How to Start a Digital Marketing Agency

I recently had the chance to sit down with Starter Story and discussed the roots behind Never Settle and how it all started as well as the ways we’ve won and lost over the years and the learnings that came with it.
Kenn Kelly
Kenn Kelly
November 14, 2019
February 15, 2024
How to Start a Digital Marketing Agency

At Never Settle we’re a Digital Agency where relationships with our customers come first – after all, they are everything in our business! Never Settle has been globally recognized as a leader in mobile, website & marketing solutions. You can read the full article, “How I Left Silicon Valley And Started A $100K/Month Digital Agency” over at Starter Story.

In a culture that’s insistent on blaming others and finding excuses – ownership stands out.

Launching a services business is a bit different than a product business. Products typically have to first be developed before they can be sold, but with the services, it’s all about winning the business. It was grace, but right at that time, I had a few contacts from years before ‘happen’ to reach out knowing I was in technology to see if I could help them build their solution. At first, it was two of us before picking up our third partner a few months down the road and our first project was for a total of $3,200 over two months of work. That was a long way from paying for our expenses for two full-time people yet we treated that project the same way we treat a $320,000 project today. With radical service, knowing that our clients have a choice in who they select and we’re grateful for everyone regardless of budget.

The first thing we do is listen, I can’t tell you how important that step is. After building over 1,000 solutions there is a piece of you that can think you know what’s best because you’ve ‘seen it all’. The truth is that’s radically incorrect, even two competing businesses in the same market have unique needs, strengths, and culture. Tapping into that, understanding, and working with our clients by fully hearing them is always our starting point.

We put ourselves in our clients’ shoes to determine how we can resolve problems in a reasonable way.

From there we really start building out the solution on paper thinking about the desired deliverable from a holistic standpoint. For instance, instead of looking at a website as a way to sell widgets – we look at it as a way to interact with their customers and tell their stories. How will this impact the existing customers, solutions, brand, etc… then create a comprehensive solution together for our client the put together a roadmap and blueprint to execute that plan.

As Seal Team says “always have a plan, and always plan for the plan to go to $h!t”. Which is why instead of coding we go-to design and create an interactive prototype where our clients can see and interact with what will be the final solution even though no code has been done. Fixing graphics is cheaper to adjust, and better stewardship of our clients’ budgets, than code.

Once we have the prototype nailed down we move into active development where we let the client test and see progress early on. Obviously, if we’re only doing design and marketing work there is no code but the process is very similar.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

It always starts with the man/woman in the mirror. In a culture that’s insistent on blaming others and finding excuses – ownership stands out. Besides that, the only thing you are in control of and can change is yourself, starting there then building upon that is a key to success. Leo Tolstoy says it well “everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves.”

There are thousands of things an entrepreneur must do to launch a business and be successful, yet being the best you first is the building block upon which everything else rests. And remember to have fun – this is your life and your journey!

yellow hexagon