An investment can fuel your startup. But it’s crucial to get the marketing right. Like a ship without a sail, a startup without a proper marketing campaign has no direction.
As you learn about others’ successes in marketing, it becomes easier to find your startup’s sail. This insight will guide you in creating, visualizing, and actualizing marketing goals for your early-stage company.
Some of the best startup marketing campaigns have catapulted companies towards profitability. Done right, marketing campaigns for startups encourage significant growth, with some companies becoming household names.
You can improve your startup’s marketing efforts and increase your likelihood of a successful venture. But first, let’s discuss what’s possible.
In this article, we’re analyzing some of the best startup marketing campaigns and their results to reveal how you can bring your startup’s marketing efforts to the next level.
Best startup marketing campaigns and key takeaways
You can market your startup with or without a large budget. But regardless of how much you invest, the best campaigns for marketing startups usually involve insight, creativity, comedy, or a combination of these characteristics.
Mint is an application that helps people manage their finances. The reason we picked Mint is because of how fast they grew with expert content marketing.
This startup dominated a crowded market with a strong product and an impressive marketing strategy from Mint founder, Aaron Patzer: “Whatever we can do, basically, for cheap or for free.”
Patzer didn’t follow the cookie-cutter approach to marketing campaigns for startups. He wanted to become the go-to for financial information. In just two years, they grew the company to 1.5 million users and sold for $170 million.
- You don’t need a large investment if you have the right startup branding strategy in place. Content marketing is an affordable way to establish trust and build your audience organically.
Uber is a rideshare app that’s grown exponentially since its inception. We picked Uber for this quick marketing strategy audit because its team has used foresight and strategy to uncover market gaps to fill.
The company capitalized on the time and place that its potential users would want something delivered. This allowed Uber to pivot its startup branding strategy from a rideshare app to the go-to for all deliveries.
Uber began offering rapid food delivery service through a standalone app, UberEATS. The company then started UberRUSH as a business to business delivery service.
This startup branding strategy made Uber the go-to for everything deliverable. The company name “Uber” is now synonymous with having something delivered.
- After creating your product, consider new applications across other industries that could benefit your users. This effort will pay off as you find and fulfill market gaps.
Dropbox is a smart workspace that brings all of a team’s content together with tool integrations. We chose this company because of the growth they experienced with their impressive affiliate program.
Dropbox’s startup branding strategy focused on promoting its affiliate marketing program. But it’s not the only one. Amazon has Amazon Associates, Fiverr has the Fiverr Affiliate Program, and many other companies have successfully implemented affiliate programs.
Since starting its campaign, Dropbox has maintained 35% of its customer acquisition through referrals. This proves that some of the most successful marketing campaigns for startups don’t always involve actively marketing your own business.
- Success can come from encouraging your users to show your product to the people they know. This is how startup operators can get their users to market on their behalf.
Pinterest is a virtual discovery search engine used for finding ideas related to home, style, inspiration, recipes, and more. We chose this company because it bypassed typical marketing campaigns for startups.
Pinterest went from a humble user base to implementing a startup branding strategy that resulted in more referral traffic than Reddit, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter combined. The key to their success was to focus on niche-passionate users and offering incentives to influencers.
To connect with their initial users, the company held in-person meetups. This allowed them to get feedback about their website while offering incentives for spreading the Pinterest site via word of mouth.
Eventually, Pinterest created its “Pin It Forward” feature. This ultimately increased their user base from 3,000 users to 11.7 million monthly unique visitors in the US alone.
- In-person meetups and incentives can facilitate strong relationships with your initial users. This is how you can encourage referrals and contribute to the virality of your startup.
5. Dollar Shave Club
Dollar Shave Club is a company that delivers razors and other personal grooming products via the mail. We chose this company for a marketing strategy audit because of its impressive viral marketing.
This company’s startup branding strategy involved competing with industry giants like Gillette. But most traditional marketing campaigns for startups wouldn’t work. Instead, the company’s CEO and co-founder, Michael Dubin, starred in a comedic marketing campaign.
A digital brand audit of Dollar Shave Club reveals that the company’s approach to marketing was deliberate. The goal was to promote social interactions as entertainment.
During the first 48 hours after releasing the video, Dollar Shave Club gained 12,000 new subscribers. Just four years after the video was released, the company has cornered 15% of this $13 billion industry.
- Satirical marketing demands creativity. But it’s a great way to get your audience to want to view and share your startup’s content.
PooPourri is a company that sells a “before-you-go” toilet spray that annihilates bad smells with a secret blend of essential oils. We chose this company because – similar to Dollar Shave Club – they approached this delicate topic with comedic advertising.
Our digital brand audit of PooPourri revealed another example of how satirical ads contribute to some of the best startup marketing campaigns.
PooPourri Founder, Suzy Batiz, liked Jeffrey Harmon’s style and knew he’d stick with the brand’s tone. The company’s first marketing video, “Girls Don’t Poo,” was a massive success. But the key here was staying true to the PooPourri brand.
The company reported that when one of its videos went viral on social media, they experienced an increase of more than 13,000% in their web traffic.
- Comedic marketing works. This is especially true when you stay true to your brand’s voice.
Blendtec is a company that sells mills, mixers, blenders, and accessories. We chose this company for a marketing strategy audit on account of its success with influencer and content marketing.
Marketing campaigns for startups involving a content marketing strategy take the customer journey into account. Blendtec’s strategy incorporated three categories – fuel, nurture, and create.
The company partnered with experts, using the influence of professional athletes, food bloggers, chefs, artists, and small business owners to create content that would appeal to specific audiences.
Blendtec’s Founder, Tom Dickson, also created a video series, “Will It Blend?” He has starred in the videos, demonstrating the power of Blendtec blenders since 2006. So far, these videos have over 256 million views on YouTube.
- Content marketing doesn’t have to rely solely on people within your company. You can bring influencers in to scale your content production and reach more audiences with ease.
Spotify is a music streaming platform that was initially developed in Sweden. We chose this company for a digital brand audit because of how its marketing campaigns make use of customer insights.
Spotify’s startup branding strategy used data to understand peoples’ personal music choices. The company grew its revenue by 40% in 2018. On Christmas 2017, the company began a campaign highlighting its goals for 2018, anonymously revealing the habits of Spotify listeners.
By 2019, Spotify had already expanded its user base to 217 million monthly active listeners.
- Use big data to personalize the experiences your campaigns offer. Customer data is the key ingredient to making your marketing campaigns relatable.
- User-generated content encourages your customers to tell a story about themselves. You can then use these insights to improve your marketing campaigns.
“Properly defined, a startup is the largest group of people you can convince of a plan to build a different future.”
– Peter Thiel
You’ve seen 8 of the best startup marketing campaigns and their results. Here’s what you should remember:
- Work with the budget you have until you have something appealing to investors.
- Consider the versatility of your product to fill new gaps.
- Form an appealing affiliate program to encourage users to spread the word on your behalf.
- Sometimes, especially during the Digital Age, it’s best to roll up your sleeves and meet users in person.
- Don’t be afraid to make people laugh. But stay true to your brand’s voice.
- Content marketing campaigns can produce some excellent results. You can also use influencers to scale your efforts.
- Most of the best startup marketing campaigns use customer data to enhance the experience. A little personalization goes a long way.