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Top 5 marketing ideas for startups

Marketing is crucial for all businesses and plays an important role in starting up a new business. One of the biggest challenge startups face is letting their customer know about their service or product. If you own a startup, chances are you don’t have a big marketing budget as marketing can be pretty expensive.

The good news is, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to spread the word about your new business. Marketing ideas are often inexpensive and simple. However, you’ll have to think outside the box and create something out of the blue.

1. Building your reputation

The key to being successful in marketing is building a reputation for being great at whatever your product or brand offers. Being an unknown and new startup with no previous record, you need to earn your customers’ trust. So, what can you do?

Get featured in a big publication is a great place to start since it gives you a direct line with big brands and businesses. Start by building relationships with those through social media by sharing their posts and engage with their content.

Getting featured in a publication with major reach can give you a big boost in terms of traffic to your website and product sales. Do some research and find a strategic partner that will give your brand exposure as well as build your reputation.

2. Social media marketing

Obviously, social media has become a great marketing and selling channel. The majority of people use social channels for product discovery and product research. That’s why startups can’t really afford to neglect social media marketing. But you need to find the networks that are relevant to you instead of wasting resources for marketing everywhere.

It’s important that you leverage methods that are working best on your chosen networks. Connecting your brand to a social cause could be what makes potential customers turn to you instead of the competition. Furthermore, most social media networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, allow business owners to pay for traffic and exposure. With Facebook Ads, for example, you can create ads that appear in user’s news feeds or in the right column of the Facebook website.

It takes more than just a profile to succeed with social media marketing. You must post engaging, relevant content that gives users a reason to follow your account. And once you have attracted a fair share of followers, you should encourage them to stay by liking and responding to their questions and comments. Besides, social media also allows you to tell your story as it pleases your audience.

3. Email marketing

Email marketing is an essential strategy for attracting customers to your startup for little or no cost. The truth is that the right email sent to the right person is marketing gold. Once you have a prospect or customer’s email address, you can send him or her emails to promote your startup.

To use this marketing strategy to its full potential, you first need to collect prospective clients’ email addresses. If your startup has a website, consider placing one (or more) newsletter signup form on it.

Alternatively, you can ask customers directly for their email addresses. The key thing to remember is that you must diversify your emails with non-commercial content like guides, how-to articles, videos and infographics. To be even more successful at this strategy, you can do some research about the type of people who are likely to share your product or service.

4. Start a blog

Content marketing uses search engine optimisation to increase your rank in search results. Your marketing plan should include what types of content you will create. Whether it’s an article or video, your business content will also help you establish your brand’s voice. So your readers, who may become potential customers, can understand how your business can help address their needs.

Startups that post blog posts frequently tend to develop an audience much quicker. Most startups rarely upload content on their website. To top that, they don’t even update it regularly. It is important to get your blog indexed by search engines such as Google and Bing. Make sure you set up the privacy settings of your blog to make it visible on search engines.

Blogging is a very powerful strategy that can help your startup generate the exposure it needs. With a blog, you can position your startup as a leading source while also attracting organic search traffic to your site. The secret to creating an effective business blog is to publish content that your audience wants to read. If the blog article is valuable and is worth reading, the search engines will reward your hard work. They will do so by ranking your blog at the top of the search results. And when your blog ranks high, it will attract more visitors thus meaning more people will learn about your startup.

You can also make sure that your blog is loading fast enough by hosting it on a server that is close to your audience and is very fast. For example, if you are in Australia, you can check 28msec which has reviewed the top Australian web hosting services and can choose the right one for your website.

5. Referral programme

Word of mouth marketing is a tried-and-true method of marketing. It’s an unpaid form of promotion where your satisfied customers tell others about your business and what they like about it. It’s credible, it’s free and it works. You can add a referral programme to your marketing plan. With this type of word-of-mouth marketing, you create incentives for people to refer others to your business. Whether you offer a special discount or gift card, referral marketing can help grow your business brand.

Marketing is the lifeblood of every business. It becomes even more challenging if you don’t have a natural talent for selling your company. These tips will give you the assurance to approach marketing in a logical way. With time, you can try to become a pro at it. All of these marketing approaches can help you achieve organisational goals depending on if you understand the needs and wants of your target market while delivering quality products people prefer.

Creating a killer marketing plan doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. All that is required is your time, effort and creativity. Focus on providing unique solutions. By being creative with your service, you will soon find your target customers opening up their wallets for you. Always remember that ideas for marketing campaigns, especially when it comes to startups, should aim at inviting, encouraging, and rewarding customers for engaging with your business.

New gen bosses: Jonathan Emmins on how he went from handing out free yoghurts to working with the biggest brands

New gen bosses is a new series created to guide and inspire more people to go out there on their own, either as new business founders or freelancers. And what better way to do that than to ask the ones who already succeed at it? We want to know about big fuck-ups and even bigger successes, and the risky decisions they had to make along the way. We want to be the last little push you needed.

Job title:  Founder of Amplify
Industry: Advertising & Marketing
Company founder or freelancer: Founder
How long have you been doing it: 11 years
Age: 42
Location: London, Shoreditch

What pushed you to start on your own?

Creative frustration and a desire to do things better, even if we didn’t know how. As context, myself and a number of the partners at Amplify used to work at an early proto-experiential agency. There was a great camaraderie—in-spite of the leadership and management, who weren’t particularly nice to the team. Coming out of this kind of environment, we wanted to make a welcoming home for creative people and clients.

Work-wise, on a bad day we were giving away lukewarm yoghurt pots at train stations but on a good day, we were working with brands like Orange and PlayStation, trialling brand experience as a channel to drive communications, as opposed to just an activation. We saw that the 30-second TV spot was no longer the be all and end all and saw the opportunity to create ideas, campaigns and brand platforms that could work across multiple channels and be futureproof.

What was the very first thing you needed to do to set everything up?

Clients. Simple as that. Without business, you aren’t a business.

What was the riskiest decision you had to take?

I’m a very cautious and calculated risk-taker. I study the odds. As a creatively driven person, probably the greatest risk might be the briefs and work we’ve turned down, particularly at the times when we could have done with the money.

When I started the agency, I had three previous clients who, for various reasons, had encouraged me to set-up on my own. When I started, Neal Southwell, my now CFO, told me he had put all my forecast back 8 months. I thanked him but said I didn’t need it as I had client commitments. As it transpired I did need that buffer time—two of those clients took over 12 months to come on board, and one never did! At the time that was fairly stressful but it made me go out and broaden my client base and opportunities, which in turn made the business stronger. Also, as Neal points out, that first 8 to 12 months is what separates everyone from setting up their own businesses. Not everyone has the appetite or the stomach for it. I, for one, certainly doubted myself during that period and was lucky that him and Anton (our now CEO) believed in me when at times I didn’t.

What was a skill you didn’t foresee needing that you had to learn?

Public speaking. I’ve always been quietly confident but as a child painfully shy. I’m great in small group situations and even pitches but you end up speaking more publicly as your profile raises. Some people might already be a legend at this but what helped me was finding a way of matching my personal style to bigger audiences.

It’s sometimes difficult to remember not to be shy, as someone who runs a company. I remember hearing from a now friend and client that I was arrogant. From my point of view, I was shy and hadn’t been introduced. Her take was as someone running an agency she didn’t expect shyness from someone in my position. It was a fair point and a good lesson. The thought of being considered arrogant helped me quickly overcome my shyness.


Everywhere around us, new gens are founding businesses and redefining their careers. New gen bosses is here to inspire those who might want to do the same, this time with extra tips, some lols from those who have been there, done that, and £20 in your new ANNA business account if you dare to take the leap.

At what moment did you realise that this was going to work out?

To begin with the majority of our clients we worked with were through existing relationships and word of mouth. People we had impressed along the way before setting up Amplify.

We were lucky. We were so busy pitching, creating and delivering work for clients to begin with that we had little time for our own brand beyond building a body of work. We didn’t even have a website until year three. My initial thought was you probably couldn’t do that now, but Uncommon—the amazing creative agency—only have a holding page and their contact details on their website and they don’t seem to be suffering a shortage of briefs!

Anyway, year three was a big moment in the office when we had a call from Honda asking us to pitch to launch the CRZ, a sporty, hybrid coupe. We had all always loved their ‘power of dreams’ philosophy and ended up being their ‘lifestyle communications agency’ off the back of it.

What did you spend your money on?

In many ways, I think you can quickly grow to the size of your fishbowl when it comes to money and end up spending whatever you have. I was lucky and never went without but I grew up in a house where money, at times, was an issue and put stress on my parents. Money doesn’t make you happy, but not having money certainly can make you unhappy. We’re seeing a lot of that now as the gap widens.

So, when I was younger I lived comfortably and modestly. I saved for the business and a house, which was more attainable in London then. My biggest indulgence has been art, seeking out new and interesting artists. For example, when I was in my early twenties, I picked up some Banksys when I was younger for between £50 and £150. With hindsight, I wish I had got a few more! But Banksy was just one of a number of artists that I liked and bought at the time. For the record, I like some of the other just as much, if not more, even if they are still relatively unknown in comparison.

What was your biggest fuck up?

Year two of Amplify, we were a month into running an ongoing ‘Meet the One’ campaign promoting the network and hero package for one of our bigger clients, Three. To showcase Amplify’s work we were chuffed to be asked to take the activation to their main office. Unfortunately, when the top brass looked down from their Maidenhead HQ all they saw was a logo for High School Musical 3 on the centre-piece of the activation, not the pure white ‘Three Bus’ they expected. The lazy customisation bus company couldn’t be arsed to paint over the previous campaign and figured we would never be able to get high enough to see the roof of the bus.

So, probably the best learning from this example would be to surround yourself with the best and most trusted partners and suppliers… cheapest price isn’t always the best value.

What was your biggest success?

Setting up the company right from the start, picking the right talent and team and staying true to that vision throughout. Amplify was founded as a home for creative home and clients—a group of mates wanting to push boundaries and do their best work.

Key to this is not only thinking you’re defined by the good work you do, but also the work you choose not to do. Having the integrity and ability to turn down the wrong kind of work is key. Oh, and we also just won Campaign’s ‘brand experience agency of the decade’, something that I’m really proud of.


What do you know now that you didn’t know then?

Time is the most precious commodity. Think wisely about how you spend it. Making time for people and building relationships is so important. That’s when amazing things happen. However, so is understanding when things are becoming a distraction. As a leadership team, we do so much in a lot of areas—and the one question we all ask ourselves to focus is ‘will this make Amplify stronger?’

What are three tips you would give someone who wants to start on their own?

One: Do it for the passion and the purpose, not the money.

Always remember why you set-up in the first place. You need to be commercial and in command of your numbers, but from what I’ve seen if you just chase the pound signs or get greedy it never seems to work. There have been plenty of times when we have walked away from lucrative jobs that would have taken us away from our path. Walk away from anything that’s a distraction. It’s easy to quickly become the antithesis of what you set up to be.

Two: Be exciting but consistent.

We love that Amplify is leading from the front creatively and always pushing into new areas. We’re equally proud that we’re seen as a ‘safe pair of hands’. The phrase ‘the idea is only as good as the execution’ is a phrase you’ll often hear from us. It represents the yin and yang of the business—The Studio and the Live team. Without the broader trust in place on the ground, you can’t push the creative boundaries.

Three: Be generous and collaborative.

I’m a strong believer in karma. Even if you don’t, surely it’s a better life to be kind and helpful. Always make time to talk to people. Give more than you take. Remember how lucky you were that people helped you on the way up. Pass the baton on.

Feel like you would have never ended up with a ‘High School Musical 3’ bus? There’s only one way to find out. Take the leap, open an ANNA business card completely free of charge for the first 3 months and get £20 in it, too.

Want to discuss taking the leap with other new gens? You’re in luck! We’ve created New Gen Bosses, a Facebook group to continue and expand the conversation started through this new series.