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11 Marketing Mistakes That Are Killing Your Startup

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Michael Akinlaby who is a content strategist and SEO consultant at RankRain

Maybe you’ve finished developing and creating your product.

What’s next?

It’s time to get your startup product seen by customers.

This is where many startups fail. This is where thousands, if not millions of dollars are wasted in marketing budgets.

Having a great product is simply not enough. You have to market your startup the right way.

There are 11 marketing mistakes you must avoid at all cost if you want to build a successful startup.


Marketing Mistake #1: Not Creating And Following A Marketing Plan

One of the most important parts of any business is the marketing plan.

In fact, a startup needs a marketing plan just as it needs a business plan.

But what does a marketing plan really mean?

A marketing plan is a written statement that describes how a startup would target customers and achieve its marketing goals.

A marketing plan comprises of the key marketing tactics you want to use. Your marketing plan tells you when a strategy is not working so that you can change course and try new strategies.

But when you lack a plan, you turn to every marketing strategy available under the sun and expect something to produce a magical result. Well, startup marketing doesn’t work that way.

Are you going to be using SEO to market your startup? Or, are you going to be using Facebook ads?

What are your marketing goals? How many customers do you want to acquire in the first six months or year?

These are questions your marketing plan should answer.

Marketing Mistake #2: Marketing On The Wrong Channels

Today, we have more marketing channels than we have decades ago.

Before the web, we have print, TV, radio, billboards and direct mail to market our products.

Today, we have Facebook, Instagram, Google, Twitter, Blogs, Medium and more. You can easily become confused on which channel to market your startup.

The truth is that different channels comprise of different demographics.

For example, over 90% of the 150 million people on Instagram are under the age of 35.

If your ideal customers are within the 18-to 34-age-bracket, then Instagram could be the perfect platform for you.

But if your ideal customers are not between the age of 18 to 34, then you may want to look elsewhere.

If your prospects are above the age of 40, Instagram would be a wrong channel to reach them.


If your prospects are professionals, LinkedIn might be a perfect platform to reach them.

You have to see if your target audience uses a particular channel before you market through that channel.

Marketing Mistake #3: Trying To Design The Perfect Website Before Launch

A website without traffic is completely useless.

Many startups spend a large amount of their time obsessing over their site design, trying to make it perfect when they should be promoting their website.

There’s nothing like the perfect website design. You need traffic first.

It’s after you’re getting enough traffic should you start A/B testing different aspects of your site.

Look at the most visited websites on the web today.

Most of them were ugly when they started.

The home page of Google, Facebook and Yahoo are far different from how they are when they started.

So, don’t obsess over the design of your website.

You should concentrate more on getting a lot of traffic using effective internet marketing strategies when you’re still in the beginning phase.

Marketing Mistake #4: Failing To Build An Audience For Your Product

Most startups fail because they didn’t validate their product idea before developing the product.

You can save your startup valuable resources and time by marketing your product idea and testing if there’s a market need for it.

You might need to build a small email list, and tell them about your product.

For instance, if you emailed 250 people to tell them about your product, and at least 50 people say they will buy your product, that’s a good sign that there’s a need for your product.

Building an audience first is very important to the success of any startup.

Yes, some startups may get away with it. But if you truly want to build a successful startup without risking too much, then I strongly advise you to build an audience before the product. Trust me, heeding this advice will save you a lot of time and money.

Marketing Mistake #5: Not Creating Engaging Contents That Market Your Startup

According to a survey conducted by MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute, internet marketers said that producing engaging content is their biggest content marketing challenge.


Content marketing is a big strategy you must use when marketing your startup. Failing to do this could greatly hurt your startup chances of achieving success.

Content marketing helps your prospects understand your product and how it would make their lives easier.

Companies such as Buffer, Help Scout, KISSmetrics and Moz rely heavily on content marketing.

But content marketing is useless if you’re not creating engaging contents on your blog.

So how do you create engaging contents your prospects want to read?

Here are the simple things you should do:

  • Write attention grabbing headlines
  • Add a lot of pictures in your content
  • Add videos in your content
  • Make your content more interesting by sharing personal stories

Marketing Mistake #6: Putting Inexperience People In Charge Of Your Marketing Department

Marketing on the web is an always changing landscape. What works today might not work tomorrow. You need experienced marketers who can quickly adapt to any marketing changes.

For example, a search update from Google could throw your startup out of business. This could be too much to deal with for the inexperienced marketers.

A competitor could also be gaining a lot of market share. Your startup needs to combat and be aggressive. Only an experienced marketer can handle such critical situations.

So, if you’re currently working with an inexperienced marketer, I urge you to take a step back and re-plan your marketing strategy. Not taking the time to do this could eventually kill your startup.

Marketing Mistake #7: Failing To Track And Improve Your Marketing Results

There’s a famous quote from Noah Kagan that says “If you didn’t measure it, it didn’t happen.” This statement is very true in the startup world.


If you’re doing everything people tell you without tracking if it works for you, you’ll slowly be killing your startup.

You heard that answering questions on Quora could boost awareness about your startup. So, you started answering questions on Quora.

You also heard that publishing contents on LinkedIn is very effective. So, you started publishing contents on LinkedIn Pulse.

You also heard that Facebook advertising is cheap and effective. So, you started advertising on Facebook.

Turning to every marketing strategy without measuring its effectiveness for your startup would get you nowhere.

That is why you need to test, track and improve every aspect of your marketing. This is the only way to successfully market your startup.

Marketing Mistake #8: Spending Money On Marketing Too Quickly

You may have inherited a big marketing budget. Does that automatically mean your marketing would be successful?


Because of the big amount available at your disposal, you may be tempted to focus your marketing on all channels, spreading yourself too thin as a result.

Your marketing spending could look like what you see in the below pie chart:


Seem similar?

The problem with this approach is you’ll exhaust your marketing budget within a short period of time.

Instead of focusing on every marketing channel, spending your marketing budget too quickly, you should focus on only a few channels. This will help you save more money as you continue testing different marketing strategies in the early stages of your startup.

Marketing Mistake #9: Copycatting The Exact Marketing Strategies Of Your Competitors

Copying the exact marketing procedures your competitors follow won’t help your startup stay ahead and win a big market share.

The perfect example that comes to mind is Google and Bing.

Microsoft thought they could directly compete with Google by duplicating Google’s search engine, so they created Bing. But that has been a failure so far.

The Google search engine is ahead of Microsoft’s Bing by too many miles.


Sure, copying your competitors could help you gain some customers but your startup would be dying a slow death. It would still be far away from the position of your competitors.

So what should you do instead?

You should find creative ways to market your business.

For example, if a lot of your competitors are currently relying so much on SEO, you could switch to YouTube and dominate there.

You could start creating interactive contents and studies to promote your startup. You could also start marketing through events or conferences. Doing this immediately set you apart.

You should always dare to be different.

Marketing Mistake #10: Failing To Collect The Email Addresses Of Customers

Email marketing produces the highest returns on investment more than any other marketing channels.

In fact, email marketing has an average of $40 for every $1 invested.


At least, 91% of consumers check their email everyday.

What does this mean for your startup?

It means you should be collecting the emails of your site’s visitors to maintain and deepen your relationship with them.

When you do this, your startup will have raving fans who would buy your product and recommend it to their friends and family. That means more customers for your product.

Marketing Mistake #11: Failing To Include Influencers In Your Marketing

Influencer marketing is the new marketing strategy that works.

These days, you need influencers to help your startup go viral. Just a single tweet from an influencer could send thousands of users your way.

The Google Trends data speaks for itself:


So, if you aren’t using influencers in your marketing endeavors, well, you’re making a big marketing mistake that could kill your startup.


Related articles: things you should know before starting a business bloge-commerce marketing mistakemarketing  psychology

Comments (12)

  1. Thank You So much for sharing your thoughts!!! Its not easy for anyone to do a business without any mistakes but at least your article can give them a lesson that how to ignore and avoid possible mistakes before starting a business…

  2. Many of the start ups are victim of the same mistakes. Deciding right channel and measuring the campaign success is what they lack the most. Thanks for the insight.

  3. Ya Dev it is true many of people when starting business they doing many mistakes after that that they will manage it. Although thanx for right information.

  4. The idea of using influencers in the marketing of my blog is something I just started recently and from the much I have seen over the few weeks, I think I’m making serious progress: my blog ranking on Alexa is going up speedly, overtaking so many old blogs I know.

    In my own strategy, I don’t spend money on advertisements until all the available free channels are exhausted before I can start paying for promotion.

  5. We all know that Marketing is not a rocket science. But we must not shy away from using some of our Brain Cells.

    This is a very great post that covered all the good aspects of Marketing. A very good Marketing Tactic Must have the following ingredients:

    #1. Market only to Target Your Ideal Customer.

    #2. Marketing strategy must also cover how to keep in touch with the existing customer base and keeping your relations solid.

    I used these same tactics to consult my clients and wrote a few of them to tell their importance. I’m glad that I visited to this amazing article. Thanks for sharing it with us.