You have likely been sucked into watching a webinar promoting an online course for how to start a social media marketing agency or (SMMA).
I have to admit, the ads for these courses are enticing. The course creators are sharing how they earn $10,000 a month generating leads for small local businesses.
They show themselves on vacation or their luxury cars, homes, etc. What makes their ads even more inviting is that they tell you anyone can do the same thing with no experience.
I’m certain that there are many successful people earning thousands per month with their own social media marketing agency.
However, having experience working for various web marketing agencies, I wanted to investigate a bit and share what I feel about the process.
What Does It Take to Start a Social Media Marketing Agency?
The reason why these SMMA courses sell so well is because there is quite a bit to learn in order to get started.
It sounds simple in theory. You put up a lead page and use Facebook ads to deliver traffic. Any leads that you get are sent to the client and the client pays you X amount per month.
Before you get started, you will need certain web software, research tools, and knowledge on how to use them. You will also need to learn some marketing skills such as copywriting and running paid ads.
The basic tools you will need to get started can include:
- A lead capture page and/or sales funnel
- Email autoresponder
- Facebook ads
Lead Capture Page and/or Sales Funnel
Below is a graphic representation of a very simple sales funnel. It is an affiliate sales funnel but ignore that. It is the same type of funnel that you can set up for any business.
The first page of the funnel is your lead capture page. It is also referred to as a landing page or a squeeze page.
The purpose of this page is to capture your visitor’s contact information. You can collect their name, email address, and phone number.
You can use this page by itself or you can combine it with a thank you page and/or offer page to create a sales funnel.
You could also use a WordPress website but you would likely need to find a plugin that could create lead capture pages for you.
You’ll want your lead capture page to offer some type of incentive in order to get visitors to input their contact information.
It could be the promise of a free consultation, discount coupon, or a free guide.
The Thank You Page
The second page that is referred to as a “thank you” page serves as a confirmation page. You can display your clients contact information as well as the incentive offered on the lead capture page (free consultation, discount coupon, etc.)
The Offer Page
This page is optional. You can upsell a product or service for your client. Otherwise, you are fine with the lead capture page and thank you page.
Using an Email Autoresponder
You can collect leads for your client and have the leads automatically sent to them. Then it is the job of the client to contact them immediately.
Once that happens, communication with those leads has ended. Instead, it is a good idea to use an email autoresponder to place those leads in a database.
You can then use the autoresponder to send emails to those leads on a continuing basis.
By doing so, the client has the ability to send more information as well as event info, special discounts, and more.
AWeber is a popular autoresponder service that I have used for years.
The most common advertising method these courses use and recommend is Facebook ads. It makes sense as you can really target your local area for the best leads.
Besides learning how to use Facebook ads, you will also need to learn how to write the ads. This means developing some basic copywriting skills.
Why Starting a Social Media Marketing Agency Isn’t as Easy as It Appears
The SMMA courses that you may have come across will all have their own methods for how they set up their lead generation websites.
However, I think what I’ve outlined so far comes close to what is needed for this type of business to work.
I’ve worked for a few web marketing agencies. One, in particular, generated leads for attorneys.
It was a large operation with a web team (the department in which I worked), a marketing team, and a sales team.
Of course, you would start off small with the option to scale up as much as you want later on.
While many of these SMMA courses show you all of the perks such as earning tens of thousands per month, having tons of free time, working for yourself, etc., there is a side you may not have considered.
Starting With Little To No Money
A solo social media marketing agency has its expenses. You will need to be able to create lead capture pages so that means using software to do so. This can cost anywhere from $80 per month and up.
You may want to use an autoresponder and offer email marketing to your clients. Autoresponders can start from $19 and up per month.
Then there is the expense of the paid ads that you run. Yes, the client would cover this expense but for learning purposes, you’d probably want to run a few test ads of your own.
Besides that, if you need to use one of the courses that you’ve come across, you’ll be paying hundreds of dollars for the course itself. Many that I’ve come across cost anywhere from $500 dollars and up.
Convincing Clients That They Need Your Services
This can be the most challenging part of your business. It sounds simple, right?
You may think, “what local business doesn’t want leads?” and many small business owners don’t know how to generates leads online.
There are many small businesses that need leads such as attorneys, dentists, local gyms, accountants, yoga studios, and more.
The issue is, how do you convince them to pay you $800 dollars or more per month for lead generation?
You are a stranger and these businesses are solicited all the time for one thing or another.
You could offer to set up their sales funnel for free in exchange for them to pay for their first month of Facebook ads.
If they are happy with the leads you provide in that month, you may be able to convince some clients to retain your services for a monthly fee.
There is a lot of work in this part of the business. Not every local business owner is going to want what you offer and some that may take you up on it may not be convinced enough to continue.
Even worse, you may end up with a client or two that won’t pay you on time if at all. I’ve done freelance web work for years and often had to wait months before a client finally paid an invoice.
Quality of Leads and Conversions
Part of the reason a client would pay you hundreds or thousands of dollars per month is that the leads they are getting are converting into sales.
The more conversions, the more money the clients make, and all the more reason they will pay you a monthly fee to keep the leads coming.
However, what if a majority of these leads don’t convert. It is a possibility that the client becomes dissatisfied with your services.
Finally, Starting an SMMA is Creating a Job for Yourself
You are offering a service and your clients will expect the best for what they pay you. That means you will need to offer excellent customer service.
Clients will call you and ask questions about one thing or another. They will expect status updates and monthly reports.
They’ll want to know what type of results they are getting and if they are getting a good return on their investment.
You’ll need to stay on top of their ads, how much you’re spending, and more.
In the end, you will be working a lot. Probably a lot more than what the SMMA course ads are letting on.
Alternative Online Business Models
I by no means want to dissuade anyone from starting an agency of their own. If it seems interesting to you and most of all sounds like fun, it is worth a try.
However, there are other online business models that you can consider that do not require you to pitch clients.
Some of these online business models include:
All of the above require learning some marketing skills as well as paid advertising if you want.
It may be worth it to learn these skills and apply them to any one of the business models above. The one perk is that you wouldn’t be at the mercy of clients (obtaining new ones and maintaining the ones you have.)
There are many local businesses that would benefit from your help if you were to pursue starting a social media marketing agency.
It is important to keep in mind that it isn’t all fun, money, and free time. It is a service that you’ll be providing and it will require your hard work and dedication.
What are your thoughts on starting an SMMA? Leave your feedback in the comments below.