What type of marketing is best for my business?

Hannah Brice Written by
Hannah Brice

Ask a PR agency owner “What type of marketing is best for my business?”, and they’ll likely tell you PR, every time. A social media expert will say social media and an ad agency will say… yup, you guessed it…advertising. But then if you go to a coffee shop and ask for a drink, what do you expect?! Is it their fault for giving you bad information or yours for going to the wrong place?

Fortunately, for the many poor souls wishing to market their startup or small business with NO IDEA WHATSOEVER where to start, a lot of agencies are now integrated agencies. This means they offer the full suite of marketing services so that you get a package that addresses your business problem.

Of course, to gain access to so many services and consultants will cost you a pretty penny. Far more than many small businesses and startups can afford. So here’s a guide to the main types of marketing and how they can help so you’re better informed about how to spend your money.

This article will cover:


It makes sense to start with this one. There are a million different forms of advertising: tv, mobile, display, even wearable. These days, with the abundance of content all over the internet and social media, you need to be prepared to pay to stand out. The good news is that it doesn’t need to cost a lot and the analytics are so good that you’ll know exactly how well each ad is performing, and can therefore optimise your campaign to get the best ROI.

This guide covers Affiliate marketing, Display advertising, Facebook advertising, LinkedIn advertising, Retargeting or remarketing, Search advertising and Twitter advertising

This guide doesn’t include native advertising as I’ve yet to find an option for this which I believe is affordable for startups.

Want a bit of guidance on how to start an ad campaign? Contact us here for some advice.

Affiliate marketing

This is where publishers, such as bloggers, magazines, cashback companies and other sites, feature links to your website in their content and you pay them for every purchase that is made from the traffic they send you.

In other words, you only pay for a sale which is a great form of advertising plus it’s in the publisher’s interest to present your company in a positive light so they can drive sales and generate commission.

The only drawback is that you have to use an affiliate marketing company such as AWIN to run the programme and access their publisher networks and it tends to demand that you have a sizeable amount of web traffic to begin with.


Therefore, for brand new startups with low traffic, this isn’t an option.

back to top

Behavioural marketing

When you buy online, the retailer keeps a record of what you’ve purchased, and what else you looked at and can use that information to send you information on similar items in the future. That’s behavioural marketing. Companies can also set trigger points on their web pages so that they can send visitors relevant content that will draw them back to their site if they leave too soon.

Brand development

A brand is so much more than a logo and a name. It’s an identity and set of values that your customers and other individuals will associate with your company. When you build a brand, you need to determine a tone of voice, a message, and brand values that you and your team will abide by. And, all of this needs to be presented consistently in all of the external communication you issue.

Managing a reputation can be complicated so it’s worthwhile setting some guidelines in a brand bible so that everyone is clear.  Get your brand right by ensuring it resonates with your target audience and you’ll find it so much easier to connect with them.

Content marketing

Put simply, this is using content to market to your audience. It can take the form of blogging, infographics, reports, videos, webinars, slideshows, factsheets, imagery and much more.

Here’s an example of one of ours:Content marketing exampleThe idea is not simply to sell to you, but instead to convert you from visitor to customer in a number of stages. This could typically look like producing different pieces of content that

  1. answer your queries
  2. educate you on the options on the market
  3. help you to understand how a product will make your life better
  4. solve your problems

The final piece of content in the journey is then something with pricing details and features.

It’s about warming people up to buy and building a connection with your brand so that when they are ready to buy they come straight to you.

back to top

Customer advocacy and brand loyalty

So many companies overlook the power of their existing customerbase. If the majority of your customers are very happy with your product or service, help them spread the word with share buttons on purchase pages, bespoke social media posts, and recommendations for complementary products. You can also reward them for recommending others, thereby pleasing several parties at once.

Direct marketing

If you know exactly who you want to sell to, and where to find them, direct marketing could be for you. Tactics such as direct mail, mobile marketing, telemarketing and email marketing enable you to reach an individual with a one-on-one message to drive them to buy.

A lot of people do find this intrusive though so if you’re keen to go ahead, make sure your message and offer are relevant and helpful.

Discount, bonus and scarcity promotions

Few people can resist a bargain. So the act of running promotions on your products or services either with deadlines or discounts can really help drive sales. It’s worth doing your research first to make sure the discount you’re offering is better than that of the competition in order to avoid embarrassment. And make sure you’ve set terms and conditions to protect yourself.

Scarcity marketing is also effective. However, if you’re going to claim that you have limited stock or the promotion will only run for a short term, you need to stick to it.

Display advertising

This is an option available through Google Adwords whereby you purchase banner adverts to be displayed across Google’s display network, relevant to your desired keyword.

Here are two examples:

back to top

Email marketing

Email marketing is great for driving repeat business or upselling. You have a customer’s details so why not share with them new products, features or special offers via email?

It’s also powerful for businesses with long sales cycles or expensive products as they can use email to speed up the decision making process through a series of updates that inform, educate and convince people to buy, also known as drip marketing.

The only thing to be wary of is consent, thanks to 2018’s introduction of GDPR. If you haven’t got the consent of your mailing list to email them with a particular type of content or info, then doing so could result in a heavy fine.

Event marketing

Just what it says on the tin. Either host an event to promote your product or service, perhaps masqueraded as a workshop or taster session. Or you attend a third party event and hire a stand or make a presentation to woo people.

Typically, this requires a lot of financial investment and isn’t worthwhile if your selling low value items as you’d need to sell a lot to make a good return.


Very popular for brands targeting millennials, this type of marketing enables you to build an experience around your product or service. Think Bombay Sapphire’s distillery tours, movie merchandise, gamification, and anything that uses virtual reality equipment so you can try before you buy. I would also put guerilla marketing in this category.

back to top

Facebook advertising

This is a good option if you’re targeting a consumer audience or creative communities. But it’s not easy and therefore it’s best to use an expert to help you. They’ll know to use Facebook’s Power Editor or tools like Qwaya rather than Facebook Ad Manager for better segmentation and to drive greater results.

In terms of which type of ad to go for, it all depends on your goals. Promoted posts are typically best for engagement and traffic and general ads are great for helping your reach. But it does again depend on your audience.

Also like Google Retargeting, you can also retarget people on facebook with Facebook Exchange. It’s quite a common approach used by companies and will explain to you why Facebook seems to know which websites or online purchases you’ve been looking at recently.

Field marketing

This method is great for introducing new brands or new products because it enables you to give them product demos or free samples and who’ll say no to a free sample? The trick is in where you position your ‘event’ so that you’re reaching the right audience.

Growth marketing and growth hacking

These are two different things so it’s important to know why in case you sign up for the wrong one!

Growth marketing is about using a mix of traditional and untraditional marketing methods to achieve growth both in terms of acquiring new customers and retaining them. Growth hacking involves using untraditional marketing methods to achieve rapid growth in one particular thing, such as sales, traffic, or followers.

back to top

Influencer marketing

If you don’t have a huge presence on social media and can’t afford a big advertising campaign, the best way to reach your target audience may be to work with individuals who they’re influenced by. Bloggers are very open to brand collaborations whereby they promote your product to their thousands of followers in return for a small fee.

Be warned, make sure you do your research first to ensure you’re targeting bloggers or celebrities who will promote your product the way you want and have a highly engaged following.

LinkedIn advertising

If you’re a B2B business, your audience should mostly be found on LinkedIn. It’s therefore really worth spending some money on advertising to ensure you reach more of them. In fact, because LinkedIn holds employment information on everyone, you can target your ads to specific job titles so you can be sure that every penny you spend and every ad you run is going to your target audience.

The challenge then comes in what you share to ensure it stands out and drives the correct call to action. It’s recommended that you seek design and copywriting help with this.

Mobile marketing

As well as sending text message ads to your target audience – like Domino’s sending you an offer via text at 5.30pm on a Friday – you can integrate ads into apps that you know your customers use, make mobile optimised ads and do location-based promotions.

Multi level marketing

The act of using people who don’t receive a salary from you to sell your products may sound a bit like influencer marketing but some companies have been doing this for decades. Arbonne is one example and has built a salesforce all over the world to sell its products for nothing other than commission.

back to top

Partnership marketing

Many big brands now have staff in place entirely focussed on building and maintaining profitable partnerships. These work to ensure they’re exploiting opportunities to gain new customers, build greater loyalty with existing ones and overall, increase revenue. For smaller businesses and startups, a partnership could mean brand exposure, access to new audiences and endorsement from a trusted source.

An example of a good partnership would be an online bookseller partnering with a university. The university would secure discounted books for their students and the book retailer would benefit from recurring sales from a captive customerbase.

Partnerships are hard to secure if your brand is unknown or your customerbase is small. So, having some leverage like a unique product that compliments your desired partner’s product range, or the ability to generate a significant revenue for them, will help.


PR, or media relations as it’s typically known, is the act of liaising with the media to manage or elevate a company’s reputation. Through the use of a press release, comment, viewpoint, reactive statement or interview, you would seek to gain positive coverage in the press about your business, product or service.

As long as you are focussing on media that your target audience reads, and your story is strong enough to get covered, then you will reach potential customers. The question is, what are you hoping to achieve? If you’re looking to build a case around the need for your product or service, or build awareness, then PR is a good approach. However, if you want sales, leads, sign ups or web traffic, you’re better off looking at other methods, such as social media and advertising.

back to top

Referral marketing (or word of mouth)

If you offer a brilliant product or service, word of mouth marketing should just start automatically but there are initiatives you can run to stimulate promotion. On purchase pages, you can add share buttons or discount codes for referring friends. The reason this method is so effective is that customers are hearing about your product from people they trust so your product immediately seems valuable.


As the term remarketing suggests, you market again to your target audience to remind them of your product or service and tempt them back to your website.

How it works is that once someone has visited your website and a cookie is dropped on their device, you’ll be able to target ads at them as they then visit other websites.

The ads you set can be tailored depending on what stage of the purchasing/sign up journey the visitor was at when they left your site.

back to top

Search advertising

This is advertising on Google Adwords to appear at the top of the page of search listings in response to a certain query.

A lot of startups mistakenly think this is the best option of advertising for them but this method should only be used if your product or service is commonly searched for. For example, if you sell property management services, then it’ll work for you if you advertise for the terms “property management services” or for your leading competitors so that you can benefit from their brand awareness.

It’s not so good an approach if people aren’t familiar with your product or service, or if the problem you’re solving is pretty uncommon, as search queries will be low.


Get top ranking on Google for the product you sell and you can pretty much stop all other marketing. This is because people searching for your product will go to you first, and most likely buy from you. This isn’t just because people are inherently lazy and will pick the first site they see, but also because by being first, people attach some greater value to you, as if you are the ultimate authority or market leader (even though you’re probably just really good at SEO.)

It’s  little wonder that so many companies invest in SEO and Adword campaigns to achieve it.

A good SEO strategy should consider off-site and on-site SEO which will mean that all the crucial requirements such as site speed, readability, keywords and backlinks are covered.

back to top

Social media

This is a great way to simultaneously reach huge audiences across the globe and have one-to-one interactions with influencers or customers.

You can drive traffic to your site, sell your products, sign people up to your newsletter or club, and reach larger audiences if your content is shared. However, it’s not easy to establish and maintain so much power. You need quality content, and lots of it. You also need to have a good understanding of who to engage with, and learn how to make an impact on your audience. This requires a lot of analysis and testing.

Anyone can do social media well but if you want it to transform your business, it’s worth pay for some expert help.

It’s also a valuable tool for customer care and brand reputation as you can identify unhappy customers quickly, take them onto a private conversation and resolve the problem.

Stealth marketing

Have you seen the film “The Joneses” starring Demi Moore? In the film, she and her family flaunt new clothes, furniture and other desirable things to their friends and neighbours and then earn a commission when sales are generated. The difference between this and affiliate marketing is that with stealth marketing, the “audience” has no idea they are being marketed to. It’s therefore seen by some as unethical because the rave reviews given to products may not actually be genuine.

back to top

Twitter advertising

Yes, you  can advertise on Twitter as you will have seen from the Promoted Posts that are slotted in to any searches you make.

Personally, I don’t think it’s a particularly worthwhile exercise to advertise on Twitter unless you’re specifically trying to grow your following on that platform or you’ve discovered that it is the main place your audience hangs out.

Voice marketing

Yup this is now a thing. If you think your target audience most likely possesses an Alexa (or other voice controlled home device) then it’s worthwhile starting to think about how your business can use the tool to its advantage. For example, you can help your customers make purchases from you via Alexa and you can ensure that “she” is properly informed so that when users ask questions about your business, they are provided with helpful insight. It’s called a skill. It’s still new though so if you haven’t yet nailed the other marketing methods above, this isn’t the place to start.

So, what type of marketing is best for my business then?

As you can see, there are many ways to reach your customers. It’s unlikely that one will meet your business requirements on its own and you’ll likely need a blend of two or three methods to achieve the awareness, engagement and sales you want. Get in touch and we’ll tell you free of charge what we recommend.