Marketing Strategies That Make a Real Impact

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There's no single winning marketing strategy that works for all companies. In this article, we look at a few types that can make an impact for your business.

“One of the things our grandchildren will find quaintest about us is that we distinguish the digital from the real ... ”
-- William Gibson, in an interview with Rolling Stone in 2007

In 2020, we are standing on that very threshold. Augmented reality is hot: Seeing the world through a smartphone’s screen that provides additional information enhances the view and enriches the experience.

William Gibson’s prediction is already coming true as we progressively remove the word “digital”: All marketing is digital, and “digital marketing” is no longer a subset of marketing, as everything blends. Online strategies spill over into offline activities, and offline events are covered online. It's all just marketing.

But still, we can differentiate between different types of marketing, which can be categorized using these basic distinctions:

  • Business to business (B2B) remains very different from business to consumer (B2C) marketing.
  • Inbound (pull) and outbound (push) marketing are distinctly different.
  • Organic media differs greatly from paid media, in cost and reach.

The user journey can be understood as a hierarchy of needs, or the passage through a funnel: from awareness to consideration to conversion.

Let’s use these overarching types to look at some of the marketing strategies small businesses can employ today.

Marketing type matrix plotting strategies against market type and media type.

Two important dimensions to consider for your marketing strategy are the target market you are active in Image source: Author


B2B or B2C, and whether you will deploy your campaigns via paid media or only organic media.

The 6 types of marketing strategies that work:

  • Word-of-mouth
  • Content marketing
  • Local marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Performance marketing
  • Influencer marketing

1. Word-of-mouth marketing

There is nothing better than word-of-mouth -- if the word that circulates is positive. Recommendations from other people are one of the most powerful marketing methods you can use.

The problem: it’s slow. And the longer your business cycle, the slower the word-of-mouth becomes. You can address the speed issue by soliciting testimonials, recommendations, and reviews on social media.

Suggest happy clients leave a review on Google, Facebook, and Amazon if your business uses those. Word-of-mouth marketing is great, but it's rarely sufficient as a marketing strategy.

2. Content marketing

Content marketing is a pull strategy where you use content to attract users to your offering. It’s used for both B2B and B2C. Content marketing identifies the right content to produce, which can then be found via search engines and posted on social media.

The main disciplines you must use in content marketing are SEO (search engine optimization) and community management for social media.

With inbound marketing, there is often a push element, where paid media is used to amplify and distribute the content more broadly, or more precisely, to reach the right target market. Inbound marketing is primarily used in B2B.

Content is the core element of your online presence, which is naturally distributed via search and social media, and it can be further amplified with paid media.

Content is the core element of your online presence, which is naturally distributed via search and social media, and it can be further amplified with paid media. Image source: Author

3. Local marketing

Local marketing targets an audience within a specific geographic area. It’s clearly a B2C type of marketing. Formerly, It was carried out via billboards and yellow pages, but the hyper-targeting capabilities of digital media has added a wide range of opportunities for local marketing online.

SEO is probably the most important digital marketing tactic for a small business looking to do local marketing. Think of it as the yellow pages of the digital age.

With regards to digital billboards, social media advertising can precisely address people who find themselves within the designated radius of the point of sale, such as a retail store.

You can use discount codes to drive them to the store. Local marketing involves both SEO and community management and can benefit from both paid search and paid social advertising.

4. Email marketing

In an email marketing strategy, online and offline communication both aim to capture a client’s email address to maintain an ongoing relationship via newsletters or email automation.

It’s one of the preferred methods for B2B but can also work for B2C, and is especially effective when decision cycles are long. Recurring email interactions maintain the relationship while prospects move through the decision stages that can lead to becoming clients.

The best way to manage a relationship via email is via marketing automation platforms, which can keep track of user interactions over time.

5. Performance marketing

Performance marketing uses paid media and extensive tracking to maximize your marketing activities results. "Performance" essentially means measuring the outcome from a promotion strategy in a granular way to allow the marketer to improve and optimize campaigns continuously.

Performance marketing is primarily used for B2C campaigns and is based on outbound communications: social media campaigns and paid search and display.

Affiliate marketing is the most clear-cut performance marketing strategy, where partners are commissioned on the results they generate.

Performance marketing can be effective but carries risks such as double-counting conversion or cannibalizing other acquisition channels. It isn’t always as glorious as it sounds and is clearly a high-stakes strategy.

6. Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is the premium version of word-of-mouth marketing. It’s based on recommendations from famous and influential people, and is therefore much more powerful than word-of-mouth between ordinary people.

In the B2B version of influencer marketing, the marketer will build partnerships and PR relationships with key opinion leaders.

In the B2C version, marketers establish a sponsorship agreement with a macro-influencer, a person who fits the company’s brand values and has an important reach into its target market. Another influencer marketing strategy deploys several micro-influencer partnerships to promote your product or service.

These can be found through influencer marketing platforms. The key to a successful influencer marketing strategy is to find the best alignment of your brand and influencer profiles.

More marketing strategies

Many types of marketing are available to small businesses, and we don’t pretend to cover the entire scope of opportunity. These are simply some of the best strategies. For some business owners, a personal branding strategy can be the right path to pursue.

To bigger companies, an integrated marketing strategy using various elements from the above strategies may be the best solution. If you're in e-commerce, most of your marketing could be happening on marketplaces like Amazon.

The best strategy for your business will be marketing techniques which bring measurable, profitable, and consistent results.

Start with word-of-mouth and then compose

Word-of-mouth is the best strategy you can use, for B2B and B2C. But it lacks acceleration, and you need to add elements from one or more of the above strategies. The ideal strategy for your business depends on your product and target audience, the length of your sales cycle, and the resources at your disposal.

With continued and constant digital disruption, the scope for more digital marketing strategies available to your business continues to enlarge.

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