Cosmin Negrescu: How to get a digital marketing business off the ground


Starting a new business is easy – succeeding with one is not. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), after one year of trading up to 91% of start-ups are still alive and kicking – but five years later, just 40% of them remain.


Digital marketing is no exception. If you are starting a business in this sector, there are plenty of costs and complications to overcome – but they can be managed with the right attitude upfront.


Initial outlay


Whilst it may seem there is less initial outlay for digital businesses than for those dealing with tangible goods, this isn’t necessarily the case. There are plenty of costs to think about including the need for software applications and digital tools both to get a digital marketing business off the ground, and to undertake its responsibilities on an ongoing basis.


Depending on the precise type of business you are setting up, essential software applications could include tools for forecasting and for translating research data into easy-to-interpret formats (essential for pitching, and keeping clients updated on progress), tools for monitoring particular keywords or topics online, tools for data analytics and interpretation, and tools for data storage and comparison so that trends and performance can be tracked on an ongoing basis. This is before we even get onto core productivity and creativity applications, and of course the computers they will run on.


Outlay for software applications can mean purchasing licenses for existing tools or even developing proprietary technologies in-house – either way, there is likely to be both a hefty upfront cost, and ongoing costs to consider.


Shifting responsibilities


Moving away from technology to look at the more human side of establishing and running a new digital marketing business, it is importance to consider the shift from having one clearly-defined position (the norm for an entrepreneur who sets up a start-up from a previous career) to being in charge of everything. Sales, marketing, training of junior staff, recruitment, finances, procurement – as the business leader you will likely be in charge of all of these functions and more. Moreover, you will likely have to switch between those different functions multiple times a day, sometimes at a moment’s notice.


Since every decision you make as the company director will become a core part of the company culture, procedures and operations are extremely important. You need to choose the right services and tools to support your responsibilities – but these too can be costly.


The tools to success


Digital marketing start-ups therefore must be intelligent and organised when it comes to selecting and deploying digital tools.


It makes sense to search for software applications that can achieve multiple functions, since this ultimately reduces the number of separate licenses or purchases that need to be made, and keeps internal management more streamlined and cost-effective too.


Remember, too, that small businesses and start-ups are often eligible for grants, awards and additional funding to help with both upfront outlay and ongoing costs. Initiatives such as SEOmonitor’s Spark Programme offer support to young businesses, not just in terms of finance but also in terms of access to tools and technology for free or at a reduced cost. Through this particular programme, start-ups can receive a year’s worth of daily keyword rankings, full access to its forecasting tool – Business Case Builder – and data analyst app – Signals in order to track their campaign performance.


Digital marketing offers huge possibilities to entrepreneurs, and it truly is a sector where small organisations can compete on the same platform as national and even international giants. After all, they can offer the agility and innovation that is often harder to come by in bigger organisations. But to achieve and maintain a competitive edge, it is vital for digital marketing entrepreneurs to think carefully about the digital technology they deploy, and seek to streamline and consolidate wherever possible.


By Cosmin Negrescu, CEO at SEOmonitor

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