Marketing for scaleups: Perfecting your message

What happens to your marketing when you’re no longer a startup? New goals and a bigger team demand a fresh strategy. Here’s how to do it.

Graph showing rising arrrow on a 'blue sky' background with clouds

Rory Stobo, Chief Copywriter at Sookio, writes:

Mid-sized businesses, scale-ups, the middle market. Call them what you like, organisations of this size are the true blast furnace of the UK economy. Despite only making up around 1.4% of our businesses, they account for:

· 10.9 million employees, 36.4% of the workforce

· £1.7 trillion in revenue, 32.3% of economic income

That’s… huge. So why don’t we hear more about them? We’re quick to lionise our Unilevers and GlaxoSmithKlines, while the fetishistic mythos surrounding startups speaks for itself. How come the economy’s middle children are getting lost in the shuffle?

Well, there are probably a lot of reasons, but it doesn’t need to happen to you. Today we’re talking about turning growing pains into golden opportunities when you’re no longer a startup, but not yet an industry giant.

Get your house in order

In terms of messaging and marketing, the first thing to change when you graduate from startuphood is dead easy: change everything.

The game has changed from those early years. You’re no longer fighting for sheer survival, your goals have shifted to sustainable growth, maybe even exit. For that to happen, you need to demonstrate the kind of tight ship you’re running.

Before you change so much as a comma on your customer-facing marketing, take a great big hatchet to your internal comms. How are you onboarding new staff? Does the information and training you provide properly reflect your new goals?

Think about moving your orientation process to video. When you move from 10 employees to 20, then from 20 to 40, you no longer have a business; you have a culture. Properly done, video allows you to define what this culture looks, sounds, and feels like. You retain control of the vision without having to micromanage an unrealistic number of people.

Scaling up is risky business

Mid-sized businesses might have lost some of the hunger and dynamism they enjoyed in their salad days. But ya know what makes up for that?


You’re likely to have more investment by this point, so level up your definition of a reasonable marketing spend. That can be a tough conversation, but it’s essential because you now find yourself competing pound for pound with big incumbents.

As businesses mature, they tend to lose their appetite for risk. That’s fine, but be prepared to spend more on risk-averse marketing to make up for the fact that it’s generally a bit naff.

A better approach, surely, is to retain the do-or-die bravado that got you this far. Use an increased budget to amplify those results before you get bogged down in the layers of bureaucracy which your new competition has to deal with.


Read more on the Sookio blog.


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