How to stand out in a busy marketplace

red umbrella against black umbrellas

When you’re starting out on a small budget, how do you make a big enough noise to get yourself noticed? It’s easy to feel intimidated by the competition or dwarfed by huge companies. But a nifty little startup has certain advantages over the giants…

You’re more agile: you can dip a toe in and try things out, then switch your tactics immediately if your experiments point you in a different direction. You have the autonomy to be true to your brand – fresh from its conception – without having to run ideas past a committee.

Here are some tips on stealing the show:

Be unique

The first secret to being noticed, is being distinctive. It’s all in the details. Every little nuance is important to building your brand and communicating something about you to your audience.

Be consistent

Effective branding comes from consistency. People need to see the same brand interaction between five and seven times before they can build an idea of your brand in their mind. So don’t worry too much about repeating something you said a month ago.

Be creative

New business founders often don’t realise how important creativity is and how powerfully it can build a brand. Humans are fundamentally emotional creatures – we connect to people, places and things with our feelings first, before rationalising with our minds. So creativity should be at the core of your marketing and branding – use it to engage your audience’s emotions and draw them in.

Emotional connections are much easier to make with a person than with a faceless company, so share your own story and entrepreneurial journey.

Be on-brand

To stay true to your brand persona, it’s important to write some strong brand guidelines. These make up your brand DNA. They outline all your brand rules, your look and feel, your tone of voice and everything that makes you unique. Having clear brand guidelines helps you and anyone who works for you (e.g. freelance designers, copywriters, photographers) be clear about what’s on-brand and what’s not.

Be experimental

Try different marketing channels to find out what works best for you. What makes the most sense for your brand? Is this where your audience is? Observe and analyse patterns of your visitor activity – if you’re not getting the engagement you need, try another platform.

Talk to your audience to find out how they’re responding to your communications. How engaged are they? Are they remembering what they’ve seen? Are they telling their friends? If the answer is no, then it might be worth trying a different tactic.

Be thrifty

For example, push your organic marketing (i.e. your free marketing such as newsletters and social media posts) as much as possible before doing any performance (paid) marketing. When you’re starting out, paying for expensive marketing won’t produce results, just because you’re paying for it. You need to build your audience organically first. Did you know it’s 5-15% harder to convert through paid marketing than by reaching someone already in an organic channel?

Also think about ‘earned’ marketing. Again, you don’t need to spend money on this as it’s reciprocal (such as partnerships with other brands, collaborations, competitions, shared audiences). This can appeal to your existing customers AND reach wider audiences you may not otherwise have accessed.

Be selective

Avoid a ‘scatter gun’ approach when it comes to social media posts. They may seem like an easy way to get some visibility fairly inexpensively, but these platforms are so saturated, your posts are likely to end up sprinkled randomly, not reaching your target audience. (Remember, these platforms want to make money, so they make it look as attractive as possible to get you to part with yours.)

Be analytical 

The best way to measure your success is through sales conversions. Try to marry your sales figures with your marketing activities. If you see a spike in sales, find out what marketing campaigns you were running. Can you repeat them and see if they produce the same positive results? Don’t expect instant results – have a realistic timeframe. You need time to build your audience and to turn visitors into conversions.

Here are some free or low-cost marketing resources to help you get started:


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Want to learn more about promoting your business? Feel free to plunder our Knowledge bank. 

The above How-to guide was inspired by one of our Zoom Dives with marketing expert Stephanie Melodia, founder of startup marketing agency, Bloom.  

A Zoom Dive is a deep-delving discussion between our founder, Carolyn Dailey and a handpicked business expert from the creative world. Fancy catching our next Zoom Dive, live? See our Events calendar and sign up for free.