Three Secret Marketing Strategies For SMEs/Start-ups that MNCs Are Not Telling You About

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Home > Articles > Three Secret Marketing Strategies For SMEs/Start-ups that MNCs Are Not Telling You About

 Three Secret Marketing Strategies For SMEs/Start-ups that MNCs Are Not Telling You About

Sally Yeo | Today's Manager
September 1, 2018

How do the Davids beat out the Goliaths in the oversaturated advertising sphere? Here are three advertising strategies that are usually only privy to big corporations.

Small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are like the awkward little siblings in the wake of high-flying multinational corporations (MNCs), clamouring after the same levels of breakthrough success and brand legitimacy. While the big players are churning out successful marketing campaigns 1, the little guys are left in the dust without big budgets, and dedicated creative or marketing expertise.

The annual WARC 100 study outlines the top 10 advertisers n the world, which continues to be dominated in 2017 by huge brands, such as McDonald’s, Dove, Mastercard, and Heineken. So how do the Davids start to beat out the Goliaths in the oversaturated advertising sphere? By exploring these slick advertising strategies that are usually only privy to huge corporations:

1. Public Relations (PR)
Mr Bill Gates famously said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.” The problem is, nobody actually understands what PR professionals do, because the PR industry does a terrible job of PR for themselves. To the layman, the term public relations is often used interchangeably with marketing and advertising. But for SMEs and start-ups, a well-executed PR strategy to hit all the right local and regional press cove-rage could improve brand reputation and further firm legitimacy by leaps and bounds.

According to Landor Associates, 45 per cent of a brand’s image can be attributed to what it says and how it says it. Furthermore, 75 per cent of consumers cite brand awareness as a major influencing factor in making their buying decision, and consistent brands are worth 20 per cent more than those who are not consistent. Media validation goes a long way to signal credibility, which is an essential first step for brand-building.

2. Influencer Marketing
It would be prudent to clarify that tempting a bunch of Instagrammers with free products is not influencer marketing. We are talking about an extensive strategic plan, with clear performance indicators, measured returns, and creative direction. After Fyre Festival’s 2 epic crash-and-burn with mega influencers, the big names are taking care to tread lightly in this area.

Taking notes from the most successful influencer marketing campaigns, brands tend to go in one of three directions: quality, quantity, or both. Quality comes in the form of very specific, exclusive creative campaigns with only the top influencers—usually employed by luxury brands, like Chanel’s US$1.2million contract with digital darling Ms Nicole Warne. Quantity is best illustrated by viral online fashion retailer, Fashion Nova, which employs over 3,000 social media influencers 3, from micro-influencers with mere thousands in their reach to the Kardashian klan.

Seventy per cent of teenage YouTube subscribers trust influencer opinions over traditional celebrities, according to Think with Google. Clearly, the power of influencers is not to be discounted. However, small businesses must learn how to harness this potential effectively with a clear strategy and sufficient research or hire agencies that can.

3. Facebook Advertising
Ninety-five per cent of social media marketers say that Facebook gave them the best return of investment out of all the social platforms. With more than 1.5 billion monthly users, that is not surprising. However, what most small business owners are unaware of is that advertising on Facebook is an art of its own. Targeting is the holy grail of Facebook advertising, beyond just blindly boosting posts. According to Weebly, 62 per cent of small business owners complain that their paid ads on Facebook are not seeing returns because most of them fail to narrow down their target audience effectively on their ad campaigns.

From setting up a campaign to tracking results, Facebook delivers a very user-friendly and customisable campaign platform that works for the needs and nuances of smaller firms in different industries. Businesses can also gain insight about their current and potential customers through Facebook, which allows them to improve their ad targeting for a more effective advertising experience and more bang for your advertising buck!

1 Carr EH, 25 April 2017. Coca-Cola Ups Its Personalization Game with 2017 ‘Share a Coke’ Campaign,

2 Burrough B, August 2017. Fyre Festival: Anatomy of a Millennial Marketing Fiasco Waiting to Happen,

3 Mercer A, 30 January 2017. How Celebrities Helped Fashion Nova Take Over Your Instagram Feed,



Ms Sally Yeo is a public relations consultant and pioneer team member at Prospr Communications, Singapore’s largest and fastest growing SME PR agency. She is also a multimedia content creator and key opinion leader, managing a lifestyle platform with over 100,000 followers across Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Prior to her PR career, Ms Yeo brings to the table over five years of events, corporate training, and marketing experience from various firms, which has shaped her professional expertise in social media consulting.


Copyright © 2018 Singapore Institute of Management

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Today's Manager Issue 3, 2018

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