5 Ways Startups Can Drive Massive Organic Growth

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Jennifer Bergen


As a startup, it’s often tempting to look at the established giants in your niche and believe you have no chance of beating them. However, an informed and savvy underdog can defeat a perceived champion.


How? By achieving organic growth.

Deloitte calls organic growth the “lifeblood of organizations.” It’s vital for your success. This post explores the intricacies of organic growth. In this post, you’ll learn the benefits of an organic growth strategy and five strategies for achieving organic growth.

What is organic growth?

Organic Growth vs. Inorganic Growth

Advantages and Disadvantages of an Organic Growth Strategy

5 Strategies for Organic Growth

what is organic growth, organic growth, organic growth illustration

Organic growth generally achieves a higher rate of return for companies but takes longer to achieve. That’s because organic growth requires collaboration. The process involves upfront marketing, sales, and customer service investments.

Organic Growth vs. Inorganic Growth

Organic growth is achieved by the company’s internal resources. For example, your marketing team may write an ebook of case studies from past customers. They then host the ebook behind a lead generation form. The prospects and conversations from this ebook helped your company grow organically.

Inorganic growth, on the other hand, is achieved through using external resources. That includes mergers, acquisitions, and rounds of funding. Meta’s acquisition of Instagram ($1 billion) and WhatsApp ($22 billion) is an example of acquisitions that drove inorganic growth. On a marketing level, inorganic growth could mean spending money on paid media, like search ads.

Here’s a quick video to explain the difference between organic and inorganic growth.

Advantages and Disadvantages of an Organic Growth Strategy

Successful businesses rely on a combination of inorganic and organic growth. See the advantages and disadvantages of organic growth strategies below. This will help your team determine how organic growth plays can help achieve your goals.

Advantages of Organic Growth

  1. Easier to sustain since you’re relying on internal resources and personnel
  2. Less risky than mergers and acquisitions
  3. Relies on self-sufficiency and avoids taking on debt, and is relatively inexpensive compared to mergers and acquisitions
  4. Increased revenue from organic growth can help fund more strategic growth methods later.
  5. Frequently generates more value than inorganic growth
  6. More adaptable since you are working with internal parties and can pivot when needed
  7. According to Deloitte, “a company focused on organic growth sends powerful signals to investors and talent alike about its health, its ability to innovate, and its potential future performance.”

Disadvantages of Organic Growth

  1. The most obvious (and unavoidable) downside to organic growth is that it’s slow-going. Relying on internal resources and personnel limits how much you can do, and it can be slow to see results. (Let’s not forget that slow and steady often wins the race. When Citi CEO Jane Fraser announced the company’s organic growth strategy to investors, she was transparent and realistic that it would take a few years but would be worth it in the long run.)
  2. Competitors can use inorganic strategies to merge or acquire companies that were once competitors.
  3. Deloitte points out that companies “often have hidden blind spots around where and how to look for [organic] growth opportunities and select the best ones...leaving value on the table.”

Although this isn’t an exhaustive list, the benefits outnumber the drawbacks. It’s important to consider both when building a strategy for organic business growth.

5 Strategies for Organic Growth

Achieving organic growth isn’t an exact science. There are multiple organic growth strategies to try, and what works for one company may not work for another.

1. Invest in a long-term content creation strategy.

There are no shortcuts to achieving organic growth, and you need to remember that going in. Successful businesses of any size play the long game, understanding that organic growth and profit take time.

In 2022, inbound and content marketing are fantastic strategies that get results. That said, only 40% of marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. This is an opportunity for you to have a better, more focused content strategy than the next person.

organic growth, organic growth strategy, content marketing strategy

Image Source


While these stats help show the power of content marketing, you can't compete with the giants with just one or two blog posts. To optimize for growth, build your strategy around pillar and cluster content for better SEO, user navigation, backlinks, and more.

Pillar Content

A pillar page covers all aspects of a topic on a single page that links to more blog posts that explain the topic in depth. “Pillar pages broadly cover a particular topic, and cluster content should address a specific keyword related to that topic in-depth,” writes former HubSpot marketer Sophia Bernazzani.

A pillar page or piece/a> offers a comprehensive guide, post, or ebook on a broad topic. It's a subject that could be broken down into many smaller pieces, like content marketing, Facebook Ads, or how to build brand loyalty.

organic growth, organic growth strategy, topic clusters, pillar content

Both search engines and visitors love pillar pages and cluster content because it's easier to understand a subject and find additional resources. That's a major win for you.

Better, more convenient, and detailed content means more shares, links, and organic growth. Include a variety of topics and formats to keep your audience from getting bored. That can include blog posts, videos, podcasts, animated presentations, ebooks, images, charts, webinars, infographics, and more.

Build your content strategy around pillars and clusters from day one, and you're primed to drive massive organic growth. None of this is fast or easy, but you get what you put in. Successful startups aren't afraid of hard work.

Pro tip: Use detailed buyer personas to build your pillar pages. This can help you deliver the content your customers and prospects want to the places they spend their time online.

2. Experiment with emerging trends and strategies to beat established competitors.

Don't be intimidated by your larger competitors. They may have an existing audience and catalog, but their success can sometimes work against them. Maybe they've grown complacent or no longer put a premium on growth. Maybe retention is not their strong suit.

This creates an opportunity for your team.

As a startup, you can't outspend them, but you can out-hustle them. You can innovate, experiment, and think outside the box in a way that may either be impossible or ridiculously slow to implement for them.

Create better content. Visit the blogs of the biggest businesses in your niche, and you'll likely see the same subjects, topics, categories, and even headlines. This copycat content is safe but boring. Find ways to be different.

An online search query or a tool like BuzzSumo can instantly show you what works. Once you’ve identified that, improve upon it and expand.

Diversify your production beyond just written content (blogs, ebooks, articles). In 2022, B2B marketers expect their organizations to invest in videos (69%), events (61%), owned-media assets (57%), and paid media (55%) in 2022.

Cultivate your reputation as the expert for Topic X. Leads, customers, and fans will eventually come to you as your reputation grows.

Pro tip: Be delightful, engaging, and fresh. You don’t need to start from scratch every time. Take existing content and see how you can repurpose it using new and emerging trends.

3. Build relationships to amplify your content.

Build mutually beneficial relationships with editors and other content creators in your industry and niche. Using the Voila Norbert email-finding tool is a must for building these relationships effectively. Leverage those connections to get your content seen by a far-reaching audience.

This strategy is not a quick fix. But it's perhaps the most powerful way to increase awareness of you and your brand.

Make a list of the movers and shakers in your niche, including individuals, websites, and publications. Those are the big fish. Set that aside for now.

Make another list with the lesser-known creators. Conduct a search query for the keyword or topic of your latest piece, and jot down the names and sites on the SERPs you don't recognize.

Do the same with a service like Social Animal or BuzzStream.

Those are the other small fish hungry to grow their audience, just like you, and they'll be eager to use your content to do so.

Follow and engage with them on social media, comment on their latest blog post, compliment them on a recent achievement, share their best stuff with your audience, or find a broken link on their site and let them know. Establish a connection, and give without asking for anything in return.

Cold email is the best way to automate this outreach, and most providers allow you to personalize at scale. Don't forget to follow up if you don't get a response. And then follow up again. Just make sure to space out your emails.

Once the relationship is underway, link to the person or company in your content, and notify them. They'll likely be happy to share. From there, ask them for a quote, a quick Q&A, a longer interview, or pitch a guest post idea.

Once you've established a network of small and medium-sized fish, you can start reaching out to the big ones from earlier.

Pro tip: Spark Toro Co-founder and CEO Rand Fishkin suggests asking yourself “who will amplify your piece of content and why?Start with the “why,” and that will lead you to the “who.” Create a list of influential people or publications that you can refer to and ultimately ensure your content doesn’t fall flat.

4. Foster a community to fuel organic growth.

There are many benefits of assembling a passionate community behind your brand, but better organic growth is the big one. And as more organizations realize the value of community, the number of companies with dedicated community departments grows, increasing from 15% last year to 22% in 2022. Additionally, 35% of teams have at least one person focused full-time on community operations.

As companies focus more of their resources on community-building, they're also shifting their business objectives. Up from 13% last year, 19% of companies say their top goal for their community is acquisition. The most popular objectives continue to be customer support and success.

organic growth, organic growth business, community-led organic growth, community organic growth

Source: CMX

Notion, the all-in-one collaboration and note-taking tool, is one example of a community-building success story. In 2020, Notion reached 20 million users, with 80% of its site traffic coming through direct search. Notion's impressive organic growth is due in part to the company fostering a knowledge-sharing community and enabling brand ambassadors.

In the video below, Notion Chief Revenue Officer Olivia Nottebohm shares her learnings on organic growth at scale-ups and the community's role in it. The entire conversation is worth a watch, but the key takeaways include:

  1. Prioritize your community at a strategic level and hire accordingly.
  2. Start small and listen. Notion started its ambassador community by bringing 10 "very excited people on Twitter" together on Slack and trying to understand what each person was trying to accomplish and what they were excited about with Notion.
  3. Give your community members exclusive access to things standard customers don't have to show your appreciation for them.
  4. Share as many of your community members' stories as possible to drive organic growth.
  5. Gift your product to startups if you're able to. As they grow, there's a good chance they'll become enterprise customers.

What we like: Learn how more brands like Google, Twitch, and Sephora built brand communities – and how you can, too.

5. Use technology to work smarter, not harder.

Find the tips, tools, and services to simplify your organic growth. Yes, to use a buzzword, we’re talking about growth hacking.

As Meredith Hart explains in the Growth Hacking Playbook, growth hacking is “the term used to describe experiments and processes aimed at building and scaling a company’s customer base and revenue through creative, innovative, and low-cost strategies.”

To learn more, read our list of more growth hacking strategies to try.

Make A/B testing and conversion rate optimization part of everything you do: email, content, landing pages, and more. What's not working can usually be fixed. What's already working can be better.

According to Semrush’s 2022 State of Content Marketing report, "quality of content is the primary success factor in organic ranking and in content marketing in general. This is followed by increasing the content output, investing in keyword research, and creating unique and research-driven content."

organic growth, organic growth strategy, organic growth business, organic growth content

Image Source: Semrush

Avoid competing for the highest-volume keywords, and instead focus on the lower-volume — but higher-converting — ones. These long-tail keywords are easier to target and better reveal searcher intent.

What we like: Check out 6 Startup Growth Strategies from a Forbes Top VC below for more organic growth strategies.

Pursuing organic growth can help get your brand in front of the right eyes while establishing your business as an authority in its space. As tough as putting one together might be, a well-constructed organic growth strategy is a massive asset that's turning from a "nice-to-have" to a "need to have" for several companies.

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Topics: Startups

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