9 Uncommon Marketing Strategies for Startups | Entrepreneur
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Tired of reading the same old marketing advice for your startup? When I started my journey as an entrepreneur, I knew how to build things, but marketing them was a different ball game. Every corner of the internet seemed to echo the same advice — paid ads, email campaigns, blog posts and SEO.
It felt like an oversaturated market, and I began to wonder if any marketing strategies could make a difference until I implemented these nine lesser-known yet powerful marketing strategies that will breathe new life into your startup and help you stand out in the crowd.
1. Guerrilla marketing
Guerrilla marketing is an innovative and unconventional approach to promoting your brand, enabling you to leave a unique impression by steering clear of traditional marketing methods. It’s a really broad term, but this strategy essentially focuses on high-impact, low-cost tactics that capture the attention of your target audience in unexpected ways. For instance, organizing a human-typography event where volunteers spell out the name of your brand and have photos taken, given their consent.
Here are some examples of famous Guerrilla Marketing campaigns:
- Airbnb’s “Van Gogh’s Bedrooms” Campaign: Airbnb transformed a replica of Van Gogh’s bedroom into an Airbnb rental. The company marketed the experience on social media, and it went viral, leading to a significant boost in brand awareness.
- Burger King’s “Whopper Detour” Campaign: Burger King offered customers a Whopper for only one cent if they ordered it from close proximity to a McDonald’s location. The campaign generated buzz on social media, and the company’s mobile app saw a surge in downloads.
- Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” Campaign: Coca-Cola replaced its logo on bottles with popular names, encouraging customers to share a Coke with friends or family members. The campaign was a huge success, generating millions of social media mentions and a significant boost in sales.
- Metro Trains’s “Dumb Ways to Die” Campaign: Metro Trains created a catchy song and video that showed cartoon characters engaging in dangerous behavior around trains, in an effort to promote railway safety. The video went viral and led to a significant decrease in train-related accidents.
- Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” Campaign: Old Spice created a series of humorous ads featuring a shirtless man showing off the benefits of Old Spice. The ads went viral and led to a significant increase in sales.
Related: 7 Guerrilla Marketing Tactics That Will Grow Your Business When Money Gets Tight
2. Promotional Merchandise
At first, it may sound cliché, but get creative with your promotional merchandise. Instead of printing t-shirts for sale on your website, think outside the box. For instance, at Discovery Dose, we print beer coasters with intriguing facts about alcohol and distribute them for free to bars throughout Europe. Quite creative, wouldn’t you agree?
3. Online directories
Listing your startup in online directories can help you reach new customers and improve your search engine rankings. Search for directories that serve a relevant audience, such as Wellfound (formerly AngelList Talent), Product Hunt and CrunchBase.
Related: Struggling in Local Search? Here’s What Your Local SEO Strategy Needs to Compete in 2022.
4. Answering questions on forums
Quora, Reddit and Stack Exchange are all popular question-and-answer platforms where people can ask and answer questions about a wide range of topics. Find questions about the problem you’re solving and provide a genuinely valuable response that also promotes your startup.
5. Leveraging your personal brand
Nearly 20% of the leads for my startup originate from my personal social media accounts and my online articles. To achieve the same effect, work on establishing yourself as an industry expert, cultivate an audience and contribute articles to a variety of publications.
It can even be as simple as posting updates on your personal Facebook account — after all, Facebook moms are the most loyal supporters you’ll ever come across!
6. Public speaking
Public speaking is a powerful way to develop your personal brand and promote your startup. By sharing your insights and experiences, you can build credibility and attract new customers, especially if you stand out.
Consider exploring the following speaking opportunities:
- TEDx talks in your region
- Guest lectures at colleges and universities
- Webinars and conferences
- Networking events and meetups
Related: The Complete, 20-Step Guide to Ace Public Speaking
7. Street marketing
Go out in public and speak to anyone who would listen. You can even organize public contests that involve people answering questions related to your line of work, then record the experience and use it as promotional material, given the participants do consent. Hit two targets with one shot!
8. Hashtag marketing
Hashtag marketing is a powerful strategy that leverages the potential of social media to generate organic engagement and build brand awareness. A well-crafted and catchy hashtag can inspire people to use it, effectively turning them into word-of-mouth promoters for your business.
For instance, Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke campaign brilliantly tapped into the power of hashtag marketing by creating a sense of connection and encouraging users to share their experiences.
9. Marketing subsidiaries
A marketing subsidiary is essentially a separate company with its own objectives that, through its operations, complements its parent company’s marketing efforts. Although this takes more effort and is more long-term oriented, a marketing subsidiary can be an excellent asset for boosting your startup’s marketing operations.
For instance, if you run a FinTech startup, launching a newsletter or publication that offers valuable insights about trading and investing could build an engaged audience with a genuine interest in your field. This audience can then be leveraged to generate returns and attract new customers to your startup, ultimately benefiting your primary business objectives.
Ready to leave your competition in the dust?
As you venture into the world of marketing strategies that actually work, you have the potential to take your brand to new heights. It’s time to make a lasting impact and become the pioneer your startup deserves. The future of your brand’s success starts now.