Thursday, February 4, 2016

Top 7 Startup Marketing Mistakes


When starting your own business, especially the first one, there’s definitely a learning curve. As an entrepreneur, you have so many things on your plate you have to deal with for the first time, that it is inevitable that you will make mistakes.
Also, marketing is usually not a founder’s specialty, and that’s why we tend to see many startups making the same avoidable mistakes.
Here are the top 7 startups marketing mistakes and how to avoid them:
  1. Not identifying your target audience  – Some startups fear of “missing opportunities” and decide to cast a wide marketing net. But, one of the staples of marketing is targeting, and if your message is vague and unclear, it will not be effective. Before launching any marketing campaign, stop and strategize. Who is your target audience? For example, if you have a solution for enterprises in the financial sector, you need to understand WHO in those enterprises you are selling to. Is your product a solution for IT executives, CMOs or CFOs? Each role has a complete different set of priorities and responsibilities, and the success of your product is very much dependant on identifying your exact target audience.
  2. Failing to check marketing results –  Marketing is a continuous process and is not a set and forget one. In order to understand if your marketing efforts bear fruit, you need to setup the necessary analytics tools and check your results on an on-going basis. Tracking everything, including the amounts you spend on each channel and how much traction you receive, is crucial for understanding marketing results. Without tracking, you will not be able to calculate your ROI and will not have the sufficient information needed to make improvements in your activities.
  3. Spending too much money too soon – This is actually a common mistake that startups make on all fronts. According to CB Insights, among the 20 primary reasons causing startups to fail, the #2 is running out of cash (the #1 result for failing is that there’s no market for the product). Unlike the option of hiring a programmer for a low salary but a large chunk of options, you can’t pay Google for AdWords in shares. But, there are ways to launch and grow your startup with no or minimal budget. Before jumping to marketing tactics and spending a lot of money on buying media, spend time in analyzing and figuring out what is important to do now for your marketing, and how much – if at all – will it cost.
  4. Failing to check on competition – Few are the companies that don’t have any competitors. Even if you think that’s the case, map the closest ones to you as your company cannot operate in a closed-off bubble. Follow your competitors’ social media accounts, create alerts on their brand name so you are always on top of things. We all know that users are comparing when shopping, especially in the early stages of the purchase cycle. The purchase will probably not happen once they first visit your site and chances are they will look at competitors to compare. Don’t mimic what your competitors do but rather, add reviews and posts to your website that compare you and the competitors. Adding such a comparison page has also side benefits, including increased SEO for your site.
  5. Expecting immediate results Marketing takes time, and it is very much dependant on the market (if it’s educated or not), type of product (quick online purchase or a slower buying process) and clients (individuals vs. SMBs vs. enterprises). If you have a B2C product and run a Facebook campaign, it’s OK to expect fast results. If you, however, have a B2B product and run a LinkedIn campaign – you have to chill. The campaign can provide you valuable leads, even in the form of a comment from a potential client to a promoted post. But don’t expect immediate results as the buying process itself takes time. In addition, most marketing budgets, especially ones that involve building online presence and SEO, require months of efforts before you can see results. SEO is not exact science but estimation is that it can take a brand name up to a month to rank on top 3 results and a niche keyword up to a year to rank.
  6. You keep recycling – One aspect of marketing is content and for it to be effective, it has to be good quality one. Recycling content is OK, to a point. Even if you don’t have any news or product launches, you need to be innovative and come up with new angles and stories to existing ones. If you published a press release about new data your company found, you cannot re-publish the same data as ‘new findings’ 6 months from the date of the original release. You can follow up with new information, mention the initial release, but to showcase the data as new or even – gasp – copy and paste from the first release, is not effective at all and can also paint your company as untrustworthy.  
  7. Lastly – not investing at all in marketing – This can be one of your biggest marketing mistakes. Investing in your marketing does not necessarily mean putting aside a hefty marketing budget, but rather investingthought into it. Running forward with your company’s roadmap while leaving marketing activities behind can be a crucial mistake as marketing defines the positioning of your company in its market, your brand and the packaging of the product you are selling. As budgets are often tight in startups, marketing can be viewed as a frivolous expense. But, it can be done for a minimal budget and if you keep an eye on results and make sure to shift efforts towards the positive ROI channels, any funds you invest will come back, with an interest.

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