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The Top 3 Marketing Mistakes Startups Make and How to Avoid Them

Tell me if you can relate.

You’re in the shower when a brilliant idea comes to mind (the secret portal to all great ideas – I’m convinced that’s where Einstein first developed his general theory of relativity and Columbus got the crazy idea the earth was round).

You hop out of the shower, write down your stroke of genius and soon begin toiling away at the ins and outs of bringing your idea to market.

After meetings, budgets, planning, sleepless nights, and restless days you launch or open your business. You stand arms open wide, the look of ambition and certainty on your face as you’re ready for the myriads of shoppers, clients, and over all fans of your work to appear. Yet after days, weeks, and months, your spirit collapses at the sound of your ever present companions - the crickets.

Foot traffic is slow, web traffic is a joke, and sales creep along with small bursts of short lived hope that your startup is going to be all you dreamed it would be on that fateful day in the shower.

Soon your resentment builds. You stop showering all together – okay, I’m mostly joking about that part.

But seriously - over the course of my business I’ve heard this scenario play out in many industries, with varying business models.

To help you avoid the inevitable pitfalls of marketing your startup, I’m going to highlight three mistakes I see regularly and how to avoid them. Let’s dive in.

1. Stop Selling Your Product or Service

I know – it’s counter-intuitive. Yes, you want to sell your product & service – cash-flow is the lifeblood of the startup. However, it’s in the way you sell it that gets many into trouble. Fact or feature based, hard sell techniques don’t work well on a cold audience – and if you’re a startup – everyone is cold. You’re not branded yet, your social proof is just beginning to emerge, and the buy-in from your market hasn’t been established.

This is why it’s so important to show your market who you are, why you’re changing the world, and how they can get involved. Avoid the pitfall of telling your market those things in an effort to sell them.

So how do you sell without selling?

Use testimonials, publish content that tells a story, imply through descriptive language as opposed to strictly factual terms. Use visuals as often as possible and finally bring your audience with you – go somewhere with your call to action. Don’t simply use “buy now”, “click here”, or “like

and share”. Compel your market to follow you on a journey of excitement, discovery, inclusiveness, achievement, or a whole host of others that makes people WANT to buy your product, use your service, or be an impromptu brand ambassador for your company.

2. Use Social Media Early and Strategically

Three social media pitfalls stunt even the greatest startups. The first, not using social media soon enough. The second, using too many social media platforms and publishing generic or lacking in quality content. The third, not accounting for the use of social media handles.

Let’s go over the first. Social media has an immense ability to create excitement around an upcoming launch or grand opening. However, nearly every startup owner I talk with comes to me after said event. Social media should not be a secondary thought. There is no better way to gain foot traffic, web traffic, sales the day of the event, and returning loyal customers than the proper use of social media.

The question then becomes - How soon should I begin building my presence prior to my launch? The Answer? 60 days. This gives time to build your audience, work alongside the respective algorithms, create brand awareness, provide social proof, pre-sell where applicable, and create excitement to ensure the best event and highest sales the day you’re ready to open the doors.

Now let’s take a look at the second. Many startups believe the myth that you need to show up everywhere all the time. This is not the case. If you’re marketing to VPs in the financial sector, Snap Chat isn’t helpful. Choose two or three platforms to leverage. Platforms where both your target market and your competition are. Strategically using social media to connect with followers and dominate your competition is far better than showing up with poor content on platforms that lack your desired audience.

Lastly, take time prior to starting your social media presence to choose handles that are available

across all platforms – then sign up for those regardless of your plans to publish that page. If your business is Chocolate Lovers Anonymous you may find that @ChocolateLovers is taken on Twitter and @WeLoveChocolate is being used on Facebook. With some planning and digging you’ll find the perfect handle to use across all social media channels.

3. Spend Less Money

Yes… it’s true. It’s a controversial stance as a marketer to say – spend less. But truth is truth. When you’re just starting it is easy to believe you need to reach all four corners of the universe, but that simply is bad strategy. Many startups waste tens of thousands of dollars on unproven concepts.

“So where do I start?”

You begin with $1 per day until your strategy and concept proves that more can be supported. I bought into the false teaching that if you copy/paste the “magic words” into the perfect ad campaign, funnel, etc. that for every $2 you put in, you’ll get $4 out. Well – exactly how many magic words are there, because I tried a lot of the popular ones and they sure didn’t yield those results.

As a startup your finances are crucial to whether you make it where most fail. Protect them. Be wise with them. Spend on marketing – yes! With the right strategy you will see increased revenue – but don’t go full throttle until you know what type of marketing resonates with your target and what copy compels them to purchase.

In conclusion, go forth - shower. Write down those ideas. Pursue your dream. Start your company and change the world – just avoid these three pitfalls while doing so.

If you have an upcoming business, a plan or have a “start-up” that has simply failed to take off – let’s talk!

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