Why it’s so hard to run a start up marketing agency but so worth it

I can personally attest that launching a start-up marketing agency is no picnic! The sleepless nights, the unrelenting hours and the sheer uncertainty are a rollercoaster not everyone is clamouring to ride. Like a new parent taking the first tentative steps out of the maternity ward with their precious cargo or a well-meaning volunteer for a charity skydive… you’re not quite sure what to expect until you’re in the thick of it, and at that point you just have to hang on tight. But like both the aforementioned examples, there are so many moments of joy, pride and exhilaration that make it all worthwhile, when you hit an unexpected milestone or bag a new client in spite of stiff competition from longer established agencies.  

Businesses will always need marketing services, for a startup the real challenge is getting them to choose you. Gaining the trust of new clients is not easy. At this point they’re taking a chance on you to deliver for them based on what you promise, but not necessarily a large track record. That’s why face-time (or virtual face-time) and a personal approach is so important, you can’t yet show them reams of high profile projects but you can show them exactly what they’re buying… YOU! And your word. Once a project gets underway you know they’ll enjoy dealing with someone who is passionate and hungry to achieve the best for them. They aren’t just another client on your roster, they can enjoy VIP status.  

In 2020, business moves fast, people have high expectations and they need to work with a marketing agency that understands the challenges they face and can deliver a plan in line with that. Downside being that businesses under pressure are often looking for a silver bullet, so they experience a tough month and that marketing agency they were relying on to deliver can suddenly fall out of favour. Becoming the trusted partner is tough, it requires over-delivering, relationship building and quite frankly, the ability to be straight up about what will and won’t work. In those early days it can be tempting to deliver whatever the paying customer wants, but give them the benefit of your expertise and your listening skills if you want to be there for the long haul.  

Your team are everything. In a big corporate there is the luxury of time and resources for formal team building, long recruitment processes and testing and even retreats. In a start-up marketing agency the only retreat your team are getting is a post-office pub sesh (when allowed due to Covid-19 guidelines) where you’ll probably end up talking shop. You have to take a chance on the people you employ just as they have to take a chance on you, and it’s about so much more than just credentials, you need to know they’ll have the humour and resilience to deal with those challenging early months. You will look back on these early campaigns and wonder how you pulled it off, and you’ll laugh a lot and maybe even cry a little but it’ll be worth it.  

In the end when clients start coming back for more and you can see your plans coming to fruition, your team gaining new skills and your client base consistently growing, you can calmly exhale safe in the knowledge that you weren’t a misguided glutton for punishment, rather someone with a sensible vision. When you can see the impact on your client’s business through the projects you’ve delivered for them and the collaborative efforts of your team, you know it was all worth it.   

Roots to Market are nearly two-years old and I’m yet to find a grey hair (yet), I can’t lie and say it’s been easy but I can be honest and say it’s been a blast to work with such a fantastically talented team and be entrusted with some incredible global brands. We’ve seen our clients’ businesses and our own business grow thanks to so much hard work and enduring dedication.  

Want to know more? 

At Roots, we build intelligent marketing capabilities using a mixture of proven marketing tactics to reach your target audience and produce marketing qualified leads for your sales team. We offer tailored, blended services of inbound and direct marketing, automation and complete tactical campaigns, dependent on what you need. If you’d like to talk more about how we can help you see results, get in touch today on 01392 796 702 or fill in our form here. 

Opinion piece by Verity Studley-Wootton, Associate Director.

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