When you offer services as a digital strategist, you're entering a very crowded market. You'll have to stand head and shoulders above the competition.
Fortunately, that's possible. Here are few tips that will give your new Internet marketing startup just the boost that it needs.
1. Promote Your Own Brand Well
This one should be obvious. If you can't market your own brand, how are you going to market somebody else's?
Is your site easy to find from a Google search? Is it optimized for keywords related to your digital marketing specialties?
Also, is your website optimized for speed? Does it look great on mobile devices as well as on desktops and laptops?
How is your use of social media? Are industry peers retweeting you and sharing your Facebook posts?
It's very easy for potential clients to determine, right out of the gate, whether or not your company is any good at digital marketing. They'll determine that by noticing how your company markets itself.
It's a great idea for all companies to overdeliver when it comes to customer service. It's especially important for startups to do that.
Why? Because you'll not only keep the clients that you have, but those clients will likely brag about the quality of your services to people that they know.
That means you'll get more business.
Beat your deadlines by a mile, provide more service than you promised and give your clients better conversion metrics than you said you would. That's how you'll succeed.
3. Understand the Basic Principles of Marketing
This is another obvious one that startup strategists ignore at their peril. Before you can become an expert in digital marketing, you first need to understand marketing.
As in: old-school marketing. The stuff your grandfather learned in college.
Simply put: you can't serve your clients well unless you understand basic, fundamental principles of what it takes to make a sale.
Do you know about the 4 P's of marketing? If you don't (or you had to Google it), then you probably need to educate yourself about the basics of marketing.
Go visit Amazon and pick up some great books on marketing and sales. You can even go through an old college textbook if you know somebody who has one.
4. Create Case Studies
When you do land some clients and score big wins, don't just pat yourself on the back and move on. Turn those wins into case studies.
Then, post the case studies on your website as evidence that you're an expert in your field and you keep your promises.
Keep in mind: case studies that involve high-profile clients are the best.
5. Speak at Conferences
One great way to develop brand-name awareness about your startup is to speak at conferences and trade shows. Fortunately, you'll find no shortage of opportunities to do that.
You'll have to start small, of course. The larger, well-known conferences will have plenty of speakers and probably won't have any room for a newbie such as yourself.
However, there are plenty of smaller conferences all across the country that are looking for speakers. Reach out to the organizers of those shows, brag about your bona fides, and offer them a presentation that will rock the house.
Make yourself known at conferences a few times a year and soon you'll have clients calling you out of nowhere asking for a proposal.
6. Consider Specializing
When you say "Internet marketing," you haven't said everything.
Internet marketing consists of SEO, SEM, PPC, CRO, SMM, and plenty of other acronyms related to building a brand online.
Simply put: you're probably biting off more than you can chew if you opt to handle everything related to Internet marketing right out of the gate. That's especially true if you're a cash-strapped startup.
Instead, specialize in one aspect of digital marketing first. Go after clients who are only looking to improve the conversion rate on a landing page or people who need assistance with advertising on Facebook.
Then, when you've succeeded in that aspect of digital marketing, you can add offer another service as well. After a while, you'll have a portfolio of services that you offer much like some of the larger shops.
7. Never Stop Learning
You might think that you're pretty smart when it comes to digital marketing. After all, you've scored a few wins in the past.
Fair enough. Now make sure that you stay smart by continually learning.
There's probably no discipline that changes more rapidly over a short period of time that Internet marketing. That's because it's based on technology and technology is rapidly evolving.
If you want to succeed over the long run, you're going to need to understand the latest and greatest strategies. Otherwise, competitors who are the best in the business will swoop in and steal your clients.
Bookmark the best websites and blogs related to digital marketing. Read them regularly.
Keep learning so you can always provide your clients with outstanding customer service.
I started Ignite Visibility with my business partner over 5 years ago. This year we were 698 on the Inc 5000. Base on my experience, these are a few of the more important things to keep in mind.
Starting an agency is a lot of work. The first two years are incredibly demanding. Probably more than you can ever imagine. There are also some really smart people in the space and ton of competition.
On the bright side, almost every business in the world now needs a digital strategy. So there is a large demand for the services. When you start your company, keep these things in mind!