I've spent my career pretty well split between startups, small businesses and enterprise companies. Each business size and stage of growth has its own unique advantages and challenges. I currently run an entire marketing department for a fast-growing company and I get to combine what I've learned over the years on both the startup and enterprise sides to help my company thrive through insane growth.
Over the years, I've built up a list of marketing tips to help startups take advantage of the inherent strengths of a nimble, growing company:
1. Do things that don't scale
When you are a 5,000-person company, you'll have to think about infrastructure and how things scale. When you're small, you don't have to worry about that so much. For example, what if you hack a "marketing automation" program and assign a person, not some software, to regularly email customers? What if you send every new customer a t-shirt as a thank you for their business? Things like that are fun, and they can build a loyal customer base now (and you won't be able to do them later, when you're too big).
2. Dominate online
The larger a company gets, the more you need to think about integrated marketing programs. Don't get me wrong, I love robust marketing programs. I have incredible PR and events teams right now, but when things are small and there aren't enough resources to do everything, make sure you get online right. Your search, content marketing and online advertising programs will provide you with scale and reach. Narrowing your focus will also free up time for tip #1.
3. Retarget your visitors for sales and brand awareness
Retargeting is a great way to re-engage visitors who came to your website but don't convert. It's typically looked at as a bottom-of-the-funnel tactic, and it's excellent at that. I've seen retargeting drive incredible results as a conversion tool, but it's really so much more. When you are small and trying to make a big splash, retargeting can make you look bigger than you are. Create a separate retargeting strategy to drive brand awareness and credibility.
4. Delight aggressively
Never underestimate the power of happy customers. They are more likely to buy multiple products from you, and happy customers don't attrit, which makes it easier to hit revenue goals. A great customer delight team works 24/7 and spends time talking to, chatting with, and emailing customers and prospects. What makes them really special is that they provide strategic advice and are there to help brands of all sizes get started with retargeting. Moz also does a great job of this, through their community program. Try it yourself: go out of your way to show customers you care.
5. Newsjack with best of them
Startups can react faster than enterprise companies. There is less red tape, fewer approvers and minimal barriers to execution. When a major story in your industry hits the wire, do everything you can to jump it. Write the best practices guide. Publish an infographic. Make yourself available for comment. By the time your behemoth competitor has a chance to react, you will already have the spotlight.
Now get out there and grow your business! There is nothing stopping you.