Solid Startup Marketing Strategies for Growth-Hungry Startups

Think launching your startup was hard? Brace yourself—now it’s time to market it.

Many startup founders think their idea is so revolutionary that it doesn’t need marketing: once launched, it’ll sell itself.

Rookie mistake (trust me, I’ve been there).

Even groundbreaking products need a little buzz to succeed—without it, they might as well not exist. Yes, there are outliers like Tesla that thrived without traditional advertising, but make no mistake—they had a strategy.

If you’ve made it this far with your startup, you’ve probably got the grit needed to succeed at marketing. Let’s talk about real startup marketing strategies you can use today to generate interest and put a spotlight on your product.

What is a Startup Marketing Strategy?

A startup marketing strategy outlines how you’ll promote your product on a shoestring budget, including step-by-step plans for growing your audience, establishing a brand identity, and building a presence in the marketplace.

The strategy can involve a mix of different marketing tactics, such as content creation, social media marketing, paid advertisements, and more. 

Many larger, more established companies use similar strategies. But they’ve also got marketing teams of 500+ people and a lot more money to burn.

That’s why a startup marketing strategy has to be more thought-out and strategic. At Close, our marketing team has never grown above 10 people, and we’ve still maintained steady growth with a mainly inbound process.

How so? By building a clear, flexible, creative approach to our marketing strategy.

How Much Should a Startup Spend on Marketing?

According to Failory, a whopping 90 percent of startups ultimately fail. And the number one reason? Running out of cash. 💸

Source: CBInsights

The budgeting dilemma can feel like a catch-22. 

Spend too little on marketing, and your product could fail to gain momentum at this critical early stage. Overshoot, and you might drain your resources on tactics that don’t deliver a return on your investment. 

So, the million-dollar question (literally, for some startups) is: How much should you allocate to your marketing budget?

Now, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. What works for one startup won’t work for another. 

But a good starting point (and widely accepted rule of thumb) suggests spending about ten percent of projected revenue on marketing. But for those early-stage startups, thirsty for rapid growth and quick market traction? You might want to crank that up to 20 percent.

Finding ways to optimize your processes while producing similar or greater-quality output is the name of the game for startup marketers—so, get scrappy.

Artificial intelligence has certainly been helpful in this area, but don’t fall into the trap of replacing real humans with AI. It’s just another tool to improve efficiency and save time and money—and you still need those scrappy, creative humans to figure out what works best for your business. .

6 Startup Marketing Strategies for Rapid Growth 

Growth is a number one priority for startups—but it shouldn’t just be a scramble for metrics. Instead, think of it as a balanced progression toward greater market influence. 

Your chosen startup marketing strategies should help you earn trust over time as you deliver value to your audience. 

That’s exactly what we did in the early days of marketing at Close, and it’s how you build a business that lasts.

With this in mind, here are seven startup marketing strategies that can fuel your growth—rapidly.

1. Zero in on Your Target Audience

No marketing strategy can live up to its potential unless you know your audience. And I mean, really know them. 

Go beyond ages and zip codes (that’s so 2015). Instead, understand what makes them tick, motivates them, scares them, or inspires them. Then, you can craft an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) that truly sets a solid direction for your marketing efforts.

So, how do you do this? 

First, talk to them. Listen to their stories, struggles, and dreams. Use interviews and surveys to ask open-ended questions and let them talk. 

Next, understand your customer’s journey, from the first time they discover your brand to the moment they become a brand advocate). 

Linear customer journeys are a myth—real life is messier. But instead of letting analysis paralysis get the better of you, start simple by figuring out:

  • Where your target audience consumes information or product recommendations
  • How most of your customers first hear about your product
  • Their “Aha” moment—the point they realize your product is going to work for them

Knowing where to engage them or where you’re losing them helps in tweaking your strategies to guide them to that sweet spot—the conversion.

Finally, analyze your competition. Those big sharks in the pool aren’t threats to your startup—they’re a treasure trove of insights.

Start by learning more about how your competitors target their customers. Which channels are they using? How are they presenting their solution? How do people react to their messaging?

Then, dig deeper. For example, Meta provides valuable insight into why you were targeted for a specific Facebook ad. If a competitor’s ad targets you, learn why. If possible, uncover:

  • Interests
  • Age range
  • Country
  • Languages

Ultimately, the best way to understand your target audience’s needs is to walk a mile in their shoes. Talk to them, use the tools they use, read the resources they read, and investigate your competitors.

2. Create a Standout Brand

As a new brand, your goal should be to stand out from the crowd—not blend in. To do this, you need to carve out a unique brand identity.

Let's start with your Unique Value Proposition (UVP)

Your value proposition is the DNA of your brand. This is what makes you, you, and sets you apart from the competition.

It must be clear, it must be compelling, and it must make people sit up and take notice. 

Next, think about creating a visual identity.

This isn't about slapping together a pretty logo and calling it a day. It's about designing a complete visual experience that distinguishes your brand. 

Think of your color scheme, typography, and imagery. They all need to work together to echo your brand's unique personality, vibe, audience, and value.

If your brand was a person, how would they dress? What colors would they wear? How would they communicate? Capture that.

Finally, communicate your story.

This is where you infuse soul into your brand and let it breathe. You're not just selling a product or service—you're sharing a story. 

Your brand's mission, vision, and values—they're the narrative that ties everything together. 

Here at Close, our story makes us who we are. We're more than sales CRM software—we're a team dedicated to helping companies grow. Our mission is to double the productivity of every sales rep, and enable startups and small businesses to build meaningful relationships with their customers. 

And this isn't just something we talk about—it's something we live every day. It resonates in the features we build, the customer service we provide, and the content we create. Our authenticity helps us stand out in a crowded marketplace.

3. Create Social Media Buzz

Social media is a powerful tool for building relationships, having real-time conversations, and gathering instant feedback. But every social media platform attracts a different audience. So, what platform appeals to your ideal customers?

Is it the educational appeal on YouTube, the professional network on LinkedIn, or the community vibe on Facebook? Once you know where they are, join the conversation.

Pros: Cons:
  • Offers direct and real-time communication with your audience, allowing you to build relationships and respond swiftly to queries or concerns
  • Demonstrates your brand's personality and humanizes your startup
  • Gives you access to audience analytics
  • Often time-consuming to manage effectively
  • Building a sizable and engaged following takes time, patience, and a solid content marketing strategy

But, should you create content for every single social media platform? Should you be posting once a week or twice a day? And what about paid social media marketing campaigns—are those necessary?

You need to answer these questions before diving in.

First, choose the right social media channels for your startup:

  • Facebook: Great for building relationships. Engage in detailed conversations, nurture your community, and even provide customer service.
  • Instagram: Ideal for startups in fashion, food, art, travel, or another visually appealing industry. Use high-quality images and short videos to showcase your product or service.
  • X (Twitter): The go-to platform for real-time updates. If your startup is in tech, media, or any industry where things move fast, be on Twitter.
  • LinkedIn: Ideal platform for professional networking, hiring, and sharing industry news and insights (as well as doing prospecting and outreach for B2B startups).
  • YouTube: Great for building trust with your audience. In the early days of Close, I grew our brand recognition and audience by producing hundreds of videos on YouTube, sharing my expertise and stories.
  • TikTok: It may be the new kid on the block, but TikTok is shaping up to be a place where you can build trust with authentic, raw video content from your brand. The name of the game here is edutainment, content that both educates and entertains your target audience.

Once you've figured out where to set up shop, be consistent. It's like working out—you can't show up at the gym once a month and expect results. 

Develop a social media content calendar to keep yourself on track. Each social media platform has a different “sweet spot” for posting frequency, and a content calendar keeps you accountable for what to post, and when. Mix things up between educational, engaging, and promotional content.

4. Leverage the Power of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is all about attracting new customers through organic traffic.

If your website isn’t showing up in search engine results, you’re practically invisible to a huge chunk of your potential market. Identify what your ICP is searching for, optimize your website, and provide valuable content to climb those search engine rankings.

Pros: Cons:
  • Drives organic, low-cost traffic to your website over time
  • Establishes your startup as an authority when you rank for relevant keywords
  • SEO is a long-term strategy and doesn't yield immediate results, which isn’t ideal for startups looking for quick wins
  • Requires expertise to navigate effectively
  • Although there are few direct costs once organic traffic starts rolling in, there are also indirect costs associated with creating content, SEO tools, etc.

SEO is a long-term strategy. It can take weeks, months, or years to start ranking organically for the keywords you’re targeting.

On the flip side, if you do start ranking for a specific keyword (and Google gets on your good side), you get access to an abundance of free, highly targeted traffic.

Are there a lot of intricacies when it comes to SEO? Sure. But, it primarily involves four things:

  • Keyword research: Find the search terms your target audience uses when looking for products or services like yours. Incorporate these into your content to help your website rank higher in search results.
  • Creating content people actually want to read: Create valuable, engaging, and unique content that incorporates your targeted keywords—and captures your audience's attention. Content should provide answers to your audience's questions, solve their problems, or entertain them. Remember: Write for humans, not algorithms.
  • Link building (internal and external): Building internal and external links can improve your SEO by showing search engines that your website is authoritative and relevant. Internal links connect different pages on your website, while external links connect your website to other reputable sites.
  • Monitoring performance: Monitor your performance using tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Ahrefs to identify which strategies are working and which need to be adjusted.

5. Amplify Reach With Strategic Ad Spend

When it comes to driving traffic or generating leads quickly, paid advertising can be the ace up your startup's sleeve.

However, you can’t just throw money at any advertising platform and expect immediate results. You need to strategize and test your approach—and consider a budget.

For startups low on cash, it might not be the best option. But, for those with a little more flexibility, it can be a powerful tool for quick growth.

Your first step to get started is to choose a campaign type.

There are five typical objectives to choose from:

  • Brand awareness campaigns
  • Traffic campaigns
  • Engagement campaigns
  • Lead campaigns
  • Sales campaigns

The type of campaign you choose will depend on your budget and the price point of your product or service. As a new business, use a combination of brand awareness campaigns alongside lead or sales campaigns—in order to create a healthy balance. 

Next, define your target market for ads.

The great thing about paid advertising is that you can target a very specific demographic. For example, with Google Ads, you could target 28-year-old software engineers living in Austin who work in the automotive industry and have been searching for project management tools. That’s definitely more precise targeting than organic marketing offers!

That said, ad platforms are getting smarter, and many users recommend trying broad targeting. So, test targeted campaigns alongside broad campaigns to see which performs best.

Now it’s time to create your ad!

Your ad copy should have a clear hook that grabs the reader’s attention, and an even clearer value proposition that explains how your product can solve their problem.

If you’re creating image-heavy or video ads, make sure the visuals are high-quality, on-target, and concise. Most viewers don’t have the time to sit through a five-minute-long infomercial about your solution.

And finally, make sure you budget appropriately.

Setting a budget is a delicate dance. You want to invest enough to see results—but not so much that it breaks the bank. 

Start small, and gradually increase your budget as you begin to see results.

Don’t invest more money in a tanking ad. If your first ad doesn’t deliver good ROI, test another one before increasing your budget. Use performance data from your campaigns to guide your decisions.

6. Track KPIs: Measure, Learn, and Pivot

As a startup, you can’t afford to shoot into the dark.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the metrics that matter most to your business, and they can range from website traffic and bounce rate, to conversion rates, average order value, and customer lifetime value.

In the B2B startup world, it’s a pretty common trend for sales and marketing teams to work together closely. This is because sales KPIs and marketing KPIs tend to overlap and interact.

And what’s good for one team is good for the other.

Tools such as Google Analytics, a CRM like Close, and ad platform analytics are all great resources for tracking those KPIs. With these tools, you're not just collecting data for the sake of it—instead, you're gathering actionable insights.

For example, if your customer acquisition cost (CAC) is too high, you might need to reevaluate your advertising channels—or even your target audience. And if your customer lifetime value is too low, your customer retention strategies might need work.

The point is: KPIs provide the insights you need to improve and adapt. As a startup, the capacity to learn quickly and pivot your strategies is a huge competitive advantage.

3 Examples of Startup Marketing Strategies That Soared

Three hundred five (305) million startups are launched every year. But only a few of those actually have a marketing strategy in place that will propel them through the startup phase.

Here are three examples of digital marketing strategies that catapulted once-small businesses to become wildly successful companies.

1. Canva's Content Marketing and SEO Strategy

Canva, the famous online design tool, owes a large part of its success to content marketing and SEO. 

They created tons of quality resources and design templates to assist users in creating beautiful designs, without requiring professional skills.

Simultaneously, Canva focused heavily on SEO, creating a library of keyword-optimized content that addressed user searches. 

As the graph below shows, this strategy paid off. With an estimated 263 thousand visitors per month back in 2015, they’re now sitting at approximately 138 million visitors per month in organic traffic.

They also executed a solid backlinking strategy, earning high-quality links from reputable sites. As a result, Canva began ranking for several high-volume relevant keywords, which significantly increased organic traffic and user acquisition.

2. Slack’s Word-of-Mouth Strategy

Slack is a prime example of a startup that effectively leveraged word-of-mouth marketing to fuel growth. When they first launched in 2013, Slack offered a “preview release” to a limited number of users—just to test out their service.

The results were impressive, with eight thousand sign-ups in 24 hours.

As people began using the service, they began talking about it and sharing their positive experiences—initiating a powerful word-of-mouth marketing chain. 

Of course, the platform deserved the praise. Slack offered a service that was intuitive, user-friendly, and met a real need in the market. 

And even today, the tool inherently benefits users to invite others to Slack—which in turn creates a virality loop for the company.

Did Slack use SEO or paid advertising to draw attention? Not in the beginning. But they did have a marketing strategy in place. It was just built into the product.

3. Buffer's Social Media Strategy

Social media for SaaS isn’t always easy. Unlike direct-to-consumer brands, which are often much more visual in nature, SaaS companies need to get creative with their content.

Buffer started back in 2010 with just a Twitter integration. They’ve since expanded to multiple social media platforms, and have now grown their Twitter following to nearly one million—in addition to hundreds of thousands on other platforms, like Facebook and Instagram.

Buffer employs a combination of entertainment- and educational-style content to engage users. They also cater to each platform’s audience individually. Their Twitter feed contains short, text-based posts or gifs, while Instagram features snappy videos and stand-out images.

Buffer also focuses a lot on transparency. They share insights about their company culture, growth, and product updates—which spark conversations and build trust with their audience.

Thanks to this social media strategy, Buffer has grown its customer base rapidly, resulting in millions of users.

Supercharge Your Success with an Adaptable Startup Marketing Strategy

There will never be a one-size-fits-all startup marketing strategy. The truth is: the best strategy will depend on your product or service, your target audience, and your resources, competition, and market conditions.

It’s all about trying different marketing tactics, measuring results, and refining your approach—based on what works best for your startup business. 

Because at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what the size of your budget is or how many marketing materials you create. It's about the relentless pursuit of growth. And regardless of which strategy you choose, remember: the well is deep—it might just take some time, creativity, and resilience to draw out the water.

And if you’re looking for the right CRM, designed to launch startup sales and marketing efforts and scale them as you grow? Take Close for a spin with our 14-day free trial.

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