This is a question I get asked a lot. And it’s one that I think deserves its own post.
First, let me say that I am not an expert on starting your own agency. But I have been in the industry for over 20 years and have started my own agency twice. So I do know what it takes to build a successful business.
Second, this isn’t about how to be an entrepreneur or how to start your own business. This is about how to start your own agency. There are many ways to go about doing this, but they all boil down to these three steps:
Build an excellent product/service. Get customers. Grow your business.
If you can’t do those things, then don’t bother with starting your agency. You will fail. No matter how good you are at sales and marketing, you won’t succeed if you can’t deliver on the other two points.
What does it take to build an excellent product/service?
The answer depends on who you ask. Some people like Seth Godin believe that you need to be an artist to create something extraordinary. Others like Gary Vaynerchuk believe that you need to be passionate about your product.
I prefer to look at it from the customer’s perspective.
- What do they want?
- How can we give them more of what they want?
For example, when I was running my agency, we had a client who wanted a subscription service. They thought that this would be a great way to provide their clients with regular content. The problem was that they didn’t understand why people subscribed to magazines. They thought that people signed up because they liked the paper version.
So we took a different approach. We created a magazine that was designed to be read online. It looked great and was easy to consume. In addition, we gave our clients a free trial to see how easy it was to use.
Now, this may seem obvious, but most agencies overlook this step. Instead, they assume that prospects will automatically buy once they see the value of their offering. That’s why they put together slick presentations and make promises that sound too good to be true.
And while it’s essential to show prospects what you have to offer, it’s even more essential to find out what they want. Otherwise, you’re just giving them much information that doesn’t help them solve their problems.
Get customers. Grow your business.
Once you’ve built an excellent product/service, you must get customers. To do this, you need to follow the 80/20 rule.
This means that you should focus on getting 20% of your potential customers to convert into paying customers. After that, you can expand your reach by adding additional products and services.
To achieve this goal, you need to follow a few simple rules.
Understand your customer’s pain point. If you don’t know what your customer wants, how can you possibly give it to them? Talk to your customers. Ask them questions. Listen to what they say. Don’t try to sell them anything. Just listen to them.
Make sure that your product solves their problems. When I worked at HubSpot, we used to call this “the elevator pitch test.” Would someone who walks into your office tell you about your product within 5 seconds?
If not, then you haven’t got a clue as to what your prospects want.
Offer a variety of options. Give your customers choices. Don’t force prospects to choose between you and your competitors. Instead, let them pick the best option for their needs.
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