Learning how to start an advertising agency can grant you financial superpowers.

An advertising agency in today’s world is essential as it helps brands to achieve their business goals – Awareness, traffic, sales funnel conversion, and increased ROI. Most brands you know and remember today have some advertising experts working to promote them.

That is just to say, businesses need advertising agencies more than you would ever know. So, if you have plans to implement this business idea, don’t hesitate!

Starting an advertising agency is as tasking as starting any other business. However, when you break down the process of building your ad business into steps, it becomes much easier than when it was just an idea.

Fortunately, I have broken down how to start an advertising agency here in this blog post.

You will learn the following;

  • The types of advertising agencies and how to select a niche.
  • Where to take marketing courses to build your skills.
  • What should your business plan include when starting your own advertising agency?
  • How to get funds for your marketing agency.
  • Whether hiring employees is necessary and how to hire them.
  • How to build a client base for your new business.
  • Why upgrading your skills is beneficial.

Read through to catch all the important tips!

How To Start An Advertising Agency

Ready to establish your ad business? It is crucial to do it right! Instead of taking guesses on how to start an advertising agency, follow the 7 steps below to turn your idea into reality;

how to start an advertising agency

Step 1: Determine the Advertising Agency Type

The first activity to check on my how to start an advertising agency list is picking your niche.

What type of ad company do you want to run? Answering this question is important because it helps you to choose your market segment. You can identify your strength and focus your energy on those services.

It also helps your brand stand out from competitors, helping customers know you for what you do.

There are countless types of marketing agencies in the industry. The list below narrows them into 7 general categories;

Full-service ad agency

A full-service ad agency handles all marketing aspects of a business, from strategy development to branding, designs, PR, ad campaigns, and analytics. They offer marketing strategies and solutions to businesses from start to finish.

This agency usually has a team of professionals offering specific advertising services.

They offer services like web development, search engine optimization, ad campaigns, graphics design, social media management, content management, influencer marketing, and creative writing.

The advantage of owning a full-service company is that you can conveniently offer marketing services to customers.

In contrast to single-channel agencies, your full-service agency combines all the services and compresses the cost. As a result, small business owners make ideal clients for you, enabling them to afford and access professional services.

In-house Advertising Agency

An in-house advertising agency is a company’s team handling the brand’s advertising aspect. They are a part of the business, earning salaries from the company like the rest of the departments.

It’s popular to find in-house ad agencies in small businesses because of their cost-effectiveness. With an in-house agency, the company does not need to hire an outside marketing firm unless necessary. Big businesses also use in-house agencies to have financial control over their campaigns.

If you create an in-house advertising agency, you must plan to incorporate it into your main brand or partner with another company. When you do that, the agency will no longer be yours unless it’s the in-house agency for your main brand.

Some of the responsibilities of an in-house ad agency are branding, advertising, PR, marketing strategy planning, social media marketing, and research.

Specialized or limited Advertising Agency

A specialized agency, unlike full-service agencies, chooses a specific niche in the marketing industry and offers services pertaining to it only. When you open this advertising agency, your brand will be known for offering specific marketing services.

For instance, you can be an SEO digital marketing agency and offer services like content management, web development, social media management, and more.

One advantage that specializing brings to your marketing business is helping customers know you for specific services. It projects the image of high professionalism in the mind of customers. As a result, companies with in-house agencies can call you when they require assistance. Your brand will then work with a company’s marketing team to provide a solution.

Bear in mind that many small businesses prefer full-service companies to save costs. However, that does not mean your customers are scarce in the market. Large companies, especially, choose specialized marketing firms to support the in-house department.

Creative Advertising Agency

A creative marketing agency focuses mainly on a brand’s graphics and design tasks. They usually outsource advertising strategy planning and execution to the ideal marketing agencies. Some services they offer include logo design, letterheads, billboards, business cards, general branding, product designs, and print marketing.

Some creative agencies also offer other services in addition to designs and graphics. They provide brand strategies, content marketing, digital marketing, copywriting, web development, and other advertising services. This type of creative agency usually consists of a team of experts across many disciplines.

When you start this type of agency, your brand focuses on the visuals and feel of any business that hires you. It is your duty to make their identity aesthetically pleasing and easy to identify and interpret. You can also add other creative marketing services, like copywriting and web development, for more opportunities.

Media buying Advertising Agency

A media buying agency helps a business identify and purchase ad spaces on channels where the company’s potential clients are. Those channels can be traditional or digital, like television, social media pages, website, radio, print, streaming, and more.

A media buying agency works with a marketing team to understand the goals and target audience of the business. Using the info, it negotiates with tv networks, sites, social media platforms, and other channels and secures a space. Companies that hire media buyers usually state their budget so the agency can work with it.

As a media buying agency, you will be saddled with the responsibility of achieving optimum exposure for whatever brand hires you. You will not be doing any advertising per se, but securing the best ad spaces on relevant channels.

Traditional Advertising agency

A traditional advertising agency works with traditional media channels, like radio, television, print, and billboards, to market products or services. While many think this form of advertising is dead, it still has its own audiences.

According to Bottomline Marketing, an average American, for instance, spends at least four hours watching live TV, and the vast majority of adults listen to the radio daily. This is to say, it is not a lost cause to create a traditional advertising agency.

Some of the services you can offer at a traditional advertising agency include TV commercials and video production, media buying, jingles, radio ads, billboard and outdoor advertising, and print advertising.

One of the advantages of traditional advertising agencies is that you can use them in collaboration with other forms of marketing.

Digital Advertising Agency

Lastly, there is the digital marketing agency which everyone knows. Digital marketing agencies use different tactics and online tools to help advertise a brand. It can be specialized or full-service.

As a full-service digital advertising agency, you will offer end-to-end solutions to brands, from strategizing to designing, optimizing, advertising, and executing marketing strategies. Conversely, if you choose to specialize, your own agency will be known for particular services. For instance, you can choose Branding, influencer marketing, PPC campaigns, Email marketing, SEO, Social media ads, and more.

One of the major advantages of being an online advertising agency is securing a large customer base. Many businesses are online, but the owners hardly have the time or expertise to promote their products or services appropriately. So, it is left to the digital agency to chip in and help such businesses create, maintain, and manage their online presence.

Now that you know the different advertising agencies available, select one carefully. Then, see the next step on how to start an advertising agency below.

Step 2: Take some professional courses and talk to experts

how to start a marketing agency

What do you know about the type of advertising agency that you are about to run? If you don’t have adequate knowledge in the field you’re stepping into, it is advisable to take a course to learn from people who have already experienced it.

Some of the benefits of taking business and advertising courses include the following;

  • Get certified by reputable training platforms. This improves the credibility of your skills and business, especially if you are starting the agency solo.
  • Gather relevant knowledge and training to make the best use of the advertising agency you create. There is no way to serve clients if you don’t know what you are doing. Even if you plan to have a team, it is best to know their roles in the business.
  • Learn how to identify opportunities in business classes. Don’t forget advertising courses aren’t the only focus when acquiring skills. You also need business courses to identify your customers and win them over.
  • Learn how to draw your plan while at it. The business courses will teach you to find clients, help you draw a plan, and actualize your idea.

The above are just a few benefits of taking professional courses. You will gain a lot more when you register and complete some.

Some of the reputable online platforms offering business and advertising-related courses are;

  1. Udemy – How to start an advertising agency, How to start your own successful marketing agency, and more.
  2. Harvard business school online – Business Strategy.
  3. Coursera – Digital marketing courses
  4. Google digital marketing courses (free)
  5. Semrush academy
  6. HubSpot online marketing courses

In addition to taking professional courses, you can also attend conferences and join relevant groups to learn from already-established ad agency owners. They already have experience in the industry and can provide insights to help you stay ahead of your competition.

Step 3: Build a business plan

how to start an advertising company

The next step on how to start an advertising agency is building a business plan. Without a clear plan for your new business, it remains an idea. And if you decide to go about starting one without it, there is a high probability that the process is futile.

A business plan is a document that describes a company’s goals, how to achieve them, and the time frame to hit those targets. It usually plans three to five years for the company, meaning it is not a one-time document.

After completing your training and business courses, you should be able to draw a good plan for your business now. You will already be taught the elements to be included in the business plan and how to draw it for your line of business.

If you took professional courses like step 2 suggested, you should have no problem creating a business plan.

Here are the perks of drawing a business plan;

  • Having a business plan helps steer you in the right direction. Think of it as a GPS guiding you to achieve the goals for your business. It has all the details you need to structure, manage, and grow your business accordingly.
  • You can present a well-detailed business plan to investors to get funding for your business. The plan will help your investors feel confident about their investment in you and profitable returns.
  • As the agency owner, a plan helps you to make decisions with clarity. From the plan, you can identify your priorities, enter the right investments, and focus on the set milestones.
  • Most advertising agencies consist of a team of professionals. While starting, you need to convince people to join you in actualizing your idea. A well-detailed business plan can help you win people to partner with or work with your organization.

The most effective business plans are informative, factual, and persuasive. When investors and others look at it, they should be able to tell what your idea is all about and how it benefits them.

Note that, at this stage, you have already carried out your market analysis, identified your target market,

Step 4: Get Funding

how to start an advertising business

When running around to learn how to start an advertising agency, it is important to note that you will need funds to bring your idea to life. So, after drawing a plan for your ad agency, the next thing to do is get funded for the business. You need cash to cover the initial and operating expenses, like building a website, branding, running ads, renting an office space, hosting your site, and more.

You can cover the cost yourself if you have a stash somewhere, or you could ask for external funding. It depends on the startup costs and your capabilities. If you cannot handle it, ask for help instead. The following are ways you can receive Funding for your ad agency;

  • Take out a loan from a lender- it can be your family member, traditional banks, online lending companies, credit unions, or others.
  • Apply for grants or government programs.
  • Get business partners who have the capability.
  • Organize crowdfunding to raise small amounts from different people.
  • Look for capital investors and present them with your plans.

The easiest way to get free funding for your business is by applying for government grants. All you need to do is fill in your business details, apply, and wait for the approval.

Step 5: Hire Employee (s)

It’s time to build your team! But, of course, not all advertising agencies have a team. If you plan to run the business solo, you can skip to step 6. However, if your business plan includes having employees, continue reading.

The size of your firm and ad agency type are major determinants of how many employees you need to hire. If your firm is small, you can manage it alone or hire one to three employees to join you. Conversely, a large firm offering full-service advertising needs more employees to cope with customer requests.

The following are positions you can consider when hiring employees for your own business;

  • Copywriter and editor
  • Graphic designer
  • IT specialist
  • Web developer
  • Creative director
  • CRM
  • Account Executive
  • Business Development Manager
  • UI/UX designer
  • Advertising manager

Note that whatever position you hire from the above list depends on the type of agency you choose to create. Depending on your business plan, you can hire them on contract, part-time, or full-time too.

Also, note that you can follow steps 5 and 6 of how to start an advertising agency in no particular order, it is advisable to hire your employees first.

Hiring employees before creating your business identity has several perks. The major one is that you can utilize marketing professionals’ skills to build the identity you want.

They are already experts in the field, meaning you will not have to hire outsiders and pay additional fees to use their services.

Step 6: Create Your Business Identity and Launch

You already have a plan and some funds, so the next step is getting started.

First, you need to make your business a legal entity by registering it with the appropriate agencies. It gives you a unique identity that no one else has the right to use. For instance, your business name becomes yours officially, and no one else can use it unless you go bankrupt and close the firm formally.

Another perk of registering your business is that it improves your credibility with prospective clients. It will be easier for them to do business with you knowing they are not breaking the law for regulatory and tax reasons.

After registering your business, you can now move to branding. This is the part where you build an identity for your brand. You are expected to create a logo, website, social media accounts, graphics, portfolio, and other visuals.

Note that you can do the above without paying a fee if you already have a team or have the skills to execute them yourself.

When you are satisfied with the identity created for your business, you can then launch strategically and start attracting potential customers.

Step 7: Build Your Client Base

Now that your advertising agency is up and running, you need to start building your client base. You should know by now who your ideal client is and where to find them. So, the next thing to do is create strategies to attract customers.

Your strategy should include a mix of different tactics like optimizing your website, running ads on social media channels, sending cold emails, doing promos, and more. These can help you to draw traffic to your pages and gain quality leads.

You can also narrow your list of potential customers and pitch your businesses directly to them. This is usually effective when dealing with a large firm that needs your ad services.

Pitching to customers requires sales and marketing skills, so if you are not well-versed in that area, it is advisable to hire an expert. Such a person will take care of winning prospects for your brand.

A high success rate is one advantage of having a sales and marketing expert in your advertising company. They can help you build and nurture client relationships while you are focusing on other tasks.

One More Thing – Upgrade regularly!

Technology will always advance, and so should the goalpost of your ad agency. You and your team will need to upskill to keep up with the upgrades in tech, customer demands, legislation, and the ad industry.

You can provide learning opportunities for your employees by organizing training sessions relevant to their departments. This will help them stay updated with the trends in their field. That way, your advertising agency will not lose its credibility with customers and prospects.

Updating your knowledge will help you stand out among competitors, serving your clients better and proffering solutions to their problems.

Some of the other perks of upgrading your skills include the following;

  • Increase your value and marketability in the market.
  • Get paid higher by clients.
  • You can compete on a global scale.
  • Network continuously with other professionals while at it.
  • Create more opportunities for your ad agency.


Is Starting An Advertising Agency Worth It?

Yes, starting an advertising agency is worth it. Like any other business, you have to strategically run your ad business to attain success. Your business is an asset. With time, commitment, relevant skills, and a professional team, it will grow, and benefits will pour in.

Can I Start An Advertising Agency Without Any Experience?

Absolutely! The first thing you should do before creating an ad company is to gather knowledge. So, take the relevant advertising and business courses to prepare yourself for running the business.

How Do Advertising Agencies Make Money?

Advertising agencies charge their customers for the services they offer- some collect hourly fees while others accept one-time payments or salaries.

Wrapping Up

Learning how to start an advertising agency has many perks. The most important one is that it helps you to do it right. With the steps I have provided above, you can easily start building your business with a clear direction.

Still wondering if it’s worth it?

The key to starting a successful advertising agency is solid planning, skills, creativity, and an ability to take risks. Once you have all that, the probability that your business is profitable becomes high.

Ready to own an advertising agency? Read through this blog post again to catch any points you have missed!

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