Hi, my name is Milou Pietersz (Mil for short), and I am the founder of Simply Media & Advertising, a social media agency that helps brands monetize theirs following through data-driven social strategy.
My team and I pride ourselves in setting the bar in our industry with custom-tailored strategies built on data-tested methods we have painstakingly built from the ground up on Instagram.
The game of social media marketing or building a solid social strategy for businesses changes MONTHLY, and our clients come to us fed up with trying to juggle it all themselves. They know their business needs to be on socials, but doing so authentically AND bringing in an ROI is more than just a one-person job. That is where we swoop in and save the day with custom social strategy packages and done-for-you social media management.
The most successful clients we proudly partner with know it doesn’t make sense to do it all. Social media can no longer be put on the back burner or tossed to an intern. They invest in the time saved and the assurance that their brand is represented with their best foot forward.
We are currently a multi-six figured agency powered by a team that has been carefully selected, each a gem in their specialty. I would not have been able to reach this milestone shown Here without the team I have supporting me. Just like I tell clients, it takes a team effort to move forward with business and social goals and a willingness to always try something new and put your brand first.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I always knew I wanted to work in social media… but…I got rejected and ghosted by every single marketing agency I applied to…This was when I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Media and Advertising.
I was hungry, extremely ambitious, and ready to take on the marketing and advertising world. I’d always dreamt of working for a large agency. But none of that happened.
Then as I read the next job application, it hit me. None of these jobs excite me. So I decided to take life into my own hands and start a business (soon to be agency) that I envisioned working for.
Now it’s 2023, and I run a multi-six-figure marketing agency with three full-time and three part-time team members. I am the agency I have always wanted to work for. The agency that gives me the power to test and try new things creates systems and processes that make sense and place setting a foundation for my employees to be successful as my MAIN priority. Their ability to love their job and continue to grow and bring new ideas to the table is priceless.
Take us through the process of building the first version of your product.
I started this path while still in college and made the mistakes many social media managers today do, taking on any client and doing WAAAAY too much for too little. Experience was the upside. Those first few strategies would make me cringe today, but they were the start of something I couldn’t even fathom then.
I’ve never worked the traditional 9-5. Uber Eats and Instacart supplemented my income in college while I got my business off the ground.
Fast forward to today, every single test, case study, successful campaign, and even the flops contribute to creating an excellent client experience on social media. Each strategy is designed with the core to focus on Key Progress Indicators (KPIs) that are then aligned to metrics to track progress. Then the “magic” of content creation happens. We take the guesswork out of the algorithm.
This didn’t happen overnight; it all started and is still centered on my brand, which I have grown to over 40K on Instagram. My platform was and always will be my priority as it is the playground where my team and I test campaign plans and our main lead gen for our dream clients.
We then can confidently offer tested custom data-driven strategies tailored to their needs. We also take the stress out of social media for our clients and bring back the joy that it can create and the excitement of seeing your business, product, or service being put out into the world the right way.
Let’s talk about start-up costs and how I paid for them: one word, hustle. I used my experience as a D1 athlete to teach tennis lessons, delivered Uber Eats, and other odd jobs while building my social media business. Once I had the necessary experience and portfolio, I increased my prices, began to outsource, and then scaled.
Covid was the moment I fully dove into my business as I could no longer teach tennis on the court (which was my main income). I went all in on my socials at that point. I was ready to increase my prices once I started hiring my first people, and then again when I hired Heather (who is a solid investment).
As you level up your business, clients will have to pay more as well. You can’t expect clients to invest if you and your prices don't invest time and money into a better client experience.
Describe the process of launching the business.
The first thing I did was create a Wix website and added my service offers and my social media pages. Then I told everyone on the tennis court about what I did and took a volunteer position. I asked my network if anyone needed my services and worked with a family friend who paid me $300/month, but it was the start of a dream come true!
One thing about this business is that it is NOT a one-person job sustainably if you don’t want to cap your income/number of clients you can take on. I started this business in 2019 and hit a wall when there were not enough hours to take on additional clients. It took me two years to “launch” and grow my business to the point of sustainability.
The key? Hiring my now partner in crime, Heather, from the Clover Collective and Co. Heather is a business strategy and management agency. Through tough love, she helped me realize I CAN NOT do everything, be everywhere, and micromanage without losing my mind.
Every successful entrepreneur, business owner and leader knows that they need help and lots of it. Here is what happened to my brand once I hired Heather:
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Quality over quantity is the name of the game for my agency. Attracting the RIGHT client is more important than a full roster. How do we draw the right client? We flipped the table and no longer pitched to clients. Instead, we interview THEM. Each client must apply to see if they are a good fit.
Deciding if a client is a perfect fit is not just about budget, but an overall understanding as a business owner that you are outsourcing your social and trusting in our expertise. No need to micromanage if you have done your homework on the social media agency you choose based on their experience and results. We look for a partnership that is long-lasting, willing to push the creative boundaries, and pivot when necessary.
To get to this point, social media itself has been our crucial marketing tool. @simplymediadvertising is a living portfolio that showcases what we can do as an agency. As we grew, we added a promotional strategy to our content that included promo posts and stories with links that direct potential clients to my services and an“application” to work with me.
We also post a lot of case studies and results to pair with testimonials to build trust in our results. Because we built a solid funnel of leads via Instagram, we are now branching out to different platforms with a new LinkedIn presence and Youtube channel. We have also added a PR specialist to our team to land features (like this one), partnerships, and collaborations that expand our brand awareness to our target clients.
A recent example would be a partnership with Semrush, a platform perfect for social media managers to stay on top of their social data among other brands we know and love:
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Now that Simply Media & Advertising is profitable with a current retainer average of about $2,500-$6,500; I have launched my passion project, The Inner Circle. This exclusive membership is for social media professionals.
We offer monthly live training, access to me, resources, and being able to grow the business side of things with Heather.
What started as a beta group with absolutely zero clue about where it would take us has now turned into a very close group of friends and colleagues who help each other thrive in the industry. Inside this membership, I share the processes, resources, and things we use in my agency that have brought me success.
While some would wonder why you would share that in a group full of (technically) competitors, there's enough for all of us. There's enough for us all to thrive and grow successful agencies. What makes you unique and stand out at the end of the day is you. Forever a believer in community > competition. The future looks brighter than ever.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Don’t push your voice and content to the side when things get busy with clients. Your content first, always. Be your most demanding client.
I’ve never worked the traditional 9-5. Uber Eats and Instacart supplemented my income in college while I got my business off the ground. I see this as an advantage because I’ve never had the limits placed on me that a corporate structure does. My creativity is free to try, try, try, maybe flop, and then soar.
That being said, I learned very quickly that if you want to be great at something you have yet to gain experience in, you need to surround yourself with people who do. This is where I made the best career decision by hiring Heather and getting my systems, procedures, and business running smoothly.
I’ve made all the mistakes beginning social media managers make and took on all the work for pennies. I dealt with nightmare clients way longer than I should have. But I wouldn’t take it back because now I get to help other social media managers in my membership learn from the horror stories and elevate our industry together.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I can’t live without ClickUp. My team is fully trained and now masters of ClickUp as well. We store all of our strategies, engagement strategies, and content calendars; you name it, it is in ClickUp conveniently at our fingertips.
We also live on Slack with a #banter channel that keeps me laughing and smiling all day as we navigate the challenging times together through humor.
I’m also testing a new platform called Heartbeat to house my Inner Circle Membership for social media professionals. So far, in love with how organized it makes our membership feel.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Two podcasts have caught my attention as of late. The first is Real Pod by Former Division I volleyball player and TED Talk speaker Victoria Garrick. As a former Division 1 Athlete, I can relate to this podcast and how competitive sports have made me the businesswoman I am today. Check it out; great stories of success, failure, and life are packed into entertaining episodes.
The second podcast I have been listening to is called, You're a Badass at Making Money. It is a memorable one that changed my mindset. I’m also in love with my current read, Happy Sexy Millionaire by Steven Bartlett.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
For service-based entrepreneurs- I stand by the top tip I share everywhere I go. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you must put your brand first. Don’t push your voice and content to the side when things get busy with clients. Your content first, always. Be your most demanding client.
For my product-based entrepreneurs- One of the biggest mistakes I see in my line of work is brands and businesses needing more runway for marketing. Strategic social media is now pivotal for companies to drive brand awareness. If all funds are put into development, we often get caught in this loop: "I won’t invest in social media until I see more sales, but I need social media to drive sales.”
My final bit of advice to share is never to be afraid to test your limits, learn from failures, pick yourself back up, and have hard conversations. Everyone has doubt, imposter syndrome, burnout; you name it, I’ve experienced it. The most important thing is to make sure every step you make in business is calculated, strategic, and pushing you forward.
Where can we go to learn more?
- Mil | Social Media Marketing Agency | Strategy | Management (@simplymediadvertising) • Instagram photos and videos
- (19) Milou (Mil) Pietersz | LinkedIn
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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