On the face of it starting an advertising agency seems like a glitzy and glamorous business, however, the success of an ad agency is very much dependant on your ability to deliver results for your clients and the competition can be fierce. If you’re creative and have experience of advertising and marketing however then starting an advertising agency could be the business for you.

On the face of it starting an advertising agency seems like a glitzy and glamorous business, however the success of an ad agency is very much dependant on your ability to deliver results for your clients and the competition can be fierce. If you’re creative and have experience of advertising and marketinghowever then starting an advertising agency could be the business for you.

Why start an advertising agency?

An advertising agency creates, plans and implements advertising campaigns for clients. They sometimes also offer other services related to marketing and branding, and some ad agencies specialise in a specific area such as online advertising or social media advertising. Despite the fact that many businesses have cut their advertising budgets in the recent economic downturn, many companies still believe that advertising is a key part of the marketing mix and are still actively looking to advertise. Some argue that these budget cuts have actually created an opportunity for start-up advertising agencies that can often provide a cheaper alternative to some of the larger players. There has also been a general shift in the market, with many companies preferring to use smaller specialist ad agencies who are often friendlier and provide a more specialist service. An advertising agency can be started with relatively little start-up cost, which makes it attractive to new entrepreneurs.

What skills will I need?

Naturally you will be creative and have a flair for advertising and marketing. It is essential that you understand advertising because ultimately your clients will hire you to utilise your specialist expertise and skills in advertising. They will expect you to ‘know it all’ and you will need to deliver them good returns on their investment. Many people start their own advertising agency after working for other companies within the advertising or marketing world. A previous contact could become your first client, for example, and then this could lead to other work. If you’re starting out on your own then you will need to be multi-skilled – from being a graphics designer to a copywriter. You could however consider outsourcing certain areas to someone else, which could both free up your time and allow you to utilise the skills of a specialist. You will need to be personable and possess excellent communication skills – both for pitching to clients in order to win their business and then for working with them to deliver the results they want. You will also need excellent organisational skills and enjoy working under pressure because your clients will often expect you to meet very short deadlines.


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What are the keys to success with this business?

An advertising agency is expected to deliver end results to its clients – and if you can succeed in doing that then you can potentially build up long-term relationships with your clients. Aside from creating the ads, in order to deliver a successful campaign an advertising agency needs to get the adverts into the best places in the media and be able to negotiate good rates to give a maximum return on investment for the campaign. Your clients will expect good, efficient service and for you to be very knowledgeable of the market, and they will expect you to complete work by short deadlines.

Start-up costs

An advertising agency can be started up with relatively little cost if you begin your business in a small way. You could potentially start an advertising agency from home with little more than a computer, a website and some advertising and marketing to promote yourself. If you can’t promote and market yourself as an advertising agency then perhaps you should think about a different business! Many agencies grow to be much larger operations that employ staff and work in larger business premises.

Your first step

Do some research into other small advertising agencies and find out the services they offer, the standard of their work and investigate the rates they charge. If you don’t have as much previous experience as you would like, a good way to get started could be to offer your services to businesses for free or at a vastly reduced rate in order to build up experience and a portfolio that you could