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5 Steps To Start your own Digital Marketing Agency from scratch

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If you wanted to create a marketing agency more than 25 years ago, then the barrier to entry into this market was very high. With the primitive digital landscape, the overall cost of starting such a business was daunting and nearly impossible without the initial investment. In addition to the startup costs, you were limited by physical and traditional media, and, accordingly, headaches associated with their production and placement, which was not always beneficial for your customers due to the individuality of their requests for such things.

Therefore, it was inevitable to be “in the red” for a very, very long time.

A lot has changed since then. Especially when it comes to technologies for delivering information to the target audience and the possibilities of international services.

Nowadays, it is possible that even one qualified specialist or a small team will be able to create a full-fledged international marketing agency from scratch within a limited period of time.

Companies are spending more of their marketing budgets on digital advertising than ever before, and everyone can get their share of that market. In this article, we’ll walk you through five steps you need to follow if you want to start an online marketing agency from scratch.

Please note that this information is only our experienced opinion and not a guide to immediate action. Therefore, any decisions must be made independently and responsibly. We will help you to think about important issues with this information before deciding on a new business project.

Stage 1: Develop the necessary skills

If you are a narcissist with grandiose plans to conquer the marketing world and have just graduated, then you are likely to fail miserably.

You can be as creative and smart as any other participant in the game, but if you are not mentally prepared for hard, painstaking work and not experienced enough to cope with many of the nuances of account management and customer relationship, then you are most likely , it will take a second try.

It is a pity that this attempt is not always possible.

It may take some people years to acquire the necessary skills and attitudes to marketing work, others less. Despite this, we would recommend some time to work not in the assembled team, but on other people’s projects, before you dare to go out on your own.

The internet marketing work environment is much more complex than it might initially seem, and until you dive into it

In addition to the real work that will have to be done all the time, there are also many expectations, verbal and non-verbal communication gymnastics and communication politics. It all depends on how the organization is structured, its culture, product process, and leadership.

These will all play an important role in how your daily life and online marketing career unfolds.

Before mastering your digital marketing skills, you need to know what it is like to work where your clients might be working. This will inevitably make you a more understanding and versatile professional.

For example, when your clients are experiencing stress and may be projecting it onto you, you will not take it personally. You will understand that these are just work moments, which are not worth wasting emotions. You will try to draw rational conclusions from this and test them with your client in a relaxed atmosphere.

That being said, it is important to understand that communication skills (often referred to as soft skills) make up only 50% of your final marketing product. You must have a good understanding of what you intend to offer as a “professional” service. No matter how attractive your skills are in selling your services, the client will sooner or later find that what was sold to him was not what he expected to receive.

You should be able to drive the results and explain them to the client. If you are starting your career with client management at larger agencies, it may be advisable to start working in a marketing team or find a few small clients to learn the channels and skills you will use.

For those who have never been on a marketing team, it may be unclear how much effort is actually spent on communication and understanding as they go. In addition to the need to produce a marketing product, you must also learn complex systems, and if the team is small, then you will need to develop your own various skills in order to be able to select specialists for your future team.

Key marketing skills include, but are not limited to:

creating landing pages,

advertising development,

building a system for exchanging information with clients,

product positioning,

employee training systems,

correct implementation of online analytics tracking and the ability to draw appropriate conclusions,

selection and testing of the most profitable channels for promoting customers’ goods and services,

the ability to apply competent pressure on production processes,

The advantage of customer management is that many of these aspects are addressed before they reach you. However, with experience with these things, you get the added value of knowing what you’re talking about when something that customers come to you with doesn’t work. It will also help you deal with the pressure to provide quality results because you have done this many times before.

And remember: you cannot market yourself as a digital marketing expert without being one. Therefore, constant training in everything that appears new in the sector of your professional interests is necessary for the successful development of your business.

2nd stage: Become a product supplier before becoming a founder

A job that pays off well and allows you to earn a lot without a long life is either a crime or a gift from fate. However, many of us with high paying jobs take this for granted.

Anyone who would like to plunge into the world of working for themselves has a huge list of risks that can immediately arise.

The skills to remove or mitigate most of these risks come from experience and, in fact, create the foundation for a self-sufficient business.

That is why we propose to do some contract work on the side, for some time, while maintaining a permanent employment.

This will allow you to act on your own without taking big risks. your employer is always behind you.

This will allow you to get a taste of the entrepreneurial life as you start doing your own side work. From having to bear your own expenses for online tools, to having to set aside for your own taxes, all of this will help you understand what it means to be financially and morally responsible for your own actions.

You should also be able to manage your time wisely if you are still going to work full time. This means giving up evenings and weekends that you previously spent doing things that allow you to relax (for example, watching Netflix products). You will have to do your own (home) project at this time. Are you ready for this? After all, not all of us are ready for such important changes in our comfortable life.

Building relationships as a self-employed contractor is also valuable in the sense that it can lead you to referrals. If you can pay your bills as a contractor, then going into your own one-man agency will be much easier than starting from scratch.

Another aspect of customer management, as a by-product, is that it allows you to have experience in contracting your services.

You should get used to the process of writing a proposal, then negotiating and signing a contract, and other necessary documentation (NDA, etc.). This is part of the game that you can practice and simplify in the future to reduce the time it takes to connect new customers.

This will enable you to build valuable relationships with repeat customers.

If you manage to get some extra work through relationships, ex-coworkers, or just making connections, it will give you the experience you need when it comes to building and maintaining customer relationships.

Having to negotiate the cost of your services is another skill that many overlook early in the business.

Your time and experience are worth something no matter how well you know your client. Strengthening the skill of determining how much you should charge for a specific project or service will become extremely valuable in your independent business.

Stage 3: Develop the Only Right Business Model

There are many different ways to start a digital marketing agency. The services you provide, and how you pay for your work, become an important part of running your business effectively over time.

Many consultants choose to bill their clients on an hourly basis. This is due to the fact that most of the time they spend with clients one-on-one, by phone or in person. This payment model becomes cumbersome due to longer and more complex service negotiations.

The fluctuation in the hours spent digital marketing for a particular customer can vary widely. There are many factors here: creating and launching entirely new campaigns or promotions, restructuring accounts, spending time on calls, and maintaining what works well for them. It is gradually becoming difficult to say that I have spent “X” hours this week, so here is your bill. It can also make the client wary if he starts to question how long certain activities take per week. If you are not offering one-on-one consultation as part of your service offering, then we would advise you to opt out of the hourly billing model.

The flat pricing model is the simplest of all pricing models. You estimate how much the work and time costs for a particular client, and you both agree to a flat monthly fee.

Aside from being simple, this allows you to reduce any friction when it comes time to invoice. The client knows exactly how much your services will cost, and if you meet his expectations, he will not have problems with paying for it.

The downside is that if you have a customer that scales exponentially over time, then you will spend more effort delivering the service without compensation from them.

To avoid this, it is enough to enter into your contract an agreement that guarantees this price for a certain period of time (for example, within one quarter). In this case, you will be able to revise your prices on a quarterly basis.

The biggest benefit of the down payment model is that it allows you to predict your earnings and hypothetically see how much you will make if your current customers stay for a full 12 months. This is important for business development because you can set goals and prepare for failure. It also plays a huge role when it becomes necessary to hire or outsource staff for specific marketing campaigns.

The percent-of-cost pricing model is very popular among agencies because it takes into account the growth potential and scalability of the client. Once agencies have reached a certain maturity, they abandon clients at minimal cost or convert them to an interest rate model.

When you’re just starting out, this may not be the best option as you will want to expand your customer network. But over time, you will realize that having large clients is much more profitable for you for a number of reasons.

The disadvantage is that if you choose to run your business entirely on a cost percentage model, there are many internal factors within the business that will determine the budget. Some of these factors are under your control (results), but many others are not (internal decisions, seasonality, other costs). You don’t want to get into a situation where your client spends a very small amount per month, and you only get 10% of that amount, expecting you to call and wasting time on it.

The solution is to start with a flat commission as stated above, and then, as your agency grows, implement a model of charging interest on costs over and above the fixed amount of your services. This makes it clear to the client that if he wants to scale and spend more, then he will need more effort to achieve this goal.

There is such a payment model as a commission on the result. This is a case often used by agencies in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage over others. Basically, the client only pays when he makes money from the sale.

It sounds tempting early on because you want to win the trust of your customers and therefore you are doing everything you can to help them succeed. People who have failed with agencies often mention the fact that they paid all sorts of money only to have no results or return on investment.

The disadvantage of this model is that if you do not have a deep understanding of the client’s operations, then invoicing will be extremely difficult. For SaaS (service as a service) companies and companies with complex sales funnels, this pricing model is a nightmare.

We could only recommend this model for e-commerce or direct selling customers (for example, the drop shipping market). This way, you will be able to estimate how many sales you have made, and thus make the calculations.

Another disadvantage of this model is that it is highly dependent on the product being sold. If there is significant profit, then it makes sense. Otherwise, you can get bogged down in unpaid work.

The last thing you need to do is solve math equations at the end of each month without realizing how much you can earn.

A couple of other key aspects of understanding a business model are liability and taxes.

If you have decided that setting up an agency is what you want to do, then create a limited partnership or corporation in Canada. Why should you choose Canada and these particular forms of companies?


This will provide you with personal legal security in case something goes wrong and you are sued. In addition, it will protect your business from raider takeover and unhealthy interest from the law enforcement agencies of your country.

Canada is a highly respected country for other countries and if you have a registered company here your international clients will be honored to work with you. The Canadian brand will market itself.

A limited partnership and corporation gives you many tax benefits. We would recommend setting up an LP or Corporation in Canada p as soon as possible, as this will significantly reduce your tax costs in your country.

You will get more opportunities to attract financing for your business.

Other advantages, as well as an online form for selecting the most suitable type of Canadian company, the most suitable for the specifics of your agency can be filled in at the end of our separate article: “5 main advantages of registering a company in Canada in 2020”

4th stage: Define your niche

When you’re just starting your marketing business, it’s easy to be seduced by the prospect of working with any business.

The thought of having to deny someone can cause someone a fair amount of cognitive dissonance when their livelihoods are near zero. With that being said, there are thousands of digital marketing agencies and consultants out there and only a few specialize but most don’t.

If referrals don’t go like salmon to spawn on Sakhalin, then you need to stand out and create a unique selling proposition as you approach new prospects.

Aside from the added value of specializing in an industry or client type, there are countless benefits to direct your services to a well-defined niche.

When you take on someone as a client, there are so many variables that you need to be aware of before deciding on a marketing strategy. When your ideal client is clearly identified, this process is simplified because you know what types of questions and information you need to get from him initially. You also have an idea of ​​how these businesses operate internally and how much you can get from it, on average. Taken together, it strengthens your skills exponentially.

If you’ve acquired the skills in digital marketing (additional charge), you can essentially run advertising campaigns for most businesses.

However, you need to learn about your target market and how to create effective communication there.

It can take a long time when the business is unfamiliar or abstract with what you are used to working with, which inevitably causes problems early on if things don’t go as well as you would like.

But, if your ideal client has already been identified, then you will gain a lot of experience working with this client’s market. This creates a kind of muscle memory and intuition (like in sports, when you yourself do not understand how, but move to the right part of the court before the opponent hits the ball). It helps a lot with what decisions and when to make. You can work most effectively because you have seen the problems and know how to solve them. It also helps you recognize clients that you definitely wouldn’t want to do business with in the future.

All of this taken together gives you a competitive edge over other marketing agencies.

Stage 5: Decide How You Want to Scale Your Business

When you tell people that you are going to run your own agency or consulting, it occurs to them that you are going to rent an office and hire a group of employees. This is most often the worst decision you can make. If you like 99% of the population, then chances are you have bills to pay. If you want to start a business and grow, then you need to make sure that you can personally survive first.

When building a successful agency, it is important to be highly skilled in what the agency does first. Managing your accounts yourself over a period of time not only improves these skills, but also makes it much easier to find talented help as you understand the skills and knowledge required to get the job done.

You also need to understand what the cost of this assistance means financially to you. What’s your churn rate? Average cost of living for a customer? How do you acquire new clients? Hiring each employee will add an extra layer of complexity to it all.

Convincing someone to come to work for you is another tricky business. Employees are employees because they want security. Therefore, if you are unable to offer them benefits and pay well, then they will not be interested in taking part in the development of your project. The cost-effective antidote to this problem is simple: find contractors. Let them be experienced freelancers on the contract.

There are so many talented and experienced people who are willing and able to help you on a contractual basis. You shouldn’t give these people any special benefits, and they pay their own taxes for themselves. The ability to delegate repetitive or time-consuming tasks to a trusted contractor is a huge relief when you focus on growing your business. This simple method allows you to scale to the point where it makes more and more economic sense to have full-time employees. Some freelancers may decide to join you full-time if things go well and they have already proven their expertise in your project.

All of this advice stems from setting up an agency yourself. If you have a partner or two who want to do it with you, then that makes a little difference. With that being said, the profits will be split and you will either have to charge higher rates or attract more clients to make this mutually beneficial to the point where it is better than a regular day job. You just need to keep this in mind.

In the modern startup era, there is a culture where extreme growth is the only marker of a successful business. There is a lot of pressure when it comes to acquiring more clients and you may find that you can be financially happy with a certain number of great clients. Ultimately, you may decide that fast expansion is not the best situation for you. If you don’t have outside investors to fuel your business, then being able to lead a financially stable (if not better) and independent life on your own terms may be more tempting for you.

Setting up your own sustainability agency also gives you the ability to simply end the business on your terms (if you need it), i.e. no painful layoffs, no sublease, no 10-kilogram packet of coffee beans (or something stronger) drunk in a month.

You may also find that running an agency isn’t something that you want to do forever. You can use this as a form of investment for other business models that may be more fun for you, but take longer to develop.

Running your business over a period of time will give you invaluable experience and build valuable relationships and connections that you can rely on in the future.

If you are reading this article, then you probably have already decided, or at least are thinking about doing your own business. We advise you the main thing: if you made a decision, then do not back down and stick to this decision as long as possible.

The specialists of the International Wealth portal are always happy to help international entrepreneurs with questions related to the opening of new business projects, companies, corporate accounts, and business immigration issues.

Send a request for a free consultation if you want to start your own digital marketing or PR (Public Relation) firm , or log on to

Managing your own business is accompanied by ups and downs for everyone.

You must be able to weather any storm in order to take advantage of a difficult victory. This is usually a powerful stage in the life of any entrepreneur and you should treat him accordingly.

If at an early stage you feel that you are not happy with this, do not pull yourself further than necessary. If you make the decision to register a new business, but don’t believe in it, then you will fail.

You must choose such a business model and such a niche that you will believe in the most, and then make up your mind and start building your own business and changing your own life. Once you’ve done that, you can see how well your own digital marketing agency is performing.

We believe in you!

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