The Growth of AS Marketing:
From Survival Mode to a Flourishing Holistic Marketing Agency

Congrats on starting a business you courageous entrepreneur!
The most important step is done!

But now you’ve got to start phase 2: getting the ball rolling.

Which means you’re probably asking yourself questions like:

  • How can I get customers?
  • What do I put on my website?
  • How do I grow my business quickly and efficiently?
  • Where do I even start?

But don’t worry, we get you! We know how seriously overwhelming the struggle to grow is!

When our CEO and Founder, Adriana Stein, started AS Marketing, she asked herself those same questions.

6 years later, AS Marketing has become a thriving marketing agency that supports global companies in 30+ languages.

But that didn’t happen overnight! Adriana and the AS Marketing team have learned a lot throughout this time, especially as a fully bootstrapped company.

So in order to help guide (and hopefully optimize) your journey towards growth, we’ve outlined the main milestones we’ve achieved and how we got there.

The Growth of AS Marketing:
From Survival Mode to a Flourishing Holistic Marketing Agency

AS Marketing’s Growth Tactics

LinkedIn Marketing

Adriana realized LinkedIn was the perfect platform for engaging with other marketers. So she started posting there 5x per week about her SEO and marketing knowledge, as well as built up relevant 1st degree connections. She now has nearly 20,000 followers and this channel generates the majority of AS Marketing’s leads.

Building A Brand With Thought Leadership

Adriana started to build credibility for the AS Marketing brand by contributing to marketing-related webinars, podcasts, and guest articles. This brought 3rd party credibility through thought leadership, which built trust around the brand and the services we provide.

Community Engagement

Adriana joined niche marketing and SEO groups to engage with their communities. Becoming trusted within a small group who knows you well is the best way to go at networking. AS Marketing’s biggest client to date has come from a community referral.

Scaling Marketing Operations

Scaling is a continuous process. Together with our team, Adriana has developed structured marketing operations that have enabled us to scale client work and internal marketing projects in a flexible, efficient, and profitable manner – all without investor funding.

Here are the top results:

Developed a fully inbound lead generation model with 55% of leads from LinkedIn and the remaining from referrals and marketing communities.

2 month average sales cycle & average 2 meetings to close a deal

Digital PR efforts lead to 250% increase of backlinks in less than a year and helped us close the majority of leads

6 Leads to close 1 deal on average in 2022

100+ clients served with a customer life time value of EUR 15,000

Ongoing marketing projects in over 20 languages


 

“Growth is a marathon, not a sprint. Pre-impt growth obstacles by preparing operations for the future, but always take time to look back and celebrate how far you’ve come.”

The Main Challenges: Going from choice overwhelm to action

Growing a business from the ground up is no easy feat. As an entrepreneur, you need to figure out what to prioritize, how to acquire long-term customers, and what needs to be done to create lasting momentum. Even with a solid foundation, you need to equip yourself with the tools to continually scale in fast-changing environments. The biggest challenge? Trying to sharpen those tools to create financial sustainability.

Our Secret Weapons: Finely sharpened (and tested) marketing tools

Method 1: Organic Linkedin Marketing

From the get-go, Adriana has utilized LinkedIn for organic, inbound growth. To this day, LinkedIn still serves as the #1 method to obtain new clients.

LinkedIn is the entrepreneur’s playground. You can strengthen your brand, generate leads, and prove to your audience that you know what you’re doing. But in order for this to work, you need to build a fruitful network.

There are two methods to this:

Posting helpful content on a regular basis:
(in Adriana’s case x5 per week) in order to build up followers.
When you know your audience, encourage discussions, and take a stand on topics that are important to you, you’ll see higher engagement levels. For example:
Building first-degree connections related to your target audience:
Adriana aimed for first-degree connections with job titles like CMO, VP Marketing, or Head of Marketing based in our primary regions (DACH, UK, USA, Scandinavia).

The key takeaway for entrepreneurs: connect with people who have the potential to become customers in the future – but DON’T sell to them. Focus on consistently providing helpful information. When they need help with what you post about, they’ll write you.

 

Method 2: Building A Brand With Thought Leadership

The organic LinkedIn methods worked so well that it presented Adriana with the opportunity to scale into a full-service marketing agency. So in order to meet that demand operationally, she introduced the agency brand “AS Marketing”.

But then came the next obstacle: building AS Marketing’s brand awareness and credibility.

In order to do this, she began partnering with relevant third-party platforms. Big, well-known brands gave us social proof and validation as marketing experts. This is exactly how our own “thought leadership” has been built.

For example, Adriana became a guest contributor for Search Engine Journal as an SEO subject matter expert.

Take a look at the reach and engagement one individual article can have:

In addition, her articles have been reshared by industry-leading publications across multiple channels. Talk about exposure!

The key takeaway for entrepreneurs: When it comes to applying this method to your own business, choose a few highly trusted industry publications and see how you can help them – even for free. Contribute to their blog, co-host a webinar, whatever you can do to get your foot in the door. Every profession has a publication they get up to date information from, so your goal should be to get on that and become that information source.

An Added Surprise: Backlinks

But that’s not all. The cherry on top of working with third-party publications was a massive improvement in our website’s domain authority and backlink strategy. Take a look at the graph showing how we went from 500 to 1,250 backlinks (250% increase) in less than a year:

The lesson here: strategic consistency brings both intended and unintended benefits!

Method 3: Community Engagement

Okay, so you’re creating content and building a brand, what’s next?

Community engagement.

Many business owners think that to do this, they need to attend tons of networking events or conferences, shake people’s
hands, and pass out business cards that will be left in a desk to slowly decompose.

Becoming trusted within a small group is actually a much more effective approach to getting referrals. Adriana did this by
joining niche groups that were focused on exactly what AS Marketing offered as a business.

Her go-to community is Women in Tech SEO, founded by Areej AbuAli. With an industry mostly dominated by males, Women
in Tech SEO’s overarching goal is to showcase ladies who are taking the tech SEO industry by storm while building each other up at the same time. If you’re a female SEO, we highly recommend you check it out.

So, how do you start gaining recognition within a community?

All you really have to do is actively participate. You can achieve that through several ways:

  • Give a workshop
  • Submit content about their network
  • Submit content to their newsletter
  • Regularly offer advice
  • Help those who post in the group

To date, our biggest client actually came from a community referral.

The key takeaway for entrepreneurs: By connecting with and helping others in their journey, you can build trust, brand awareness, and generate a constant flow of referrals. But always think quality over quantity!

Method 4: Scaling Marketing Operations

Scaling a business isn’t a one and done type of deal. There are always going to be areas to improve. Scaling is how your revenue grows.

At AS Marketing, we use detailed operational systems to ensure customers receive the same service quality, no matter how big our team gets or how many clients we serve.

And not to forget, recognizing our team’s efforts and creating a strong organizational culture always remains of the utmost
importance. Because AS Marketing is a team, and without our combined effort, we wouldn’t be able to serve our clients.

Here’s a quick snapshot of our operational hierarchy that has created the foundation for all of our operational systems:

 

AS Marketing’s Operational Hierarchy

CEO

Overseas all operational, strategic, financial and legal operations

Head of Client Accounts


Oversees all client PMs + top-level client project QA

Head of Marketing

Oversees all internal marketing PMs + top-level internal marketing QA

Head of Operations

Oversees all general agency operations + tracking agency KPIs

Head of HR

Oversees all team contracts + first touch point for recruitment

Project Managers

Act as the main point of contact for the client, manage our teams, oversee individual project QA processes,
manage project timeline and budgets

Strategists

Perform client work such as SEO audits, content briefs, market research etc.

Designers

Create all design assets such as branded infographics, landing pages, ad creatives, etc.

Developers

Handle all development required for technical seo, website changes, migrations, etc.

Writers

Write all content related work such as blogs, articles, case studies, website copy, etc.

We have created operational efficiency that empowers our team. The PMs at AS Marketing create proposals and run projects independently. In fact, we don’t have salespeople and never will.

Our approach has allowed us to pitch realistic and achievable projects based on each client’s needs. One element that massively helped our PMs during this process is creating standardized projects with flat rate prices. Some of these include:

Additionally, our PMs set detailed project budgets, track the time our team takes to complete projects, and monitor client project profit margin.

The key takeaway for entrepreneurs: Set up operational structures that work for your particular business with defined roles and detailed SOPs (standard operating procedures). Spot areas for optimization before they become a problem, and you’ll scale much more rapidly.

Last but not least, recognize your achievements!

As a business owner, it can be easy to get lost in the daily grind. Don’t forget to take a step back and celebrate what you’ve achieved.

Although it can be hard to see when you’re so focused on the day to day, recognizing your improvement over the years will make you sit back, smile, and say “I actually did it.”
AS Marketing’s achievements over the years:

Transitioned from SEO to a full-service marketing agency

icc2

Grew the team to provide marketing support in 30+ languages

icc3

Successfully scaled the business during a pandemic to double revenue 2 years in a row

icc4.2

Built systems that run the business with high productivity levels and repeat processes that result in next to no client complaints about deliverables

icc5

Implemented marketing strategies for a number of clients that resulted in highly successful case studies

icc6

Created a supportive and empowering work environment within our team for upskilling and career development

Growing a business is a hefty uphill battle, but we know how to give you a boost to the top

We help marketers and business owners develop marketing strategies that help you hit the ground running.
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