How to Accelerate Growth with Limited Budget

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To accelerate growth at your business, you need a solid marketing strategy.

And contrary to belief, creating a growth strategy doesn’t need to break the bank.

Gaby Jesson, founder of The Prospect Society, explains how you can accelerate growth with a limited budget.

Expertise in the field

Gaby has 28 years of experience in marketing and communications, with her first role being at Ketchum, a global consumer PR agency where she worked across tech and lifestyle brands including Coca Cola, Virgin Retail, Gillette, Mini, Motorola and Lotus Software.

Following this, Gaby co-founded her own communications agency specialising in millennial marketing for tech & lifestyle brands including Nike, Nokia, Red Bull, Pioneer, LG, Thomas Cook & Mazda. She led the agency for 16 years and sold it on in 2016.

“After consultancy for M.I.T Fab Labs, I became CMO for tech startup innovation hub, Plexal, in London and subsequently CMO for UK innovation hub network, Plus X. I led their launch, growth and partner programmes and provided marketing comms support for in-house tech business members.

“A post-pandemic opportunity arose and I founded a global agency in 2020 called The Prospect Society. We specialise in cost effective digital marketing, PR, social media and content marketing support for startups and lean scaleups in B2B and B2C,” Gaby says.

Accelerating growth on a limited budget

Gaby says learning how to drive growth on a small budget has been a major thread throughout her career.

“Startup brands need to be smart with their available spend and my support has focused on unlocking ways to do this. I’ve learned many of my lessons through creating the successful growth of my own business - particularly during an economic downturn!”she says.

And Gaby says her experience has taught her that cost effective growth is achieved through three main areas and in the following order of priority: 

  • Organic Impact: Identify and switch on all low cost earned and owned opportunities through PR and content marketing, optimised with organic SEO. 
  • Voice: Curate and own a unique brand voice for in demand industry insights & expertise 
  • Paid Marketing: Activate carefully monitored paid strategies to support where necessary

Growing without spending

Running her own business in a competitive agency marketplace in the ‘naughties’ taught Gaby some rapid tips and tactics to optimise growth with little or no spend, naming her agency’s growth plan a ‘fame campaign’.

She says: “It was a successful tactic I applied to the launch of tech innovation hub, Plexal and secured a PR Week award as a result.” 

What is a fame campaign?

Simply put it’s a communications strategy that is focused, creative and relevant - with a little bit of the unexpected thrown in! Creating a fame campaign is essentially about market disruption. Looking at your sector conventions and upturning them, creating sector surprise and ultimately, newsworthiness. 

“With my own communications agency, we decided to play in the same space as the brands we wanted to work for. An example of this was our ‘A.P.E tour’ concept. Public research recognised that school sports were too limited,  letting down many teenagers, reducing active participation and contributing to an increase in obesity.

“We approached a number of brands (we wanted to work with) and asked them to sponsor our A.P.E  tour (standing for alternative PE) to school PE lessons including skateboarding and BMX riding. The tour attracted incredible TV and print coverage - leading to excited kids, happy client sponsors and creating growth opportunities for us to work with Red Bull, Casio and Nike,” Gaby says.

Five tips to help founders drive and accelerate growth on a limited budget

1) A bold brand

Many fast accelerating tech businesses tend to overlook brand identity as a quick afterthought, according to Gaby.

“It’s a mistake I see repeated way too often. As a result, so many startup tech businesses look homogenised - using safe, conventional colours (light blue is a favourite!) and uninspiring logos that have little depth or meaning.

“And yet, if curated with consideration in advance of launch, a strong brand can unlock a myriad of low cost opportunities. Bold brands help businesses stand out in a competitive marketplace, providing even greater backstory opportunities and enabling both customer and influencer intrigue - creating a desire to find out more. Evidence also shows that strong brand identities also help all other marketing strategies succeed including paid and earned,” she says.

2) Disrupt convention

Business launch moments are a great opportunity to get creative - helping to drive news coverage that doesn’t cost a dime! Sometimes tech founders read ‘creativity’ as ‘gimmicky’, but it’s definitely not the same thing, according to Gaby.

She says: “By way of example, launching Plexal created an opportunity to attract some high profile guests - but a standard ribbon cutting exercise was never going to make the news. Putting London Mayor Sadiq Khan on an electric scooter (designed by one of our members) riding around Plexal certainly did make the news.

“Admittedly it was not easy, but we secured incredible news and TV coverage as a result - helping the Plexal arrival story travel far and wide and securing 600% uplift in member enquiries.

“In the words of PR expert, Lucy Porter, ‘While PR has always been a channel for brand-building, when dipped in creativity, it catches fire. For savvy marketers looking to make their (now-reduced) budgets work harder, creative PR offers a solution that resonates with consumers and aligns with your bottom line’.”

3) Find your unique voice

How to maintain momentum post launch without spending a fortune? Find a unique business voice that builds authority. A recent successful strategy for a martech business client relied almost entirely on their unique and insightful reports. 

Written by the founder and supported by invited industry spokespersons, the reports created PR coverage, high authority backlinks, guest blogs, speaker opportunities and a stream of podcast and webinar invitations. They have been the single most successful growth tactic for this business and cost very little.

4) Content is king

The above example is testament to the power of content marketing through sharing expertise. Optimising your website with content supported by organic SEO are surefire ways to create business visibility and authority without a paid advertising budget. 

According to Entrepreneur magazine: “To strengthen your on-page SEO, make sure that all of your content is relevant, informative and well written. To maintain relevance, your content must provide answers to your audience's search queries”. Read more here about how to write a successful business blog here.

5) Partners - not paid

With a proliferation of paid and boosted digital opportunities from the likes of Google, Meta and LinkedIn, it’s difficult to know where to place any allocated spend. Testing some of these platforms should form part of your marketing strategy, but Gaby says ‘building your profile through reputation and partnership could minimise these costs.’

She adds: “Partnerships are an excellent way to reach audiences you wouldn’t otherwise be able to connect with at the early growth stage.

“Find like-minded business partners where you can buddy on ambitions, help share each other’s content and reach each other’s customers. These partnerships are free and powerful, but can take time to build. Expect 6-12 months to research, negotiate and activate powerful partnerships.”

The bottom line

Gaby admits that her ultimate tip for cost effective marketing is to lean into earned and owned tactics.

Gaby says: “Being clear about your customers is an intrinsic part of your success here because understanding what story and solution you want to present to customers will help your business cut through and connect more directly.

“If the process of creative thinking causes fear and panic  - run a series of short brainstorms or workshops with creative PR and marketing specialists.”

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