Tips on How to Start and Grow an Search Engine Marketing Agency
2018 is the year that internet marketing exploded. There is an ever growing number of people, who want to have a share of the pie. As we were bombarded with requests to explain the principles on how to establish and grow an search engine marketing Agency, we decided to put together an blueprint of the most important steps you need to take to have success. This blueprint is covering some basics and is not going into the details of every single step – if you want a more advance and detailed course than you should check out our recent article about Parallel Profits.
Here are the steps you need to take to have success with your own SEM agency:
- Focus on More Than Just Money
Focusing solely on money is one of the traps that is the reason why so many small businesses fail. You should be striving for something more, otherwise, you will make the decisions that are not in the best interests for your clients, employees or your community. Focusing only on short-term gains can guarantee your long-term failure.
- Learn by Working for an Agency
If you think you can learn everything by yourself due to all of the available information you are probably right. However, you WILL do many mistakes and it could quickly happen that you follow a bad advice. The most efficient way of learning is to work for someone who can point you in the right direction. If you have someone experienced to train you it can save you YEARS of your time.
- In the Start, Focus on one Thing Only
When starting out, people tend to try to copy the competition. If you will offer the same services as everyone else, you will have a hard time standing out. The better way to go about it is to focus on one service that you are good at and can become known for. It can be local SEO, Email marketing, lead management, etc.. Just ask yourself what you really excel at!
- Networking Beats Cold Calls
When you are trying to cold call businesses to get work you will become an easily dismissable seller, trying to sell the same thing as everyone else. Everybody knows a guy who knows a guy to do something. Why don’t you become just that? Let your friends and family know what you do. Another brilliant way of networking is sharing your knowledge. You will get more clients while helping people with your expertise. If your business is slow, you should even consider doing some jobs for free, believe me, when your clients realize the value you bring, they will be more than happy to pay for your services.
- Investment and Partners are Fine, but Doing it by Yourself can be Even Better
While getting the money or making a partnership can be a good way of doing things, you should ask yourself why are you in the business in the first place. If you want to be your own boss, doing it by yourself is the way to go. If half of all the marriages fail, how much chance will your business partnership have? If you own all of your business you can make every decision about its future. You will not have to negotiate with a partner or answer to your investors.
- It is All About the Service
You might think you are doing a great job for your clients, but if they don’t understand what you are doing, they will likely complain and think you are disposable. By providing your clients with the raw data on your reports, you didn’t do much as most of the businesses don’t understand most of the terms. You should go an extra mile and provide them with a custom report full of arrows and screenshot to explain to them exactly what you re doing. In our experience, most of the clients stopped complaining once they had a clear insight into our work. Clear communication is the key to any service.
In the beginning, you will have to do everything. However, when you grow to a certain point, will have to hire people and create a franchise-like manual for your internal processes. Centralize your information and grow. If you will want to do everything by yourself you will just burn yourself out. Check The E-Myth for more information on that aspect of the business.
- Raise Your Prices
When you are the only employee of your company it is easier to have lower margins. However, once your business grows, you will find it impossible to maintain that. After you establish a higher price for your job, you will have enough revenue to bring in talented people, meaning your service will get better while getting a better type of clients. However, don’t raise the prices too much as you can become too expensive. Pacing is everything.
- Don’t be Afraid to Say No to Bad Clients
When you are striving for success you might want to accept all clients as money is still money. However, remember the first tip and don’t be afraid to say no to a bad client. We learned that the hard way but here it is: if you turn your focus away from clients that constantly complain, pay late or show any of the red flags, you could be doing so much better. Don’t trade your happiness for money.
- Trust is Everything
The easiest way to lose your clients or employees is by lying to them. If you want to have loyal people, that stay with you no matter the weather, you should always be transparent and honest, even when you think it might hurt. Painfull truth is always better than a sophisticated lie. People will appreciate your honesty more than you can imagine.
- Reward Your Team
You should always reward your employees for their commitment and hard work. People tend to be happier when you notice their effect on the company. And guess what: a happy employee is a good employee. Don’t hold yourself back when complimenting someone on a good job they did. You should also consider things like revenue sharing, Christmas parties, team buildings, etc.
- Auto-renew is Golden
Having a month-to-month auto-renew contracts works very well for small businesses. You will retain way more customers than you would if you had renegotiable 3, or 6, month contracts. People dislike re-signing and committing for a longer period of time.
- Never Stop Learning
There are many online marketing agencies that just fell behind. Some people use tactics that are a couple of years old, and then wonder why their customers fall down the rankings. This is a never-evolving business and you should always educate yourself to stay up-to-date and improve your business. The moment you think you are good enough is the moment someone is going to take over and offer something better than you.
- Ask for Feedback
The easiest way to discover issues and inefficiencies of your business is to ask for feedback from your employees and clients. Take any opportunity to clear miscommunications and make sure that your clients can easily come in touch with you and leave a review. Otherwise, there will be issues you are unaware of that can cause a lot of trouble along the way.
- Have A Financial Reserve
This goes for almost any business: always have some money saved on the side fort he case of emergency. What we recommend, is having enough money to cover around 3-6 months of expenses. This could mean a lot of money for a small business. But having an emergency fund is crucial. This would help you go through client loss or major industry changes that demand a new model of work. Having a solid backup fund enables you to make good decisions instead of desperate ones.
- Pay Yourself Modestly and Reinvest
If you want to grow your business as efficiently as possible, don’t overpay yourself. Reinvesting in the early stages of your business can be an amazing leverage to your future success. Avoiding mortgage and big loans is a big plus if you can manage it, as you will be under less stress and your decisions will be better if they are not money oriented.
Once you grow your business it is always good to go outside your niche. If the entirety of your business is in one place only, you are carrying a lot more risk as your niche could disappear very quickly. Try to open some additional divisions and grow your business in other areas as you expand.
- Get a Hobby
Being a business owner can be very stressful. You should always know when to take some time off. Furthermore, you should have a hobby, where you forget about your daily problems. Engaging yourself in a sporting activity is the best way to go about it as you take care of your body as well as your mind.
Even though growing an search engine marketing agency is quite a challenge, it is also very fulfilling. If you don’t agree with some of the things we believe are important, it’s alright, as every business should be a unique adventure that you create in your own personal way.