10 Lessons For Starting An Online Marketing Company
So, you’re interested in starting your very own online marketing company? With more than 3 billion people now online, online marketing is a fast-growing industry. Nearly every business, from your global conglomerate to your local florist needs an online presence. Many of these would also rather pay an online marketing company to do the work for them, as opposed to carrying out the legwork themselves. But starting out can be a daunting task, so here are 10 lessons you should take onboard when starting your own online marketing company.
Lesson 1: Start Small And Build
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither should your business. Like the Romans, you should start with stable foundations. Don’t start your company with little to no experience in the field of online marketing. You should consider a position in a similar company, or an internship, to build your expertise first, before you take the plunge and risk everything with your own company. As well as online marketing skills, you should also have some knowledge of overall marketing best practice and general copywriting. You should also build your network and get to know some people within the industry who you can turn to for advice or help in the future.
Lesson 2: Make Sure It’s Specific
It can be tempting to offer every service under the sun to make a quick buck, however taking the time to determine what your unique selling point is will help differentiate your company in a crowded market. Online affiliate marketing is a vast (and growing) area, so honing in on one specific vertical or specialism can help you become known as an expert in that exact thing. Furthermore, if you’re spreading your resources too far across fields that you’re not necessarily top at, you’re not going to be giving the best service. Pick an area you are good at and enjoy the most, then build your business from there.
Lesson 3: It All Starts With Who You Know
You could be the best salesperson in the world, but simply cold-calling prospective clients is not going to put you on the path to success. Especially when you’re just starting out and your client testimonials and case studies are rather thin on the ground. Instead, focus your initial efforts on building your network. When you rely solely on cold calls, you join a long list of other online marketing companies that are doing the exact same thing. If you begin with your friends and family, asking them if they know people who need websites or marketing services, then you jump straight to the front of the queue when those businesses are looking for an online marketer. A single recommendation from someone you know can work wonders. Once you’ve got a few clients under your belt, it’s worth then asking them to recommend you to others.
Lesson 4: Consider Thought-Leadership
This doesn’t just mean that you should set yourself on some kind of thought-leadership pedestal. You should be aiming to constantly keep your knowledge updated with the latest trends and best practice – especially in a field as fast-paced as online marketing. Industry blogs are a vital source of information, as is following a number of thought-leaders on LinkedIn or Medium.
If you do have lofty goals of becoming a thought-leader yourself, the first step to this is to write down what you know. Start blogging and share your work across sites like Medium or through LinkedIn Pulse. The more quality content you share, the more of a following you’ll get, which may then lead to guest posts on other websites and speaking opportunities.
Lesson 5: Understand Your Worth
When you begin, you may wish to undercut all your competitors and be the lowest-priced on the market. Which can be an effective marketing strategy. However, if you set the bar too low initially, it can be difficult to raise your prices later on. This rings particularly true if you’re starting out by yourself. Working as one person, from a home office, means you have much lower costs than an office-based mid-sized competitor. Eventually though, if you’re good at what you do, your online marketing company will expand and suddenly your costs will increase – but your prices may not be able to do the same. Don’t be scared to price yourself competitively, but for an amount that won’t leave you struggling in the long run.
Lesson 6: Keep The Cash Flowing
Hand-in-hand with pricing comes cashflow, and this can be a chokehold for many small businesses. Ensure you keep some cash in reserve for any emergencies and don’t pay yourself lavishly in the first year or so. Likewise, if possible, try to reduce any existing personal debt as that can help take the pressure off as you focus on growing your company.
Lesson 7: Know When To Cut Your Losses
Every business owner can tell you a horror story about a bad client. When you’re desperate for revenue, you’ll pretty much take any client who walks through the door. But by the time you’ve dealt with their complaints, endless emails and having to constantly chase for payment, you could’ve put the effort spent to much better use with other, more considerate customers (or on new business). If you’re not happy with your working relationship, then pass on that client and focus on getting ones you enjoy working with.
Lesson 8: Be Trustworthy
The single fastest way you can lose a client is to lie to them. The same goes for your employees. Create an open environment and you’ll foster great working relationships with both clients and your workforce.
Lesson 9: Be Open To Feedback
Coupled with an open environment comes openness to feedback. The best way to identify issues in your company is to get feedback regularly from employees and clients. Keeping up an open dialogue on performance also improves your client or employee relationship.
Lesson 10: Reward Your Team
Everyone needs recognition for a job well done, and setting up both a formal and informal rewards program can go a long way in an online marketing company. It can be as simple as saying “thank you” to an employee who has gone over and above on a job, to a formal performance related bonus or team meals, away-days or gift cards.