26 Marketing Strategies That Startups Can Leverage for Growth
Setting up a business is not easy. During the initial stages, you are basically doing everything from sales to marketing, to accounting, to customer service. You are on a tight budget to even hire a marketer. The purpose of marketing is to connect the value of your business to the right target audience. This is a straightforward concept but can assume different approaches. You need to determine which marketing strategies are effective and which ones are a waste of time. The success of a startup largely depends on the marketing strategy used which hold the key to your future growth.
This type of marketing strategy allows your existing customer to bring new ones to your company. Satisfied customers refer others to your business and are rewarded for their efforts. This is one of the cheapest marketing tools as your startup only pays out when new customers come your way. Likewise, set up costs are not required unlike other marketing strategies like advertising. It is important that you create an effective incentive plan to reward your customers for referrals.
Trust and credibility – Most people feel comfortable when a product is recommended to them by someone they are familiar with and trust.
New customers are less price sensitive – Most referred customers can buy products at full price because they have been presold by your existing client’s trust.
Decreased sales costs – referral marketing reduces your sales costs and cycle
It’s slow – Referral marketing can take several days and weeks to see results
Limited audience – This type of marketing is limited to the number of potential customers
2) Brand marketing
Brand marketing involves building trust for a particular brand. It is about taking out a brand into the world and communicating why it is worthwhile. Through brand marketing, you are able to influence the decision of potential customers. It is the most appropriate ways for establishing repeat business since the customer’s perceptions of your brand is influenced by their previous experience with the brand.
Product awareness – Brand marketing makes the customer be aware of a company’s product and service.
Premium prices – this marketing strategy helps startups to charge premium prices for their products because a strong brand can charge high prices thereby fetching increased profits.
It is costly – The primary drawback of brand marketing is that startups will incur high expenses on advertising and publicity
3) Content marketing
This is a long-term marketing strategy that focuses on establishing a stable relationship with the potential customers by consistently providing them with quality content that is relevant to them. Today, customers want to feel like you care about them. When customers make purchase decisions, their loyalty lies with you. They will choose your product over the competitors. Content marketing ensures that you care about your customers’ needs.
Reach potential customers who dislike ads – Content marketing helps you to reach the audience who may avoid brick and mortar advertising
Brand awareness, trust, and loyalty – With a well-researched and informative content, your startup will be seen as trustworthy. As the audience relies on you for information, they are more likely to buy products from you.
Resources to produce content – Content marketing requires more input to produce content that customers will want to read, watch and use
Time and commitment – Being a long-term marketing strategy, it requires you to put time and effort to build trust and a following
Resources to produce content – Content marketing requires more input to produce content that customers will want to read, watch and use
Time and commitment – Being a long-term marketing strategy, it requires you to put time and effort to build trust and a following
4) Social media marketing
Social media marketing is one of the most powerful tools for startups to reach potential customers. Today, customers are interacting with brands through social media, and if your startup is not directly communicating with the target audience through online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. you are missing out. Effective social media marketing helps to drive leads, traffic, and sales leading to success in your business.
Budget-friendly – Most of the social media platforms are free to use this allows you to leverage this channel to market your goods and services
Larger audience – Almost everyone has access to social media. You can use this platform to communicate content to your fans thereby exposing your brand to a larger audience
Time-consuming – Maintaining social media presence can be a time-consuming affair
Security breaches – Social media accounts are vulnerable to security breaches. Hackers can have access to your company’s valuable and confidential information
5) Email marketing
This is a marketing strategy where you send emails to potential customers. This is the most direct and meaningful way of connecting with your leads, growing them and converting them into loyal and raving followers. An effective email marketing will convert prospects into customers and one-time buyers into loyal customers. Email marketing helps you to keep customers informed as well as tailor marketing content to your customers.
Drives conversion rate – Most marketers are focused on driving conversions and there isn’t a more powerful tool than email marketing
Message delivery – Email marketing delivers your content to the recipient’s inbox
Consistent updating – An effective email marketing must be sent on a regular basis. When information is not consistent, it becomes a reflection of the company’s reputation
The recipient may not open your email – There is a high chance that your email content may get a one out of five open rates. If the recipient feels that your email is not a priority it is more likely to be deleted
6) Product marketing
Product marketing involves taking the products to their target market. Companies must have an effective product marketing strategy to get its products to consumers.
“If you want to go viral, it must be blended into your product. There must be a reason to share it and the means to do so.” Ryan Holiday
It provides you with a clear and systematic way of promoting your products. This strategy is extremely important when entering or expanding into new markets. It aids to unlock the full potential of your products, customers, and employees.
Enhances reputation – You can develop a better reputation for providing quality products in the market
Core focus – Product marketing helps you to focus on what you do best
One of the disadvantages of product marketing is that when you focus solely on your products and fail to pay attention to customers, you can alienate some customers
7) Public relations (PR)
Entrepreneurs wish to have their company’s take the cover page of a major publication. Public relations can be used to create breakthrough moments. PR is a vital tool for building successful businesses in today’s business environment. While big companies can afford to pay professional PR agencies to handle their PR matter, bootstrapped startups may not have the capabilities. Securing strong PR is not easy, it requires dedicated efforts. PR incorporates various programs designed to improve a company’s image and the product it offers. You can use this tool to tell stories about your business. At Pressfarm, we are always encouraging startups to figure out story angles for a strong PR strategy. If you are a company struggling with positioning your message in the market and press, we welcome you to try our services.
According to Lee Haney, a bodybuilder and former Mr. Olympia “PR is an essential tool and being able to use it in the right way means everything. You have to market your success.”
A PR strategy plays an important role in your new company’s promotional strategy. It is one of the most appropriate methods to communicate and interact with the market.
“Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.” – Richard Branson, Founder at Virgin Group
It is cheap – In most cases, public relations campaign can be achieved at low costs compared to other promotional methods.
Wide exposure – An effective public relations strategy can result in the target audience acquiring detailed information than they receive from other promotional methods.
Difficult to measure success – Most startups may find it hard to measure a campaign’s success
The medium used – Selecting the most suitable media to pitch your stories can be challenging as you try to review their audience to see if they match your target market
8) Inbound marketing
Inbound marketing is a powerful marketing strategy tool when you want to build useful and long-lasting relationships with potential customers while spending less. Inbound marketing is used to attract leads to your startup. Rather than running an ad on the television or employing a pay per click (PPC) campaign, you may decide to create an email list, publish free content, build a strong presence on social media platforms and ask for the audience’s permission before contacting them. While using these tools you are sure to entertain and inform your audience with relevant content they are seeking.
You can build long-term relationships with prospective customers – Since it is based on continuous delivery of information and a two-way nature of communication, it allows you to establish trust with potential customers until they are ready to make the leap and buy your goods.
It is inexpensive – Inbound marketing is cost-effective because it is cheap to set up a website and adding a blog to an existing website is also free
Requires professional competence – Inbound marketing requires the expertise in the areas of SEO, web design, content writing, etc. As such, new companies may experience challenges because the expectation that one person may have all these skills is unrealistic
9) Outbound marketing
Outbound marketing employs traditional methods of marketing to promote goods and services. Startups can use outbound marketing to reach prospective customers through TV commercials, radio advertisements, brochures, catalogs, face to face contact etc. Through each outbound method, your company can generate increased sales lead.
Familiarity – The main advantage of outbound marketing is that the target audience is familiar with the different methods
High cost – Outbound marketing takes the majority of the marketing budget for most startups.
Return on Investment – It is extremely difficult to track return on investment
10) Growth hacking
Today, growth hacking is experiencing a revival especially due to the advancement of online marketing. Growth hacking involves ditching the use of traditional methods of marketing and instead replaces it with what that can be tested, tracked and scaled. Their marketing tools include emails, PPC, and platform API. This marketing strategy helps startups to generate huge growth in the short-run. It is believed that every product requires different growth hack. One way that you can growth hack your business to success is to employ several marketing strategies concurrently. You are guaranteed to get large volumes of data in the short-run and you can draw conclusions from the data that serve as a reference to your future efforts.
Ryan Holiday notes that “Growth hacking does not make our instincts better, rather it reduces the costs of being wrong while giving you the freedom to experiment and try new things.”
“Growth hacking is not anti-marketing, it is the evolution of marketing, it is pro-growth.” – Sean Ellis
Inexpensive – Growth hacking makes use of low budget to generate massive company leads
Concerned with outputs – Most growth hacking strategies are concerned with generating more outputs instead of outcomes
Not sustainable – Most startups employ growth hacking methods because the process does not involve long-term planning. Marketers may use inexpensive methods like Facebook and Twitter to increase leads to avoid developing a marketing budget and plan which hinders your company for sustainable growth
11) Newsletter marketing
Traditional methods of marketing have become a blunt approach to promote goods and services. Currently, new businesses are trying to establish a strong relationship with their customers and are now turning to new marketing methods to engage and maintain their customers. One of the most powerful strategies includes the use of newsletter marketing. This type of marketing strategy allows companies to communicate about themselves and their products in a softer manner that respects the target audience thereby improving loyalty and repeat customers. You can use either the electronic or print methods.
It is cheap – With tools such as MailChimp, you can set up your own newsletter and distribute your content to a larger target audience
Easy to manage – E-newsletter allows you to see who reads your newsletter and clicks on it. At the same time, you can see who is opening your newsletter which helps you to target your market accordingly
Larger audience – With print media, you can reach an audience that is not always online
Mobile phone incapacities – For the audience that checks their email n their mobiles they might not be able to read your newsletter
Print newsletter is expensive – Print newsletter involves the costs of printing and postage.
12) Direct marketing
Meeting with a prospective customer face to face and discussing the importance of your product and service plays a significant role in his/her opinions. Direct marketing may take the forms such as direct email, direct mail, telephone calls, door to door demonstrations, etc. Information conveyed is usually broad and meant for the general audience. Also, this type of marketing campaign is most suitable for products that have wide appeal.
Personal approach – Face to face meetings creates a better and stronger relationships because you can reach your audience with a personal approach.
Targets the right audience – It is possible to send specific content to the target audience based on demographics and buying patterns
Informative – Direct marketing allows you to deliver detailed information about your products and prices
Can be intrusive – Some people may find marketing methods such as door to door sales to be intrusive and annoying
Low response rate – You may reach a customer who is not interested in your product and may find you to be irritating.
13) Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
When you develop content, you want it to appear in the search engines. When using SEO, you are assured of a high return on investment. Startups need to think of SEO as a mechanism to drive content into the top listings of the search engine pages. By developing unique, informative and data-driven content you can generate backlinks and also makes your content appealing to the search engine. In addition, optimize your images, meta tags, and on-page elements so that your audience can find content through long tail keywords.
“If you are trying to grow your qualified search traffic, you have to combine your content marketing with your SEO efforts.” – Neil Patel
Huge traffic – SEO generates huge traffic that is more likely to convert to your products
Business growth – SEO helps your business to grow. Startups with strong online presence have a chance to grow and succeed.
Free and targeted traffic – With millions of searches being made in a day, SEO provides your business with exposure to people seeking a solution.
Takes time to generate results – SEO involves getting your content indexed by search engines which could take days or weeks
Requires huge investment in a competitive niche – An effective SEO campaign involves creating valuable content and attracting backlinks, thus it may not be a completely ‘free’ marketing tool.
14) Digital advertising (PPC)
This is one of the fastest ways to attract potential customers to your site. With PPC marketing you can use the search engine to direct clicks to your company’s website. Tools such as Yahoo Search Marketing, Google Adwords, Bing Ads etc. can be used by startups to display ads and pay a certain amount of fee each time a visitor clicks the ad to their website.
Searchers are always researching for specific products and services as well as information at any given time. In this way, entrepreneurs must have the capability to show an ad at the exact moment the user is searching. PPC campaign allows you to increase leads and prospects when they are researching and looking for products and services to buy making it a highly effective tool to bring visitors to your website.
Quick results – It is easy to set up a PPC campaign through Google Adwords and similar platforms. Upon displaying your ad on the search engine, you don’t have to wait for long to see results
You can track ads in real time – PPC enables you to ensure that your ads are reaching the right audience and is effectively drawing traffic to your website in real time
Maximum control – PPC allows you to have a say on what page you want the users to visit
It can be complex – With pay per click strategy, there are many variables involved and you can lose your money if you are not careful
The cost of PPC is high – Over the years, Google has gained significant popularity for companies and searchers. As such, it has become increasingly expensive. Google Adwords campaign is not cost effective unless companies have sufficient budget.
15) Point of purchase (POP) marketing
This tool seeks to advertise to customers who are in the stores and are ready to make a purchase. This is a last minute approach for companies to influence the decision of the potential customer. Most retail stores such as Walmart, Costco, and the like use physical displays to create a room for customers to wind down when they checkout. They usually put small items on the display that cost less.
“I was reading all these reports that were down on retail brick and mortar, saying it’s all about online… I think brick and mortar is an amazing opportunity to use our stores and our store staff as a vehicle to truly engage with the community in a way no other retailers are doing.” – Jim Brett, President, West Elm
POP placement – Point of purchase advertising can be situated anywhere e.g. at the checkout lanes, in stores, or even next to merchandise
Target audience – It must be well located to draw target customer at the time of purchase
Highly influential – You have the opportunity to influence potential customers in a competitive environment
Limited reach – POP marketing can only reach a small number of potential customers walking past its displays or waiting at the checkout counter
It is product-oriented – POP marketing influences what products consumers may buy and not where they will buy them.
16) Affiliate marketing
If you want to drive more potential customers your way, consider employing an affiliate marketing method. This is the most appropriate marketing method to engage consumers with compelling products. Affiliate marketing is composed of a relationship between the affiliate website, affiliate network, advertiser, and the consumer. An affiliate earns commission for every sale that they bring for your business. Usually, the affiliate is provided with a unique link to your product website. When you register a sale from the link, the affiliate earns his/her commission. This marketing strategy is effective to attract new customers and increase sale.
No skills are required – You do not need to be a marketing expert to become an affiliate. As an entrepreneur, you can learn about affiliate marketing along the way
Minimal effort – Once your website is up and running, you may require using less time to update the site while some do not even need to be updated and still bring in a lot of sales.
Affiliates have no control over the programs – Companies set the rules for their affiliates
False advertising – Some affiliates will do anything and everything i.e. they can falsely promote your goods and services in order to make quick cash
Vulnerable to hackers – The anonymous nature of the affiliate programs makes it vulnerable to scammers thereby making it difficult for the affiliate to earn his/her commission
17) Channel marketing
This marketing tool focuses on selling goods and services through distributors or resellers. It is an effective campaign, especially in the B2B environment. When selling your products through a network of partners, it is important to note that you are making two-part sales. First, you must persuade the channel partner to work with you. And the second sale is the consumer. A good channel marketing must address the needs of the key stakeholders otherwise you risk making declining sales.
Low marketing and distribution costs – In most cases, the channel partners usually have an established presence and is known by the customers. This allows you to reach new customers at low costs as well as enter new markets in a cost-effective manner.
Limited control – Selling through partners implies that there are intermediaries between you and the end consumer. You may not be part of the sales process thus, you have limited ability to influence the sales outcome.
Partner discounts – You may need to share a certain percentage of your revenues with your channel partners that make the sale
18) Drip marketing
Drip marketing involves sending pre-written messages to prospective customers over a period of time. The well-thought-out emails provide drops of content at specific intervals to keep your brand at the top of your customer’s mind until he/she is ready to contact you. This is a great marketing tool for building trust with your customers and prospects. The pre-written messages and relevant interactions involved helps build this trust.
Helps to build trust – Well thought-out content helps you to build customers’ trust and puts you and your business as the leader in the industry you operate in.
Helps increase conversion rates – Drip marketing will help increase your conversion rate because you are constantly staying in touch with your audience
Generate more sales – For startups, using drip marketing blended with lead nurturing will help generate massive leads without needing more time
Follow-up method – The automated and impersonal follow-up process has a low response rate
19) Viral marketing
If you are online, there is the possibility that you would like your products and business to go viral. Viral marketing helps you to improve credibility without the need of contacting each of your potential customers.
“The first lesson in constructing viral content is having the strength, courage, and self-confidence to get in touch with your own feelings, thinking about what profoundly affects you.” ― Ken Poirot, Go Viral!: The Social Media Secret to Get Your Name Posted and Shared All Over the World!
Attract new markets – Viral marketing allows you to reach out to potential prospects who may not hear your message. This helps you to enter new markets and draw a high number of prospects.
Enhanced marketing list – There is a good chance that viral marketing will help you build an enhanced marketing list even if the campaign does not result in a sale.
Real-time credibility – Viral marketing largely relies on word of mouth endorsements which helps you acquire instant credibility on a personalized level
Massive traffic – This tool helps you to get huge traffic in a short period of time
Limited overall control – With the viral campaign, you do not have the capacity to control how people interact with your message
Can be a waste of time – When your message does not reach your target audience, then you will have wasted your time and money
20) Target marketing
When you start a business you begin by identifying your target market. You need to know your target market in order to start offering your products and services to people that are interested in them. Target marketing is used identify consumer groups that are interested in your goods and services. In this way, you will be able to focus on the target market and promote your products better. Even if you start with a small market segment, it does not really necessarily mean that it will remain like that.
New markets – Target marketing helps you to identify underserved markets
Business focus – Target marketing encourages business focus because serving too many markets or even offering too many products makes your business to lose the ability to differentiate itself
Reduced costs – This marketing strategy limits your number of customers and helps to direct your budget into specific marketing channels that reach out directly to the target market
Small market share – The market segment you may choose may not be big enough to support your new business
Wrong target market – When choosing one market segment over the others you may find that you are excluding the ones that could offer increased sales.
Ethical issues – Some companies receive criticisms for targeting certain markets.
21) Influencer marketing
This is a word of mouth marketing that uses key brand advocates to drive your content to the larger audience. Most businesses use people with large social media followings who have the power to influence the target audience. Instead of marketing directly to a large market, you can pay key influencers to get the word out for you. Sounds like a great idea!
“Influencers are personally invested in their crafts and are trusted sources of recommendations for followers.” – Sidney Pierucci, Founder ESPLMedia
In most cases, you pay the influencer for the service. At the same time, you can also provide them with free products or create other arrangements depending on the influencer’s terms.
Access to a larger audience – When a celebrity endorses your brand, you are sure to get thousands of their followers
Brand awareness – The audience becomes aware of your products and eventually starts to recognize it through the influencer
Better results – A good review from a trusted and known celebrity can boost your product. In most cases, influencers who are involved in endorsing your products are seen to be more believable when recommending a brand.
Competition – Chances are that the influencer may be promoting products for various companies. Thus, you cannot be assured that your brand will stand out among other brands the influencer is associated with
Difficult to track progress – You cannot have control over a key influencer’s personal social media account
Lack expertise of your brand – Celebrities are not required to know everything about your brand. Their motivations lie on the monetary benefits which may lack personal sentiments that some customers may be looking for
22) Podcast marketing
Podcasts have become the new blogging tool. Users and brands are embracing audio to connect intimately with the audience and generate content around a certain topic. Delivering meaningful and informational podcasts helps to set up your business as an expert source in a particular industry which can be beneficial to growing brand awareness.
Easy to create – Podcasts are easy to create. All is required is a microphone and an audio editing software
Less expensive – The upfront costs to create podcasts are low
Can be done by anyone – Any person can create a podcast. As such, the audience has to decide on what constitutes a reliable source since there is so much competition and misleading information in the open
Not searchable – Podcasts cannot be searched over the internet because they are not picked up by search engine thereby limiting your customer reach
Building your startup can be a lonely affair. However, marketing does not have to be. Co-marketing involves two or more companies sharing audiences and resources between complementary products to start a campaign. Co-marketing helps you to leverage relationships with other brands. This is a great tool to deliver better results in terms of sales, reach and visibility that could not have been achieved without the support of another company.
Shared costs – Co-marketing allows you to share marketing costs.
Markets share – Co-marketing helps to grow visibility and market share of the companies involved
Conflicting issues – Co-marketing can be time-consuming and complex affair because it involves extended negotiations and legal agreements
Shared reputation – When a struggling startup gets a boost from a successful brand, it can be bothersome for the successful company.
24) Contest and giveaways marketing
Everyone loves to participate in contests and giveaways. Contests and giveaways are marketing tools through which startups can appeal to new customers and engage with existing customers while at the same time building brand awareness. This type of marketing particularly fairs well on social media platforms. Contests and giveaways help to drive traffic to your company website and increase conversion rate. Contests can be devised to your own taste provided it relates to your audience and products.
More customers – Contests and giveaways are suitable marketing tools to attract more customers to your goods and services.
Turn your audience into product promoters – Social media contests that offer quality products for free, you are sure to have entries trickling in.
Contests and giveaways devaluation – Offering frequent contests and giveaways your fans may stop perceiving them as special.
25) Word of mouth marketing
Word of mouth marketing is one of the most affordable and powerful marketing methods. Word of mouth is particularly important if you are operating a local business. You get word 0f mouth marketing when customers speak highly of your products triggered by their experiences to their family, friends, and colleagues. The goal of word of mouth is to develop an exponential referral network that drives an increased sale, leads, and traffic for a product. This is an effective tool that shows no sign of slowing down.
Cost-effective – Word of mouth marketing is conducted at no cost.
Enhances trust – Since people trust their family and friends than they might trust companies, word of mouth is an effective tool to get new customers to try goods and services
Lack of control – The main problem of word of mouth marketing is that startups have limited control over when and how it is used.
26) Networking events marketing
Not every marketing takes place on the online platform. You can get the best results when interacting with people in the real world outside the office premises. Networking during events offers a suitable environment for reaching people who might be interested in your brand and products. It is, however, important to look for and attend events that relate to your industry. You can also consider pitching a booth to allow you to talk to different people about your products as well as provide demonstrations of your expertise.
Brand awareness – When you are at networking events, your company gets to be heard and noticed by a larger audience.
Exchanging ideas – Networking is all about developing a mutually beneficial friendship. This provides to share knowledge, make referrals by word of mouth, explore and discover new ideas and potential for your business growth and success.
Varying objectives – the main challenge of networking is that you meet with numerous people who may not directly benefit you professionally.
No immediate results – The relationship created during networking can take time to be cemented.
There is the possibility that your business may benefit from inbound marketing, or social media marketing, or influencer marketing, or through making referrals among many others. You can test and even augment the different marketing strategies to determine which one resonates with your audience better. In this way, you are assured to grow your startup with minimal effort.