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The stages of scale-up marketing – from entry to expansion


Setting out on the scale-up marketing journey from market entry to expansion can feel like navigating uncharted waters. But, with a long-term marketing strategy, an authentic positioning, and an unwavering understanding of your audience, you can successfully create a brand that serves you well through each period of growth.”

Muyambo Kasweshi, Senior Account Manager

As a scale-up, your business strategy will go through many different forms and phases. From attracting investors to talent, to developing new product brands or market strategies, you’ll face all measure of challenges as you grow. 

The way you approach marketing should align with these phases. If you’re new to market, creating a strong brand is the first port of call. If you’re a well-known entity, you may be looking to accelerate growth in certain markets. 

In this blog, we look at three different stages of scale-up marketing and what marketing works best for each stage. 

Market entry = brand awareness stage

Initial market entry is an important time for establishing your brand proposition. At this stage of growth, your target audience may be investors, your most accessible sector, or both. 

Either way, they’ve likely never heard of you. So the first step is to build awareness of who you are. This means identifying your compelling niche and the ‘why’ behind what you’re doing. In other words, creating your brand strategy. 

Then, your marketing activity should focus on getting this message out to wider audiences. 

The biggest challenge for founders in this stage is that conversion or lead generation will be low. And this can feel frustrating. Instead, the objective is to build a foundation for future activity. So that when you are ready to run sales campaigns, you’re targeting people who already know you, have hopefully engaged several times, and are ready to be converted. 

Here are some things you should consider to help create your brand strategy: 

  1. Spend time in the research and strategy phase – this will help you build a marketing strategy that is aligned to your audience and your goals for growth. 
  2. Create a compelling and accessible brand – what makes your brand unique and how it’s solving your audience’s problems should be instantly understandable. You need a proposition that is easy to understand, a look that is recognisable, and a brand that sets you apart. Plus, you’ll want to create something that can grow – that won’t become outdated. 
  3. Understand your audience – use your research to create messaging that answers your audience’s needs, challenges or questions. Focus on how you’re solving their issues (not on yourself) and you’ll be much more successful in creating awareness. 
  4. Tell your story – at this stage, you want to make your story known. Marketing your mission, not just your solution, will get more traction when your awareness (and credibility) is still growing.  

Discover 5 key truths about branding and design in our full guide! 

Psst – want to learn how to get started with your marketing plan? Download our free guide to setting marketing objectives that fuel growth in 2024.  

Early growth = the branding building stage 

During a period of early growth, your scale-up marketing strategy should have several streams of activity. You don’t want to abandon the brand awareness work you did when you launched, but you also want to start seeing brand growth with your target markets.  

Focusing on the following elements now also gives you a good foundation from which to scale, quickly. Why? Because you will have earned brand authority and visibility, making lead generation or large campaign efforts much more successful. 

Therefore, this stage of your strategy should show a potential balance of: 

  • Brand marketing  

Brand marketing builds your reputation as an expert or someone to trust. Now people know your story, you want them to see you as someone who can solve their challenges. Insight-led marketing activities like thought leadership help to strengthen your reputation and authority.  

You can also take this opportunity to address specific industries or roles, providing advice you know will help them overcome common challenges. 

  • Buyer marketing  

Once you’ve built up brand awareness, you want to make sure you’re facilitating the stages that come after this. Namely, when someone is browsing your solution, and when someone is in the final throws of making a decision about their purchase.

Creating marketing content that speaks to these different buyer mindsets, and the questions or worries people have at these stages, helps to strengthen individual relationships. It turns people who are ‘aware’ into people who will engage with your brand again and again.

  • Product marketing

Product marketing is an essential component. This means creating those materials that highlight your unique selling points and that your sales team rely on – such as brochures about your technology, emails about product launches, or a pitch deck. On its face, it’s not as personable as some other types of content, but you can still customise these materials to different industry or persona needs.

  • Growth marketing

You may not be operationally ready or have the resources to scale rapidly at this stage, but you still want a consistent stream of new ‘aware’ audiences.

Some simple ways to do this at this stage are through marketing with partners, search-engine optimised content (SEO), or pay-per-click (PPC) ads to target people that might not come across your brand naturally.

Impactful growth = brand acceleration

At this stage, you have a well-known brand and are steadily growing or maintaining your sales. But now you have bigger ambitions. Some objectives you have at this stage may include:

  • Fast or global growth
  • Breaking into new markets
  • Expanding your audiences
  • Launching new products
  • Pivoting your brand proposition
  • Targeting high-value prospects

Growth campaigns

This is when you can look at large, integrated campaigns geared towards a single goal. This involves creating much more targeted marketing materials, including creating a specific audience and more personalised messaging

YOU MAY LIKE: Marketing campaigns for global growth

It also means creating much more marketing content than you might for regular activity. For example, one campaign should have a ready-to-go workflow that address all relevant personas and all buyer stages in order to convert customers.

Backed by the power of brand recognition, you can quickly gain a pool of new prospects to overfill your funnel and, using your brand building content, start nurturing these people towards the decision stage.

Learn more: Discover how we empowered DataShapa to grow and scale in competitive markets

Sustainable scale-up marketing

Just like a good workout plan, you need your approach to be sustainable or else you’ll backslide on all your results. For marketing, this means creating a brand and marketing strategy which you can run consistently, with authenticity, and from an informed point of view.

Firstly, this means you can’t abandon awareness or brand building once you enter the growth stage. This is what maintains your reputation and helps fill your marketing funnel.

Secondly, things should evolve as your business changes. If this doesn’t happen, then it’s likely you’ll see your growth stagnate also.

Some questions to consider to make sure that your marketing remains sustainable:

  • Have your goals and objectives changed? If so, how does your marketing need to change?
  • Do you have the resource to deliver your marketing plan? Have you allocated resources responsibly to ensure continual marketing delivery?
  • How are you regularly assessing the quality of your leads?
  • How is your marketing activity informed by changes in the market and industry trends?

Let’s kickstart your scale-up marketing journey

At EV, we’re here to help create long-term marketing strategies designed to achieve reliable results, no matter your growth stage.

To learn more about how our wide range of services can help improve your brand awareness, market position, and conversion rate, why not get in touch for a free discovery call?