Landon Bates: How to Overcome Challenges In Starting Your Own Social Media Agency

The Talk on the Challenges and Failures of Social Media Agencies


In this episode of the Coach Yu Show, we were joined by Landon Bates, a close friend and an expert in the field of social media marketing. While success stories of social media agencies abound on the internet, we aim to delve into the often-overlooked challenges and failures faced by these ventures.

Whether you are an aspiring young entrepreneur looking to start your own agency or someone considering hiring one, it is crucial to gain a comprehensive understanding of how social media agencies operate.

Landon Bates, who embarked on his social media marketing journey at the age of 18 and is now 23, shares his experiences and insights to help you avoid potential pitfalls.

The Journey in Social Media Marketing

Landon Bates began his foray into the world of social media marketing at a young age, as mentioned earlier, when he was just 18. His prior experience in sales, gained through door-to-door endeavors during high school, laid the foundation for his journey.

One figure who greatly influenced him was Tyler Lopez, from whom he purchased a social media marketing course to learn the ropes. Since then, Landon’s path has been an adventure, particularly after he relocated to California once his business started gaining traction. The excitement of meeting new people and navigating unfamiliar environments has been the wildest part of his journey.

However, it is important to note that the social media agency business can be volatile. Establishing a consistent client base is not a straightforward process, as clients can come and go from one month to the next.

Contrary to popular belief, persuading clients to invest thousands of dollars monthly is far from easy. It requires considerable time and effort to find the right approach. Landon personally achieved success by working with realtors in the real estate industry.

A Chance Encounter

Landon’s decision to venture into real estate was far from a meticulously planned strategy. Instead, it was a fortuitous encounter with his friend’s father, a realtor, that set the wheels in motion. Through this connection, Landon was given the opportunity to run some advertisements for the realtor, driving leads and delivering impressive results. This initial taste of success sparked Landon’s interest in the real estate industry and ignited a desire to explore its potential further.

Harnessing the Power of Facebook

Landon recognized the power of social media as a platform for reaching potential clients and generating leads. Back in the early days of Facebook, when organic reach was more accessible, Landon seized the opportunity to promote his services. He posted in a Facebook group, leveraging the platform’s wide reach to showcase his capabilities. This bold move proved to be instrumental in attracting attention and opening doors for Landon’s budding social media agency.

The Unintended Path

What started as a happenstance collaboration with a realtor transformed into a full-fledged focus on the real estate industry for Landon. The positive feedback and results he received from his initial work further solidified his interest in this sector. Landon’s journey into real estate was not a deliberate choice, but rather a series of fortuitous events and the ability to recognize and seize

“The Attractive Agent” and Building Credibility

During that period, Landon gained recognition as “the attractive agent.” He created videos, donning his blue collar shirt, specifically targeting real estate agents seeking to generate leads through social media. His primary goal was to increase awareness of his services and establish his brand presence.

However, in this approach there was a lack of evidence showcasing his clients or the results he had achieved. It seemed as though Landon was more focused on pitching to real estate agents rather than actively working with them.

This situation reflects a common dilemma faced by many young adults: how to convince others to hire them when they have yet to secure their first clients. To address this challenge, Landon emphasizes the importance of gaining experience by working with someone for free initially, delivering tangible results, and building credibility. Once value has been proven, gradually transitioning to charging a portion of the achieved results becomes a feasible strategy.

Building trust and establishing a track record are essential prerequisites before expecting clients to invest in one’s services.

Significant Setbacks and Lessons Learned

Although Landon wouldn’t describe them as catastrophic failures, he has certainly encountered setbacks and made mistakes along the way.

One notable challenge he faced was the failure of clients to convert the leads he generated for them. This is a widespread issue across industries. It is vital for businesses to have their dedicated sales teams in place, equipped with scripts and trained in the art of closing deals.

The success of clients’ businesses should not solely rely on their ability to sell. This obstacle is particularly significant for service-based businesses, especially smaller ones like real estate agents. Even when working with top agents, Landon noticed that the average number of calls made during a three to six-month partnership was a mere 12, which is unlikely to yield substantial success.

The Power of Persuasive Words

Landon’s specialization in copywriting revolved around crafting persuasive messages for landing pages, videos, and one-on-one sales calls. When asked about his experiences in this process, he highlights a common misconception. Some people tend to delve too deeply into the realm of persuasion, hoping to control others’ decisions.

It can be alluring to believe that mastering persuasive words will guarantee success. However, Landon realized that the key lies in providing people with genuine value and good deals. Clients can intuitively sense whether an offer is worthwhile or not. Therefore, if one focuses on offering the best product or service available, excessive persuasion becomes unnecessary.

Considering the importance of copywriting and persuasive words, one may wonder about their significance relative to reputation and expertise. Landon suggests that copywriting accounts for approximately 20% or even less of the overall success. The specific percentage may vary depending on the business model.

While having a good network can be advantageous, Landon acknowledges that reputation and knowledge are essential components. Building a strong reputation within the industry and demonstrating expertise in social media marketing are crucial for long-term success.

Advice for Young Adults Starting a Social Media Agency

When asked about his advice for young adults contemplating the idea of starting a social media agency, Landon emphasizes the need to consider personal passion and dedication. He encourages individuals to pursue their dreams if they genuinely find the industry interesting and are willing to invest several years to master the various components involved.

However, Landon cautions that success in this field is not guaranteed and requires relentless effort. It is important to remember that the social media agency business is not inherently easier or better than any other industry. Like any business venture, it presents its own challenges.

The Challenges of Starting an Agency

Landon acknowledges that starting an agency is not synonymous with easy money, even for those skilled in copywriting. Within an agency, numerous other tasks must be performed, such as managing ads, building landing pages, and selling to clients.

Just like any other business, a social media agency demands a diverse skill set. Landon emphasizes the need to adapt and learn multiple aspects of the business. While it may be daunting to venture into unfamiliar territory, he believes that as a business owner, one must acquire the necessary knowledge and skills before considering hiring others.

Landon paints a vivid picture of the difficulties he encountered while building his agency. He describes years of relentless effort, where each day felt like a gut-wrenching struggle. Financial hardships, rejections from potential clients, and the weight of bills looming overhead were constant companions.

The reality of the industry hit hard, as he faced the skepticism of clients who had encountered numerous agencies before, all seemingly offering the same promises.

Landon’s determination to unravel the secrets of success pushed him to explore every possible avenue. The journey was nothing short of crazy and demanded unwavering perseverance.

One of the most disheartening aspects of the process was the seemingly endless cycle of client calls. Landon recalls spending considerable time on calls, only to discover at the end that the client had no interest in working with him. It was a frustrating waste of time and energy.

However, Landon recognized the necessity of these calls. Without them, the opportunity to close a deal would be non-existent. Despite the disappointment, he understood that investing time in these conversations was an essential part of the journey.

The Value of Trust and Credibility

Landon recognized that building trust and establishing credibility were paramount to success in the social media agency realm. While it was important to refine his sales pitch and provide excellent service, he understood that the relationship with clients was the foundation upon which lasting partnerships were built.

Trust and credibility facilitated quicker decision-making and increased the chances of successful collaborations. Landon’s emphasis on building relationships highlights the understanding that, beyond mere transactions, the connection with clients played a vital role in the long-term viability of his agency.

The Power of Practicing What You Preach

In the realm of entrepreneurship, there is a notable trend of individuals who not only sell a particular service but also embody it themselves. Landon discovered the allure of this approach in his journey as a real estate marketer. While initially starting out as a real estate marketing agency, he soon realized the benefits of being a real estate agent as well.

Selling real estate had its appeal for Landon. Not only did it offer lucrative opportunities, but he also found fulfillment in providing people with favorable deals. The ability to directly represent the service he was selling added an authentic touch to his approach. By becoming a real estate agent himself, he could better understand the needs and desires of his clients, aligning his interests with theirs.

The concept of practicing what you preach became even more evident as Landon observed his friends’ successes in various industries.

My friend Ryan managed a decorative concrete company and also ran an agency specializing in serving similar businesses. Ryan’s achievements demonstrated the power of firsthand experience in operating a company successfully. By building and eventually selling his own business, Ryan proved his expertise in the field, gaining credibility and insight that can only be attained through practical involvement.

Landon recognized the value of taking action and actually doing the work before engaging in the business of selling it. This principle, he believed, was crucial for longevity and sustained success. Merely selling a service without a deep understanding of its intricacies and practical implementation could lead to short-lived ventures.

Unveiling the Business Side of Social Media: Balancing Glamour and Professionalism

In the age of social media glamour, it is easy for young adults to overlook the underlying business aspect of this realm. Many fail to realize that behind the scenes of conferences and casual hangouts lies a crucial business component. When we, as social media professionals, attend these events, our purpose extends beyond socializing – we are there to build brands.

Even in seemingly casual situations with drinks flowing, we remain conscious of the professional nature of these encounters. We understand that our role is to represent the companies we work with and make them look good. By looking polished ourselves, we enhance the image of everyone in our network.

It is our responsibility to honor our clients by capturing their videos, discussing their endeavors, and executing what we call the “content factory.” This content becomes a powerful tool for boosting their business, attracting more customers, and driving sales.

The figureheads we collaborate with, such as Bradley, Tommy Mellow, or Daryl Isaacs, recognize the behind-the-scenes work we do to elevate their profiles. It is not merely about rubbing shoulders with famous personalities; it is about working side by side as peers. What makes the experience even more rewarding is that they treat us as equals.

For example, Brad takes Landon and me out to sushi, emphasizing the camaraderie and partnership we share. It is not about engaging in celebrity activities; it is about collaborating on projects and achieving shared goals.

The allure of our work lies in the opportunity to interact with fascinating individuals. Gone are the days of monotonous office routines and strict check-ins. Instead, we have the freedom to work with cool people and embark on exciting projects.

However, this freedom demands discipline. Without the presence of an office and colleagues holding us accountable, we must rely on our own motivation and self-discipline to get things done. I appreciate this freedom because I have the discipline to stay focused and complete my tasks.

Unfortunately, many young adults struggle with this level of autonomy as they are accustomed to the structured environment of classrooms and the guidance of teachers setting deadlines.

Empowering Growth: Creating a Million Jobs in Digital Marketing

My mission is to create a million jobs. I left Yahoo over 20 years ago after being one of the first employees at Yahoo. I sold my stock and made enough money to live comfortably without worrying. Since then, my goal has been to leverage my knowledge and create jobs in digital marketing.

I’m also grateful for people like John Jonas, who runs the largest virtual assistant site on the internet, employing 2 million Filipinos. Working together, we have already created a quarter million jobs, bringing us closer to our goal.

I have visited Pakistan twice in the last year, a place often associated with danger and terrorism. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the kindness of the people there. Pakistan has diverse landscapes, including beautiful mountain glaciers, rivers, forests, and urban areas like New York City. It offers a variety of regions, much like the United States, with a population similar in size.

However, the average person in Pakistan earns only $100 per month, much lower than what we offer through our training program. We provide certification and guaranteed jobs at $3 per hour, equivalent to $500 per month, which is five times more than the average income.

During my travels, I’ve met individuals from various professions, such as a surgeon or an electrician, who make a fraction of what they could earn through our program.

Imagine being part of a team of virtual assistants, leading projects and clients, while having a middle-class lifestyle in countries like Pakistan, the Philippines, Kosovo, or Brazil. By building a team, you gain leverage and can accomplish much more.

Many social media agencies fail because they rely solely on one person who calls themselves the CEO, but they are essentially freelancers. Successful agencies have a team of people working together.

To grow as a business, you must learn various skills, but it’s crucial to quickly delegate tasks and replace yourself. My time is too valuable to compete against workers earning $3 per hour. We create jobs for others while focusing on higher-value tasks.

As an agency, you can charge clients thousands of dollars per month while paying a fraction of that to your team. By maintaining a strong client relationship, you act as the intermediary between the clients and the virtual assistants, just like a waiter in a restaurant who communicates with the customers on one hand and with the kitchen staff on the other.

Our program provides the necessary training, allowing you to transition from doing the work yourself to leading a team and achieving greater results.

Dennis Yu

About the Author

Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu is co-author of the #1 best-selling book on Amazon in social media, The Definitive Guide to TikTok Ads.  He has spent a billion dollars on Facebook ads across his agencies and agencies he advises. Mr. Yu is the "million jobs" guy-- on a mission to create one million jobs via hands-on social media training, partnering with universities and professional organizations.You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.