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12 Ways To Grow Your Startup Without Using A Marketing Agency

12 Ways To Grow Your Startup Without Using A Marketing Agency

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  • 16 Sep 2222
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As a startup, you probably cannot afford to hire a marketing agency. You’d have more primary concerns like funding operational costs and acquiring new users without burning too deep into your funding. 

However, you still need to increase your awareness to grow as a business. And this means pushing your business forward. 

So, you need strategies and tips on how to grow your product without hiring an agency.

In this post, we’ll be sharing 12 strategies on how to do this with your internal resources. Keep reading to find out more. 

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12 Marketing Strategies for Startup

1. Launch as Exclusive Beta

Beta is a way for a subsect of your users to use a new feature or product before it gets to the general public. When you launch your startup as an exclusive beta first, it’ll spark up curiosity. Since people tend to be drawn towards exclusivity, you’d get more signups than you’d envision. 

The traditional approach to marketing doesn’t pick up fast for startups. So during this period, you can test various styles to find the messaging, channels, and journeys that work for your users. Use this strategy to encourage word-of-mouth marketing. When your beta users share their experience with their network, it’ll help spread the word about your business. 

After Shopify was completed in 2006, they had an early waitlist of over 1000 people who had signed up for the private beta. Once they launched the beta, they had about 100 stores hosted on the platform. Today, Shopify has more than one million stores. 

The private beta is also an excellent way to get product improvements. By embedding a survey, you can ask them what they think about your product/service and how you can improve on it before fully launching.

2. Go Viral with a Social Media Challenge 

Since a ton of people spend time across social media, a great way to get your product out there is through a viral social media campaign. 

When you make your product the focal point of the viral marketing campaign you decide to run, people will get to know your brand and try it out too. 

However, creating content that’ll go viral isn’t as straightforward. Especially since your audience might have varying interests.

 And so the first step is to properly know your audience. When you know why they follow you and what content they engage with the most, you can create a challenge that aligns with what they find interesting. 

Next, make the campaign worth sharing. This means that your content should provoke a certain feeling. Whether anger, sadness, happiness, or excitement, they are more likely to share your posts than when it makes them feel nothing. 

In 2017, Buzzfeed covered a story on Eva Kor who was a Holocaust survivor. In this video, she told her story and the impact of Candles [a memorial museum]. The video had over 100 million views on Facebook and over 15 million views on Youtube. People started visiting this cherished museum due to the viral story.

So sometimes when creating a viral campaign, your local stories can help you push your content even further.  

3. Give Away Swags 

Your company swag consists of cool items like T-shirts, hoodies, caps, notepads and so much more. While many companies use this to boost employee confidence and nurture a relationship, it’s also an excellent way to increase awareness about your startup. 

89% of customers can remember a brand they received a promotional item from. By sharing your company swag, you can get hundreds of impressions from merch that costs less than $20. 

The products you choose to share can also help you target any specific demographic of your audience. 

When choosing a swag, ensure that it is made of quality materials so it’ll be durable and that it’s something they can easily pass along to others. You also want to infuse some sort of creativity into the message. Just something to give your brand a personality. E.g witty or socially conscious

In this example below, SKU offers cool aspirational merch. And since it was during the pandemic, they threw in a couple of masks to push their brand even further.

aspirational merch

4. Be Helpful in Forums

A lot of people in your target audience belong to communities where they ask for help. Becoming a part of these communities and offering assistance will increase your visibility and let people know more about your brand. You can find some of these groups on Facebook, Reddit forums, Quora, Twitter Spaces, and tweets, amongst other options. 

Once you join online communities, look for questions that are similar to the problems your product can solve. For example, see how Formplus answers this Quora question by providing relevant answers and evidence to nudge the poster into using the templates.

Asides from helping you acquire new leads, forum marketing as we like to call it, positions your brand as a helpful one. And so people will already perceive you as a thought leader in your industry. 

5. Get Featured in Major Publications

One of the best ways to increase your visibility and grow your clientele is to get featured in a major publication. Since these publishers reach up to millions of people across the globe, you’d get the traffic you need. 

However, while it might seem a bit hard to achieve this dream, you can achieve it by going through a PR firm (which can be pricey) or doing it yourself. For the latter, you can start by creating your blog. It’ll serve as a portfolio that shows what you do and how can bring revolutionary changes into your industry. 

Network with editors across social media channels like Linkedin and Twitter. Then send a killer pitch that focuses on what your articles can do for their audience. 

Some of the publications you can aim for include Business insider, business Times UK, The Tech Headlines, and Marketing Profs. Over time, you’d not only build strong domain authority, but you can also build a quality content strategy, where you won’t need other publications again.

A good example of a brand doing this is Redbull. Redbull Media House started as a blog in 2008 and then they wanted to inspire with “beyond the ordinary stories”. Today, this media house has grown into a household name with content licensed by Discovery Channel, Nintendo, and even Netflix. So while their energy drink is still racking up sales, this arm has created content that can stand on its own.


6. Partner with Complementary Brands

Co-branding is an excellent way for your startup to break into new markets. When you partner with a brand that compliments yours, your target audience would not only be interested in both businesses but, it’s a win-win for you and your partner. 

When Apple launched the Apple Pay product, they needed card companies to integrate with. Credit card companies realized that to stay relevant, they also had to adapt to changing technologies by integrating with the latest purchasing tool.

Mastercard beat the competition by being the first company to integrate with Apple Pay. Asides from showing support to Apple, they were also able to rack in new members who wanted to explore the Apple Pay product. 

Apple Pay

So as a startup, form a strategic partnership that can help your brand gain visibility in the marketplace.

7. Use Your Product for a Social Cause

Similar to provoking emotion, using your product for a social cause allows you to appeal to people who share the same values as you. 

When they see a similarity in your values, they’d be more inclined to stay loyal to your brand. You’d also get new users because they’d want to find ways to contribute to society and choosing your brand will be a way to also make the world a better place. 

So when starting this campaign, ensure that you choose a social cause you believe in. It could be saving the environment, reducing waste, recycling, or pushing for an eco-friendly system. 

You could also research what your current audience would love to work with and then start with that. Where necessary, introduce an additional incentive.

For example, Antarctica beer wanted to increase its sales and also drive a social responsibility cause. And so they teamed up with a marketing agency to build a technology that allowed you to exchange an empty can of beer, for a free ride home, after the biggest carnival in the world. 

The traffic their business got was 86% higher and drunk driving offenses went down by 43%. The empty cans were also collected for donation to a recycling NGO.

8. Turn Customers into Raving Fans

The cost of acquiring new traffic is twice as maintaining your existing customers. This is why treating your users right and making them happy can help you acquire new ones. 

In addition to a good user experience and customer service, you can turn your customers into your fans by introducing a fun referral campaign. Since 9 out of 10 people trust peer recommendations, it’s a great way to grow your customer base. 

For example, Kodoo needed a way to bring in new users at a lesser acquisition cost and so they worked on creating a referral program. This program offers a $25 discount for the referrer and $25 off the first bill for the referee. Through this, they reduced the cost of acquisition by 167% and got an ROI of more than 10X in 2019 alone.


So when introducing a referral campaign, find the right incentive for your target market. It could be a discount, freebie, or free shipping and ensure the referral process is easy to use as well. 

9. Make National Headlines

In 2015, Protein World launched an ad with the headline ‘Are you beach body ready’ that sparked public outrage. The Advertising Standards Authority received 378 complaints about the ad. However, despite the backlash, the CMO of protein world alleged that the outcry of the ads resulted in over £1m in sales. 

Protein world

Now, are we saying you should go out of your way to get public backlash? Absolutely not. However, doing things that make the news gets you free publicity. So spend time thinking about a strategy so crazy that it makes the news. It could be a witty next campaign, a funny one, or something related to a trendy topic. 

10. Offer a Free Gift with Every Purchase

Customers love gifts. It increases referral marketing by 20%. Offering gifts to your clients will not only make them love your startup even more, but it’ll also make them trust your brand. 

Your free samples can either help you increase opt-ins, show off another product category, increase engagement across your socials, or even encourage product trials. 

So think about what specific goal you’d want to achieve with your gifts and then plan your marketing around it. 

In our example, Panera bread wanted to boost its social engagements. And so in addition to a free trial membership, they gave out free bandana merch to some customers. 

This drew in a lot of reposts, tags, likes, comments, and other engagements across their social media pages. 

11. Personalize Your Customer Service Experience

Your customer experience is the number one thing users prioritize when they visit your startup. When done right, can heavily improve your sales funnel and increase your brand perception. 

68% of consumers say they are willing to pay more for products and services from a brand known to offer good customer service experiences. 

So to improve your experience, spend time offering a very simple site. Ensure that navigating around it is easy and user-friendly. Have resources on the ground so they can always read through when they have any questions about your product or service. 

For example, Hopper uses AI to track price changes and it even alerts users when there’s a change. The website is also intuitive and easy for customers to browse through.


You can also embed live chat apps to make contact with your support team seamless. However, you want to be upfront about resolution times.

12. Participate and Sponsor Local Events

If you’re a locally-oriented startup, this is very crucial to your startup’s growth. Sponsoring or participating in local events is a great way to get your product in front of thousands of people. It allows you to pin your brand name across an event that will have your target market in attendance.

This could be charity events, sports, or even corporate events. Since professionals attend events to network, you could even find your next investor there. Attending or participating in events also allows you to build your guest lists for future campaigns. And if it ends up getting media coverage, your business will also be mentioned. 

In our example below, see how Pulse dedicates a section of its landing page to the sponsors of its event. 

Sponsor Local Event

Do note that sponsorship in this context isn’t limited to financial sponsorship alone. You can offer tech sponsorship like apps for the event, polls, prize sponsorships, or even a promotional sponsorship if you have a large social media following.

So you don’t need a marketing agency to grow your startup. Depending on your current needs and budget, you can choose to invest in content, freebies, or partnership. We hope you’d gain inspiration from our examples above to launch your marketing strategy

As a startup, you probably cannot afford to hire a marketing agency. You’d have more primary concerns like funding operational costs and acquiring new users without burning too deep into your funding.

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