Pricing
There are many ways to set up your packages and pricing. You might charge hourly, which can be helpful if you spend a lot of time in meetings with your clients. For example, you may have a needy client who wants to brainstorm everything with you. You’ll need to calculate your hourly rate ahead of time and carefully track hours based on project and client.
With commission payments, you get paid when your marketing earns your client a sale. This can build trust with your clients, but it can leave you with little earnings compared to time spent working. It’s generally best for ecommerce product-based businesses, where you can easily track success.
You may offer one-on-one intensives with your clients, called VIP days, to reformulate an existing marketing strategy. During this day, you plan and execute as much as possible in terms of messaging, branding, and content. Clients are willing to pay a high price tag for this service as it saves them time and mental space.
With a flat retainer, you get a monthly payment and agree on a set amount of work with the client. This type of agreement works well for most marketers and allows you to easily budget and plan your workload.
4. Plan Your Processes
Your processes are the set ways that you do business and using them simplifies your day-to-day actions. They also make scaling up easier, as they allow you to bring on new team members and quickly train them to do what you do.
Your processes define everything, from onboarding new clients to planning content. Examples include:
- Questions for onboarding calls with new clients
- Worksheets for VIP days
- Templates for different types of client emails
- Workflow describing how and when you share ideas and concepts with clients
- Your office hours and preferred means of communication
- Workflow on how to do competitive analysis
Processes aren’t just for your mental clarity – they also improve the client’s experience and boost satisfaction. Plus, they make it easier to sell your services because you’re not questioning what exactly you do or how you do it. Processes even make it easier to track your projects, so you can showcase your successes.
5. Make It Legal
Every business needs to meet certain local, state, and federal regulations. First, you'll need to register your business in your state. This is typically done by going to your Secretary of State's website and applying online, though you can do so in person as well.
When you register, you’ll need to select a business structure. The most popular options are sole proprietorship, LLC (Limited Liability Corporation), corporation, and partnership. LLCs and corporations give you the most separation between personal assets and business assets, but require more money and effort to set up.
Next, check with your local county clerk’s office. You may need certain permits and licenses to operate your business, depending on where you live. Finally, you’ll need a federal EIN (Employer Identification Number). Even if you don’t have employees, your EIN will be important for opening financial accounts and filing taxes.
At this point, you might also open a business bank account and purchase some accounting software. It’s important to keep your personal and business accounts separate for tax purposes. Software like HoneyBooks or QuickBooks helps you keep track of income, expenses, and invoices.
6. Create A Website
Having a professional website where you can advertise your services, showcase results, and share testimonials is key to building trust with potential clients. As a marketer, you likely already have experience with website creation. Even if you don’t, though, you can easily make one in a matter of hours using a website builder like Squarespace.
Keep in mind that at first, you might not have a lot to put on your website, but you can use it as a space to share your portfolio. Include work you’ve done for past clients, or do mock-up projects to showcase your skills. You can always add and update later as you gain more experience.
Your website should also give your clients a way to contact you. Include your email as well as the option to set up a virtual meeting. If you plan on accepting payments through your website, you should also set up a customized checkout page.
7. Set Up a Payment System
Choosing an easy-to-use, secure payment system is one of the most important steps in creating a business. Clients can quickly get fed up and abandon a purchase if anything during the payment process seems off, so choose wisely.
Pay.com makes the entire process straightforward for you and your customers. Using the easy-to-navigate Pay Dashboard, you can get set up quickly even if this is your first time selling online. You can add payment methods to your website or take client payments over the phone by manually entering their information.
You can also send a Pay Link directly to your clients over text or email, which they can click and pay from anywhere. From the dashboard, you can also track payment status, issue refunds, update customer details, and view reporting.
Most importantly, Pay.com has Level 1 PCI DSS compliance, which is the highest level of security. Your clients can pay with a wide variety of payment methods and feel safe doing so - all in just a few clicks.
8. Find Clients
Finding your first clients can be challenging and often requires that you accept a lot of rejection. Starting out as a freelancer or contractor can help, as people are often willing to take a risk on a one-off project. With this approach, even if you fail there’s little risk attached - you simply move on to the next project. Plus, it can create a wide network of valuable relationships that lead to more work down the line.
You can use freelance and job boards like Upwork and Fiverr to find clients, but it’s generally best to avoid these types of sites. They take a cut of every sale, and you’re penalized if you try to take a client off the platform. Plus, you often have to start off at lower rates to get your first sale and compete with other low-priced competitors.
You may even offer your services for free to get your first clients. Ask for testimonials and referrals in exchange for your work. With that under your belt, you can start spending time wherever your target market is. For example, you might find entrepreneur clients hanging out in entrepreneur-focused Facebook groups. Offer marketing advice and network.
You can also send cold-pitch emails to your dream clients. Use an attention-grabbing subject line and keep the email short and sweet. Explain what problem you solve and your qualifications.
The Pros and Cons of Starting Your Own Marketing Business
As with any business opportunity, there are benefits and drawbacks to starting a marketing business. It offers a lot of flexibility, and setting your own hours and working from anywhere is appealing. Plus, marketing is in high demand, so you can scale the business easily if you have the right skill set.
Marketing also has high customer retention rates. Once you’ve proven your worth to your customers, they’ll keep returning to you and bring their friends. You’ll also get to choose your target market and niche, so you’ll connect with like-minded people and create meaningful connections.
One of the biggest cons to starting this type of business is competition. There are tons of marketing agencies to choose from, so differentiating yourself is tough. Plus, marketing services are expensive, so they are a harder sell with a longer sales process. You may also get stuck working with some nitpicky customers, though that can happen in any profession.
The Bottom Line: Is Starting a Marketing Business Right for You?
Starting your own marketing business is no easy feat. It requires patience and determination as you build your skills, map out processes, and plan your services. You’ll spend much of your time networking and pitching to clients, but once you do find your footing, you can earn a huge profit.
Of course, you’ll need a trustworthy, convenient way for clients to pay you. With Pay.com, you can easily accept a wide variety of payment methods. Rather than worrying about getting paid, you can spend your valuable time scaling your business. Click here to get started now!