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Common Marketing Pitfalls to Avoid as a Startup Founder

Startup founders have to take on various roles, one being a marketer. Marketing is integral to the startup’s development and establishes brand identity. Marketing helps startups scale by growing their audience and differentiating them from the competition. Apart from these marketing has numerous other benefits that a startup founder cannot afford to ignore. Undervaluing marketing can lead to the failure of a startup.

Vinod Singh
Managing Director
StrategINK

To successfully launch their product or enter a new market, startups need to invest in marketing. “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” — Benjamin Franklin. Startup founders need to develop a robust go-to-marketing strategy that involves identifying the target audience, building buyer personas, creating key messaging, and selecting the right marketing channels. If you are looking for a step-by-step guide to creating an effective go-to-market strategy for your startup, you can read our blog to learn more.

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6 common marketing pitfalls to avoid

Even with the best-planned marketing strategy in place, startup founders end up making mistakes that can cost them big time. To keep the sales and marketing efforts on track startups need to avoid the following mistakes

1. Focusing only on new customers

Startup founders target most of their marketing efforts on attracting new customers rather than focusing on the existing clientele. Getting new customers is important for business growth but not at the cost of ignoring the existing customers. This can result in losing out on the current customers and the revenue generated by their purchases.
Marketing to existing customers provides the opportunity to cross-sell and upsell products and services. According to McKinsey “Cross-selling and category-penetration techniques increase sales by 20 percent and profits by 30 percent.
Existing customers can also provide referrals, as per LinkedIn, “87% of B2B buyers have a favorable impression of a salesperson if they were introduced to them through someone in their professional network.
Startup founders need to stay in regular touch with the existing customer base apart from chasing potential customers. Social media, content marketing, and email marketing should be used to reach out to customers and keep them updated about the latest product upgrades, new launches, and upcoming developments.

2. Lack of a USP

Startups can face a lot of competition when entering a new market, especially one that might be dominated by established players. Without a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) startups fail to stand out. When startups lack clarity on their USP and how their product differs from that of the competition, they are unable to convince customers to choose them over the competition. The go-to-market strategy should be based on the USP and educate the customers on how a particular product is unique and the pain points or business challenges it solves. Researching competition can also help in finding out what differentiates them from their competitors and using it as a part of the marketing campaigns.

3. Complicated marketing message

A marketing message is a powerful tool for building brand awareness and generating leads. Marketing messages that are complicated end up confusing the target audience. If the marketing message is not simple and clear then the potential customers will not waste their time trying to figure it out. They will simply move on and all the marketing efforts will go wasted. A good marketing message is short, simple, and able to grab the attention of the audience. A startup founder should look at creating a marketing message that connects with the target audience, informs them of the specific problem the product or service can solve, and motivates the customers to take action. To create a marketing message that resonates with the target audience, the marketing team should acquire and leverage customer data to have a 360-degree view of the customers. Gartner marketing survey found that “Only 14% of organizations have achieved a 360-degree view of the customer”.

4. Using only 1 or 2 marketing channels

Marketing channels help connect a business with its target audience either offline or online. To cut costs, startup founders opt for a single-channel marketing strategy. Though single-channel marketing campaigns are less costly and can be developed and launched quickly, they have their own limitations. One of the disadvantages of using only one or two marketing channels is missed opportunities of reaching out to the target customers who are using other channels. The reach of the marketing campaign would be limited to the reach of the particular marketing channel. According to a study by Omnisend, “Marketers using three or more channels in their campaigns earned an 18.96% engagement rate on average, compared to single-channel marketers who earned only 5.4%.”
Multi-channel marketing can help startups expand their reach, enhance engagement, and increase conversion rates by reaching out to customers on their preferred channel. A startup founder should explore a mix of different marketing channels such as the business website, social media, email marketing, etc. Getting featured in the latest technology and business blogs, and newsletters, and participating in online and in-person events further expands reach and adds credibility to the startup.

5. Offering too many discounts

During the launch of a new product or to combat stagnating sales numbers, startups often offer deep discounting to increase conversion rates. Though discounts and promotions can help attract new customers, giving too many discounts or running a lot of promotions can lead to devaluing the brand. Customers are only attracted due to the special pricing and not the value of the product. After the promotional pricing is over, there are chances that the customer will demand to continue paying the reduced price or will stop using the product and wait for the discounted price to be offered again. Discounts drain the margin and hurt the bottom line. Instead of offering too many discounts, startups can create an entry-level tier so that customers can try limited features of the product at a lower price. If discounts need to be offered, these should be limited both in terms of frequency and amount. Also, discounts should be aligned with the marketing goals.

6. Not being consistent

A lot of startups fail to see the importance of brand consistency across different marketing channels. Inconsistency in brand messaging confuses the customers, lowers brand recognition, and reduces consumer trust. Customers do not know what to expect from the brand which leads to lower conversions. Brand consistency also impacts the customer experience. To achieve consistency in branding startup founders should establish brand guidelines, train all the team members and have them on the same page, provide the team with branding resources such as font names, color pallets, logo variations, brand templates, etc, and maintain consistency across all the marketing channels used to reach out to customers.

Partner with StrategINK Startup Pulse to maximize Marketing Outreach & ROI

StrategeINK Startup Pulse with years of experience in market research and activation can help startups avoid common marketing mistakes. The access startups can gain to industry experts and mentors by collaborating with StrategINK Startup Pulse, can help improve their go-to-market strategy. StartegINK Startup Pulse provides a platform for startups to get featured in a leading technology and business blog and newsletter which increases their reach and establishes credibility.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this feature article are of the author. This is not meant to be an advisory to purchase or invest in products, services or solutions of a particular type or, those promoted and sold by a particular company, their legal subsidiary in India or their channel partners. No warranty or any other liability is either expressed or implied.
Reproduction or Copying in part or whole is not permitted unless approved by author.

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