10 Rules for A Successful Internet Marketing Agency

Ian Lurie

I am not successful, yet. But I have been in the internet marketing business for 12 years, and I’ve got 10 rules I live by. These are all equally important:

  1. Believe what you do. You have to earnestly believe that what you’re doing is worth doing.
  2. Love what you do. Trust me, if you don’t love it, you won’t make it through the inevitable rough times.
  3. Be comfortable. Don’t work with clients that make you uncomfortable. I’m not making any value judgments here. But if you can’t tell your kids what you do and be proud of it, then you shouldn’t do it.
  4. Believe in your clients. You have to honestly believe all of your clients have something worth selling. If you don’t, you’ll never be able to do a good job. I’m not saying you should love all your clients, or that they should love you. I’m just saying you have to know, deep down, that what they’re making/selling/teaching is worth making/selling/teaching.
  5. Be honest. Speak the truth to your clients. Even if it may make you unpopular. Good advice is your first responsibility, and credibility is your main product. Don’t compromise on either.
  6. Eat your own dog food. Use your client’s products. If they sell stationery, buy it when you need stationery. If they make mini-vans, buy theirs when you’re shopping for a mini-van.
  7. Never stop learning. I still learn new lessons every day: Tools, disciplines, methods, tricks of the trade. Social marketing didn’t exist as a concept 7 years ago. Search marketing didn’t really exist 10 years ago. Twitter didn’t exist 1 year ago. Learn ’em all, again and again. It’s fun!
  8. Hire curiosity. Hire smart, intellectually curious people. Your business requires non-stop learning (see #7, above).
  9. Love teaching. Pass what you learn along. To clients, to staff, to anyone who asks. It can only help you.
  10. Be ethical. A subtle distinction from honest. You need to be both. “Legal” does not equal “ethical”.

Any you’d add?

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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  1. Hi Ian,
    Thanks for the refreshing post. I came across your post and expected to see a list of typical “play book techniques” on how to run a successful internet marketing agency, but instead found a list of great suggestions for operating a successful business in general. Well thought out and helpful… keep up the great work!

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