3 Small Business Marketing Success Stories You Can Learn From

Small business marketing success doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. Being a small business owner or startup founder is hard enough without the stress of marketing, but marketing is an absolutely necessary evil.

Newsflash: if you build it, they will NOT come. The bottom line is, without marketing your startup or small business, no one will know about it, your revenue will be non-existent and your business will be dead in the water.

Even if you’re well versed in marketing, let’s get real for a minute. Learning how to market a startup or  small business is a completely different animal than marketing a well-established business or corporation. For starters, corporations typically have a much bigger bankroll and a much bigger marketing budget to work with.

Meanwhile, small businesses and startups are all about marketing on a shoestring budget. Small businesses are also at a major disadvantage when it comes to branding and brand recognition. When your business isn’t even on the map yet, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

So how are successful small business owners and startups doing it? Here are three real life examples of how small businesses have achieved startup success, without having deep pockets.

Small Business Marketing Success Stories

Success Story #1: CelebriDucks.

The company is a manufacturer of rubber ducks, and although they have been around for many years, they were faced with the startup-esque challenge of going head to head with some serious competitors. But they turned their potential failure into their biggest success, which led to them launching an entirely new division of their company.

To persevere, they simply went back to their roots and focused on authenticity. They realized that none of their competitors made their rubber ducks  in the United States, despite ‘Made in the USA’ products being in demand. They made the decision to start manufacturing their products exclusively in the USA and it was a decision their target audience appreciated.

“I got so tired of seeing the loss of jobs and industries in America and everything being outsourced…For me, it was very important to bring a whole industry back to America. The rubber duck was actually invented in the USA. Now every rubber duck was being made overseas. We decided to bring the whole rubber duck industry back here and are now the only ones making them in America once again,” said Craig Wolfe, President of CelebriDucks.

The company’s decision to be authentic to the rubber duck’s American roots was not only a success, but it also led to them developing a line of celebrity rubber ducks, which were featured on Entertainment Weekly, The Tonight Show and several other high tier media outlets. CelebriDucks now has other large companies such as Harley-Davidson and The Future Farmers of America contacting them to create custom rubber ducks. We call that a major success!

Related Story: How to Send a Media Pitch Reporters Will Respond To

Marketing Takeaway Authenticity.

It’s not just a marketing buzzword, it’s an effective business strategy and an all-around good business practice. Being authentic in your mission and in your messaging will help you with branding and also with finding a tribe of loyal customers who align with what you’re doing.

Really think about what your startup or small business stands for. What have you set out to accomplish? What value do you bring to the marketplace? What do you stand for? Find the answers and communicate them to your team and your potential customers.

Don’t be afraid to stand for something. Even if you alienate some potential customers, authenticity will always help you find and KEEP the right ones.

Success Story #2: Bizdaq.

It’s a SaaS startup that enables small to medium sized business owners to sell their businesses online for free, without using an agent. After launching, they had a major challenge in appealing to their target audience with offline marketing for a service that was online.

Jonathan Russell, CMO of Bizdaq explains how they overcame the challenge to become a success story, “The first thing we did was to drop all of our preconceived notions as to where we should be focussing offline. Instead we picked up the phone and spoke to our early adopters to understand the demographic. After speaking to our customers we really understood how important trade publications are to small business owners. Thus we invested heavily in trade publications, establishing credibility through association with the publications and we’ve seen a 210% increase in the number of customers from offline activity.

Often purely digital businesses become a little disconnected from their customers. Talking to the customers on the phone, understanding their motivations, characteristics and lifestyle can greatly help any business in their marketing efforts regardless of the size of the business.”

Ultimately, Bizdaq’s decision to get in touch with their target customer base led to a 210% increase in customers and a solid return on investment for their marketing dollars. Well done!

Marketing Takeaway – Know your audience.

The power of knowing your niche and understanding what your target audience wants can not be overstated. Too many companies go into business with the marketing objective of appealing to the masses.

Sure, some established brands have mass appeal, but very rarely do they start out that way. Even Facebook was once targeted towards university and college students, and it grew organically over time. If Mark Zuckerberg had attempted to bring Facebook to the masses before he had marketing momentum and a solid user base, you probably wouldn’t be sharing this post on Facebook today (Yes, that’s a hint! wink wink).

Figure out who your target audience is, break it into segments if you have multiple target customers and then craft your marketing messages around what your audience wants and needs. To do it any other way would be a major waste of time and resources. Most marketing strategies fail because the target audience isn’t specific enough or hasn’t been properly identified.

Success Story #3: Cleancorp cleaning service.

It’s a national cleaning service based in Sydney Australia. The company had a rocky start and similar to many other small business owners, they had a limited marketing budget, and struggled to acquire and retain new customers.

Things really turned around for them when they decided to automate some of their marketing and sales processes using Infusionsoft.  The popular tool allowed them to automate and manage their marketing and sales campaigns, which ultimately led to them increasing their annual revenue by 69% and freeing up more of their time so they could enjoy time away from the office.

Marketing Takeaway: Automate when possible.

Why spend more time on marketing than is absolutely necessary? You should spend as much of your time as possible doing the things you’re good at in your small business, and unless your business is in the marketing or advertising sector, marketing probably isn’t your strong point.

Thanks to technology and innovation, a myriad of marketing tools and resources are available to make our lives easier. Did you know that Hootsuite can help you schedule and automate your social media posts on all your favorite networks, including; Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Google Plus?  Instead of spending several hours every day posting across multiple channels, you can schedule posts weekly, monthly (or some other frequency you decide on) and save yourself hours of time.

NGData published a list of the ‘50 Best Marketing Automation Tools’ which is a helpful jumping off point to offload some of your marketing burden. Some of the best options include PR automation tools, email marketing platforms and even marketing analytics software. Anytime and anywhere you can save yourself time while still accomplishing your marketing objectives, it’s a worthwhile investment.


Running a small business or startup isn’t for pansies. Small business marketing success is equal parts targeting, audience engagement and consistency. Although it’s important to run with your marketing strategy and run as fast as you can, cutting corners will never be an effective strategy for startup success.

When you’re learning how to market a startup, forget going viral and focus on building your brand identity and a loyal, solid base of customers first. Your bottom line will thank you.

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