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The Biggest Marketing Mistakes Made By Startups

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Too many startups take a shotgun approach to marketing, which is riddled with mistakes and missteps.

The all-too-common approach is running madly in different directions, and then wondering why their efforts are failing to generate dividends.

It’s a sad state of affairs that shows a basic misunderstanding of how marketing works. As well, it’s a head-scratcher because marketing plays a crucial role for startups scrambling for a solid digital presence, leads, sales and brand awareness.

Here’s a list of the biggest marketing mistakes made by startups, and how to fix them.

Websites that aren’t conversion and lead machines. Too many startup Websites fail in two ways: the messaging is confusing, ineffective or too product-centric, and potential customers aren’t given enough guidance about what to do. As a result, many potential customers quickly click away because they are not engaged or, at the very least, intrigued.

Solution: Create messaging that makes it abundantly clear about what your startup does, the key benefits and who should use it. It’s a simple formula: “We do X for Y so they can do Z”. Most Website visitors make a decision about a company within 15 seconds so first impressions really matter. As important, a Website needs to be easy to navigate. People must quickly be able to find the information they are looking for. 

As important, a Website needs to be easy to navigate. People need to intuitively be able to find the information they need to learn, engage or make a decision. The calls-to-action need to be bold and assertive. If generating demo requests is a priority, there should be an eye-catching CTA that says “Want to learn more? Ask for a demo.” By not being abundantly clear about what you want someone to do, they likely won’t do it.

Trying to be everything to everyone: For startups operating with limited resources – people, time, money – it is important to focus. It applies to product development, sales and marketing. Many startups believe an effective marketing strategy is having a broad footprint. As a result, they do social media, newsletters, blogs, videos, eBooks and infographics. Sadly, their efforts are spread too thin, which makes them ineffective.

Solution: It is important to prioritize marketing activity. It means reviewing all the marketing options, and then deciding to focus on a handful that will make a difference and generate a positive ROI. It could mean, for example, to write a weekly blog post and have a strong social media presence. Everything else doesn’t matter, at least for now. In many respects, less is more because it means resources can be applied efficiently.

Not talking to customers: Customers matter for lots of reasons. It’s Business 101. Customers not only buy your products but they provide valuable feedback and direction about your products, they will happily serve as evangelists, become brand ambassadors and help other customers with their issues. The problem, however, is many startups don’t talk to their customers enough, if at all. There is an assumption customers are happy customers so there is no need to keep the lines of communication open. That’s a big mistake. You keep customers happy, loyal and engaged by talking to them on a regular basis: phone calls, social media, meet-ups, surveys, corporate updates, etc.

Solution: Establish a program to talk with customers on a regular basis. It could be things like getting on the phone with new customers to see if they need help and why they purchased your product rather than a rival’s product. It could be visiting your customers or quarterly calls with long-time customers to get their feedback and ideas. It could be reaching out to different types of customers to do case studies (aka success stories). Whatever the approach, it is important to keep customers in the loop so they recognize their business and their feedback is valued.

Bottom line: Marketing doesn’t have to be difficult or intimidating. In many cases, it’s simply a matter of taking care of the basics and, as important, making sure you’re serving the needs of customers at all times.