19 High-Growth Tactics for Low Budgets

“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”

— John F. Kennedy, 35th president of the United States of America


Many small companies copy bigger companies. They see what strategies and tactics they’re applying and copy them. They assume because they’re bigger; they’re better. They call this following best practice.

But as Kennedy recognised; conformity is the enemy of growth. If you’re a small company, you can’t out compete a big company using the same approach. What works for them, won’t necessarily work for you. Plus, big companies can outspend you. They don’t need creativity.


When John F. Kennedy was a senator, his political ideals were opposed by senators with deeper pockets and more powerful allies. If Kennedy ever hoped to gain the presidency, he knew he couldn’t follow the normal political playbook. So he didn’t.


To stand out amongst the pack of democratic senators, Kennedy wrote a book called Profiles in Courage—a compilation of 8 acts of bravery from senators throughout the United State’s history. It won a Pulitzer prize and gave Kennedy a credibility that pushed him towards the presidency.


Like Kennedy, small companies must focus on their advantages—what they can do that bigger companies cannot. Smaller companies can be more flexible and their low budgets force them to find innovative solutions.


These 19 high-growth tactics are ideal for companies with low budgets—they’re innovative solutions. We look at examples from Airbnb, Instagram, Dropbox and others.


1. The ‘Watch the Chef Cooking’ Growth Tactic

Many restaurants have windows that allow you to watch the chefs preparing your food. You trust the food’s quality when you see it being made.


Traditionally, Public Relations has been about hiding the truth and lying by omission. This has paved the way for the truth speakers. Being honest about your shortcomings, difficulties and weaknesses builds trust. Promoting your vulnerabilities gives you more credibility when you then promote a strength.  If you admit you’re weak at X and Y, people are more likely to believe you when you say you’re great at Z.


For example, the clothing company Patagonia has videos which show the entire supply chain for how their products are made.


An added benefit of transparency is that public scrutiny ensures we maintain the highest ethical standards.


2. The ‘Momentum of Yes’ Growth Tactic

When you earn an online sale, ask your customer a question; On a scale of 1-10, how likely would you be to recommend my product to a colleague?


Then ask a follow-up; Why did you give us that score?


If they give you a high score, say 8 or above, then have an automated email sent to them. Thank them for the score, ask if you can use it as a review, or link them to another review page.


Because they’ve done one favour for you, they’re more likely to do another and leave a review.


3. The ‘Heat Map’ Growth Tactic

Tools like CrazyEgg, SessionCam and ClickTale can show you where users are spending the most time on your website page. You can even see actual heat maps. Are they reading one section of your website and ignoring another? By tracking user behaviour you can create an experience catered to their needs.


4. The ‘Digging for Data’ Growth Tactic

Data about your website or blog can reveal insights you never even knew could exist—like a paleontologist digging up a new species of dinosaur. You can be shocked by your site’s shares on social media, most popular links and pages.


Here’s the how to; download Import.io and extract data from your website, then use SharedCount to see how many social shares your posts earned.


5. The ‘Tailored Communications’ Growth Tactic

Users on your site have different needs and they are at different stages in the buying process. Vero is a tool that allows you to send different emails to your leads, depending on where they clicked on your site.


6. The ‘Social Tribe’ Growth Tactic

The internet allows people who live across the globe to connect. As a result, niche tribes form on social channels. There may only be 1,200 people in the world who care about the shoes worn in ancient Egypt, but they can form an online tribe.


Whatever niche your product fits, there is a group on social media who would love to hear about it. Let them know. Whether on Facebook, Reddit, Quora; get involved in your niche community. Make your product part of the conversation.  


7. The ‘Be The News’ Growth Tactic

Journalists are searching for sources—people and businesses to write about. They have an idea to write about but need somebody to add colour to the story. Be the colour. Sites like SourceBottle and Help A Reporter Out (HARO) help you connect with journalists who’re looking to write a story relevant to your industry.


8. The ‘Personal Growth’ Tactic

Grow your customer base one-by-one. Forget mass marketing and talk to real people. Pick up the phone, attend a conference, send a personalised email.  Build real connections as they’ll become real fans who share your product with their friends. Start small to finish big.


9. The ‘Bribery Growth’ Tactic

Okay, it’s not really bribery. Let’s call it incentivising. When somebody signs up to your blog, email list or service you can infiltrate their social network. Offer them a bonus or discount if they share your product with their friends on a social network. That way you are getting exposure to potential new users from a trusted source. It embeds social-proof and exposure into your sign-up stage.


Dropbox recognised the effectiveness of incentivising customers. But they also recognised they would benefit by incentivising both the person who refers their friends and those friends that sign up. Dropbox, a cloud storage platform, offered extra storage space to both the user and their friend. As a result, their sign-ups increased by 60%.


If you use WordPress, you can take advantage plugins from Viral Sign Ups and KickoffLabs.


10. The ‘Social Setting’ Growth Tactic

Customers are more likely to stick with your brand when they’re engaged. But there is only so much one-on-one time you can give and only so much material you can create. Leverage your customers interest by creating a setting where your customers can interact with other customers.


For example, Unbounce, a landing page optimisation application, created a platform where marketers can post and respond to questions, ideas and problems.


11. The ‘Make Them Feel Comfortable’ Growth Tactic

When you build up an email list by providing great, free information, people are not expecting to be sold to. And they often resent it when they expect a useful email and get a sales pitch instead.


To counter this, you can use your email database in a different way. Use the emails to target the same people with ads on social media. For example, if you have the email address, customer@yourcompany.com, you can submit that to Facebook. If there is a user who signed up to Facebook with that email address you can advertise specifically to them.


That way, they are being sold to on a platform they are expecting to be sold on. Furthermore, once they become comfortable with the idea you have something to offer, they will be more accepting of your email promoting a product.


You can tailor your advertising to your audience on both Facebook and Twitter.


12. The ‘Bloodhound Growth’ Tactic

Your customers are spending time on the web—you just don’t know where to find them. Colibri IO is a tool that helps you find where your customers are hiding. Whether they’re communicating on websites or social media, you can embed yourself into their conversations.


13. The ‘Pay for Play’ Growth Tactic

If you have something your customers value, such as an eBook, videos, content or a free trial, instead of making them pay cash for it, make them pay by advertising your product to their network.


Pay With A Tweet is a tool that only lets people download your offering once they’ve shared it on their social network. It works on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.


14. The ‘Highlighter’ Growth Tactic

Imagine if a reader on your website could highlight a sentence and immediately tweet it. Well, they can. The tool Twilighter allows your best ideas and thoughts to be shared among browsers social networks—helping spread your product.  


15. The ‘Capture Attention’ Growth Tactic

When you have someone interested on your site you want to do more than provide value. You want to drive action. Hello Bar allows you to drive action with a call-to-action button at the top of your site. Another tool to try is ListBuilder, which collects email addresses on your site.


It’s a great way to collect email addresses, get likes on social media or point them to a sales page.


16. The ‘Competitor Analysis’ Growth Tactic

It’s likely your competitor is doing something right. You can find out exactly what they’re doing well so you can implement it yourself. Does their website traffic spike when they update their Twitter? Are their emails getting click-throughs? Do they convert better than you?


Some tools to help you analyse your competitor are; Google Advanced Search Operators, SimilarWeb, Email Insights and MOAT.


17. The ‘Fix the Core Problem’ Growth Tactic

No matter how good your marketing is, it can never make up for an average product. And the best marketing is a great product.


So if you’re not getting the traction you’re looking for, test iterations on your product. Before you invest more resources marketing a product that won’t sell, ensure the product is great.


18. The ‘Like for a Like’ Growth Tactic

When you smile at a stranger on the street usually they smile back. Social media and blogging are no different. If you help someone else, they are more likely to help you.


Austin Allred who co-founded the news site Grasswire, amassed 10,000 Instagram followers. He searched for a hashtag he was targeting, then followed the users who used it and liked their three most recent photos. They responded by following him back.


19. The ‘Perfectionist’ Growth Tactic

A/B testing does what you’d imagine. You create two versions of a page on your website, then show them to users and see which performs better. You keep the page that performs better and then run another test. This cycle continues as you push closer and closer towards perfection.


Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer are A/B testing tools you can try.



During WWII, John F. Kennedy commanded a Patrol Torpedo Craft. On August 2, 1943, he launched a torpedo attack on several Japanese Destroyers. But the torpedos were unreliable and did little damage. Later that night, Kennedy’s Patrol Craft was slammed by a much larger Japanese Destroyer. It split the smaller American vessel in half. Two of J.F.K.’s crew were killed.


A few months later, J.F.K. requested another Patrol Craft. He removed the torpedos and replaced them with two 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns.


These guns proved invaluable when 50 marines were being overrun by a Japanese force on a beachhead of Choiseul Island. Kennedy and his crew roared in providing heavy suppressing fire. The marines climbed aboard J.F.K’s Patrol Craft and escaped.


From Kennedy’s example we can learn to revise our tactics when they don’t work. Kennedy realised the torpedoes were ineffective and replaced them with anti-aircraft guns—allowing him to rescue the marines. So when you try one of these high-growth tactics and it fails, do not be disheartened. Analyse why it failed and then choose and apply a more suitable tactic.