Startups face many challenges, including stiff competition, selective customers and complex legal regulations. Many startups naturally focus on sales, but they sometimes forget about the importance of marketing to grow brand awareness and drive revenue.
Some entrepreneurs mistakenly assume that they only need to copy the marketing tactics and strategies from their well-established competitors to be successful. There is plenty of business intelligence that can be gleaned from monitoring your competitors’ actions. This could be anything from new product releases to Web site content to comments posted by employees on social media sites. However, startups must avoid feeling pressured to always catch up and blindly imitating everything that their competitor does. Instead, they should consider competitors to be excellent sources of ideas which must be filtered through your own internal goals, needs and priorities. What works for your competitor may not work for you in the long run.
Setting an Aggressive Marketing Budget
Startups will struggle for the first few months or even years before they establish a regular customer base with regular profits. Startups slowly expand their marketing budget in tandem with business growth. They should start operations with the assumption that there is no extra money available for marketing. Instead, they must focus on cost effective original and organic ways to increase customer awareness and demand. Bear in mind that customers themselves are the most powerful marketing channel. Therefore, startups can encourage customer driven media content on social media platforms, such as publishing positive customer reviews or feedback on blogs or Facebook.
Overthinking the Brand
Many startups make the mistake of prioritizing their brand at the expense of their business operations. They tend to create complex brand guidelines and unattainable goals before they even have products or services to sell or advertise. They fuss over logo design and instead of training the sales team and creating engaging marketing content. Early startup marketing strategies must be focused on measurable actions and reasonable sales goals. Don’t forget that customers aren’t going to overanalyze things like the logo’s color palette or the packaging design style. Maintaining brand consistency is important, but researching, understanding and monetization are much more important.
Failing to Measure Marketing Results
Having popular products and a highly engaging website are both very important, but without proper data analysis and reports, you will never truly know your ROI. As a result, it will be difficult to make highly accurate and effective business decisions. Startups must track all marketing and sales efforts in order to gauge performance, elicit feedback and make helpful improvements. Website user analytics will help startup owners identify and fix problems as well as better understand online traffic and conversions. Google Analytics and Google Webmaster are examples of helpful tools to understand what is working and what is not on the website.
As a final note, startups must remember that if they spend money before there is sufficient understanding of customer motivation and available sales incentives, they will most likely experience poor results and weak sales.