Disruptive brands are bold, innovative and known for their ability to identify gaps in the market left by larger organisations. 

For example, when we think of marketing, we might imagine social media, pay per click, print advertising and TV. But as the disruptors find themselves offering products and services that haven’t previously existed, they are also being disruptive in their approach to marketing. 

In Marketing Week’s latest set of video interviews with some of the disruptors featured in the 100 Disruptive Brands initiative, which we were so proud to be involved with, six leaders explain how they overcome the challenges of marketing to customers in uncharted territory.  

If you missed any of the previous videos, you can catch them all here: 

Skip the early stages 

Justin Basini, co-founder and CEO of ClearScore, suggests two methods for getting a disruptive brand up to scale: 

  1. Building a business slowly through organic growth. 
  2. Investing money to drive growth as quickly as possible. 

Basini chose the latter and by exposing his brand to people through the power of TV advertising, he was able to skip the initial slow stages of growth.  

 “We didn’t do any of the normal start-up marketing that you might expect: Facebook, PPC, Google. We went straight onto TV and the reason we could do that was we had a bunch of people around the table […] and we had raised enough money to go into the market hard.” – Justin Basini, co-founder and CEO of ClearScore

Start a two-way conversation 

A disruptive approach to business requires a disruptive approach to marketing. It’s challenging to market something that has never been done before, but this is the situation many disruptors face once they have identified a gap in the market. 

Kirsty Emery, co-founder of made-to-order knitwear company Unmade, explains the close one-to-one connection required with customers in her business prompted her to develop new ways of marketing.  

 “Because Unmade has quite a different product that we’re giving to customers, we have to have a slightly different approach to marketing and brand building. Because the customer is involved in every single area […] we have to be able to talk to them and show them how to go along this process.” – Kirsty Emery, co-founder of Unmade

Build customers’ understanding  

Evolving technology brings all kinds of opportunities to disrupt a market, but we also need to consider how customers will understand and interact with it. 

Andy Hobsbawm, founder and CMO of IoT smart products platform Evrythng, describes how their approach to marketing is shaped by the market itself – one that’s continually evolving as customers adapt to new technology. 

 “People’s understanding of the internet of things and the possibilities of smart products and smart packaging is really changing all the time. Part of what we do is I think rooted in a lot of education.” – Andy Hobsbawm, co-founder and CMO of Evrythng

Track what’s valuable – and refine

If disruptors are to stand a fighting chance against larger, more established brands, they need some powerful insights. 

Stephen Rapoport, founder of online coffee merchants Pact, describes his company as ‘a speck of dust’ compared to the major coffee brands in terms of size, budget and resource. But if he invests in a particular marking channel, Stephen knows exactly what kind of revenues this will generate over the next few years. This gives him the power to tightly engineer spending. 

We can make trading decisions almost in real-time about where our next marketing pound is spent and know that we can optimise for whatever it is we need to optimise for at that moment in time, whether it’s payback, ROI, topline growth. That’s incredibly powerful.“ – Stephen Rapoport, founder of Pact

The closer the customer, the bigger the edge

Disruptive brands exist because they have listened to what customers want. As a result they put customers at the forefront of everything they do. 

Getting closer to the people who buy their products is critical to developing and maintaining loyalty. Marketing to customers who want information on their own terms, whenever they want it, is a significant challenge. 

While many disruptors will have developed their own methods of marketing to fit their particular brand and audience, they are united in one objective: providing customers with a product or service they never knew they needed, but will soon learn to love. 

Download a copy of the Small Business, Big Impact e-book for inspiration and advice to help you develop and grow your own idea for a disruptive business – you could be one of Marketing Week’s 100 Disruptive Brands in 2017!