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In the summer of 2017, I quit working as an adventure guide in Vietnam so I could re-focus on growing the marketing agency I was running with my brother.
Our business helped fitness professionals acquire more clients through a combination of Facebook ads and marketing funnels. The only problem was that our business had stalled; just like a spotty teenager learning to do hill-starts in his dad’s beat-up Volvo, we had burnt out the clutch and were rapidly descending backwards down a steep hill. Luckily we slammed on the handbrake just in time to save ourselves from becoming a mangled lump of steel and burning rubber.
What happened next threatened my reliable income and, as a result, my freedom to galavant around the world on a whim.
My brother, George, who is four years my junior, decided to leave the company and focus on another project, putting me in a rather sticky situation.
I didn’t want to continue the business without my brother. So, after many late night balcony chats, we decided to continue servicing our clients while focusing most of our efforts on new projects.
Except I had no idea what I was going to do next.
- My Worst Nightmare Playing On Repeat
- 30 Days To Start Something New
- How I Landed My First Paying Client
- How I Brought in $10,000 in Less Than 4 Weeks
- Why Did This Work So Well?
My Worst Nightmare Playing On Repeat
When your back is against the wall, you have to fight to survive; this gives that devil on your shoulder the perfect chance to rear its ugly head.
When your sense of security is threatened, your ego creates all the worst-case scenarios and plays them in your mind in high definition.
The most damaging scenario stuck on repeat in my head went something like this: “What if I can’t replace my income and have to go back home and live with my dad?”
Even though that was a very real possibility, the thought of it happening made me want to jump from my 10th-floor balcony. I knew if I continued to entertain this fear, it would never release me from its debilitating vice-grip and become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Just like a blacksmith or candlestick maker, I had a specific set of skills that were extremely valuable to others. So I made a list and quickly figured out that my ability to write words that sell was pretty fucking awesome! When push came to shove, I knew I could find someone willing to pay money for this kind of work.
30 Days To Start Something New
One morning while I was checking my email, a subject line grabbed me by the neck and reeled me in. The message spoke about creating an email marketing agency specifically for eCommerce stores.
Something clicked in my brain as the proverbial light-bulb moment struck me like a bolt of lightning. I had dabbled in eCommerce and, in the process, spoke to many different store owners about how they were growing their businesses.
No one was talking about email.
So I did the numbers. If a store was producing a sizable revenue of around $100,000 per month, I could surely carve out an extra 10, 20 or even 30 percent just from sending targeted, behaviour-based emails. With this insight, I knew it was the perfect time to apply my copywriting skills to an underserved market.
The email I received linked me to a webinar that vaguely outlined the basics, and pitched me on a course that supplied detailed training on how to get the business rocking.
I dropped $2,000 on my American Express Gold card and never looked back.
This investment would light a fire under my ass because I literally had to get at least one client paying a minimum of $2,000 before my AMEX balance was due in 30 days.
I knew how to start an online marketing agency, but what I was really paying for was access to a mentor who was running an email agency and getting results.
How I Landed My First Paying Client
One of the main methods the course taught on how to pick up your first few clients was like cold-calling, but without having to speak to anyone: you make an educated guess as to who is running an eCommerce store, and reach out to them on Facebook with the intention of helping them for free.
This is basically the online version of visiting all the businesses in your area and trying to pitch them on your service with an irresistible offer. Naturally, with any kind of cold outreach, you’re going to piss a few people off. But all I was looking for was one person who was open to hearing what I had to say.
After two weeks of relentless messaging and more “no’s” than I care to remember, I finally found a successful store owner who was willing to consider my offer. I told him I would work for free until he could see the concrete value of the work I was doing, and then we could figure out a deal.
How I Brought in $10,000 in Less Than 4 Weeks
In my first few years in the marketing world, I learned the hard way that if you want your clients to stick around and refer you to their friends, you must produce undeniable, measurable results. This became the primary focus for my email marketing agency, and should be the goal for most service-based, business-to-business companies.
Get your clients a massive return on their investment and they’ll shout about you from the rooftops.
This is exactly how we generated $10,000 in revenue in such a short amount of time. The first client we worked with told one of his buddies, who also had a thriving online store, and the friend signed up immediately. At the time we were charging $5,000 per client, with $3,500 being a one-time setup fee, and $1,500 being a monthly retainer.
So, it’s actually pretty easy to hit this big number of $10,000 if you can find two clients and deliver exceptional results.
Why Did This Work So Well?
There were a combination of factors that came together when launching this new business, facilitating our rapid success––it was like the perfect storm. If you’re considering launching an online business, make sure to try and nail as many of these as possible to give you the best chance of hitting a home run.
1 – Play to your strengths
Because this wasn’t my first business in the marketing space, I amassed a wealth of experience in over seven years that gave me more confidence when speaking to potential clients and asking for money. I also have a deep understanding of how marketing and copywriting works and can easily apply these principles to any business.
2 – Good timing
Back when I launched my agency, there weren’t many others offering a similar service specifically for eCommerce store owners. This put me in a unique position. Demand was high and supply was low. All we had to do was demonstrate results so that it became a no-brainer to sign up.
3 – Serve a niche market
You might think offering Facebook ad management or email marketing is serving a niche market, but in today’s saturated world of agencies, you’re going to crash and burn. You need to spend some time to figure out what markets are currently underserved for the service you are offering, then focus on them.
4 – Work with clients who have money
This may sound obvious, but if you’re going after clients who can’t afford your fees, you’re clearly barking up the wrong tree. I only work with stores generating at least $100,000 per month, which means they can usually afford my services.
5 – Guarantee your results
One of the ways I reduced risk when a new client signed up was to guarantee results. I put my money where my mouth was and told them they’d get a full refund if they didn’t break even after 30 days. I had confidence in what we were offering and made sure we’d deliver on that promise. No one has since claimed on this guarantee.
What I’ve shared in this post can be applied to most agency business models and, although it may sound easy to pull off, it does require a certain level of marketing experience to get these kinds of results. Don’t let that discourage you, though. There is an endless amount of high-quality content that will teach you whatever you want to learn. If you take the approach of working for free, at least in the beginning, you can try out what you learn and get some experience––so long as you’re upfront with your potential client.
With enough patience, persistence, and consistency, you will develop a depth of knowledge and experience that will be valuable to many business owners. To grow your new business, you must have an interest in the work you’re doing and the clients you help. If you’re doing it just for the money, you are in the wrong business.
To build a successful agency, you must care about your clients and have the wherewithal to rapidly adapt to new developments in your industry. Fail to keep up and you’ll get left in the dust. But with that being said, starting an agency can be extremely rewarding and is often the fastest path to creating a six-figure business.
If you have questions about anything I shared in this post, please drop me a comment below!