Growing pains: The marketing challenges facing scale-ups in 2023

Facing another year of economic uncertainty, scale-ups must learn to do more with less, and marketing is no exception.

business growing pains

Facing another year of economic uncertainty, scale-ups must learn to do more with less, and marketing is no exception.

The ability of marketing to drive growth, leads and build brand awareness is vital to the success of a growing business, but with a looming economic downturn, companies must be wary of some of the main barriers that prevent successful marketing.

Consumer expectations

It is unsurprising that consumer expectations have changed dramatically over the last few months, continuing to shift as we start the new year. This year could prove to be particularly challenging from a marketing perspective as many struggle with financial uncertainty and increased caution around spending.

Both your brand and communications must be in line with these changes to sustain a trajectory of growth. Establishing or utilising an existing social media presence is important for insight into what your customers are thinking, acting as a direct communication channel, which is particularly important for B2B brands who rely on those more personal relationships with clients.

Web analytics and changes in search trends are also very telling. They give a deeper understanding of your target demographics, and insights into what they are searching, allowing you to cater to these concerns more effectively in your campaigns.

Demonstrating value

Businesses in the delicate process of scaling often neglect marketing efforts, viewing them as a good-to-have extra rather than a core business function.

For those working on the marketing activities of a growing business, it is important for them to be able to demonstrate the value of these activities and how they actively add to the growth of the business.

It is often tricky to track the total ROI of marketing campaigns, but certain metrics can give powerful indicators of what is working and translating into profit. Many marketing software tools, such as CRMs like HubSpot, or conversion tracking in ad platforms, help to track leads and conversions, indicating the success of a campaign.

The power of data

We have unprecedented access to all kinds of data technologies – but is your business making the best use of them? Many scale-ups make the mistake of collecting too much unconnected data, resulting in data sets that are overwhelming instead of value-adding, resulting in a lack of a well-rounded view of consumer behaviour.

Privacy changes and the phasing out of third-party cookies by Google this year means companies must focus on acquiring the right kinds of data. These are what produce insights, drive action, and ultimately, result in growth.

Getting to grips with the cost per qualified lead, or understanding the immediate Return on Ad Spend on paid ads are good places to start. Your data should be working hard for you, and adding value to your marketing strategies and campaigns, not simply sitting there unused.

Effective SEO

Scale-ups must often content with strict budgets, and this is where SEO can be a powerful option. When money is tight, SEO can, when done right, deliver more growth at a cheaper rate than other marketing strategies like paid ads.

There is no easy one-size-fits-all solution to SEO. It requires you take the time to outline what you want to achieve, and how to go about these goals. Changes to the Google algorithm, as well as their push for more relevant, helpful content, have made it more important than ever for marketers to really hone in on precisely what they want their SEO strategy to achieve.

Start by deciding whether the focus is on generating leads or simply building brand awareness. The approach will differ between B2B and B2C, so this is also a factor to be aware of. Similarly, be aware of the technical side of your SEO, and whether your website may be harming your ability to climb up the search results. Sites that are not SEO-friendly will have a much harder time.

Final thoughts

Successfully scaling a business is tough, and often a huge balancing act between time and budget. When your marketing efforts are laser-focused and strategic, they can be invaluable in helping you to grow, which is why being aware of some of the key factors that can stymie these efforts are vital. Not only can you avoid making these costly mistakes yourself, but can continue driving growth through effective campaigns.

Sam Martin-Ross
Sam Martin-Ross

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