Starting a marketing agency can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor. However, it can also be challenging to gain traction and land your first clients when you're just starting out.
The key is to build up an impressive portfolio of marketing projects that clearly demonstrate your skills and ability to deliver tremendous value and results for clients.
With several stellar passion projects under your belt, you'll be much better positioned to start pitching to, impressing, and winning over paying customers.
In this article, we'll explore five high-impact marketing project ideas you can kickstart right away to help launch and grow your new consultancy. sales and marketing job
1. Offer Your Services Pro Bono to a Relevant Nonprofit
One of the most effective ways to quickly build your portfolio and gain hands-on marketing experience is by generously offering your services pro bono to a nonprofit organization.
Most small to medium sized nonprofits have very limited marketing resources and budgets. Often times they have no dedicated marketing personnel on staff at all. Your pro bono assistance can provide an immense amount of value.
These nonprofits are often extremely appreciative of any volunteer help they can get when it comes to elevating their marketing. This is a win-win situation where you get to further build out your skills and the organization receives free marketing support.
Some specific types of projects you may want to offer aspro bono assistance include:
- Creating social media graphics and content calendars. This involves designing graphics and posts to match the nonprofit's brand and audience. Developing a content calendar will help them post consistently.
- Setting up and optimizing their Facebook business page. You can provide guidance on settings, images, info, call-to-actions and more to take their page from mediocre to exceptional.
- Crafting an e-newsletter template and system. Help them launch regular e-newsletters to their donor and supporter list by creating a polished template and setup process.
- Designing print marketing materials. Help with crafting brochures, flyers, posters, donor packets and other collateral they need designed.
- Conducting a donor survey and analyzing results. Help create surveys to gain insights into their donor base. Analyze findings and present recommendations.
- Developing a strategic marketing plan. Audit their current efforts and needs. Craft a comprehensive plan to improve their brand presence, messaging, content and more.
- Optimizing their website copy, SEO, and calls-to-action. Provide an expert review of their current site along with specific tips to improve conversions.
The great thing about volunteering for a nonprofit is you'll have lots of creative freedom to test out marketing tactics. Since you aren’t being paid, there will be very little pressure as you build out your skills.
To find a great nonprofit match, look for organizations with missions that truly resonate with you on a personal level. Reach out to the executive director or marketing manager (if they have one) with a customized pitch outlining what pro bono skills you can bring to move their marketing and branding forward.
With a polished nonprofit campaign in your portfolio, you'll now have tangible proof that you can create professional caliber marketing materials and demonstrate the immense value good marketing can bring. This will help you stand out as you begin pursuing paid client work.
2. Launch a Mock Influencer Marketing Campaign
Influencer marketing has become one of the hottest and fastest growing digital marketing trends in recent years. And for good reason—partnering with influencers provides an extremely powerful and authentic way for brands to reach their target audiences.
But it can be difficult for an agency to show expertise in this area without concrete examples to point to.
That's why launching your own mock influencer campaign can be tremendously beneficial for honing your skills and convincing future clients.
For this passion project, you'll want to plan and execute a full influencer campaign for a real or fictitious product. Some specific ideas could include:
- Recruiting several micro-influencers on Instagram to promote a new skincare or cosmetics product launch. Work closely with the influencers you recruit to coordinate high-quality posts that organically showcase the product to their audiences.
- Partnering with various food and recipe influencers on TikTok or YouTube to creatively feature a new kitchen appliance or specialty food product. Provide each influencer with the actual product sample and work with them on interesting ways to authentically showcase and demonstrate it.
- Building relationships with "mom bloggers" on social channels to share reviews, photos and videos of your baby product prototypes. Be sure they use relevant hashtags like #ad and #sponsored to properly disclose.
- Hiring a popular Twitch streamer or gaming YouTuber to feature your gaming headset or accessory during one or more of their live streams. Work closely on coordinating the right messaging and visual integration.
The core goal is to plan and manage the full scope of an influencer campaign—from identifying and vetting the right creators, to coordinating all necessary assets and messaging, to ultimately measuring and optimizing performance.
Even though it's not a real commercial product, executing a mock campaign will provide you with invaluable hands-on experience. After successfully managing a mock influencer program, you'll feel completely prepared to take on real-world influencer projects on behalf of paying clients.
Having a fully fleshed example of an influencer campaign in your portfolio will make your agency much more appealing to brands who want to tap into this high-demand marketing technique.
3. Secure Guest Posts on Authority Blogs in Your Niche
Securing guest post placements on high-authority blogs that reach your target audience can be a fantastic way to build quality backlink sand raise awareness for your new agency.
Start by thoroughly researching blogs in the marketing niche and identifying ones that seem to reach your ideal type of customer. For example, excellent targets would include major blogs like HubSpot, Social Media Examiner, Convince & Convert, Search Engine Journal, Marketing Profs and Smart Blogger.
Spend time studying the contributor guidelines and focus areas for each target blog. Make note of the types of topics they commonly cover. This will allow you to develop relevant guest post pitch ideas that directly align with their content goals and provide maximum value for their audiences.
Some potential guest post topic ideas could include:
- 7 Low-Budget Marketing Tactics for Bootstrapped Startups
- How to Conduct a 360 Degree Social Media Audit [Free Template]
- The Beginner's Complete Guide to Affiliate Marketing
- 12 Steps to Dramatically Boost Email Marketing Engagement
- How to Manage an Influencer Marketing Campaign from Start to Finish
Once you've brainstormed targeted topics, reach out to the editor or guest post manager for each blog to pitch your idea. Explain why the post would be a great fit for their audience. For best results, personali zeeach query and highlight why you're uniquely qualified to write about the topic.
After a blog says yes and publishes your post, be sure to heavily promote it on your own website, social channels, and other platforms. Guest posting not only helps drive brand awareness, but it directly displays your ability to create truly high-quality marketing content.
Having a few bylines on established industry blogs will give your agency a major boost in credibility and authority.
4. Launch Your Own Real-World Side Hustle
Trying your hand at actually launching and running a real business on the side can provide invaluable hands-on marketing experience as you build up your agency.
With your own side hustle, you'll get first-hand practice with critical activities like:
- Conducting rigorous market and competitor research
- Devising a complete marketing strategy and plan
- Building a compelling brand identity from scratch
- Designing visual branding assets like logos and graphics
- Managing and growing social media channels
- Driving consistent website traffic through SEO and content
- Setting up paid advertising campaigns in platforms like Google/Facebook Ads
- Creating sales funnels and optimizing conversions
- Tracking KPIs and constantly optimizing based on data and insights
Virtually any simple-to-start side business like an ecommerce shop, information product, service-based business or drop shipping store would work here. The primary benefit is that you can build up real-world marketing skills in a low risk setting since you won't depend on it for in come right away.
Once you have your side hustle smoothly up and running, document everything you did and use it as an amazing case study to show case your marketing abilities. Feature the branding, ads, analytics, conversions, traffic growth and overall results you achieved.
This proof that you can generate concrete results in a real business will give your agency a major boost in credibility compared to competitors.
5. Offer Free 1-Hour Marketing Consultations to Local Businesses
Providing free short consultations to local brick-and-mortar businesses can be a win-win. It allows you to gain hands-on experience consulting with real prospects while also exposing your services to potential future clients.
Start by searching online business directories and maps to identify boutique retail shops, salons, restaurants, professional service firms, dentists and doctors’ offices, tradespeople and more in your geographic area.
Reach out to them explaining you're a new marketing consultant aiming to gain experience by providing free one-hour consultations. Highlight that you'll conduct an informal audit of their current marketing efforts and materials and provide recommendations on areas for improvement.
Emphasize that the business will receive completely free advice just for their time—and that you expect nothing else in return.
During each free session, take a consultative approach to identify ways the business could strengthen their brand presence and messaging, reach more of their ideal customers, boost engagement and drive sales.
Provide the business owner or marketing manager with 2-3concrete suggestions, tips, and next steps they could implement right away to see positive marketing results at very little cost.
The goal here is to deliver so much sincere value that the business sees you as an expert worth hiring down the line. However, make it clear there is no obligation or pressure for them to become paying clients.
Even if they don't sign a contract, this type of hands-on consulting directly shows your customer assessment skills and ability to provide solutions. The case studies and testimonials from real businesses can add tremendous credibility to your agency.
Taking on these types of intensive marketing projects at the outset will help you gain the exact experience, skills and portfolio pieces needed to impress and attract your ideal clients.
With real-world examples of successful campaigns and satisfied customers under your belt, you'll be far better positioned to start pitching your services and attracting paid contracts.
Next Steps to Get Your Consulting Agency Up and Running
Once you have several standout marketing projects and campaigns in your portfolio, you'll be ready to start pitching clients and actively marketing your services.
Here are some of the top recommended next steps to focus on for getting your consulting agency off the ground:
Clearly Define Your Target Customers and Service Offerings
Get very specific on the types of businesses, organizations, and decision makers you want to serve. Also determine the core services and areas of expertise you'll promote the most in your messaging and positioning.
Build a Professional Looking Website
Invest in building a modern, high-quality website to serve as an online hub that showcases your services, bio, case studies, portfolio examples and more. This will give you a legitimate online presence to refer prospects to.
Start Tapping into Your Existing Personal Network
Begin promoting your new services to people in your current personal and professional networks. Craft customized emails explaining you've started a consultancy and asking if they know of anyone who may need marketing assistance.
Research and Connect with Local Small Business Owners
Identify local businesses that could benefit from your services based on industry, size, current efforts. Start building relation ships through emails, cold calls, and customized pitches.
Attend In-Person Networking Events
Look for local meetups, trade shows, conferences and seminars that attract your target business prospects. Come armed with business cards and concise verbal pitches.
Consider Joining a Local Co-Working Space
Shared co-working spaces can offer an affordable office environment while also surrounding you with potential clients. Get to know the other businesses and professionals.
Actively Promote Your self on LinkedIn
Build up a robust LinkedIn presence with a complete consultancy profile. Connect with past colleagues, clients, and prospects. Share regular content and participate in relevant groups to establish your expertise.
Develop Packaged Offerings Like Retainers
Design packaged services like monthly strategy retainers or fixed-fee branding bundles. This can provide more predictable revenue once you begin signing retained contracts.
Learn Paid Ad Platforms Like Google/Facebook Ads
Take courses and get certified in today's top paid advertising platforms. This high demand skill drastically expands the services you can offer.
Guest Post on Marketing Blogs
Continue pitching guest articles to marketing blogs read by your ideal clients. Contributing top content expands your audience reach.
Find Your Next Remote Marketing or Sales Role on RemoteHub
As you work hard to get your new consultancy up and running, exploring flexible remote work opportunities can be a great way to supplement your income in the early stages.
RemoteHub is an amazing resource to connect with and find part-time, full-time or contract remote work in high demand areas like digital marketing, sales, account management and more.
Some key benefits RemoteHub provides include:
- Thousands of quality remote job opportunities from leading companies and brands. Popular categories include influencer marketing jobs, B2B content marketing jobs, SEO specialist roles, social media manager openings, brand marketing jobs and many more.
- Options to create alerts so you're notified when new remote jobs are posted that match your skills and interests. New roles are added daily.
- Remote work advice and guides on succeeding in areas like self-marketing, productivity, virtual interviewing, workplace communication, time management and more.
- Access to a supportive community of professionals successfully working remotely across diverse fields.
- Showcase your profile to recruiters and hiring managers seeking top remote marketing and sales talent.
Ready to unlock new professional growth opportunities that fit your skills while maintaining schedule flexibility?
Sign up for free on RemoteHub and start accessing remote jobs along with resources to help advance your career.
Discover a better way to work and build your experience on your own terms.