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What Are the Most Common Startup Marketing Mistakes?

by Oren Greenberg on

To really crack the market and disrupt the establishment, a startup must embrace investments for marketing. Without this, any new venture will be left out in the cold. However, marketing can be inefficient and a waste of budget if not planned and executed properly.

This article is a breakdown of the major common issues that contribute to failed marketing campaigns. It also features some useful advice on how to resolve them (ideally you want to be avoiding them altogether).

Not knowing your market

You need to know the market you’re pitching to, you need to know the consumer you want to attract, you need to know everything about how your product is going to change the way your consumer goes about their day. If you don’t understand how a customer thinks then you will never be able to align your product or service with their hopes, wishes, and dreams. Above all, it’s about understanding how you can best communicate with a target audience.

An inconsistent marketing strategy

Behind any successful startup, there will be a comprehensive and coherent marketing and public relations strategy. A mixture of channels will reap rewards, but only if they’re working towards a common goal and echoing a universal brand message. Utilise journalists and influencers, popular websites, social media, industry showcases, and conventional media to gain the attention of your audience, and combine this with a slick user journey to maximise the conversion of your website visitors.  

Missing the boat

A great idea can fade with time. Bandwagons can be profitable but only if you strike whilst the iron is hot. Your timing for a launch is integral to the success of your product or service.

If striking early means rushing a product through to market before it’s ready, this could prove very detrimental to your success. Plan accordingly if these risks are pertinent. If your customer service system isn’t optimised, a poor reputation will soon follow.

Alternatively, being slow on the update means that you miss the boat. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries, but be responsible. Being disruptive means living on the edge. Like a great joke, it’s about timing and execution.

Lack of quality control

If you’re not 100% confident about marketing communications being released into the open world, always hold back. Small mistakes add up to the overall perception of your brand. Spelling and grammar is essential, as is a healthy website code base. Content should be optimised for the reader’s device, and should perform as expected.

Trust in a brand will build from the tiny details, and regular gremlins will not see your startup emerge as a contender in the marketplace. Quality is everything, and this can be achieved with stringent quality control processes.

No vision

A clear picture of progress is paramount to success. By setting measurable goals, one can feel rewarded by meeting them, personally and professionally. This should be communicated to the wider team to encourage buy-in on company ethos and ideology. A shared ambition will see your whole organisation pull together.

A vision breeds a strong identity and company culture, which in itself is a highly marketable aspect of your brand.

Niche too narrow

It’s great to have a niche, but there are limits to niche feasibility by going too granular. If you’re only appealing to single men between the ages of 33 and 36, with names that rhyme with orange, that’s a bit too narrow a market! Conduct thorough market research, including competitor and audience analysis.

Again, this is about understanding your audience and the market in which you’ll operate.

Narrow horizons

You need to plan ahead for rapid expansion, and expect the fast-growth that effective marketing is designed to bring. This means preparing for virality, and ensuring your systems are able to support a huge influx of leads, customers, or subscribers. A huge increase in demand should be the kickoff, not the death knell.

Inefficient budget control

This is one of the most important points. It’s easy to lose sight of affordability when you’re consumed by project work and managing a startup at the same time. It’s important to be honest and responsible with budget, and split it in a sensible way between channels that will offer genuine ROI.

Budget planning must be meticulous, but also open to flexibility if some marketing channels don’t provide the return that one expects during strategic preparations. Budget should also be set in the context of the wider business needs, such as HR, business systems, and other overheads. For funded startups, the allocated marketing budget should be very clear.

The wrong investors

Most startups require the help of committed investors to catalyse their growth. Securing this financial footing is essential in building a sustainable enterprise at a fast pace.

Investors should share a passion for the aims of the business, whilst allowing directors and senior managers to get on with the job in hand. In most cases, investors reflect the ethics of the startup, understand the market, and can offer some influence from their experience and industry contacts. Due diligence is key here, as you don’t want discover later that the funds invested are from questionable sources.

Poor resourcing

Everyone within the organisation should share in the vision, and represent the startup in a credible light. To nurture passion and belief in the project, be open about rewards and challenges, and educate your team about the inner workings of the business. Empower people to make decisions, and support them when they’re having difficulties.

Skills can be taught, but enthusiasm comes naturally. Finding the right balance between the two is essential for building a strong team, and one that can deliver success and growth.