In today's world of cut-throat competition, direct marketing has proved to be an indispensable tool for businesses of all types and sizes. Evidently, direct marketing is one of the fastest-growing industries across the globe, witnessing a considerable rise in the number of entrepreneurs venturing into this field. The global direct marketing industry was valued at $137.6 billion in 2019 and is expected to hit $175.3 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 3.9% during 2020-2025. With this tremendous growth rate in mind, starting a direct marketing agency can be an excellent business opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs. In this article, we will explore the ten essential steps that one should take while starting a direct marketing agency business. Whether you are a marketing professional looking to move up the ladder or someone who loves being their boss, this guide will help you create the roadmap to build your own direct marketing business from scratch and succeed in your venture. So let's dive into the checklist to launch a direct marketing agency business and become a successful entrepreneur!

1. Create A Business Concept And Model

The first step in launching your direct marketing agency business is to have a solid business concept and model that will set you apart from competitors and attract clients. Here are some key components to consider:

  • Target market: Who are your ideal clients? Define their demographic characteristics, market segment, and spend time researching their needs, preferences, and pain points to develop the best strategy to market to them.
  • Offerings: Determine the types of services you will provide, such as email marketing, social media management, advertising, and website design. Make sure your agency offers a unique value proposition that will pique the interest of potential clients.
  • Price: Develop a pricing strategy that allows you to offer competitive rates in line with industry standards while ensuring your agency remains profitable. All costs, including labor, technology, promotion, and overhead, should be factored into the price calculations.
  • Branding: Your agency's brand should be distinctive and reflect its mission, values, and personality. A memorable logo, tagline, and website design will help you establish a unique identity.


  • Conduct a SWOT analysis to understand your agency's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats
  • Stay up to date with industry trends and technology to adapt to the constantly changing digital landscape
  • Test your ideas with a small group before launching at a larger scale to get feedback and ensure success

Once you have developed a business concept and model, it's time to start building your team of experts who will help set your agency apart from competitors and deliver exceptional services to clients.

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2. Prepare A Business Plan

A direct marketing agency is a business that provides marketing services directly to consumers on behalf of other businesses. It involves the creation, execution, and management of direct marketing campaigns using various forms of media such as email, social media, direct mail, and telemarketing. To start a successful direct marketing agency, you need a solid business plan that outlines your goals, strategies and tactics, financial projections, and other important details.

  • Executive Summary: This section should provide a brief overview of your business plan, including your goals, target market, competitive advantage, and financial projections.
  • Company Overview: This section should provide a detailed description of your company, including its mission, vision, values, and organizational structure.
  • Market Analysis: This section should provide an overview of the target market, including its size, growth potential, and trends. It should also include a competitive analysis and SWOT analysis.
  • Services: This section should provide a detailed description of the services your agency will offer, including the types of campaigns you will create and execute, the media you will use, and the results you expect to achieve for your clients.
  • Marketing Strategy: This section should outline the marketing strategies and tactics you will use to promote your agency, attract new clients, and build your brand.
  • Financial Plan: This section should include your financial projections, including your revenue, expenses, profit margins, and cash flow. It should also include a budget and a break-even analysis.
  • Operations Plan: This section should provide an overview of your day-to-day operations, including the tools, technology, and systems you will use to manage your campaigns and your team.
  • Management Team: This section should provide bios of your management team, including their experience, skills, and roles within the company.
  • Legal and Regulatory: This section should outline the legal and regulatory requirements for starting and running a direct marketing agency, including licenses, permits, and insurance.

Tips & Tricks

  • Research your target market: Before you start your direct marketing agency, make sure you thoroughly research your target market so you can create campaigns that resonate with them.
  • Develop a strong brand: Your agency's brand is what sets you apart from your competitors, so make sure you invest time and resources into developing a strong brand that reflects your values and mission.
  • Stay on top of industry trends: Direct marketing is a rapidly evolving field, so make sure you stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies to stay ahead of the curve.

3. Analyze Your Finances And Create A Financial Model

Before you start your direct marketing agency business, you need to analyze your finances and create a solid financial model. This will give you a clear understanding of your business's viability and help you make informed financial decisions.

Step 1: Determine Your Start-up Costs

The first step in creating your financial model is to determine your start-up costs. This includes everything from office space and equipment to employee salaries and marketing expenses. Make a list of all your expenses and create a budget for the first year of operation, taking into account your projected revenue.

Step 2: Identify Your Revenue Streams

Next, you need to identify your revenue streams. These are the different ways you can make money through your direct marketing agency business, such as charging clients for services rendered or earning commissions on sales. Your revenue streams will depend on your business model and the services you offer.

Step 3: Develop Financial Projections

Once you have determined your start-up costs and revenue streams, it's time to develop your financial projections. Use your budget and revenue projections to create a cash flow forecast, balance sheet, and income statement. These financial projections will give you a clear picture of your business's financial health and help you plan for the future.

Step 4: Determine Your Break-Even Point

Another important element of your financial model is determining your break-even point. This is the amount of revenue you need to generate to cover your expenses and start making a profit. Knowing your break-even point will help you set realistic revenue goals and make informed business decisions.

Tips & Tricks: Financial Model

  • Be conservative in your revenue projections and generous in your expense estimates.
  • Regularly review and update your financial projections to ensure they are accurate and reflect the current state of your business.
  • Consider seeking the advice of a financial professional to help you create your financial model.

Step 5: Create a Contingency Plan

Finally, it's important to create a contingency plan for your direct marketing agency business. This should include a plan for dealing with unexpected expenses, a plan for handling cash flow issues, and a plan for managing your debt. Having a contingency plan in place will help you navigate unexpected financial challenges and stay on track towards your business goals.

By taking the time to analyze your finances and create a solid financial model, you'll be better equipped to start and run a successful direct marketing agency business.

4. Find Financing And Sources Of Funding

When starting a direct marketing agency, one of the biggest concerns is obtaining seed money to get the business off the ground. It's essential to have enough financing to cover startup costs and sustain operations before the agency starts generating a profit. Here are some ways to find financing and sources of funding:

  • Savings: One way to finance the direct marketing agency is to use personal savings. It may take some time to accumulate the necessary money, but it's a good way to avoid debt and maintain complete control over the business. Using savings is also easier to access and doesn't require lengthy approvals or applications.
  • Borrowing: Another option is to borrow funds from friends, family, or investors. The advantage of borrowing from close associates is that they may be more willing to invest in the business without stringent requirements and interest rate conditions.
  • Grants and loans: Direct marketing agencies that meet specific criteria, like having a sustainable or innovative business model, may apply for grants and loans from government, financing companies, or non-profit organizations. These grants and loans programs have specific application and requirements that must be met, but they can provide significant assistance in financing and maintaining the business.
  • Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding is another source of financing that involves getting small donations from a large number of individuals, usually through online platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or Patreon. Crowdfunding works well for businesses that offer unique or exciting products.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Explore all financing options thoroughly before settling on one specific method.
  • Before getting funding, make sure you have a solid business plan that outlines all costs, revenues and indicates profitability.
  • Consider multiple investors to ensure that you don't rely on one source for financing since this may become a hindrance in case something arises in the future.

In conclusion, Finding financing and sources of funding is an essential step in starting a direct marketing agency. Whether using savings or borrowing from family and friends, it's necessary to ensure that all legal, financial, and accounting obligations are met. Finally, having a solid business plan with clear objectives on how the financing will be used and when it will be paid back is critical to receive funding.

5. Acquire Necessary Permits And Licenses

Before you can start a direct marketing agency, there are certain permits and licenses you must obtain. These permits and licenses can differ depending on where you plan to operate your business, so it's important to do your research and ensure that you have all the necessary documentation. Failure to acquire the appropriate permits and licenses could result in legal ramifications and financial penalties. Here are some of the common permits and licenses you may need:

  • Business License: A general business license that is required to operate a business in your city or county.
  • Sales Tax Permit: If you plan on selling tangible goods, you may need to apply for a sales tax permit.
  • Marketing License: Some states require a marketing or advertising license to operate a direct marketing agency.
  • Operating Agreements: You'll need to file Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization.
  • Insurance: Liability insurance is a must to cover any accidents, damages and protect yourself


  • Consult with a business lawyer or industry-specific consultants, who can help counsel and advise what you may require for your marketing agency business.
  • Stay compliant. Laws vary by state so stay informed and update your business permits and licenses as required.
  • Make sure that you keep your permits and licenses current to avoid any legal problems.

6. Choosing A Business Location And Setting Up A Office

One of the most important steps in launching a direct marketing agency business is setting up an office space. The right location and setup is crucial to ensure that your business runs efficiently, effectively, and successfully. Here are some key points to consider when it comes to choosing a business location and setting up an office for your agency:

  • Research the most strategic locations: Location is everything when it comes to starting a business, especially an agency that relies heavily on client interaction. Choose a location that is both convenient for your team members and accessible for clients. Research different locations and take the necessary steps to obtain the right permits and licenses for that area.
  • Determine the size and layout of your office: The size and layout of your office should be based on the size of your team members and the nature of your agency. Consider the number of employees you have and how they will work together comfortably. Factor in the equipment and technology that you will be using to ensure that your office layout is both functional and productive.
  • Ensure a comfortable and functional environment: Your office environment should be conducive to a comfortable working atmosphere and functionality. Ensure that your space is equipped with the necessary amenities such as air conditioning, lighting, and internet connection. Provide comfortable seating arrangements and ensure that your employees have access to kitchen and sanitation facilities.
  • Invest in essential equipment: A direct marketing agency requires a certain set of essential equipment. These may include computers, printers, scanners, and telephones, among others. Invest in quality equipment that will last your business for years and save you from future expenses associated with replacements.
  • Consider shared or virtual office options: Shared or virtual offices have become increasingly popular among small business owners, and for good reasons. Such offices offer great flexibility, low costs, and additional services that can make it easier for you to focus on expanding your business. Consider whether such options would be suitable for your agency.
  • Secure your business with the right insurance: Finally, it is essential to ensure that your business is protected through proper insurance coverage. This includes general liability insurance, business property insurance, and worker's compensation insurance. Consult with an experienced insurance agent to determine the types and amount of coverage that your agency needs.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Choose a location with easy access to transportation hubs such as train stations or airports
  • Take into consideration the specific needs of your target market when choosing a location
  • Invest in ergonomic furniture to promote good posture and prevent workplace injuries.

By taking these steps, you can ensure that your direct marketing agency business is off to a great start and that it operates successfully for years to come. Good luck!

7. Setting Up Essential Infrastructure Like Networking, Telecommunications, IT Systems Etc.

Setting up the essential infrastructure requires proper planning and execution. Your business needs a robust networking, telecommunications, IT systems, and other infrastructure to start. Here are the steps to do it.

  • Define your IT requirements
  • Start by assessing your IT needs. Conduct a thorough analysis of the type and size of your business. This will help you determine what IT infrastructure is required.

  • Choose the right technology
  • Research different types of hardware and software options that can fulfill your IT needs. Consider the implementation costs, maintenance costs, and suitability for your business. Make sure to choose a reliable and efficient solution.

  • Secure your IT infrastructure
  • Security is a significant concern when it comes to IT infrastructure. Ensure to have the right security protocols in place. Secure your network, data, and IT systems against unauthorized access.

  • Set up network infrastructure
  • Your business requires a stable and efficient network infrastructure. Choose a network setup that can handle the daily workload, and provide secure communication. As such, you will need the right routers, switches, and cabling.

  • Install Telecommunications
  • You need a reliable telecommunications infrastructure to communicate with your clients and employees. Choose a telecommunication system that meets your needs. Decide whether you need a separate telephone system, VoIP service, or a combination of both.

  • Hire an IT team or outsource
  • Once you have set up your IT infrastructure, you need someone to maintain it for your business. You can either choose to hire an in-house IT team, or outsource the services of an IT company.

Tips & Tricks

  • Make sure to have a backup system in place. Create regular backups of your data on a regular basis.
  • Consider investing in cybersecurity insurance to protect your business from cyber-attacks.
  • Choose an IT infrastructure that is scalable, so that it can grow as your business grows.

Setting up essential infrastructure like networking, telecommunications, IT systems, etc. may seem like a daunting task. But by following these simple steps, you can ensure that your business has the right foundation to succeed.

8. Hiring Staff And Key Personnel

Hiring the right staff and key personnel is critical to the success of a direct marketing agency business. You need to assemble a team of professionals who can help you achieve your business goals and deliver high-quality services to your clients. Here are some steps to help you find the right staff and key personnel:

  • Define your job roles: Start by defining the roles and responsibilities of each job position you want to fill. Identify the knowledge, skills, and experience required for each role and create job descriptions that will attract the right candidates.
  • Recruit the right people: Use various channels to advertise your job vacancies and recruit the right people. You can post job ads on social media, job boards, and industry forums or use a recruitment agency to help you find the right candidates.
  • Conduct thorough interviews: Once you have shortlisted your candidates, conduct thorough interviews to assess their skills, experience, and personality. Ask open-ended questions that will help you understand how they think, problem-solve, and communicate.
  • Provide training and support: Once you have hired your staff and key personnel, provide them with adequate training and support to help them perform their roles effectively. This can include onboarding sessions, ongoing training, and regular feedback and performance reviews.
  • Maintain a positive work culture: Create and maintain a positive work culture that encourages teamwork, collaboration, and innovation. Recognize and reward exceptional performance and provide opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Consider using personality assessments to better understand your candidates’ work style and personality.
  • Offer competitive compensation packages and benefits to attract and retain top talent.
  • Use employee referral programs to incentivize your existing staff to refer qualified candidates.

9. Establish Business Processes, Policies And Procedures

Once you have taken care of the legal aspects of your direct marketing agency, it is time to establish your business processes, policies, and procedures. These are critical to your success because they define how you will operate your business, manage your resources, and serve your clients. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Identify Your Core Business Processes: Analyze your business model and identify the key processes that need to be established, such as lead generation, customer acquisition, campaigns planning, execution, campaign performance tracking, and reporting. These processes will form the backbone of your agency's operations.
  • Create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): SOPs are step-by-step documents that define how to perform specific tasks within your business processes. They help ensure consistency, quality, and efficiency in your operations. Create SOPs for every process, and update them regularly.
  • Develop Company Policies And Employee Handbook: Company policies and an employee handbook establish guidelines for employee behavior, company practices, and expectations. They also communicate the values and culture of your agency.
  • Set Up An Accounting System: You need an accounting system to track your income, expenses, and cash flow. Consider investing in an accounting software or hiring an accountant to help you set it up.
  • Establish Client Contracts And Agreements: Client contracts and agreements outline the scope of your services, timelines, and payment terms. Your contracts should be clear, concise, and legally binding.
  • Define Communication Protocols: Establish communication protocols for your team members and clients. This may include email templates, meeting agendas, and communication channels.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Delegate responsibilities and empower your team members to make decisions within their roles.
  • Automate your processes as much as possible using technology to save time and resources.
  • Stay organized and prioritize your tasks to manage your workflow and optimize your productivity.

By establishing your business processes, policies, and procedures, you create a roadmap for your agency's growth and success. You can measure your performance against your standards and identify areas for improvement. Remember to review your processes and policies regularly and make changes as necessary to stay relevant and competitive in your market.

10. Launch Your Business And Advertise

Congratulations on successfully completing 9 essential steps to starting a direct marketing agency business. You have achieved a great milestone, but now it's time to launch and advertise your business. Launching your business and promoting it effectively are crucial for ensuring its success. Here are a few chapters to consider as you set out to establish your direct marketing agency business and promote it to your target market:

Chapter 1: Launch Your Business

To launch your business, you need to take a few crucial steps. You need to finalize the legal requirements, register your business, set up your office, and make a few key hires. Here is a checklist to consider:

  • Finalize legal requirements
  • Register your business
  • Set up your office
  • Hire key personnel

Chapter 2: Advertise Your Business

Advertising your business is crucial for getting the word out to your target market. You need to create a solid marketing plan and leverage various marketing channels to promote your business effectively. Here is a checklist to help you advertise your business:

  • Create a marketing plan
  • Leverage various marketing channels
  • Develop a website and social media presence
  • Join relevant industry associations
  • Attend trade shows and conferences

Tips & Tricks:

  • Focus on creating a strong brand identity that can attract your target market.
  • Invest in search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to get visible online.
  • Build relationships with other businesses complementary to your offering to generate more referrals and collaborations.

By following these two chapters, you can successfully launch and advertise your direct marketing agency business. Remember, starting a business takes patience, dedication, and hard work. Keep up the momentum, and you will drive your business to success.

In conclusion, starting a direct marketing agency business is an excellent opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to make their mark in the marketing industry. Direct marketing is a rapidly growing industry with a global worth of $137.6 billion in 2019, and it is expected to touch $175.3 billion by 2025. By following the ten essential steps listed in this article, you can create a business plan and strategize to establish your agency successfully. Remember to create a business concept, prepare a financial model, acquire necessary permits and licenses and hire the right personnel for essential infrastructure like IT systems, networking, and telecommunications. Finally, launch your business and advertise it effectively to start generating clients and revenue. As with any business, hard work and perseverance are key to achieving success. Use this essential checklist to create your roadmap towards building and launching your own direct marketing agency business.

Excel financial model

Direct Marketing Agency Financial Model
  • 5-Year Financial Projection
  • 40+ Charts & Metrics
  • DCF & Multiple Valuation
  • Free Email Support