Como iniciar e criar uma agência de marketing digital que gere lucros

Seu guia para o sucesso da agência

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge into the world of agency life — congrats!

As you surely already know, starting (and growing) a marketing agency can be a long, painful, exhausting — yet rewarding — process. From registering your LLC to finding your first clients, there will be many hoops to jump through.

That’s why we’ve put together this ultimate guide to help! 💪

Below, you’ll find helpful tips, advice and resources on how to successfully start and grow your marketing agency. And if you’re someone who has “been there,” let us know in the comments if you have any other wisdom to share.

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Parte 1: Introdução e promoção

O básico

Should your agency go broad or niche?

One of the first things you should consider when starting your own marketing agency is what exactly you want to offer your clients. 🤔

Da mesma forma que as empresas de produtos tentam encontrar um mercado adequado para seus produtos, você precisa encontrar o mercado adequado para seus serviços.

And while there are many full-service agencies out there who create great work across a variety of disciplines, it’s important to consider the option of being a bit more niche when first starting out.

Why? Because if you can show clients that you can do a few things really well, rather than everything only at half capacity, you’re a much more valuable asset to them. And let’s be honest: if it’s just you, or a small team, working for your agency, the last thing you want to do is stretch yourself too thin from the beginning. 👎

guy saying, 'i'm great at everything i do'

Are you great at SEO? Web design? Social media promotions? It’s best to sit down and list the services you’d like to offer, then really think about whether or not those services are your best assets.

Knowing your expertise early on can really help in the long run. 🙌 Plus, when work starts to pile up, it’ll give you a better idea of what tasks you can pagar contratantes independentes for. Ideally, it’s good to keep your core expertise in-house. But for other supplementary tasks, you might want to consider outsourcing.

Companies can sometimes worry about being too niche and missing out on clients, but think about it this way: if you offer a few really great services, you’re going to have clients who need those services and, in turn, you’ll be doing work you actually want to be doing (plus, it’s work that you’re great at).

“Top of the food chain” or subcontractor

Another thing to consider in the beginning is to whom you’d like to offer your services, and how.

Are you interested in working with end-clients directly, or do you want to contract out your services to other companies that want to carry out specific projects? 🤷‍

Deciding this early on will help cut down on confusion in where your agency stands in the “food chain,” so to speak, of the companies you work with. Plus, it helps you better prepare for the types of clients you want to look for when prospecting.

For instance, if you’re not going to be working with end clients directly, it’s better to prospect with big agencies that don’t have your specific expertise in-house.

Branding and identity

As a marketer yourself, this is probably a no-brainer: you need a brand! 😅

Mas, para ser justo, às vezes pode ser mais fácil falar do que fazer. Especialmente no início, quando você tem um milhão de outras coisas com que se preocupar em seu negócio, sua marca pode, às vezes, ser deixada de lado.

cat pushing chair saying, 'can't talk now'

It can be tempting to focus more on your clients’ branding than your own, but try to avoid this. 🙅‍

You’d never go to a hairdresser with bad hair or a dentist with bad teeth — so why would someone hire your marketing services if you don’t market yourself well?

It’s important to make a name for yourself in your respective field, and having a brand that is easily identifiable and tells the story you want to tell. 🤘

A Column Five tem um excelente guia passo a passo sobre a identidade da marca para lidar com isso de frente.

Website and social media presence

Probably another no-brainer, but equally important, is your online presence. Once you have defined a brand identity, made a great logo, and logo design it’s time to show it off! ✨

If you aren’t necessarily ready to invest in a web developer to build your website, there are a few great low-cost self-publishing options, such as Squarespace. Another good alternative is Pixpa. Sites built with Pixpa have a host of built in tools like the SEO Manager, Marketing Pop Ups, Announcement Bar, etc.

For social media, be sure to secure your usernames and, if possible, make them consistent across channels. It doesn’t make sense to have your Twitter account as @Marketing_Agency_Example if your Instagram is @example.marketingagency — you get the idea. 🤓

Além disso, essa é uma ótima oportunidade para já começar a criar seguidores. Depois de determinar os canais adequados para você e sua agência criar um plano de marketing digital, comece a interagir com outras contas!

betty white saying she also has facebook and twitter

Siga líderes de pensamento relevantes em seu setor no Twitter, participe de grupos do Facebook com pessoas que pensam da mesma forma, faça tudo o que puder para participar da conversa. Certifique-se de que seu site e outros canais tenham boa velocidade. Você pode usar impulsionadores de desempenho como VDS servers para isso!

Finally, don’t forget to make yourself visible to people searching. Add yourself to different, targeted listings like this one for marketing agencies in Pittsburgh.

Mostre seu portfólio

Your past work can help demonstrate to prospective clients that you’re capable of creating great things.

Be sure to highlight your best work from your portfolio across your website and social media channels — though, don’t make your social media channels completely self-promotional. Conversations aren’t one-sided, and that goes for social media as well. 🗣

What works even better nowadays for agencies is to blog about their expertise and give their advice and opinions on things. It’s also perceived as less promotional — more on this in a moment.


Os fundamentos não tão básicos

Set SMART goals

It can be one thing to say, “I want to build a successful company,” it’s another thing entirely to say, “I will sell my marketing services to financial services clients needing help with email campaigns. I will launch in 6 weeks and have 8 clients by the end of the year…”

As metas precisam ser tangíveis, e uma maneira de garantir isso é definir metas SMART.

As metas SMART são específicas, mensuráveis, atingíveis, relevantes e com prazo determinado.

A criação de metas nesse formato permite que você realmente se aprofunde no que deseja alcançar com sua agência. Isso também pode ajudá-lo a se tornar mais disciplinado com seus prazos para atingir metas.

pensamento inteligente

Building your toolkit

There are plenty of tools out there to help you run your business in an efficient and productive way. Below are some suggestions for various SaaS tools. 🔧

kermit typing furiously

Programação de mídia social

· Sprout — a personal favorite of mine. Schedule, plan and track all of your social posts across every channel. The reporting tool is visual, easy to use and incredibly helpful for seeing which of your posts are performing best.

· Buffer — if you’re looking for a free tool, this one is great. Schedule and plan with ease.

· Hootsuite — a longtime fan favorite, as you can have multiple feeds visible on your dashboard at once. 🦉

Contabilidade e faturamento

· FreshBooks — cloud-based accounting software, easy and intuitive.

· Xero — small-business accounting software that takes care of everything around invoicing, billing and accounting.

CRM

· Salesflare — surprise, surprise! Imagine loving your CRM: Salesflare is built to be the easiest-to-use sales machine of your dreams. 😍

Gerenciamento de projetos

· Airtable — it works like a spreadsheet but gives you the power of a database to organize anything.

· Notion — another personal favorite. Write, plan, collaborate and get organized with one tool. 🙏

· Trello — boards, lists and cards enable you to organize and prioritize your projects in a fun, flexible and rewarding way.

· Function Point — Manage your entire creative agency on a single software platform with functionalities that simplify project management, resource management, business intelligence, CRM & estimating, and agency financials.

· RedTrack – ad tracking & attribution tool for agencies and vendors. Track and compare the performance of your paid advertising, partner marketing, referrals, email campaigns, etc. – all in one tool for better optimization.

Extensões do Chrome

Existem algumas ótimas extensões para o Chrome, algumas das nossas favoritas são Grammarly e Dux-Soup.

We created a guide to the best Chrome extensions out there — check them out and see if you can implement them into your everyday work. 💪

Encontrar um cofundador?

While not a requirement, it might be worthwhile to have a co-founder come on board. 👯‍

Algumas das principais agências de marketing e publicidade vieram de duplas. Pense nisso: Ogilvy & Mather, Wieden+Kennedy, etc.

two guys high-fiving

Você pode ter alguém que está passando pelas dificuldades com você e que estará lá para ajudar e motivar ainda mais você e sua equipe em crescimento.

Nem sempre é necessário, mas sempre vale a pena considerar!

Inbound vs. outbound marketing

I’m not going to get into the difference between inbound and outbound, because if you’re starting an agency, let’s assume you already know this stuff… 😉

But in any case, it’s important to plan how you want to go about bringing clients in at the beginning (and further down the line).

guy telling his wife how he's going to advertise by putting a big waving man outside

The best thing you can probably do is a mix of both — but definitely more inbound than outbound. Though, at the beginning, you will probably find yourself doing much more outbound.

Regardless, you don’t want to be too pushy to prospects, and you should want future clients to find you on their own or through word of mouth.

Throughout part two of this guide, you’ll see various examples of using both inbound and outbound marketing to build your business.


Part 2: Time to grow

Now that you’ve started your marketing agency, you need some clients so you can start to grow! 📈

Esta seção abordará algumas das diferentes maneiras de encontrar negócios, além de conselhos sobre como cultivar um modelo de negócios saudável e sustentável.

Finding your future clients

Utilizing your current network

Even if your network isn’t huge, it’s important to talk to friends, family and peers to get an idea of some of the pain points their companies have with marketing.

Invite them to coffee or lunch, and ask them about marketing at their company and some of the things that they feel stuck or frustrated with. 😤

Certifique-se de não tentar vender seus serviços imediatamente. Ouça. E entenda primeiro.

Even if they aren’t looking to hire a marketing agency at the moment, you can gain incredible insights and be top-of-mind for them whenever they do feel they need some extra help with marketing — and they might know of other people who could use your services.

criança dizendo: "deixe-me ajudar você"

Campanhas de e-mail de saída

There are several outbound emailing tools out there, from Mailshake to MixMax to Autoklose. Or just send email workflows/sequences straight from your CRM, Salesflare. 📬

Escolha uma que funcione melhor para você e, em seguida, confira nosso guia para lidar com a automação de e-mail como um profissional.

Do some basic SEO research

Pesquisar palavras-chave that you want to associate with your agency — what kind of companies show up in the results? What are their pain points? Are they a good fit as prospects?

Even if you aren’t an SEO whiz, you can learn as you go along, and eventually apply your knowledge to future clients’ projects! 😄

woman pointing at the camera

And even outside of looking for clients, while you don’t need to be an SEO master to start a marketing agency, understanding the basics and why certain things drive certain results can go a long way.

Join groups — both online and IRL

Finding groups with common interests is not only a great way to make friends, but it can also be a great way to make potential business contacts. 🤝

This can apply to several things — Facebook Groups, Quora and Product Hunt are a few that immediately come to mind for online networking. 😻

Existem até mesmo algumas agências que criaram grupos para seu nicho, como Badass Marketers & Founders (BAMF), SaaS Growth Hacks e outros.

When it comes to networking IRL, check out local groups on Meetup or see if there are any interesting events coming up on Eventbrite. You never know what you might find — or who you might end up meeting!

bear waving friendly

Industry conferences can also be a great place to prospect. You’ll have to do a bit of research and legwork to ensure the companies attending are a good fit as potential clients, but this can be incredibly rewarding if done right.

LinkedIn

If you’re looking for leads, LinkedIn is the place to be. It’s easily the biggest and most up-to-date list of leads in the world.

We actually created a super-helpful playbook all about how to find customers on LinkedIn — so be sure to check it out! Because, trust me, this can be a treasure trove of potential new clients. 💎

Blogging

Iniciando um blog for your company can be the most valuable inbound marketing you can create — if done well. 😎

And if you need further convincing, here’s the deal: companies that blog have, on average, 97% more inbound links than those that don’t. Which means more search engine traffic and more opportunities for future clients to find you online.

But there’s more: 60% of consumers feel positive about a company after reading its blog and 70% of consumers learn about a company through its blog versus ads.

So, why wouldn’t you blog? 😱

kid jamming at the computer

Pense em tópicos e pontos problemáticos que você está tentando abordar com seus clientes. Crie páginas de pilar, dê conselhos, forneça recursos, mostre aos clientes em potencial que você é um líder de pensamento nesse espaço e que eles podem confiar em você.

There are also amazing tools out there that can make your content marketing workflow even better, such as StoryChief. It helps you plan, schedule and distribute multi-channel with one click. 👍

Warm (and maybe a few cold) emails

If at all possible, try to warm up to contacting prospects directly. 🔥

E você pode manter a simplicidade: talvez eles tenham uma ótima publicação no LinkedIn que você comente, ou você retuite algo da conta deles com algum comentário perspicaz.

Melhor ainda: você os encontra em um evento e faz o acompanhamento logo em seguida. Ou verifique os anúncios de emprego e veja se eles estão procurando ajuda específica de marketing.

However you decide to approach this, do it in a thoughtful and strategic way. If you’re just mass-emailing every company you want to work with, that’s not a great use of your time, and you probably won’t get any responses. 👎

Você está tentando construir um relacionamento com essas empresas, portanto, aborde-o da mesma forma que gostaria de ser abordado - de maneira mais orgânica e cuidadosa. 💛

guy asking, 'hey, how are ya?'

Cold emails don’t have to be bad or annoying, it can certainly be done well, but be sure to not send them an email saying how great you are and how much they should want to work with you.

Ew, no one wants that. ☹️

Em vez disso, discuta alguns pontos problemáticos que eles possam estar sentindo e pergunte se vocês podem conversar mais sobre isso. Faça com que eles falem sobre si mesmos, em vez de falar excessivamente sobre sua empresa.


Cultivating a healthy business model

Making your agency profitable and defining your rates

Há inúmeras maneiras de maximizar seus lucros como agência de marketing, e este grande guia da Marketing Agency Insider é um lugar sólido para começar a se inspirar.

Essencialmente, tudo se resume ao que você deseja priorizar e como deseja estruturar sua empresa. Cada agência é diferente, mas há alguns modelos de negócios que funcionam melhor do que outros.

Dica: uma maneira ideal de maximizar os lucros é estabelecer preços baseados em valor, nos quais você cobra dos clientes com base no valor dos serviços e não na quantidade de tempo gasto em um projeto.

Understanding your rates and the value you add to clients can help you greatly in the long run. Always know your worth! 🤑

Gerenciamento do faturamento

Fique por dentro de seus ciclos de faturamento — and make sure your clients pay you when they should be paying you. 💸

Seems obvious, yes, but when you’re hard at work trying to make clients happy, the weeks can fly by and you’re left forgetting whether or not you got paid — and 99% of the time, your clients won’t remind you about it, either.

rihanna signing money

A CRM is a great way to track won and billed projects, but for invoicing, accounting, etc., be sure to have a tool like FreshBooks or Xero in place to keep everything in order. It’s important to be able to have a snapshot of how your company is performing financially. 📊

Metas de receita

Definir as metas de receita corretas para sua empresa pode ser um processo complicado.

Thankfully, there is a helpful guide over at SOMAmetrics that lays out how you can set effective revenue targets for your agency and beyond. 🎯

Getting this right early on can help an agency grow sustainably and profitably — and you can set these targets in a CRM, such as Salesflare, to track it more effectively.

Faturamento

Be sure to track your time per client. But equally important: track your non-billable hours as well. ⏳

Things such as new business pitches, writing proposals, networking, admin work, meetings and client research are crucial in keeping your business alive — even though they aren’t directly generating revenue.

De qualquer forma, acompanhar de perto como sua empresa gasta o tempo não faturável pode garantir que você e sua equipe estejam trabalhando da maneira mais eficiente possível. Você pode ter uma ideia melhor do que está consumindo seu tempo durante o dia e se há espaço para melhorias em qualquer processo que esteja em vigor.

Plus, it can also help you discover and identify any unprofitable clients and find more billable hours in areas that you need more work in. 👩‍💻

Ferramentas como Timely são ótimas para monitorar seu tempo e fornecer melhores insights sobre o que você e sua equipe estão fazendo.

woman calculating paperwork invoices

In terms of the agency’s billable utilization, this can vary, though a healthy target is around 70–80% — meaning only 20–30% of you and your team’s time is spent on non-billable tasks. The latter, of course, can be much lower as time goes on, but having a goal or framework in mind is helpful.

Looking for a way to calculate billable hours? Like Timely, Toggl is another great tool for this, as you can assign different rates for different team members or clients. ⏱

Ofertas

A definição de uma estrutura de oferta comum é uma ótima maneira de garantir que sua empresa seja consistente em seus preços. As estruturas de honorários das agências podem ser divididas em dois grupos principais: trabalho baseado em projetos e trabalho baseado em retenção.

Para o trabalho baseado em projetos, dependendo do lucro líquido que você deseja obter, há alguns fatores a serem considerados, como os custos por hora dos funcionários, as horas faturáveis estimadas e os custos inesperados (ou desvios de escopo).

calculating math in head

The key here is to calculate those unknown factors and to determine profit margins on services that makes sense for your company — and don’t forget your LLC cost and administrative costs when calculating this! ⚠️

Retainer-based work is a bit trickier to calculate, as there is a lot of front-loaded work associated with it. That’s why you should be sure to have provisions in place in your contracts, such as termination clauses that protect the setup phase and ensure that if the client terminates the contract early, you are compensated correctly.

Um exemplo de detalhamento de uma estrutura de preços anual seria:

  • Fase de instalação, primeiros 2 meses: $20.000
  • Fase contínua, os outros 10 meses: $28.000
  • Total: $48.000
  • Amortizado em pagamentos mensais: $4,000

So here, your monthly retainer for this client would be $4,000 — this should cover specific, itemized deliverables. And if your client wants more outside of these deliverables, then that would be the time that you negotiate some à la carte price points for their needs.

A good place to start with proposals is Better Proposals’ list of free proposal templates, which you can find here (they integrate with Salesflare, too). 🤘 Another online tool to create business proposals you can check out is this one from Qwilr.

Negociações

Negotiations can be tricky and a bit awkward when first starting out with your agency. However, that shouldn’t stop you from entering a negotiation with confidence and an open mind.

When it comes to dealing with enterprises, expect at least 5% discounts asked — this is quite common. But never agree to a contract that you don’t feel you can deliver on or you don’t feel confident about. 🤝

It’s all about compromise between you and your future client, but that doesn’t mean you should hand over work for free, either. This is when knowing your worth is crucial — and can help you get to an agreement that both parties can be happy about. 😁

If you feel a future client is trying to nickel and dime you to the point that the contract wouldn’t make sense, try to politely come to a middle ground, and if that isn’t possible, it might be worth reconsidering the agreement.

Leveraging the press

Building a PR campaign can be a great way to get your name out there, and this can be done in a variety of ways. 🗞

For example: you just signed on a major client — great! This can be announced via a press release (it’s even better if it’s a joint press release from their comms team, as it can give the announcement more weight).

guy grabbing everyone's attention to make an announcement

Or, you can use the press as a way to position yourself as a thought leader in your field. Pitching story or column ideas to publications can be a great avenue to free promotion for your company — and it puts you in the spotlight as someone people can trust on certain topics.

A press strategy can take an entire life of its own — and requires a lot of time, resources and relationship building. But if this is something you are interested in pursuing as your agency continues to grow, this guide by Quick Sprout is a good way to get started.


Considerações finais

Everyone’s path to success in marketing agency life is different, but if you utilize this guide and apply it to your own company, I think you’ll be headed in the right direction. 👊

E eu sei que acabei de lançar uma tonelada de informações para você, e é exatamente por isso que compilei todos os guias, recursos e ferramentas mencionados nesta publicação em uma lista útil.

Pronto! Você pode encontrar tudo aqui!

Have any questions or do you think there’s something else we should include in this guide? Let us know in the comments!

patrick star is rooting for you


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Ali Colwell