Proven Outside-the-Box Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses

If you’ve been digging through tons of information to learn the best marketing strategies for small businesses, you’ve probably come across everything from tutorials on creating classic press releases to TikTok celebrity campaigns and Elon Musk sending a Tesla into space. That’s why we find it helpful to look toward innovative yet proven models of marketing success to find new ideas. 

Silicon Valley and the tech industry provide powerful ways of quickly moving the small business strategy needle and show us how to use adaptive thinking to pivot in our current public health and economic crisis. Some of these companies have created hypergrowth using unique marketing strategies to attract customers, such as Exponential Marketing. The same marketing ideas they use can work for small businesses that cultivate divergent thinking.

At BizHack, we like looking toward new ideas that might seem pie-in-the-sky but prove themselves to be effective and down-to-earth. 

TL;DR: Find out how innovative marketing strategies for small businesses can shift your mindset and help you grow.

  • Learn how shifting from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset in your small business strategy can be a gamechanger.
  • Exponential Marketing moves through a series of phases that differ from a more traditional, linear marketing strategy.
  • A small business marketing strategy works best when it’s human-focused.
  • Exponential Organizations apply specific tenants to their small business strategies such as experimentation, social engagement, algorithms, and leveraged assets.
  • Knowing your purpose and building trust with your customers, employees, and partners are just two of the trends we see show up again and again that create small business success. Learn about more marketing tips and trends below.

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How Small Business Strategy Can Incorporate Exponential Marketing Ideas

“Be either the disruptor or the disrupted. There is no middle ground.”

Ismail Salim, OpenExO Founder

Exponential Marketing comes out of the high-growth startups of Silicon Valley and combines mindset and strategy to create hypergrowth. This unique and modern marketing strategy employs tenants that promote quick and achievable growth for small companies. For a deeper dive, check out the book Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail. 

In our #BizHackLive webinar, The Seven Keys to an Exponential Marketing Strategy with Gabriel Andjell and Karina Besprosvan, we dig into conceptual and practical ideas around what Exponential Marketing is all about and how it applies small business strategy.

Gabriel Andjell is a training facilitator and coach specializing in Exponential Organization (also known as ExO) skill development in the U.S. and internationally. He is an ambassador and certified trainer of OpenExO and co-founder of ExO Educate.

Karina Besprosvan, a BizHack alumnus, is an expert in data storytelling, innovation consultant, certified coach and trainer, and co-founder of ExO Educate. She has led corporate innovation programs and Exponential Organization workshops to leaders across industries. 

These two experts give their take on how marketing strategies for small businesses can pull from Exponential Marketing to optimize audience reach and provide exceptional service to customers and employees. 

Exponential Marketing differs from more traditional forms of marketing in how it is conceptualized and applied. Within the realm of linear, traditional thinking, steps you take measuredly move you toward your intended outcome. So, if you were to take 30 steps, you’d move 30 yards down the line from point A to point B. 

By applying exponential thinking, 30 steps can result in one billion yards, although the trajectory differs. And sometimes, there are extended periods of ambiguity in-between, which is why evident impact appears toward the end of those first 30 steps. This might seem counter to what is taught in business schools, but the tech industry shows just how powerful this kind of thinking can apply to the real world.

Applying Tips from the ExO Framework to Small Business Strategy

In the ExO framework, we are experiencing what is referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where new, affordable technologies converge and set the stage for the next technological development. This is why concepts of abundance mindset permeate ExO strategy. More accessible technologies help more people overall. This abundance, access-for-all way of thinking flies in the face of the scarcity mindset many companies have, where squeezing the most out of their bottom dollar is the most important aspect of the business. 

In Exponential thinking, businesses thrive on abundance. ExOs are purpose-driven organizations that follow 10 unique tenets. Although most of these companies focus on four or five of these attributes, the idea is that by employing them, you grow exponentially. 

The ExOs 10 Unique Attributes:

  1. Interfaces: Focus on how you create and manage your interactions with your customers.
  2. Dashboards: Create processes to manage systems and data that lead to better decision-making.
  3. Experimentation: Try new things and think outside-the-box.
  4. Autonomy: Consider how decisions are made and assess where red tape helps and where it hinders.
  5. Social: Define how individual contributors and leaders interact with the company and each other.
  6. Staff on Demand: Employ expert consultants on a need-to-hire basis.
  7. Community and Crowd: Engage your community for resources.
  8. Algorithms: Understand your customers with data and algorithms.
  9. Leveraged Assets: Think through how to make the most out of what you have. 
  10. Engagement: Create two-way paths of interaction between your business and the customer.

7 ExO Marketing Strategies to Attract Customers

Since the pandemic, businesses have been forced to pivot and embrace the opportunity in the crisis. In such uncertain times, people look to businesses to assure them that they can still achieve their dreams, needs and wants. People need help and want to be comforted by the brands they know and love. 

We have listed seven marketing trends for your small business to respond to your customer needs in an authentic way that creates trust and leads to human connection. 

  1. Purpose: Find your “why” so you have a foundation to forge ahead even during turbulent times. 
  2. Agility: Explores how you can become data-driven decision-makers. 
  3. The Human Experience: Shift to being a human-focused business that enhances the experience of your customers, employees, and business partners. Understand their values, emotions, and actions and listen to what they need. 
  4. Trust: Hold your brand accountable to convey messaging congruent with actions. 
  5. Participation: Tap into both the passive and active ways people interact to influence brands. Customer engagement can be a two-way street where customers participate as brand ambassadors, influencers, collaborators, and innovators. 
  6. Fusion: Collaborate and experiment with other companies to move forward together. 
  7. Talent: Use contractors to get the skills you need while looking to find new ideas through crowdsourcing and collaboration. Plan what you want to achieve in the next 2-3 years and start working towards these goals. 

We hope we’ve piqued your interest in Exponential Marketing and Exponential Organizations. To learn more, check out this webinar or head over to more tips? On Wednesdays, join BizHack Academy for our FREE #BizHackLive Webinars and hear experts discuss the latest and best small business marketing strategies. For a list of upcoming events, click here.