Starting an advertising agency can be a very lucrative business opportunity. There are many important steps to take in order to make sure your business is successful.
Here are the 10 steps you can take to get started on building your very own advertising agency.
10 Steps to Launching a New Advertising Agency
1. Choose Your Type of Advertising Agency
The first step in launching an advertising agency is to identify the type of advertising agency you want to launch. You might choose from the following types among others:
- Full-service ad agency
- Creative boutique ad agency
- Social media ad agency
- Digital marketing agency
2. Name Your Advertising Agency
Give your advertising agency an identity so people will think of it as a well-known and respected brand. You can take the name of your advertising agency from your industry, focus on a geographical location, or use your own name among other options.
The main goal for naming your advertising agency is to make it sound appealing and trustworthy so that potential clients will be more likely to give you their business.
3. Determine Your Advertising Agency Business Model
There are several possible types of business models for an advertising agency including:
- Charging a commission on media buys
- Retainer-based billing
- Hourly billing
No matter which model you choose, make sure that it aligns with your business goals and the services you offer.
Read more about choosing the right business model for your advertising agency.
4. Choose a Legal Form for Your Business
By incorporating your advertising agency, you will limit your liability. You can incorporate as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), a C Corporation (C-Corp), or an S Corporation (S-Corp). Or you can operate as a sole proprietorship.
The business structure you choose for your advertising agency will determine the amount of taxes you pay and which state or federal tax forms you need to file.
5. Write an Advertising Agency Business Plan
All advertising agency owners should develop a business plan.
A business plan is a document that outlines the goals, strategies, and operations of a business. It can be used to secure funding from investors or lenders, as well as to guide the day-to-day operations of the business. The business plan should include information on the company’s products or services, market analysis, financial projections, and management team among other things.
When developing your advertising agency business plan and strategy, you should think about the following questions your customers might have:
- What services does your agency offer?
- Do you have any case studies or examples of your work?
- How do you determine how much to charge for your services?
- Can you provide a list of references?
- Will you help me create or design my advertising campaign?
- Do I need to sign a contract?
- What are your payment terms?
- What is the process for working with your agency?
- How will you measure the success of my campaign?
Answering these questions in your business plan will give potential customers a better understanding of what your advertising agency can do for them.
Read our article about how to write an advertising agency business plan.
6. Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses
There may be required licenses and permits you need to obtain before launching your advertising agency.
You must also register your advertising agency as a legal entity with the state where you plan to do business. You can simply file an online form through your Secretary of State website.
Registering with the federal government is also essential so you can properly pay taxes for your business. You will also need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which you can apply for at the IRS website, if you plan to hire employees.
7. Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed
In developing your advertising agency business plan, you will figure out how much funding you need to start and grow your business.
If you have your own funds to invest in your advertising agency, you may consider taking advantage of that. In addition to your personal funds, other forms of potential funding for your advertising agency include traditional bank loans, SBA loans, credit cards, angel investors and family and friends.
Read our article about the costs associated with starting an advertising agency to help you determine if funding is needed.
8. Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently
When you start your advertising agency, it’s essential to have the right technology in place to maximize efficiency. You definitely need a computer with Internet access, and accounting software for tracking expenses and revenues.
You may also want to invest in project management software, design software, and social media management tools to help you run your business more effectively.
9. Market Your Advertising Agency to Potential Clients
Before you start selling your services, you have to let the world know you exist. The first step is to create a website so people can learn more about your services and how they benefit them.
After you launch your website, start promoting it through social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Also consider networking with other people in the advertising industry through social media and blogs so they can help share your business.
You also need to start gathering the materials needed to execute on your promotions strategy, which is your strategy for attracting new customers. Advertising agency businesses should consider the following promotional strategies for which you should start getting prepared:
- Sponsoring events and activities related to the target market
- Creating marketing materials (e.g. brochures, case studies, website/blog content)
- Developing relationships with key partners/alliances
- Offering free consultations/assessments to potential clients
- Hosting webinars or podcasts
- Creating an email newsletter
- Sending direct mail to potential customers
- Participating in trade shows or conferences related to the target market
- Speaking engagements
- Creating an advertising campaign (e.g. Google AdWords, Facebook Ads)
Read our article about how to market your advertising agency for more tips.
10. Get New Clients & Grow Your Business
When you promote your services, you’ll start to get interest from potential clients.
Make sure you’re ready to serve these clients. Also, be sure to establish systems to ensure consistency and reduce costs. And be sure to find and train the right people to help you grow your advertising agency.
Read our article about how to effectively grow your advertising agency to learn more.
Starting an Advertising Agency FAQs
The advertising industry is rapidly growing, and there are many opportunities for entrepreneurs who are interested in starting an advertising agency. Advertising agencies offer a wide range of services that help businesses grow, including brand development, market research, media planning and buying, and creative development.
In order to start a successful advertising agency, you will need to have a strong understanding of the industry, solid business and marketing skills, and experience in sales and project management. You will also need to have a good network of contacts in the industry, as well as the financial resources to get your business up and running.
You can start an advertising agency from home by establishing a workspace and home office. You will need to have a computer with internet access, as well as accounting software to track expenses and revenues. You may also want to invest in project management software, design software, and social media management tools to help you run your business more effectively.
You can start an advertising agency online by creating a website and social media accounts. You will need to populate your website with content that describes your services and showcases your work. You should also create profiles on social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to help promote your business. Be sure to include links to your website on all of your social media profiles.
Here are some tips for starting an advertising agency:
- Research the market. Be sure to understand the advertising industry and what it takes to be successful in this business.
- Develop a strong marketing plan. Your marketing plan should include strategies for promoting your services and attracting new clients.
- Create a professional website. Your website should include information about your services, as well as examples of your work.
- Invest in the right tools and resources. Be sure to have the financial resources in place to get your business up and running. You will also need to invest in project management software, design software, and social media management tools.
- Build a strong team. As you start to grow your business, you will need to build a team of skilled professionals who can help you with various aspects of your business.
- Promote your services. Be sure to promote your advertising agency through various marketing channels, including online, offline, and word-of-mouth.
- Get new clients and grow your business. As you start to get new clients, be sure to deliver quality work that meets their expectations. This will help you grow your business and attract new clients.
A simple checklist to use when starting an advertising agency is as follows:
- Choose Your Type of Advertising Agency: This should be based on what you are best at and how much experience you have. Remember to keep your interests, skills, and experience in mind at all times.
- Name Your Advertising Agency: This should be done with care, as your brand is important for attracting the right customers. A simple, memorable name will go a long way.
- Choose a Legal Form for Your Business: Whether you choose to become a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation or another option will depend on your business. Ensure that you are aware of all the implications of each type.
- Determine Your Advertising Agency Business Model: Determine how your business will make money. Will you sell products, services, or a combination of both?
- Write an Advertising Agency Business Plan: Your business plan will also help you determine what your start-up costs will be and will provide a roadmap with which you can launch and grow.
- Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses: In most locations you will be required to apply for a business license and/or permits before you can begin operations.
- Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed: You will need to know how much money you have to spend on all of your business-related expenses before opening any doors. If needed, apply for a small business loan or other funding options.
- Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently: You need to have the right tools in place to succeed. Implement software that will help you manage your time, contacts, and business operations in general.
- Market Your Advertising Agency to Potential Clients: A solid marketing plan will be crucial to your success. It should focus on attracting the right customers so that you can provide them with the services they truly need.
- Get Clients & Grow Your Business: Once you have a solid marketing plan, it's time to actively pursue and secure those who could benefit the most from your services.
Starting an advertising agency requires effort, but with the right tools and advice in place, you can make it a success. Follow the steps outlined in this article to get started on the right foot and begin attracting the clients you need to grow your business.