“Everybody makes mistakes” – this old maxim is as true of marketing as any other part of life.
Take last year’s blunder by Kimberley-Clark, the manufacturer of Huggies nappies, when it launched an ad campaign that portrayed men as bumbling buffoons when it came to childcare. Dads weren’t happy and social media was soon alive with fulminating fathers threatening never to buy Huggies again. Kimberley-Clark responded rapidly, apologising and promising to make changes in the campaign.
Or take the extraordinarily ill-judged tweet by clothes chain Gap that appeared a few months back as Hurricane Sandy tore through the US. It implored followers to stay safe, but also perhaps pop out for a bit of shopping in Gap. A hail of protest followed from Twitter users who decided that a devastating hurricane wasn’t the best basis for a marketing message.
There is a salutary lesson here – marketing mistakes can have big consequences. Large companies can survive a marketing calamity, but if you are a startup you don’t have that luxury and you need to get your marketing strategy right from day one.
Here are five marketing mistakes you must avoid if you want your startup to survive and thrive.
1. Betting in all on Google
‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ is wise advice when it comes to marketing but one basket that is overfilled with startup eggs is Google. The search engine leviathan is undoubtedly a great source of leads, but it can’t do it all – if your page ranking falls or you can no longer afford Adwords then you are in trouble. You need to spread the load to other channels and ensure that you are attracting customers through multiple sources.
2. Choosing the wrong channels
There are many different marketing channels out there and choosing the right ones is the key to success, whilst choosing the wrong ones is a recipe for disaster. Cost is probably the biggest factor so assess what your budget can afford and choose accordingly – you are unlikely to be able to leap in with TV and print advertising, for example, so don’t even think about it. Instead, choose more cost effective options to start with such as networking, social media and blogging.
3. Outsourcing without thinking
It can be all too tempting to throw caution to the wind and outsource to a company promising you marketing miracles. However, what sort of return on investment can you actually expect to see? Too many startups have gone under after spending a lot on outsourced marketing for little reward. If you are thinking about this route make sure you do your homework and assess what the outsourcing company will actually do and then keep a careful eye on both activity and costs.
4. Aiming off-target
What is your target market? There are few more pertinent questions for a startup, because if you don’t know who you need to be selling too, how are you going to sell to them? Startups can end up marketing their services without any real idea of who they are marketing too, which means they are unable to target their marketing effectively. First identify your market, then do your marketing!
5. Missing a marketing plan
Obviously, you shouldn’t start up a company without a business plan, but a marketing plan is just as important. It can provide you with a detailed list of actions that you should take in order to find new business and manage your brand effectively. It is a vital document and launching your startup without one can be a recipe for disaster.
Take this advice on board and you can quickly find yourself on the road to success. Whatever you do, make sure you put some thought into marketing, or you may just see your business dreams going up the Hoover!
Triin is Key Account Manager for mobile marketing company TextMagic, has previously worked with UK Startups and loves to write about online marketing trends, startups and business development.