Starting an advertising firm is a low-cost approach to get into the business sector.
If a company wants to continue to develop, it must advertise itself and spread the word to new clients. Many firms, including small enterprises, rely on advertising agencies' experience to help them develop and implement effective marketing plans.
If you're an aspiring entrepreneur with a background in marketing and communications, here's what you need to know about starting an advertising agency in the age of digital marketing. Ad agencies conduct their business and provide services primarily online, making them both low-cost and COVID-friendly.
Benefits of starting an advertising agency
Here are some benefits of starting an ad agency:
1. More control over work and what you can do with it, including the ability to create something that is truly your own. You will also have a team of people working on projects together who are all just as driven and passionate about creating successful campaigns as you are. This means more empathy in the office and less work-related drama.
2. More money because you are the boss! Plus, starting your own advertising agency can be a lucrative business endeavor if done correctly with enough clients to keep things going and good copywriters on hand for any big projects that come up. You will also have more time available in order to do other side projects you might be interested in, such as starting a blog or writing your own book.
3. More control over deadlines and how to prioritize work so that it is completed on time - after all, this will be the pace of your business! You can also let yourself go home early if need be because there are no bosses checking up on everyone's progress.
4. Having a company that is your own means you can work on developing the perfect culture for the people who are starting to join and work with you. You will also have more opportunities in terms of what projects you want to go after, whether it be big TV campaign or small business marketing needs.
5. More responsibility! The key to starting your own agency is to be ready for responsibility and accountability.
6. You will have a team of people that are all working together towards the same goal - success!
7. More flexibility in terms of when you can work as well as what projects you may want to pursue, depending on where things take off with starting an advertising agency.
8. There are many reasons starting an advertising agency is a good idea and people should consider doing it, just as long as they know what to expect ahead of time. This way, you can make the right preparations for your business no matter if it becomes a success or not!
How to start an advertising agency?
1. Create a business plan for your advertising agency.
Before you can get up and running, you'll need to create a detailed business plan to guide your growth and internal strategy.
The three main purposes of a business plan are to establish your business focus, secure funding (if you're planning to seek investor capital as your agency grows) and attract executive leaders to help you manage your company. Therefore, you'll want to include the following elements in your plan:
Executive summary: What does your advertising agency do?
Company description: What defines your company?
Product/service overview: What services do you offer your clients?
Market analysis: What kinds of clients does your agency target?
Financial plan: What are your expected expenses, and how will you make money to sustain operations?
2. Choose your pricing model.
Most advertising agencies make money by brainstorming and developing creative assets for their clients, including traditional advertising campaigns and content marketing pieces, like blogs and social media posts. There are several pricing models you can use to charge your clients, and the best one for you depends on the type of work you do and the way you work with your clients. You'll need to decide if you're going to charge per hour, per project or according to a fixed retainer model, in which a client pays an agreed upon amount in advance for a certain number of hours of service. A flexible or hybrid approach with different payment structures can help you meet clients' needs while allowing them to stay on budget.
4. Join advertising industry trade associations.
Joining a trade association allows you to continue your education, keep up with trends and technology, meet with your peers at trade shows and conventions, and enter awards contests to add to your credentials.
While there are many niche organizations for specific types of advertisers, you might consider joining one of the following organizations for general advertising and marketing professionals:
American Advertising Federation American Marketing Association Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)
5. Find clients for your advertising agency.
Every advertising agency needs clients. Before you start spreading the word about your marketing services, decide what types of businesses you want to work with (industries, business size, location, services needed, etc.). Once you've defined your ideal client, start researching companies that fit your description, and study their current advertising efforts.
By going after businesses with a small or lackluster marketing presence, you can offer yourself as a solution for busy entrepreneurs and business leaders who need help taking their advertising to the next level. Be sure to highlight the benefits of advertising and demonstrate how good marketing can help your prospects earn new business and grow their revenue.
Once you have a few regular clients, you can politely and professionally request a testimonial or referral so you can keep expanding your client base through word-of-mouth Tip: Narrow down your target customer and research companies that fit that description. Focus your outreach efforts on potential clients where your services can greatly improve their marketing presence.
6. Build your contacts.
If you're planning to help your clients with ad placements on television, radio shows, podcasts, blogs and news publications, you'll need to start building a stable of media contacts. From these outlets, collect media kits that list advertising rates, demographics and specs so you know what kinds of campaigns might be appropriate for your clients to place there. Prepare to introduce yourself to sales representatives at the media outlets you plan to use regularly. Create a portfolio of past work, if you have been in the industry, to highlight ad campaigns you've worked on in the past and thus make your ad sales meetings go more smoothly.
7. Create an incredible website to sell your services.
Like all modern businesses, your advertising agency needs a robust, informative website that engages potential clients and clearly explains how you can help them with their marketing campaigns. You can go the DIY route and choose one of the many available website building tools or hire a professional web designer to create a more customized web presence.
Either way, you'll want your small business website to have an appropriate domain name, pages that define who you are and what you offer, a contact form, a payment portal (if you plan to accept client payments through your website), and high-quality, original images to visually communicate your brand.
8. Develop your own marketing plan to advertise your business.
Advertising agencies have a unique advantage over other types of service businesses: Their own marketing and advertising efforts serve as a work sample and let potential clients see up front what the agency might be able to do for them.
That's why you need to pull out all the stops for your own digital presence and show off your strengths to prospects. For instance, if you offer graphic design services for client ad campaigns, make sure all of the graphic elements of your website and social media are impeccable. If you offer copywriting services, maintain a well-written, SEO-friendly blog on your website so they can see your expertise and writing style.