Here’s Exactly How We’re Planning, Launching & Marketing a New Web Design Agency

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Here’s some “Inception” nonsense for ya: our creative agency launched a web development company for other agencies & freelancers called Reliable PSD.

Now, Reliable PSD is forming its own web design agency.

So our agency’s company is forming an agency. And that’s something I’ll never be able to say ten times fast. But! Something I can tell you is how we’re going about it.

So let’s dive in, shall we?

Sidenote: Once you finish, read how 4 freelancers built recurring revenue models that changed their business. You'll love it.

Phase 1: Planning

A: Choosing & understanding our market

The first step is deciding on our brand. And our first step to that is understanding and choosing a market segment. This new company will cater to small businesses. That’s what we decided.

We’ll likely attract a few medium-sized ones here and there – but our main target will be small business (so companies ranging from one-person shows earning a few hundred thousand per year to those with quite a few employees earning up to around $10 million per year).

But not just any small businesses. We want to help good, ethical ones with very passionate founders.

From our research of this market, which includes doing a lot of work for it and a long history of “in the trenches” interaction with it…we know a few things about what this market is looking for:

  1. Really good communication. These are people who really want to feel like you’re there when they need you.
  2. They’re not the savviest when it comes to online sales. So they need to be able to completely trust their creative team to create something that will sell.
  3. They want their site to look really good – and they’re willing to pay for that. They want to feel proud to display it.
  4. They like being friends with who they do business with. So they want to work with people who are good with people. (Ties into communication.)
  5. They’re willing to pay for a trust factor. Meaning they don’t mind paying more if it comes with the feeling that they can really trust you to do your thing.

B: Formulating our brand

So first off, it’s important to understand why we’re doing this in the first place.

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(Our original agency is very high end and super selective with projects. It’s run by my wife and me who are total perfectionists who’d never trust anyone else with the work.)

This new agency will be very different. My wife and I won’t be doing ANY of the work. We’ll only be doing the marketing to get the work.

That means the standards aren’t as high (not to say they’re low – just not as ridiculously high) and the prices won’t be as high either.

So we’re kind of creating a “lite” version of our agency’s branding.

  • The voice will feel lighter and more approachable.
  • The messaging won’t be quite as profound and deep.
  • It’ll be more friendly, laid back, while still conveying a high level of competence and care.

The design / copy will feel conversational, yet a subtext of extreme professionalism will prevail as an under current through it all.

Basically, we’re creating the ideal personality we think our market will feel most comfortable with.

  • Someone who’s really friendly and will have a good laugh with you, but is really on top of their s**t.
  • Someone who doesn’t hide behind jargon and industry terms, and can break everything down for those who don’t.
  • And someone, at the end of the day, they feel they can really trust.

We’re channeling that “person” into our marketing so when our market comes across it, they feel like they’ve found an old friend they can really rely on.

C: Infrastructure

The next step is organizing everybody. We have to plan out every step of what should happen from the time someone writes in to the time we complete their project.

Basically, we’re designing a project pipeline so there’s never any confusion about what should happen when in a project’s life span.

For example:

Inquiry arrives > initial email > designer consultation > proposal creation > proposal & agreement delivery > receive first payment > secondary consultation…

And so on and so forth.

Since this is not just going to be my wife and me, we need to lay out a plan that can be easily followed when we’re nowhere around (which is what will happen). This organization is really important for client interaction too because, if you’ll remember, our client wants someone who really has their stuff together.

When you’re organized, people can sense it. And it builds trust. When you’re all over the place, they can pick up on that too, which hinders trust-building, even if you’re really good at what you do.

Phase 2: Creation of marketing assets

(This is the phase we’re currently in.)

We have our market pegged, our approach laid out, and our infrastructure all planned out and ready to go.

Next, we’re creating a website that encompasses it all and communicates our company’s strengths in the way that we believe the market, based on our research, needs to hear it.

We’re basically just giving life to everything I talked about in Phase 1.

And that is pretty much that!

Phase 3: Launching

So! Once our website’s complete, it’s time to launch and get business.

The approach we’ll take for that is pretty simple:

  1. We’ll create a few basic campaigns in Google Adwords Express targeting web design.
  2. We’ll use Google Analytics to determine what keywords are working best and delivering the most inquiries.
  3. We’ll take those keywords and import them into Google Adwords and run dedicated campaigns around them while removing irrelevant keywords from Express.
  4. We’ll rinse and repeat while also keeping an eye on our website Analytics to make changes to optimize the conversion rate as we go and make the website more effective

To start out, I like to spend no more than $50-$100 on an ad just to test the waters.

If it works out well, I up the budget on that one then run a new campaign approaching things slightly differently (new copy, new keywords, etc.).

And then I rinse and repeat.

And that’s pretty much how we’ll launch. Just drive paid traffic to our website. Not the sexiest launch, but it’s the one we got 😉

In conclusion

The most important parts took place in Phase 1. It’s critical to form a brand AROUND a market. I think too many designers and agencies try to bend markets to who they are rather than the other way around. And I think that’s why so many struggle to find clients.

It’s just so much easier to give people what they want instead of trying to force feed them what you think they need. I’m sure there’s some good life advice somewhere in there too 😉

You just have to spend the time to really understand people’s wants, fears, desires, and needs. Once you do, you create marketing that tells them what they need to hear. It’s really that simple.

At least that’s what’s worked for me.

I hope this was very enlightening for you. If you have any questions, comments, etc., I’d love to hear them. Just leave a comment below!

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About David Tendrich

David Tendrich is the co-head of creative agency Unexpected Ways, as well as the co-founder of Reliable PSD: the first-ever PSD to HTML & PSD to Wordpress service run by designers, for designers. He co-runs his companies from Portland, Oregon with his lovely wife and biz partner, Lou Levit.

 

More about David’s business: David is co-founder of Reliable PSD – what happened when a group of designers got fed up with PSD to Code companies… and created their own. Check them out, and see why freelancers & agencies are head over heels for this amazing new service.

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Comments

  1. Great article David, and I will be sure to follow the links in it, as I suspect that’s where the juicy details are!

    Your article struck a note with me as I am going through a similar process myself (perhaps not quite so Inception-esque) in building and promoting http://www.aflua.com, which is designed to cater to small businesses who very much care about their image but are on relatively tight budgets.

    That business sprung out of my main source of work – http://www.jakeburdess.com – where I freelance, doing much more in-depth UI and UX design for larger organisations.

    Thanks so much again for sharing, and I would be keen to hear your recommendations around the ‘automation of people’ part of your setup (ie. extracting yourself from the business while others do the work).

  2. Thank for this article David. I am currently in the process of redesigning and shaping my web design business and the steps that you are talking are some that i need to do a better job at myself. That has been very insightful and I think these steps will help me in my endeavors.