Marketing really makes or breaks a startup no matter how much VC money is being pumped into it, and inbound marketing is where that magic really happens. Here are some of the best startup marketing campaigns that caused these companies to experience major growth, even become household names, and how you can do the same.
Content is king, especially if your niche is being neglected by most other brands.
Personal finance giant Mint knew that young people who want to get better control of their finances felt underserved by existing personal finance tools and apps. So they drove an epic amount of traffic to their website using their personal finance blog tailored to young professionals. They also gave users special access if they put a Mint badge on their own blogs or social media pages. Mint not only used their own helpful content to drive traffic, but also got free advertising on at least 600 different blogs of varying traffic levels. In addition to leveraging content marketing as well as social media martketing, Mint was able to make their users feel like an exclusive VIP without paying anything extra. This is how Mint became a household name among Millennials.
Reward customers by giving them a piece of the action.
Affiliate marketing is great for both the company and the customer, because it can be relatively passive on both ends. You can do what Dropbox did when they offered 500MB of free storage space for every new signup referred by an existing user. By doing this, Dropbox signups increased by 60% for several months. Even now, 35% of their new customers are acquired through referrals. By offering users something in return for encouraging others to do business with you, they effectively do your marketing for you, and depending on their reach their efforts could result in viral growth.
Timing is everything.
Uber employed one of the best startup marketing campaigns, which established the company as one of the most highly-valued transportation companies in the world, by the simple virtue of timing. Instead of pumping money into traditional advertising methods when they attempted to enter a new market, Uber capitalized on the time and place that potential users were likely to want something delivered, like roses to a users' partner on Valentine's Day. Uber's foresight and strategy to fill these kinds of gap is what makes them successful, and it's their innovation that helps them meet users' needs before anyone else.
Niches = riches.
Pinterest went from 3,000 users to more referral traffic than Twitter, Reddit, Google+, and LinkedIn combined by relying on niche passionate users and incentivizing influencers. Pinterest didn't bother with intense outreach campaigns or traditional advertising: they worked directly with those 3,000 super users by holding meetups in person where they could get feedback about the Pinterest site, and also provide incentives for word of mouth buzz. This led to the birth of their "Pin It Forward" feature. By taking a grassroots approach and focusing on niche users, they went from a humble user base to 11.7 million monthly unique visitors in the US alone.
The best startup marketing campaigns require ingenuity and thinking outside the box, but most importantly they call for clever inbound strategies. When startups treat their first group of signups, users, or customers like VIPs whether it's involving them in the process or giving them free storage or a free month of service for referring other customers, it goes a long way.