In the growing stages of a start-up, marketing is important. It’s not as much as turning profit. It’s about establishing a brand. But how can you stand out when the ease of online purchasing has opened the doors for more competition?

Here are some clever marketing tips for small businesses from top brands:

Show, don’t tell
Unlike other search engines, Google only features a search box. There are no news articles, weather forecasts, and other trends on its homepage.

It’s easy to use and shows what the website can do. More importantly, it subtly implies that they are good at one thing. If that’s the case, users would end up thinking that they must be an expert at it. As a result, Google became the go-to search engine, even replacing the word “search” in the internet.

The best way to make people do something is to convince them that it’s their idea.

Emotional attachment
Nike doesn’t explicitly tell consumers to buy their shoes in ads. They associate with great athletes. One of the ads that have struck a chord is a commercial of an overweight boy jogging in the middle of the road, while a voice over explains what greatness means.

While having great athletes wearing Nike shoes makes for attention-grabbing marketing, no one looks at the camera and tells the viewers to buy shoes. Like the commercial of the overweight jogger, the main message here is the potential for greatness.

Coca-Cola has been doing the same concept but they use the word “happiness”, to associate their product with an emotion.

The best way to make people remember a product is to associate it with a strong message.

Process Innovation
Zara doesn’t spend money on ads and flashy campaigns. Even its founder doesn’t give interviews. The retailer uses a unique process to sell their clothes.

Its parent company, Inditex, manufactures clothes in their factories that are close to the company headquarters. A few pieces from a collection are shipped to a store. The sales staff closely draws out and monitors customer feedback. The managers relay this message to the headquarters, and in-house designers develop new designs and send them to factories.

As a result, the production process takes only two to three weeks. With a few leftover stocks, the clothes are cleared quickly. Customers buy on impulse because the prices are low and the entire stock will change in 11 days. The only marketing that Zara does is real estate. They invest in the location of its shops.

By running an efficient and well-oiled process, customer satisfaction becomes the marketing tool.