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Learn by Example: 5 Successful Small Business Marketing Campaigns

Sean Peek
Sean Peek
business.com Contributing Writer
Updated Sep 20, 2022

Marketing is especially important for small businesses looking to expand their reach.

Marketing is an important tool on the road to success for businesses of all sizes. Small businesses can use marketing techniques and strategies to grow existing customer bases, gain market share, build a brand reputation, create new revenue options, and clearly define goals. Through these techniques, a small business can market itself to customers, potential consumers, investors and even other businesses. A marketing campaign’s success is determined by creativity, budget and the right strategy.

To fully grasp how marketing campaigns can benefit a small business, let’s examine how the following five enterprises achieved success through marketing. 

Successful small business marketing campaigns

1. Dollar Shave Club

One great idea and a viral video skyrocketed this small business to the top. With a marketing budget of only $4,500, co-founder Michael Dubin took the subscription box and shaving industry by storm. Before Dollar Shave Club’s video in 2012, brands like Gillette and Schick had the men’s shaving market locked down, and the subscription service industry was just getting off the ground. By 2015, Dollar Shave Club had 48.6% of the online shaver market, according to Slice Intelligence as reported by CNBC. Unilever acquired the company in 2016 through a $1 billion deal.

The Dollar Shave Club video hit every marketing principle perfectly. It was fun and informative, it listed the company’s information repeatedly, and it communicated why the company was different from its competitors.

2. Airbnb

Airbnb is the poster child for persistence in marketing. In 2008, Airbnb co-founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia started renting air mattresses. By 2021, according to Statista, Airbnb was valued at $113 billion, but the road to success was not a straight one. 

The company did not experience growth until it focused on marketing. It relied on email and content creation to drive site interaction. The Airbnb team sent prospective renters and property owners emails recommending highly reviewed rentals in destinations an individual recently searched for. Some emails even included location suggestions to spur an interest in traveling. The email campaigns were so successful that Airbnb created a travel blog on its website to help inspire vacation ideas. Airbnb wanted to be the first and last thought when planning a trip.

Did you know?Did you know? Hubspot says that 48% of companies that engage in content marketing use blogging to do so.

3. NOOM

Another company that relies on content creation is NOOMA. The name is an abbreviation for “no more artificials.” This company sells plant-based athletic drinks for its health-conscious customers. NOOMA drives engagement and sales with its blog. Many companies rely on blogs to drive interest, but not all of them are successful. NOOMA creates engaging and informational blog posts, with recipes, workout routines, health information, and the occasional sales pitch. A good marketing campaign does not focus entirely on sales pitches. Instead, it creates valuable content that your audience is excited to engage with so they read the blog on a regular basis. 

4. Good! Snacks

Good! Snacks, formerly known as Good Greens, is the nutrition bar version of NOOMA. Both companies cater to health-conscious consumers and rely on content creation in their marketing efforts. Good! Snacks has an active Facebook presence. Its bars are front and center in every social media post, highlighting the colorful packaging. Posts often focus on how customers rely on the product for their busy and active lifestyles. 

5. Uber

When Uber started its operations, the company’s marketing zeroed in on how its supply could meet demand. It relied on customers spreading word of mouth about how its service was reliable, easy to use and available when cabs were at a premium. This strategy slowly attracted a customer base and transformed this start-up into a household name synonymous with ride-sharing. 

Uber primarily relies on mobile marketing and its YouTube channel. By using mobile ads and easily digestible video content, it successfully enticed users to download its app. The Business of Apps estimated that 118 million people used Uber in 2021 – more than 10 times as many users as the company had in 2015.

FYIFYI: Sixty-three percent of YouTube users watch from their mobile devices, according to Statista.

Do’s and don’ts of successful marketing campaigns

Do use the right channels.

The primary goal of marketing is to connect a business with the correct target market. The right channel to use for a marketing campaign depends on the target market. If a marketing campaign chooses the wrong channel, the target market will not be engaged – even if the marketing content is perfect. For example, using mobile marketing to enroll senior citizens in a program may be destined to fail. 

Consider how your target market interacts with social channels, emails, blog posts, television ads and print media before choosing a marketing channel. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all channel – sometimes experimenting is valuable.

Don’t push your product or service. 

Nobody appreciates a pushy salesperson solely focused on extracting money during a sale. Build trust and rapport with potential customers before making a sales pitch. A customer that feels appreciated will be more likely to engage with and ultimately buy your product. 

Consider a soft push instead of a hard one. A soft push focuses on persuading a customer while creating a low-pressure sales environment. This gives the customer a chance to decide to buy a product on their own. A soft-push approach takes time and nuance, but the end result creates a loyal customer base.

Do create valuable content.

It’s critical to create content your audience wants to interact with. Focusing on the value that marketing content offers creates engaging material. Valuable content creates a sense of trust in a company while sharing how the company’s product can fit consumer needs. 

To create valuable content, try taking an authoritative role. Show the customer that your company knows what it is talking about. Use research and show your work. Keep the content simple in an effort to attract the largest audience. This is especially important for a tech-heavy industry or businesses that use industry-specific terminology.

Don’t overshare or spam your audience.

It is easy to spam your customer’s inboxes with alerts and messaging. However, when you do that, your message can become diluted and confusing. The goal of marketing is to widen a customer base, not lose subscribers from content burnout. Keep your company’s reputation intact during your email marketing campaign so you don’t come across as spammy.

Stick to a content schedule with clearly defined goals. A schedule makes it easier to plan promotions, track engagement, and analyze performance. Build a calendar around new product launches, holidays and specific service promotions. A standard way to do this is by breaking a schedule into fiscal quarters.

Do pay attention to data and analytics.

Marketing can be expensive. You don’t want to be wasting resources on ineffective marketing campaigns. Prioritize analyzing the success of your marketing campaigns. Examine campaign engagement, revenue changes and the effectiveness of different channels. Are you reaching your target market? How is your return on investment? Is your messaging clear? If you can’t answer these questions, you may not be paying close enough attention to your marketing data. 

Various tools are available to examine marketing data, but don’t be afraid to outsource data analytics to a third party or even to crowdsource content if the numbers tell you more content is needed. 

Don’t try to replicate large corporations’ marketing efforts.

There is no one-size-fits-all marketing campaign or marketing strategy. What works for one company may not work for another. This is especially true when comparing a small business to a large corporation. A marketing campaign’s success ultimately depends on the differences in the product, marketing budgets, advertising channels and campaign scaling.

Consumers appreciate a creative and unique marketing campaign. Stop paying attention to what other brands are doing and focus on what makes your company unique. 

Sean Peek
Sean Peek
business.com Contributing Writer
Sean Peek has written more than 100 B2B-focused articles on various subjects including business technology, marketing and business finance. In addition to researching trends, reviewing products and writing articles that help small business owners, Sean runs a content marketing agency that creates high-quality editorial content for both B2B and B2C businesses.