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  • Writer's pictureDeJuan Wright

5 Major Marketing Miscalculations Made By Too Many Startups

Updated: Dec 12, 2022

Suppose there was a way that you could look inside the proverbial crystal ball and see some of the key mistakes that you and your staff at your startup would make—years before those mistakes were actually made.

Not only would that allow you to play Monday morning quarterback by calling an audible at the line of scrimmage to make a game-saving play for your startup—it would also take away some of the momentum your competitors would also gain from your startup fumbling so many opportunities.

Well, the good news is that throughout this article—I’ll help you avoid making 5 major marketing miscalculations that have cost so many startups millions of dollars—while also totally destroying others.

The bad news is that there’s still so many other mistakes outside of the realm of marketing that will inevitably be made by you and others at your startup (don’t worry, they’ll also be made by every other startup—including your competitors).

With that being said, these are 5 major marketing miscalculations that your startup should avoid making.

1. Underinvestment in content marketing

I cannot tell you just how many startups I’ve come across that still have no content marketing strategy at all. And even worse—had no intent at all to create one in the near future. When it comes to startups—a content marketing strategy is a lot like having a varied workout plan—just about everyone knows they should have one—it’s just that they have no immediate plans to formulate it.

And much like a diverse workout plan—having a great content marketing strategy is imperative to the soundness of your startup.

According to a 2022 Hubspot survey, 97% of respondents from over 1,500 businesses in over 20 industries stated that content marketing was a tactic that formed an important part of their overall marketing strategy in 2021. Yet only 57% of the respondents actually had a documented content marketing strategy.

This shows that although so many businesses understand that a content marketing strategy is important—over 40% of them still haven’t made an effective investment in content marketing. Which is a mistake, because 78% of the brands that are successful with content marketing—have stated that they did in fact have a documented content marketing strategy.

2. Not following through on the engagement

Imagine finally meeting that special person that you’ve dreamed about for years. After introducing themselves to you, you go on a few dates together and hit it off perfectly! After getting to know one another—they finally propose to you…and without hesitation—you accept.

But suddenly, out of nowhere the person ghosts you and stops communicating with you not only over the phone—but they also cut off communication via email and social media as well. Almost as if they left you at the alter! After that, I’m sure you’d feel whole a lot differently about that person than you did when you initially met them.

Well, that's similar to how customers feel about brands that engage with them during the courting phase of the sales process; sweep them off their feet to the point that they buy what they’re selling, only to disengage from the relationship after they secure the purchase.

Raja Rajamannar, is the CMO of Mastercard and author of the book, Quantum Marketing. In his book, Rajamannar explains how brands should approach the full cycle of consumer engagement, “Build consumer engagement before, during, and after the purchase. This point is sort of real time CRM on steroids to put it simplistically. The key is to realize consumers' preference has to be won every time—it’s not one and done.”

Instead of getting comfortable in your relationship with your customers by assuming they'll be so satisfied from your initial engagement—they’ll stick around after they first commit, continue courting them by engaging with them even more after they make a purchase; through email, whenever they revisit your website, SMS, as well as on social media.

Be sure to keep wowing them by giving them attention, affection, and most of all—appreciation, by offering and giving them things that would be beneficial to their lives.

3. Assuming that everyone knows your story

Have you ever seen a movie that was so good—you couldn’t wait to tell your friends about it? Without spoiling the movie’s entire plot, you probably did your best to sell your friends on the parts of the film that you enjoyed the most—as well as the parts that—in knowing them, you’d think that they would enjoy as well in hopes of influencing them to go see the film for themselves.

That same level of creativity and effort that you would expend in convincing your friends to see that film is also required when telling your audience about your brand's story.

A misstep made by far too many startups—is that they assume their audience already knows the history of their brand and what it stands for. Which is hardly ever the case when it comes to any brand’s audience—let alone, the audience of a startup.

Unless your products or services have no clear competitors in its respective industry—consumers will have an alternative option to purchasing from you. Which is why telling your brand's story to your target audience on a regular occasion is so important, because people buy with their heart—then justify their purchase with their mind.

Think about it, if you took the swoosh off of a Nike running shoe and replaced it with another brand's logo—would the performance of the shoe be any different? Of course not. But in the mind of the consumer—the shoe would feel differently. That's because the consumer has an emotional connection to the Nike brand story—which totally separates Nike from every competitor in its industry.

Be sure to tell your brand’s story on your website, social media accounts, in your press releases, as well as in any interviews that you may do. Treat your brand's story almost like that last really good movie you saw…by telling others just what's so great about it.

4. Following the wrong cause

Causal modeling is a term often used in data science. The objective of causal modeling is to help data scientists understand which actions or events have an influence on others.

An example of causal modeling would be you and your team determining whether the person who just downloaded your app from Google Play did so because they saw your ad for the app multiple times on their favorite websites or simply because one of their close friends already downloaded it and suggested they do so as well.

Causal modeling is an important data mining resource for marketers because it helps us measure which marketing channels are most effective. And as management consultant—the late Peter Drucker so famously stated, “What gets measured gets managed.”

The problem is that so many startups do not properly measure the effectiveness of their marketing channels by getting to the source or cause of what influenced a consumer to make a purchase or take a desired action.

This miscalculation leads to marketing managers at those startups investing precious marketing dollars into channels that may not be as effective as they believe—while also potentially neglecting the marketing channels that are actually the most effective.

5. Stating the wrong position

If you’ve ever taken an intro to marketing course in college—one of the first things that you were taught is how to create a positioning statement for a business. If you’ve never taken the course—don’t worry, I got you.

A positioning statement consists of creating a detailed plan stating your businesses: target audience, its category, and the key benefits that the business will provide to its target audience.

As you would probably guess—startups often get at least one component of their positioning statement wrong initially. Which sets the trajectory of the business in the wrong direction. And as author, entrepreneur, and development teacher—the late Jim Rohn, put it, “Direction determines destination.”

Avoid stating the wrong position for your startup by creating an avatar of your ideal customer. Then, decide exactly which category your startup will fall into. Lastly, think of the key benefits that your startup will offer to your ideal customer that’ll differentiate your brand from the others in its category.

By creating a punctilious positioning statement, your startup will be heading in the right direction—which will help you get to your desired destination.


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