Building a startup can often seem like a constant battle between David and Goliath – big companies have bigger budgets, more resources, and existing market share, and trying to go up against them can seem insurmountable. But startups have an innate advantage over large companies because they’re nimble, fast-moving, and willing to take risks. If you’re an entrepreneur looking to grow your company, here are a few ways thinking like a startup can make you a better marketer:
Startup mantra #1: expensive marketing doesn’t mean effective marketing
Startups may have less marketing budget than their corporate counterparts, but that doesn’t mean they’re at a disadvantage. By virtue of having small budgets, startups are resourceful and often find new channels or ways to promote their business, and startups are more willing to test new tactics vs. spending marketing budget on what they’ve done in the past. As Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner commercial showed, even million-dollar campaigns flop. The key is to test multiple tactics – whether it’s Facebook ads or an Instagram influencer campaign, measure the impact, invest in what’s working, and discard the rest.
Startup mantra #2: use speed and creativity to your advantage
As a small company, your biggest edge over your established competitors is speed, and the ability to take risks with your marketing. Larger companies can take months to approve just one social media post, since they have to go through multiple approval levels and risky ideas often get squashed when they pass through the legal team. Startups have an opportunity to react quickly to current events, and to craft riskier marketing campaigns. One example of a startup that used speed to their advantage is Waterloo’s Sortable, which launched a recruiting page on their website in 2016 inviting Americans afraid of a Trump presidency to apply for their open positions. The move resulted in lots of free PR for Sortable – and it likely wouldn’t have shown up on the recruiting page for a large company. Another example is BuzzBuzzHome, a real estate listings site, which capitalized on Ashley Madison’s data breach in 2016. After users on the popular cheating site were exposed, the site launched ads that read “spouse found out about your Ashley Madison account? There’s no better time to check out these new homes.” A larger real estate site likely wouldn’t launched those ads – both because of cheeky tone, and because of slow response times.
Startup mantra #3: focus on personal brand, not just company brand
Many of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world have extremely strong personal brands, not just strong corporate brands – think of Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, or Elon Musk. You know them as well as you know their companies, and it’s not something that’s true of big companies – can you name the CEO of Pepsi or McDonald’s, for example? As an entrepreneur you are the face of your brand, and investing in growing your personal brand is investing in growing your company’s brand. Whether you’re sharing your entrepreneurial story at conferences, writing articles for media publications, or speaking with the press about trends in your industry, growing your personal brand can be an extremely effective way to grow your company – especially because you have that “aha moment” story about why you decided to start your business, which is something that corporate executives don’t have.
Interested in hearing more about how startup thinking can help you grow your business? Join me at Xcelerate Summit in Barrie on October 25th-26th 2017.