10 Examples of Innovative Marketing Strategies for Startups

Marketing in the age of the new normal—yes, we’re tired of the phrase “new normal,” too—means taking a good look at our current strategy and seeing where it can be better.

COVID-19 derailed many companies’ plans and campaigns, causing mass layoffs and pushing everyone to pivot their strategy. But we won’t deny that there are now opportunities for companies and startups to truly do good as brands—brands, we hope, who will be an essential part of their customers’ lives moving forward.

In this post, we’re taking a look at 10 innovative marketing strategies for your startup, from acquisition tactics that will help you get new customers and fans, to retention and nurturing strategies that will keep them loyal for years to come.

Offer educational content

Because COVID-19 has caused social distancing and self-quarantine to be a way of life for the next several months, if not years, people are looking to not only entertainment but education to help them get through this quarantine.

This paves the way for startups to use educational and informational content in their marketing strategy. Think online classes, workshops, webinars and courses that have real value and deliver real wins for customers.

With learning management systems, novel webinar platforms and software, and other educational tools now widely available, brands can connect with customers in new, incredibly valuable ways. And because you can create educational content for users in varying stages of their buyer journey, you can easily adopt these strategies for both acquisition and retention.

For example, camera company Insta360 frequently shares quick tutorials in their app and on their social channels to show what’s possible with their software.

 

Another outstanding example of a company putting out educational content is Figma, a design prototyping tool. Their Twitter feed is packed with tutorials, user-generated videos, and info about upcoming webinars and new features.

Host virtual events

As we’re unable to do physical events for product launches and customer meetups, you can take your events online and connect with more people than before. Where many events were invitation-only, and typically with guests who were either influencers or media personnel, a virtual event may be able to give you the space to invite more customers to be part of the event from home.

Consider doing live Q&As with your startup founders or with guest speakers, host regular “casual conversations” with your team, or do a customer spotlight.

ConvertKit has been featuring some customers in their Creator Sessions series, inviting guests like artists and musicians to perform and connect with audiences in a live event.

Convert Kit example

Provide solutions for customers’ concerns

Customers will surely have several concerns and questions about how your startup is addressing a heightened need for hygiene, safety and convenience. This would be a great time to communicate the solutions you’re providing in these times.

Some examples include introducing new door-to-door delivery or assuring customers how you’re ensuring the safety of your staff and employees. Or perhaps you’re pivoting operations to provide real solutions in the current landscape, like Estée Lauder devoting some of their manufacturing and production resources to create sanitizer and alcohol to help meet healthcare demands.

Create in-home experiences

We can expect that many experiences that customers enjoyed in the past—group classes, movie nights, dinner dates, and the like—won’t be the same for a while. So brands will need to increasingly focus on providing in-home experiences to help customers.

Airbnb now offers online Experiences ranging from following a plague doctor through Prague, to a Harry Potter-themed “walking” tour through London, to tons of cooking classes taught by Michelin-starred chefs.

Airbnb Experience

Empower local communities

Can you give back to the local community that’s supporting you? Or can you pay it forward to other groups who may need more support during such tumultuous times?

Local communities will be what keeps many businesses alive for the next few months and years, so show your support in whatever way you can. This becomes a powerful time for brands and consumers to truly connect and empower one another.

Daily Harvest is a great example of a company that is paying back and paying forward their customers’ ongoing support. To pay back the local community, they’ve made it a priority to hire chefs out of work to develop new products and content. And they’re paying it forward by continuing to donate thousands of smoothies and healthy meals for frontline workers in the pandemic.

Revisit your pricing

When customers are affected by the economic repercussions of COVID-19, businesses are affected—that’s a basic fact. But we are still able to meet our customers halfway by adjusting our pricing strategies. In fact, we’d agree with OpenView’s Kyle Poyar that now is the time to revisit your pricing.

Many companies have opted to offer a temporary relief on payments, either deferring payment due dates longer or creating more flexible plans. But other ways you can ease the financial obligations for your customers are by offering new payment methods, adding more value to existing price tiers, or providing AfterPay options.

Wave Invoicing, for example, offers users to sign up for a free account that comes with some generous features that most users would have to pay for if they were using any other alternative. It also differs from other invoicing software that provide a limited-time free trial, so users can make the most of free features until they’re ready to pay for any premium features.

Partner with organizations that do good

You might be able to do more good when you join forces with other startups, non-profit organizations, or even influencers who are now doing good work in response to the new normal.

This is a win-win-win: you win by being able to support other groups that have already started empowering initiatives; your partner charity or startup gets external funding or additional support; and the beneficiaries of these do-good organizations can receive more.

FabFitFun, for instance, brought on No Kid Hungry as one of its main charity partners for a recent sale event. They asked their customers to make donations to the organization during the event—and the brand promised it would match donations up to $50,000.

Reward loyal customers with more

You might be seeing a lot of churn from COVID-19 concerns of customers cutting back on expenses. But this can be a great opportunity to reward customers who stay with you anyway, just to show your appreciation.

Can you offer exclusive freebies and perks for people who keep their subscription with you?

Stand behind important causes

Brands play a powerful role in society by being able to stand behind important causes that also mean a lot to customers. Organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) are bringing awareness to what may be an ongoing mental health crisis caused by COVID-19, but there are other causes worth backing right now.

For example, Black Lives Matter marks society’s call for more equality, justice and support for Black people who have been victims of racism, discrimination and violence and killings. Several brands have backed the movement, including Nike, Adidas and Netflix.

Needless to say, we want to emphasize that backing a cause should not come from a place of performative marketing—or backing a cause simply because it looks desirable.

Instead, standing behind a cause means aligning your brand with the values and principles that truly matter to your customers and to society. Besides, customers are paying attention—it’s easy for a brand to say they back these causes, but their track records reveal all.

Incentivize customer reviews and feedback

Last but not least, focus on getting more customer reviews and feedback on your products and services. Especially now when the world is turning to online, you need people to talk about your brand. One way to get more feedback is incentivizing people who leave reviews or answer surveys.

This also becomes an opportunity to improve your products and service, as giving negative feedback is one way for customers to practically spell out what they wish was better about your offer. Pay attention to the needs of customers, both with good and bad reviews, and get people to trust your brand based on other people’s experiences.

Key takeaways

We’re at a pivotal time where businesses can truly effect positive change in the lives of their customers, especially as everyone navigates all of this uncertainty. Fortunately, there are ways to get ahead and kickstart your marketing strategies, even when you’re a small business or startup.

Follow these 10 marketing strategies to keep you ahead of the competition, and start reeling in loyal customers for life.

  1. Offer educational content
  2. Host virtual events
  3. Provide solutions for customers’ concerns
  4. Create in-home experiences
  5. Empower local communities
  6. Offer payment plans for purchases
  7. Partner with organizations that do good
  8. Reward loyal customers with more
  9. Stand behind important causes
  10. Incentivize customer reviews and feedback
Kevin Payne
Kevin Payne
Growth & Content Marketer

I've helped founders implement growth marketing strategies to increase their website traffic and qualified inbound leads. As well I've written for over 20 online publications including HubSpot, Blavity, and Creativelive.
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