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This question has been answered, and points have been awarded.
New Agency Start Up
11/13/2012 at 4:54 AM ET
Hi Guys, I am currently working full time in a busy marketing department, this is my 9th year in marketing and I have also worked in a number of different industry's. Basically I want to go out on my own and start a marketing agency to help local SME's. I have a wide range of experience and a lot of online skills. I also will have a top web developer/designer working with me and feel we will be able to offer a great service. I was just wondering if anyone had any tips or advice on getting up and running and possibly any do's and dont's! Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks a lot.
(oh, and the name of my new venture "Bigger Bang Communications")
11/13/2012 at 5:25 AM
Firstly with a name like "Bigger Bang Communications" you are a real marketing professional. My first point is to think what this means for your clients. Because this is fundamental. Getting a bigger bang (for your money = implied) is doing it cheaper than anyone else. What it could say but would not be as frequently interpreted is that you are more effective.
So: what any SME wants isn't bigger or more effective communications. They want results. If you start thinking this way, you can start to reverse-engineer a lot of your skillsets - and make some real use of them in what is a very competitive market*. What I mean by this is that you have the skills that can be used in a commercial/office environment - do you have as many skills in dealing with owners of SMEs who can be tetchy and difficult. I worked as an industrial designer in the 80s and whilst it was huge fun didn't prepare me in any way to meet the needs of my now ex's business when he set up as a furniture maker and later housebuilder. What I *did* have was an ear and an eye for what customers wanted. My guess is that you are in much the same position.
In the commercial environment it is usual to offer things on a plate and your customers get to choose. When you are a freelancer it is often the other way around and your customer tells you what they want and how much they will pay for it. Oh, and usually to get the payment you do 50% more work ... and of course the payment is late ... by which time you are gnawing at the edges of the carpet and not sleeping well.
WHAT YOU NEED is a USP (Google "rosser reeves reality in advertising pdf"). Sell a result and do not be scared to offer a no-quibble 100% money back guarantee.
Do not accept every customer. Be choosy! You need to develop a nose for whingers - especially if you are in the UK. The place is packed to the rafters with them. Worth avoiding**.
Make sure that the price you are demanding makes the boss's hand quiver. Otherwise he won't respect you. In our highly commoditized world, marketers are two-a-penny. He can pick and choose from the whole sorry bunch. Someone will be willing to undercut you - and there is no way to stop them doing so. Well, let them! Let that client have his cheap job, and regret it. He might learn a lesson. If you look at my other posts on this forum you will see ways to increase your trustability too. That is a game changer when it comes to contracts.
Lastly on the issue of good customers. They will have something special about them. Find that out and you will be singing. You can cut to the chase and cherry pick your finest clients as and when you need them. All you need do is blow your slient dog whistle.
Remember this: if you can explain what you do in three easy sentences, anybody can do it. You don't have to make a mystery of what you do. I am clear enough about my methods - although I do not go very deeply into my strategies, they are at least clearly stated. For anyone who can think outside the box*, it should be pretty easy to expand on the ideas I present. Because this is one thing that builds trust. Openness and honesty aren't in your headline. It should run through everything you do.
You have work to do. You have the skills and now you have some ideas as to how to present them effectively.
I hope this helps,
*I usually say this ... any market is competitive. There are those that are more competitive than others.
** I live and work in the Netherlands.
*** It is a person's ability to use their imagination that sets them apart in any market.
11/13/2012 at 5:38 AM
Thanks Moriarty, thats great. I am actually in Dublin, Ireland. I know what you mean about dealing with owners, thats partly the reason I want to do this, as I have been the one dealing with outside parties successfully throughout my career to date as opposed to my senior managers.
As for the company name I see this as having 2 strands, 1 being that yes the client will get a bigger bang for their buck so to speak, and also the bigger bang connotation to imply that our services will indeed make a louder noise in the atmosphere to ensure their message is heard loud and clear.
11/13/2012 at 6:08 AM
Great to hear from you, David!
There is a lot of thin ice out there. Be careful. A small business owner doesn't need people to hear things. That is agency speak, so leave that to the suits on Madison Avenue. If you are going to deal with SMEs they won't hang around long if you are selling them hot air.
You must first understand that I came out of the SME world into marketing. This has given me some huge advantages - one of which is a very finely tuned bullshit filter.
This isn't to do you down: because you have some very valuable skills that a business owner would find very useful when put to his service. The point I am making is to re-assess your skills in the light of RESULTS. Because if you start talking in those terms business owners are a very different animal. They change from the tiger or that elusive Tasmanian devil - and become dogs. Hard working and reliable friends.
No amount of banging bucks about will change that. Advertising is great if that is the result they want - and in the commercial world with big advertising departments that is all they need. That is great for me because I have a job because of them and not in spite of them.
What you need to do for your businessmen is not make noise, but not make noise. As a copywriter my focus is not on their website or current advertising. I go to the core. I establish their USP - their who/what/where/like/dislike/guarantee. Because this both defines them in what is usually a difficult market and is a beacon to those who like their style.
Most of the work is theirs initially. Finding out who their best clients are is no easy thing to do. Once found, it is then a question of finding more. My guess is that coming from the commercial world you think of advertising as general and panoramic. Read Rosser Reeves' book and your eyes will pop open in amazement at what has not been done in the last 50+ years.
Fine tuning advertising to the strengths of a business and you fine tune it to their best clients. This has two effects (1) it is specific not general (2) it defines them (3) it gets rid of whingers before they are even engaged (4) it is often 1/10th of the price and gives 5x better results. It is laser-targeted and as effective. Generalized advertising cannot compete. It is the diametric opposite of a big bang.
Now: you know all this - all you need is a shift of focus and you really will get some traction.
I hope this clarifies matters a little, Moriarty
11/13/2012 at 8:15 AM
I was in business providing marketing services for about 12 years, and one thing I wish I had known when I started was: you will need to work between two and 2 1/2 hours for every hour that you bill.
Also, lots of new marketing consultants want to work with small businesses, because they feel that small businesses need marketing. I encourage you to focus on the 1% of companies who can afford marketing, rather than the 99% of companies who need it but cannot afford to pay professional rates for services.
11/13/2012 at 8:22 AM
good point, thanks. Still lots to think about!
11/13/2012 at 10:21 AM
Telemoxie (and by extension, David).
I agree 100% with what you say - much of my posting on this thread was to that effect though not so directly. Filtering out the 90%* is ESSENTIAL if you are to even survive.
As to working 2 1/2 hours for each booked - that is very easy when you are operating in the commodity end of the market. I did that enough when helping my ex's business. It was dire. It is a situation where people demand a lot and pay poorly - and late.
My strategy is to have a fixed retainer that entitles my customer to a week's work each month, with extra hours paid for separately at a higher hourly rate. That in itself filters out 60%. With all this, I need two clients and have a waiting list.
*(I live in NL where businesses have a lot more free capital and are more forthcoming in investing, it seems).
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