I’ve Owned Two Different Digital Marketing Agencies—One A Failure And One A Success

The Failure

After two years of hard work (24/7 and weekends) and no pay, I closed the doors of my first digital marketing agency. It was very tough to fail and even worse to be an employee after owning my own business. I applied for a job, and felt lucky that somebody would even hire me. That’s how beat up I was from the failure experience. 

The Success

Two years later, I convinced my wife I should leave that job to launch a new agency. The great news is that—within the first year—the agency was providing a nice living for us. Six years after that, we’re one of the top fastest-growing companies in the Inc 5000.

The Crushing Experience Of My First Agency

► In my first agency, every time I landed a new client I hoped it was the sign I had finally broken through. 

► My clients mostly came through referrals from people I met at BNI or the Chamber.

► I’d build their website, and be able to pay most of the bills I was late on. Then, I’d try to get them on a hosting package and… CRICKETS.

I tried to get my site ranked higher. I published some articles. And I made sure I went to twice as many networking meetings the next month.

But The Recurring Revenue Barely Trickled In

I’d get one or two gigs that would help me catch up on bills. Then, I kept telling myself this was the beginning of a successful agency. I told myself it would get better and the clients would show up. 

I remember looking my wife in the eye and telling her it was going to be all right. I reassured her that she wouldn’t be the only one supporting us much longer.  That’s what I wanted to believe…though it wasn’t based in reality.

I Could Barely Look My Wife In The Eye When I Had To Tell Her

I was wrong, and I had to admit to her that I was wrong. Everything wasn’t going to be all right. The business was failing. But I didn’t have a choice, I had to shut it down. I had to recognize that the business revenue wouldn’t support us. I didn’t know any way out. I simply didn’t have a strategy to grow the business to the next level.

So I Applied For Jobs

I had the good fortune to work for a top digital marketing agency, and learned an unbelievable amount. The company was a huge business with massive expertise. I immersed myself, soaking up information and paying careful attention to how they grew their business. I was making good money and supporting my family—but—I still longed to own my own business.

I Was Successful At My Job, But Wanted My Own Business

When I decided to start another agency two years later, my wife was understandably hesitant. I told her that I had figured out a strategy that would make the business work this time. I realized that the first time around, I didn’t understand the problems I faced in the market. Without that understanding, I never knew what would work. 

These Are The Problems That A Digital Marketing Agency Must Overcome

See if any of this sounds familiar…

  1.  The digital marketing agency market is overrun. Anybody can hang out a shingle and claim to be an agency. And every small business owner gets cold-called for digital marketing at least 4 times a day. The competition is ferocious—and constant.
  2.  It isn’t easy to figure out what works to bring leads to your customers. It’s a struggle to create inbound marketing that converts cold prospects into pre-sold clients who call you. Most of the “agencies” that tell you to blog, post, and tweet can’t turn that effort into customers for you. And it’s a constant struggle to figure out what DOES work.
  3.  You can’t grow if you do custom work for every client. This “problem” always affects agency owners the hardest when you’re the kind of person who takes pride in your work. That’s how it got me tangled up in a failing agency. I bet it’s slowing you down, too. You can’t expect to grow an agency when you have to reinvent the wheel with every single client. 

So What Made The Difference In My Two Agencies?

We Developed A Winning Strategy

What I want to share with you is the simple plan that we started implementing in our business from day one. This strategy took us straight to a very successful business within a year. Since then, we’ve grown our agency fast enough to be on the Inc. 5000 list (of fastest growing U.S. companies) four years in a row (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019). 

This Strategy Can Give You The Same Growth Trajectory We’ve Experienced

Here are the key elements of this strategy:

  1. Become the expert in a niche.
    1. When you specialize in a niche, you’re automatically perceived as an expert. Most agencies screw this up. They’ll make an appointment with anybody who calls—rather than being selective.
    2. You MUST differentiate yourself. Again, when you specialize in a niche, you differentiate your business automatically. You work only with clients in that niche and know how to get them results. 
    3. Focusing on a niche becomes the basis of your magnetic marketing.
  2.  Create a magnetic marketing system that attracts clients.
    1. We’ve found that complicated funnels including social media, LinkedIn, and blogging are mostly a waste of time. Exposure isn’t the answer.
    2. Your primary marketing and sales efforts must result in appointments with qualified prospects. Don’t listen to “experts” who lead you down the wrong path.
    3. Focus on delivering incredible, repeatable service. Delivering results like this are key to retaining clients long term—leading to predictable recurring revenue.

Can You See How These Ideas Transform A Digital Marketing Agency?

Growing your business becomes a breeze when you have the right clients coming to you and your systems are pre-built for their business. You know in advance exactly what to do to get them spectacular results. They wind up considering you a hero.

No BS—This Isn’t A Turnkey System Or A Get Rich Quick Scheme 

We proved all these systems in our own business. Then, we’ve fine-tuned the systems as we installed them in other agencies over and over. This isn’t something where we hand you the keys and leave. We work with you to install these systems in your business. During the two years that I wasn’t even scraping by, I didn’t have a roadmap. But, I developed one as I worked with an experienced and successful mentor in my own business.

It Can All Start For You With Our Agency Acceleration Session

This is where a lot of posts send you to a webinar. But I’ve already told you more useful information than you ever learn from a webinar pitch.

Instead, I Want Us (You And Me) To Experience Working Together

► And I want you to get the same clarity I had when I knew my agency model would work.

► At the end of this post, there’s a link to a web form. Go to the link below and sign up for the Agency Acceleration Session.

► Fill out the form. Tell me about your business. The form is open-ended. That way you can tell me what you need to get to the next level right now. We can get into your specifics on the call. The more details you provide, the more we tailor the session to your specific needs. 

► Once you fill out the form, I’ll share case studies with you so you can look inside of the agencies we’ve helped. They’re a great way to get a high-level view of what it’s like to work with us before our call.

► And then, we’ll get on the phone.

If All This Makes sense To You, Then Just Fill Out The Form

Tell Me about Your Business, And Let’s Talk

Here’s the form:

https://www.sevenfigureagency.com/schedule