5 Marketing Mistakes Start-ups Make

5 Marketing Mistakes Start-ups Make


Being a successful entrepreneur rests on various things, ranging from innovation to making good business decisions and even sheer luck. But in my work, I find that the area where many start-ups fall down is marketing.

They have great ideas, products and services, lots of energy and powerful vision, but they lack an understanding of how marketing can grow their businesses.

Marketing haphazardly

In all the excitement and stress of starting up a business, many entrepreneurs don’t take the time to develop a marketing strategy. Instead, they “shoot from the hip” implementing ad hoc marketing tactics that seem like a good idea at the time, but actually offer no long-term value.

Websites, brochures, social media, email campaigns and billboards can be brilliantly designed, but they won’t fulfill their purpose unless they are aligned with an effective marketing strategy.

In fact, jumping in and spending money on marketing tactics without a marketing strategy is just a waste of resources. In my opinion, the number one rule of marketing should be “strategy first”.

Related: Smart Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

Missing out on the free forms of marketing

Many entrepreneurs see marketing as a colossal expense. Because they don’t have much money to spend, they don’t bother with marketing. This is a giant mistake!

There are many cost-effective ways to market your products, service and money that you may not have considered. For example, spend time on tailoring your customer service to create raving fans, or ask your clients for referrals.

Producing shoddy marketing material

When it comes to producing marketing collateral, it’s worth investing in hiring a good designer and /or copy writer. You might think that getting someone in the company to do it free for you is saving you money, but if the design is poor or there are spelling and grammar mistakes, you’re doing your brand more damage than good.

Rather scale back on what you’re planning on doing and pay to have it done properly. Shop around for service providers who have a good track record who will offer you a fair rate and remember the truism, “If you think hiring a professional is expensive, just wait till you hire an amateur to do the job.”

Not seeing marketing as a core business activity

Marketing that’s not included in your business as a system will not be effective in the long term. Systems run your business. Without them, your business ends up running your life.

By creating effective systems, you ensure that your business runs more smoothly and manageably. Marketing should be one of these systems, not just an activity you get to when you have a moment free.

eAfter developing a marketing strategy, you need to implement a marketing system so that each person involved understands what needs to happen when, and can be held accountable. For example, if referrals are one of your marketing tools you plan to use, you need to ensure that you have a referral system in place. You might decide that new client will be offered a discount for introducing you to a successful referral.

For this to happen, everyone involved needs to be properly briefed and equipped, and the business must be set up to offer the discounts easily and without headaches.

Failing to measure marketing impact

In order to understand what works, what doesn’t and where to spend your money wisely, you need to have marketing metrics in place. Ensure your website is running Google analytics and that you consistently take stock of how your marketing efforts are delivering.

This might mean getting feedback from your customers or tracking your newsletter statistics to see which information is of most interest to readers. Whatever the case, you can’t improve what you’re doing to make it more effective until you understand what your current performance looks like.

Related: Defining Your Market in 7 Steps

Donna Rachelson
Donna Rachelson, branding and marketing specialist, is the author of three books.She has held marketing director positions in blue chip organisations and has a solid business education, including an MBA and is a guest lecturer at GIBS .As a successful businesswoman and investor in businesses, Donna is passionate about empowering entrepreneurs and women, uplifting them with her unique brand of inspiringly practical, strategically results-driven guidance. She is currently Chief Catalyst at Seed Academy- a training and incubation ecosystem for entrepreneurs.