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Kitty Harris
Tuesday, June 8, 2021
8 min read

10 common marketing mistakes made by startups

You might have the perfect product or ideal service, but if your marketing isn’t hitting the spot then your startup won’t survive. With limited resources and a budget that makes you wince whenever you mention it, there isn’t much room for making mistakes. Building your brand and ensuring it is visible is one of the most important things to focus on at this point - you will want to avoid throwing time and money at anything that won’t work. The good news is that these common mistakes are all avoidable.

1. Not planning properly

The most obvious initial block for startups is failing to put enough effort into a proper marketing strategy. That tight budget might make you think twice about investing in something that (to be frank) can have a very slow return. However, persistence with intelligent planning will eventually profit your business, no question about it. Set aside time for long-term planning and ensure you understand how it will benefit your business in the future (even if it seems like a lot of effort right now).


2. Doing too much

This might seem conflicting given the previous point, but this relates more to spending big money without real thought behind it. If you have raised money from investors there is the temptation to splash out on large marketing campaigns and follow through with every marketing idea that crops up - but wait! There is a lot to be said for growing slowly and really getting to know your consumers and what works for you. The better you understand your target market, the more successful your strategy will be.
Man getting up from his desk saying 'I can't it's too much' 


3. Using the wrong channels

There are so many channels out there that there is a real danger of playing to the wrong ones. Focusing your efforts on LinkedIn when your main audience is camped out on Twitter will just waste time and energy. Be mindful of where you are targeting your consumers in order to engage the people who will actually buy from you. If you opt for the multi-channel route, don’t forget to optimise your content for different platforms by using the correct image sizes and posting at the best time for your target market.

4. Using hashtags incorrectly

Hashtags are ingenious because they provide a fool-proof way of finding relevant content and grouping everything together in one place. They are a great way for audiences to find your content quickly and easily, however, there are ways to misuse hashtags, which will end up having a negative effect on your social strategy. For example, by being too random with your efforts and hashtagging anything that might be vaguely relevant. This will look tacky, clog up the post, and is frustrating for visitors who are searching for relevant content. Be sparing with your hashtags and take time to decide on the ones that really fit your material. Why not get creative and even come up with a custom hashtag for your business to encourage engagement? Mars Corp does this well with their hashtag #TomorrowStartsToday.

man saying 'hashtag decision time'


5. Not using enough visuals

When it comes to your social channels, you need to be on top form. This means you should always aim to include visuals with everything you post. Why? Because visual content increases engagement and recall. For example, there is a very clear trend between visuals and engagement on Twitter, as tweets with gifs saw 55% more engagement than those without and video views have increased by 62% from 2019 to 2020. Offer some variety with your posts to keep your followers interested and excited for what’s coming next. 

6. Choosing quantity over quality

With any kind of content, from blog posts to social media output, you should be aiming for quality. Quantity is great too, but never sacrifice the content itself in order to churn out a maximum number of posts. Successful SEO practice includes providing your site visitors with informative, useful content that will keep them on your site and convince them to return. This won’t happen if your content isn't providing value.
Person getting hit by a bin bag in a room filled with clothes and other nick-nacks   


7. Not keeping track

There is simply no excuse for not measuring your marketing success. The tools available to track users interacting with your social media profiles are numerous and often free. Set yourself concrete goals and smash them! Just keep up with your analytics and the rest will fall into place. Simply adjust your strategy as you gather more information about your users and never be afraid to test out something new (as long as you keep an eye on the effect it has!).


8. Copying competitors

While it is always sensible to thoroughly research your competition, be wary of sending out content that is too similar. Don’t be fooled into thinking that they are getting everything right all of the time. By all means take inspiration from their marketing efforts, but also work towards carving your own place in the market as an authority figure and aim to give your consumers new, insightful information. Audiences and Google do not take kindly to copycats, so if you aren’t offering anything new, then you will be pushed down the rankings.
Man working on his laptop at a bar/coffee shop looks to his left to see a row of people that look exactly like him on their laptops too


9. Not making the most of networking opportunities

A lot of people think that marketing has to be done exclusively online. Building relationships with others in the same space can also be extremely valuable. Go along to networking events, be part of conversations happening online, and offer your advice and insights on topics in the industry. In the long run, this will result in your content being seen as more valuable and more shareable by those that you have built a business relationship with. This also opens you up to great partnership opportunities.


10. Expecting too much too soon

Successful marketing (and the revenue it can bring) can be a slow process as the nature of this field means that peaks and troughs, experimentation, and, at times, uncertainty are all to be expected. Expecting overnight results is wishful thinking and will leave you feeling deflated. Build your online presence up slowly and steadily without taking your eyes off the prize and in the coming months you will see the results. 

Man with crown and sunglasses on clutching 100 dollar notesNeed a smart grad to help implement your marketing efforts? BrighterBox puts great graduates in touch with exciting startups.


*Editor's note: This blog was originally published in 2016 and has since been updated.

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