Reminded every day that gaining a decent first-time job is now akin to finding the Grail or a leprechaun, it’s not hard to see why there are a rising number of young entrepreneurs. Plus more people are realising how fulfilling and exciting it can be. Accessibility of media and technology is encouraging it, too. Over a quarter of students own their own business and according to Procorre, there are now around 26,400 people below the age of 21 currently listed as UK Ltd company directors.

Take it from Richard Branson: young entrepreneurs look at the world with fresh eyes and lively determination, and indeed, some of the modern world’s greatest ideas and innovations have come from young entrepreneurs. Evan Spiegel, for example, who founded Snapchat from his Dad’s house at the age of 20 and sold it six years later for over $16 billion. 

As well as the struggle to raise finance, lack of experience and knowledge can be a challenge for start-ups, and failure is very costly. Competition is tough (not just with other start-ups but with the millions of marketing campaigns your audience have hurled at them all day) and growing your business and brand with no money is the biggest Catch-22 young businesses face; there’s huge pressure on start-ups to maximise money without compromising on quality. The key to achieving this? Digital marketing. But worryingly, it appears that many start-ups reacting to that pressure in a rather self-destructive way and forsaking marketing altogether. It can be hard to maintain perspective when you’re so close to something that you created and the “it’s a good idea so it will carry itself” mentality is understandable and addictive… but that’s how great ideas go to waste and how you narrow your chances of success.


More than an afterthought

But for too many start-ups, that’s what digital marketing is to them. All effort and resources go into building the product without thinking about how you’re actually going to get customers and followers post-launch. You could run out and panic-hire an agency then, but by then it’s too late. Without the proper time, money or insight, even the best agency will struggle to put your message across. CEO of Rebel Hack Studios (who specialise in growth hacking), Logan Hall, says: “Any start-up thinking they can grow on zero marketing budget is deluded. Founders have to be realistic and allocate time for the business to learn. This costs money, whether you are paying for Facebook ads, developing rich interactive data-driven content for lead nurture, or experimenting with User Experience and pricing structures, it all takes time.”

The ‘growth should be free’ way of thinking, and start-ups not wanting to throw any of their limited cashflow at marketing is understandable. Because of this, taking to the streets with guerrilla marketing tactics is popular with many. So is assigning one person on the team to tack marketing onto their existing job description. But to create and steer an effective strategy to it’s full potential, digital marketing needs your full attention. There are exceptions, but as a rule, if it costs nothing, it’s probably worth just that… it’s a digital world, and digital & content marketing is steadily growing: 55% of companies – huge brands and start-ups alike – have already increased their marketing budgets for next year. Start-up budgets can be small, but with huge and invaluable effects if the proper thought and planning goes into them. Here’s how:


You’ll have a strong, cohesive strategy

Marketing today is about more than just selling products; it’s about building a brand.  Unlike traditional marketing strategies, digital marketing (content/email/social media/mobile marketing) grows your brand and your image, across multiple platforms. Digital marketing enables you to transform processes and products utilising cost-effective technology, assists with brand visibility and lets you personalise your communications across the globe. Without a solid digital marketing strategy in place, any start-up is going to lose out on countless opportunities for generating revenue and find it very hard to reach worldwide audiences with such a small budget.


It’s about true engagement

Attention spans are short, but with digital marketing you can get even closer to your target audiences and improve how you deliver your messages. Social media, for example, allows you to connect with consumers on a personal level, and there are new platforms to utilise and profit from every day. With apps like Snapchat, you can let customers see behind the scenes of your brand and engage with product launches, events, office life etc. Social media can be free, but effectively boosting a post on Facebook or promoting a tweet works wonders.


You’ll get to know your customers better

We like data-driven, scientific marketing at Zaboura: as well as enhancing customer experience, digital marketing uses a huge range of data and tools to effectively analyse customer behaviour and feedback, and predict future actions. Start-ups need to commit to really getting to know their customers, You can learn a lot about yourself from them; this insight into their hearts and minds might also help to show you where to improve, focus or take your brand, perhaps even in a different direction.