People often think of glitzy, high-powered advertising firms when they think of advertising design and consulting. However, there are also many small advertising companies, and even quite a few freelance advertising designers and consultants.
Every business and organization, whether for-profit or non-profit, needs to advertise their services or products. Without effective advertising, no one will know about the terrific products or services that a company has available. Some freelancers handle their own advertising, and some companies have in-house people who design their advertising campaigns; many more contract with an advertising company or consultant to help them develop an effective advertising campaign.
Building a portfolio of successful advertising campaigns can take time and be a challenge. However, it is not impossible. Targeting new businesses may be easier than targeting existing businesses when first starting out though. There is a good change that established businesses already have a relationship with an advertising company and you would need to convince them that you could do better than their experienced ad agency. New businesses, however, are not likely to have an established relationship with an ad company, are likely to be strapped for cash, and may welcome an opportunity to save some money on their advertising campaign by working with a new advertising designer or consultant.
An advertising design and consulting business can be operated as a home-based business with little start-up cost. The biggest potential obstacle to operating an advertising business as a home-based business would be if you plan to have clients come to your office. Discussing an advertising campaign in your living room or at your kitchen table may or may not impress your client. Some clients are likely to not care that you work from your kitchen table so long as you can deliver results, while others are likely to be put off that you do not have a “professional” office. Those who have the luxury of a spare room that can be converted to an office, particularly if the room has a door for direct access from outside, can avoid this potential problem. The other options are to only meet clients at their office or, if available in your city, to rent an office by the hour or the day for those times when you need to meet with a client in “your office.”
You will also probably want to introduce yourself to the account sales representatives at local print shops, newspapers, television stations, billboard companies, etc. These people will be your contacts when you are ready to run an advertising campaign for a customer. Meeting these account representative in advance, if you do not already know them from previous work, will allow you to have a better understanding of what advertising options are actually available in your local area, who you need to contact to make something happen, and what it will cost to run a particular ad campaign.
Advertising design and consulting is obviously, with rare exceptions, a business-to-business industry. Few consumers will need to retain the services of an advertising designer or consultant. This obviously simplifies marketing your new advertising business because you only need to target business customers.
Setting up a high-quality business website is a must for a new advertising business. Customers are not likely to take you too seriously if you do not even have a website, or if the website looks terrible or functions poorly. A domain name can be registered for $10-12 per year, and hosting can be set up for five dollars per month. In other words, websites are ridiculously cheap and are easily the cheapest advertising you will ever do for your business. Those who are able to design a decent website can get out of this very inexpensively. However, if you need help getting a quality site up and running then pay someone to do it for you. Your business website is your statement to the world that you can represent their company effectively. First impressions do still matter, and if your website is awful you will have a hard time convincing a customer to let you represent their business to the world.
Business cards are another essential item for marketing you advertising business. Cards do not need to be expensive or fancy, but they do need to be professionally printed. This is not the place to try to save a few dollars by printing your own business cards at home. They do not look the same and will not convey the image that you want to convey. Again, you are asking someone to pay you to represent their business to the world. Every communication or interaction that a customer has with your advertising business needs to inspire confidence that your business knows how to do this right. Business cards can be purchased from a number of online vendors or your local print shop. Prices typically start between $20-30 for a box of cards so this is a low-cost tool that will make you look like a professional.
As with any new business, it is often easiest to secure new clients from people you already know. Start with contacting any business owners or non-profit directors who you already have a relationship with. Explain your new business to them and ask for the opportunity to present a proposal on how you could help them with their next advertising campaign.
Contacting new businesses or organizations may prove easier than contacting established businesses when first starting. The initial contact may be either by telephone, letter, or e-mail. In any event, follow up will usually be necessary. The objective of the initial contact will probably not be to make a sale but to set up an appointment to discuss how your advertising business may be able to help their business or organization. New businesses may not have contracted with an advertising agency yet and may be more willing to work with a new advertising business.
Joining local civic organizations like the chamber of commerce can increase perception of your business, and can also introduce you to many local business people – all of whom are potential customers. People tend to prefer doing business with someone they know. Creating opportunities to meet other business people who are potential clients can result in new business over the course of months and years.
Donating your time to assist a non-profit organization with an advertising campaign can also be a great way to get started in your business. This allows you to gain some practical experience in your own business, build a portfolio, and do some good at the same time.
Businesses are paying you to represent their business and to do so well. An advertising campaign that is a complete flop is probably not likely to result in repeat business from that same customer.
Running an advertising business will require establishing many professional relationships – both with customers and with other media professionals. You may create an advertising plan with a customer, contract out graphic design work to a graphic designer, video production to a videographer, and photography to a commercial photographer, and finally arrange advertisements with a local newspaper, a billboard company, and a television station – all for one advertising campaign. These relationships are important because you will need to know who can handle what types of work, how much they charge, and what their schedule is typically like.
An advertising design and consulting business can be operated as a home-based business and started on a shoestring budget. It is possible to start this business from home with nothing but a website, some business cards, a phone, and possibly a mailbox address.
The advertising business can be stressful, but for the person who is creative, enjoys a challenge, and is skilled at networking, starting a home-based advertising business may be the perfect business opportunity.
How to Start a Home Based Advertising Agency Business. Associated Content. Site accessed on 12 November 2010.
Leigh Buchanan. How to Start an Advertising Company. Inc. Site accessed on 12 November 2010.
Going on your own: Starting an Advertising Agency in a recession. Tribble Ad Agency. Site accessed on 12 November 2010.