You’re excited to start a social media management agency but without much startup cash in the bank, you’re also worried. Can you find the ideal clients to get things off the ground? What does your ideal client profile even look like?
There are 30.7 million small businesses in the United States alone. And these businesses employ 59.9 million people — or 47.3% of the private workforce.
These stats are good for business — more specifically, your business.
If 30.7 million other small businesses have been able to make it work, so can you. Not to mention the fact that most of these existing businesses would benefit from a social media presence for speaking to their ideal customers.
At the launch of your social media management agency, you’ll probably have a number of key business items pinned down:
What you’ll find over time, however, is that evolving your agency to the point of long-term profitability requires a thorough understanding of your target market. You and your clients are that different, you see. You’re both looking for those perfect customers.
Here’s how to create an ideal client profile.
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How to identify your ideal client
Recall this statistic: 30.7 million small businesses in the United States.
To stand out in the crowd, you have to focus on what makes your agency different.
Think of this narrowed focus as necessary for the sake of resources, as well. Realistically, you don’t have the time, money, or personnel power — especially at the beginning — to truly cater to everyone.
Here are some tips for defining your social media management agency’s ideal client profile.
Connect the dots across your current client base and social media services
In the pre-planning stages of your social media management business, you may have already thought through the basic facts surrounding your target clientele. Especially if this isn’t your first time working in social media marketing.
Maybe you’ve dabbled on social media in past positions or helped a friend’s business with their Instagram. Or, perhaps, you’ve taken a social media marketing course through a platform like Coursera.
Whatever your previous experience may be, connect the dots across any previous and current clients you might have. Take some time to analyze this information and take note of any commonalities.
Such shared data points may include:
There’s going to be a difference in how you pitch services for B2B clients versus B2C, for example. Similarly, if you don’t have much experience building a social presence from scratch, you won’t want to target businesses that are currently on zero platforms.
Be real about the types of clients you’d be most comfortable working with. As you get your feet under you, that comfort zone will likely expand over time.
You can also start to define who your target client is based on the services you offer.
For example, if your team specializes in influencer marketing, you may want to veer towards offering niche products that do well there. This could include everything from fitness to beauty, clothing to mobile app games.
Evaluate the competitive social media agency landscape
Assumptions will only get you so far when running a business. It’s all fine and good to want to specialize in a certain industry, but is there a need for it?
The short answer: yes.
You’ll want to identify a specific niche. This niche should involve some combination of a specific industry you cater to and a specific service that you provide.
You must be able to communicate about the specific pain points that you help to solve. This puts you in a position to speak knowledgeably about what your client’s business is selling — helping their brand really shine. Or respond cleverly to other accounts and followers when the opportunity presents itself.
Niching down doesn’t mean that you’re only limited to serving these perfect-fit clients — though you may want to after realizing how much more efficient your operations will be as a result.
The key to success? Being well-versed in the competition you’re up against in consideration of your ideal client profile, in order to define the differentiators most likely to land you the contract.
Identify your internal strengths
You may be working as a team of one right now but as operations grow, the varied skillsets you have to work with matter. They help in separating out what you can pick up and run with from the get-go from what will require additional training and research to master.
Another way to think about this is: if you can’t walk the walk, don’t talk the talk.
Don’t pitch expertise in running ads on Snapchat if no one on your team has ever done it. These white lies will inevitably come back to bite you down the road.
Here are some skills you should consider having (or learning) when starting up your social media marketing agency:
As you build out your roster of clients, you’ll inevitably be presented with opportunities to try new things and build on that list. But to do so, you first need clients who trust you.
Your ideal client profile should reflect what you or your team is already good at doing. This may mean you’re targeting smaller-sized businesses (and budgets) to begin with, but as your credibility and successes grow, so will your chances to go after clients with more money to spend.
Run the numbers
Knowing what types of clients to target will involve its fair share of trial and error. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know.
Networking and outbound prospecting are less targeted by nature. You don’t necessarily know who you’re going to meet and have the chance to pitch to when you’re first getting your name out there.
As you make more connections and gauge the interests of potential prospects, you can start to pinpoint unifying trends. Specifically, you can begin to get a feel for what certain businesses are willing to spend on what.
A lot of what you can successfully pitch as a retainer amount will correlate to a company’s size and level of profitability. That said, depending on the perceived value of services you’re offering, there may also be some exceptions.
Most companies will see their alignment with your social media management agency as an investment in their business’ growth.
Ask yourself: how can you use this mentality to shape who you pitch your services to and how?
Get a feel for what it actually costs you (in billable hours) to sell to a prospective client and retain them. Then use those numbers to influence who your target client is based on business size and/or size of budget.
For example, if you only want to focus on local restaurants, you’ll likely need to create services that can be scaled to a large volume of clients in order to pay the bills. After all, restaurants aren’t typically known for having large marketing budgets, thanks to extremely narrow profit margins.
In other words, be conscious of the bottom line when it comes to defining your ideal client profile. Use it to help shape the types of services that’ll prove most valuable to sell.
Final Thoughts: Defining the ideal client for your social media agency
Choosing your social media management agency’s target client isn’t an exact science. It requires its fair share of research and continued analysis throughout the lifespan of your business.
The key is to be patient and flexible. Find a place on the spectrum between broad and niche that provides you with the opportunity to expand over time and prioritize what you’re most likely to do well.