5 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid as a Startup

Here are five common pitfalls that a startup might face in its marketing efforts.

Embarking on a startup journey is commendable. So you have a product/service that works as a solution to your customer’s problem. Now you face the question of how to get this out there in the world, making yourself known and attracting your customers. Namely, you have to market your product/service and tap into the demand for the solutions you’re offering to solve. If you’re here, perhaps you’re not sure where to start, not particularly familiar with marketing, or you just want to know some common pitfalls a startup might face in their marketing efforts, and we are here to help.

Here are five common pitfalls that a startup might face in their marketing efforts, so you can learn how to avoid them and be a successful startup:

  1. Not having a marketing plan & strategy
  2. Not knowing your audience & leveraging wrong channels/ too many channels
  3. Disregarding competitor strategies/not understanding your positioning
  4. Not establishing a good online presence: a website
  5. Setting up shop without a follow-up strategy

Not having a marketing plan & strategy

One of the most famous quotes from Benjamin Franklin: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

As a startup, you have to take care of a million different things at once, and things are moving at a fast pace. However, you should have a plan & strategy in place, or you might be running around and not reaching your goals. The fact that you’re here means you are on the right track to having your marketing plan and strategy ready.

Before you double down on marketing, ensure that you are ready to market. What does it mean? It means you have a SMART goal for your marketing plan. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. For example, You plan to sell 1000 units in Q1, you know you’ll be able to track purchases made via various channels by reconciling the purchase thank you page visits and the back-end of your order receipts. Then you’re positive that you can fulfill the demands captured through marketing (i.e. production and distribution capacity).

Depending on your audience, your channel, and your method of sales, there are different things you can track, and you need to ensure that you can track and measure. Otherwise, it will be difficult for you to identify what is working and what is not.

You have to determine what marketing effort you want to focus on because there are many channels you can tap into: organic or paid? Will you be employing content marketing? SEO? Email marketing? Or will you be advertising on Google, Facebook, TikTok? Which will bring us to the next point.

Not knowing your audience & leveraging wrong channels/too many channels.

There are many marketing channels for you to use, but ultimately, you have to know and understand your audience first. Because where your audience is, that’s where you need to be. That’s the channel you need to use. Without understanding the target audience you are directing at, you can easily waste time, effort, and money and end up disappointed with your marketing result because you’re targeting the wrong thing. And no, “everyone who wants x” is not your audience.

You need to define and specify what your ideal customer is like, then do your research. Take a more in-depth look into your target audience’s behavior online, preferences via data that can be retrieved from reliable sources through public analytic report releases or even from surveys done. Then try to map your customers’ journey, identify the touchpoints and interactions, and sieve out the best channels to reach them.

After identifying the touchpoints and marketing channels, it can be overwhelming to do everything at once. Focus on one or two first, make it work, then expand. Trying to leverage too many channels will not only burn your marketing budget fast but will also divide your attention.

Disregarding your competitor’s marketing strategies

This is not simply about disregarding competitor’s marketing strategies but also knowing your brand positioning. As a brand new player in the market, it is paramount to understand what you are up against, as it is good to study what kind of strategies are working for them and learn from it. You want to know what has been working for them, but of course, not just replicate it entirely because you want to differentiate yourself and position yourself strategically.

Perhaps you want to leverage or understand better how you want to communicate to your customers or have a better or unique value proposition that your competitors don’t offer. Find that gap where you can shine to your customers and consistently show your customers your value, which will gain your awareness, trust, and support.

Not establishing a good online presence: A website

In the days and age of informed customers, having an online presence is essential because 53% of consumers do their research online before making a purchase, which is research back in 2018. 

In 2021, the figure has definitely risen, considering with COVID-19, digital adoption has accelerated, and more people shopped online. Having an online presence when someone looks for you or a similar business/product to yours is essential because it’s how your customers find you. Of course, sometimes you can get away with just having a social media presence, but having a website is also essential because it acts as a storefront. If users cannot find your website, it is much easier for you to lose your business’s presence. 

You might want to consider establishing a website before you scale further. You have to ensure that it’s user-friendly, loads fast, and contains the critical, relevant information your customers are looking for.

  • User Friendly: Because often bad website experience leaves users frustrated, creating a bad brand experience, and you don’t want that. Another hot tip: ensure your website is mobile-friendly. Research shows that surfing the internet via desktop is no longer the primary method, and users favor mobile more in general. 
  • Loads Fast: Because if your website takes too long to load, your customers might not want to wait and just leave. As a good rule of thumb, your site should load in under 3 seconds.

Setting up shop without a follow-up strategy

If you have a website but there’s little to no traffic, and you’re struggling to get more traffic. You also have a social media presence, but nobody is visiting, nobody is liking, nobody is engaging. Well, you can’t just set up a stall and hope customers will flock to you. You have to do something to attract them, something to let people know that you’re there. Like how in a physical shop, you may spread brochures, have a salesperson outside the store promoting the shop, etc. There are multiple ways to get more traffic:

  • Get better brand awareness.
  • Put good content
  • Digital advertising (such as Paid Ads)
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

These options are marketing methods you can use beyond just choosing the platforms to advertise on. For example, if you want faster results, employ paid advertising channels that will help you show up whenever someone is looking for your service/products. But also, look into Content and SEO to support the overall Online Marketing for your business. There are no real wrong answers. You just need to go back to point number one, which is the goal that you want to achieve.

To tie everything together, let’s have an example.

You want to sell 1,000 units of product X in a quarter. You’ve set aside a budget of $Y, and because your goal is in a quarter, you will focus on digital advertising. Your audience is Gen Z with a particular persona. You understand your audience is also vocal. They value freedom of expression, social issues and are often on Youtube. Your competitors aren’t leveraging Youtube yet. Their messaging is too formal, so you chose to advertise on Youtube with messaging that speaks their language and what they care about to drive them to purchase your product which addresses what they care/needs about.

From Youtube, you drive traffic to your website where customers can make purchases, and you are tracking the clicks from Youtube and the purchases made on the website. From the measurements you collected, you will know if your advertising is effective, whether your website needs improvements, your product issue, etc. Your first customers may know you from advertising first, and eventually, you’ll gain reputation, word of mouth, increasing your brand awareness. Then in the background, if you have a spare budget and resources, you can also work on producing your content and SEO, which will be a long-term play for your business.

Hopefully, this article sparked some ideas on how you should get started to strategize your marketing plans for your startup better. Keep moving forward and reap the best results possible. All the best! If you want to discuss more on your marketing strategy/plan, feel free to reach us by clicking here. And if you like this article and would like to read more, check more blog articles here.

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