Anyone working in the marketing sphere will undoubtedly be familiar with one of 2014’s hottest buzz words – growth hacking. While there are a huge number of connotations associated with the term, growth hacking canessentially be defined as marketing techniques employed by small scale start-ups in order to fast track success. Using a clever blend of creative thinking, analytics and social data, businesses can give themselves acompetitive edge without the corporate price tag. And with recent data from StartUp Britain revealing that 2013 saw a record number of new businesses emerge, growth hacking has never been so relevant.

What sets start-up marketing apart?

While start-ups and large corporations share the same marketing goal of attracting new customers, there are a number of key differences between the employed techniques. Most notably, start-ups do not have an established base to fall back on in the case of failure. Budgets are generally lower, customer bases are uncertain and an initial period of rapid growth is expected. So how can these apparent drawbacks be used to a business’s advantage? Let’s take a look…

Set goals and track your progress

Like most strategies, setting goals and tracking progress is an integral part of growth hacking success. After all, learning sits at the heart of the concept which means that in order to develop and grow as a business, you’ll need to keep track of what works and what doesn’t. The key is to draw up clearly defined goals, execute plans of action and use analytics totrack progress. Results can then be compared with the original objectivein order to determine effectiveness, validate future market spends, identify patterns, build up reference data and come up with new solutions.

Let the creative juices flow freely

While established corporations are sometimes limited in creative license, start-up marketers enjoy unmatched flexibility. While your business may lack financial resources, don’t forget that innovative ideas, passion and undying energy are all free! Thanks to the huge range of tools and platforms, digital marketing is one of the most effective areas to stretch your cash further. From guest blogs and white papers to social media and SEO, use your creativity to maximise brand visibility, offer clients valuable information and get people talking. For great examples of creative growth hacking, check out this blog from leading  SME direct funding company, Fleximize.

 While corporate marketers may have an enviable budget, this does come with a complex approval process and frustrating lack of flexibility. In comparison, start-ups generally consist of a smaller staff base equipped with the power to give the go-ahead to experimental campaigns.  Take advantage of this and don’t be afraid to try new techniques that aren’t necessarily tried and tested. Just remember to always set clear goals, use detailed analytics to track ROI and learn from the results.

Future proof your workforce

The intended outcome of any growth hack campaign is an expanded business and an increased bottom line. This will most likely mean new employees,in which case you’ll need to be prepared to scale your staff base at a rapid rate. Freelancers are a fantastic solution and offer a huge amount of freedom. When business is booming, hire new freelancers and hand out assignments right, left and centre. When thing slow down, contracts can be quickly ended. You’ll also be able to tap into a fresh new pond of ideas and expertise which could help to further grow your business and enhance your marketing techniques.

The advantages of growth hacking are there for the taking. So set goals, track results, broaden your horizons and empower yourself with the knowledge to transform your humble start-up into an established enterprise.