Starting a marketing agency isn’t easy. In fact, it’s one of the most difficult things to do—especially with the current amount of competition.
If it’s so difficult though, how is it possible that so many agencies pop up on an almost daily basis? How is it possible that (almost) everyone has managed to start their own agency? We’ve seen it all…
- Conversion optimization agencies
- Social media marketing agencies
- Content marketing agencies
- Growth marketing agencies
- PPC agencies
- SEO agencies
Among many others.
The question for me is not how many agencies exist out there. Instead, it’s this: how many of them manage to find a product-market fit and survive?
In my experience running a marketing agency, I’ve noticed that even though most agency owners brag about their wins and successes, very few are open about their failures and losses.
In this article, I’ll be presenting to you 5 mistakes you should avoid when starting a marketing agency. Follow these tips if you want to increase your chances of success.
Mistake #1: Working with friends and family
I’ve seen many people falling for this mistake over and over again. One of the easiest things to do when starting your own marketing agency is sell services to your friends and family. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
Throughout my career in marketing, I’ve never worked with anyone who was either a friend or a family member. Yes, I’ve accepted referrals from friends, but never have I worked directly with them.
You see, when you mix personal and business relationships, things usually don’t end up well. The reason? If things don’t work out with a client, you just lose a client—ut if things don’t work out with a good friend who’s also a client, you’ll lose both. This is not something anybody wants.
Moreover, and this is a crucial point, working with friends and family or getting referrals only from people you knew before starting your business will give you a wrong impression regarding:
- Your actual business growth
- The awareness you’ve managed to raise
- Which channels work better for your business
Avoid this at all costs.
Mistake #2: Playing the price game
How many times have you reduced your prices to close the deal? How many times have you agreed to do work for free to keep someone happy? Trust me though, playing the price game is not going to get you anywhere.
Would you ever make a discount to the quality of your services? Would your clients accept that? Most likely no. So why should you make a discount on your prices?
I know that in the beginning, clients will ask for a better price. When they do, explain that in the same way you can’t make a discount on the quality of your services, you can’t make a discount on your prices. If they really want to work with you, they’ll understand.
Mistake #3: Offering every service available
This was one of my own major mistakes when I started my marketing agency a few years back. I was so desperate to get new clients that I would offer every single service they were asking for. Only now do I understand that being a generalist—especially when you don’t have a process to support a 360 service—is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
Do you know what most prospective clients will think when they hear that you offer every available service? That you simply can’t be good at all of them and thus can’t be a trusted partner. They will therefore choose to hire someone else who is great at doing one simple thing.
Thus, my advice here is this: try to specialize. Be the best in what you do. Focusing on one thing will allow you to become great at it sooner than if you were doing many things. Simply put, the more hats you wear, the more difficult it is to excel at a certain thing.
For example, when people ask me what I do and how my agency helps businesses, the answer is clear: I drive organic growth for tech companies through Content & SEO.
Be as specific as possible when it comes to describing who you can help and how.
Mistake #4: Not setting limits in your relationship with clients
I remember a couple of years ago, when I had just closed a big client for my agency (at least for my standards back then!), that I would respond to calls in the weekend, reply to emails at any time and even accept calls during my vacation.
If you don’t set limits to your relationship with your clients, no one else is going to do it for you. The sooner you understand that, the better. Respect your time, and you’ll notice that people around you will start respecting it as well.
Mistake #5: Not having a process
I saved the best for last. One of the biggest things that separate professional marketers from amateurs is that professional marketers follow a certain process that they’re not willing to water down, no matter what.
On the other hand, amateurs usually don’t follow a certain process and often let their clients take the lead. However, in the relationship between you and the customer, you should always be the one who has the lead, who is the authority. Otherwise, this relationship will sooner or later come to an end.
Now It’s Your Turn
So there you have it. You now know the mistakes I made when I started my agency. These are the mistakes you need to avoid, and I hope it’s clear that if you do, your life will be much easier and you’ll increase your chances of success.
Georgios Chasiotis is a marketing consultant who drives organic growth for tech companies through Content & SEO. He runs a strategy and consultation agency, and he is based in Thessaloniki, Greece. In his free time he reads psychology and tries to understand the “why” behind human behavior.
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