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11 marketing blunders that hamper a startup's growth When business is slow, one of the first places startups cut costs is marketing, when in fact they should be increasing their marketing budget.

By Vinil Ramdev

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Sales and Marketing can either make or break a business. However, a lot of first-time entrepreneurs believe that if the product is really good, customers will come. That is not necessarily true.

When business is slow, one of the first places startups cut costs is marketing, when in fact they should be increasing their marketing budget.

Startups inherently face a number of unique marketing challenges. There's usually very restricted cash flow, and a seemingly overwhelming challenge of getting great things done from an average team.

Here's a list of some of the most common startup marketing mistakes.

1. No clear marketing strategy

There are so many priorities and usually extremely limited resources. Marketing, particularly online marketing may land on the lower end of the priority spectrum. But one of the biggest mistakes startup entrepreneurs make in today's online marketing environment is to just slap a few ideas together and expect them to do the trick. What works is a marketing plan that is well thought out and strategic. A poorly crafted marketing campaign can cost the company a lot of money.

2. Not delivering on promises

The old saying, "Under promise, over deliver." When orders are slow, startups may be tempted to promise more than they can deliver, this usually ends up ruining a startups reputation which might be difficult to recover from. Some of the biggest mistakes have been promises made in a cool slogan or tagline, but never delivered when it matters.

3. Not testing processes

Before the launch of a website, or a promotional email blast goes out, everything needs to be tested. All links and toll free numbers need to be working, while taking the customer to the relevant product or services page.

4. Not segmenting email lists

Sometimes sending a generic message to an email list may not work. It's important to follow best practices in email marketing. Remember that unsolicited advertisements even to a friend or colleague may end up getting marked as spam instead of turning them into customers.

5. Neglecting mobile users

Mobile searches have now surpassed desktop searches. Marketing only to desktop users means that startups are missing out on a much broader audience. Make sure that your website graphics, text and creative features are responsive, so they work on mobile devices. For example, avoid using Flash-based videos or graphics since these don't work on mobile devices. Also, make sure that your website resizes appropriately for a smaller screen.

6. Focusing on getting it perfect instead of getting it going

Several startups wait until they can develop the perfect brand and logo before they launch their business. That might never happen. And that means they might never start. History is full of businesses that changed their name, logo and even their line of business. It's important to just get a minimum viable product launched as soon as possible to test its traction, and then focus on ways to scale up and compete with big business.

7. Being impatient

The dream for a business to take off running is just as strong as the dream for a business to succeed. The reality is that while some businesses seem to become an overnight success, building a successful business for most entrepreneurs takes time. It takes trial and error. Many mistakes will be made along the way and many lessons learned from those mistakes.

Don't take unethical or illegal shortcuts to raise capital, acquire customers, or level up with your competition. Doing so may seriously harm your business, affect your credibility or even get you convicted. Having a criminal record may in turn legally disqualify you from taking part in the management of a company or impact your future in many other ways.

8. Failure to track marketing efforts

Having an amazing, functional website, blog, social media presence all means nothing if you don't know if your efforts are actually working. Have you increased your search engine rankings? How many click-throughs have you had? How many people have visited your site? How long did they stay? What did they do on your site? Are they sharing your information through social media? Knowing what's working and what isn't is the only way you're going to know what you need to change, what needs to stay, and what you need to invest more in. Learn to use Google Analytics, Woopra and other analytics tools to understand people's behavior.

9. Not keeping up with industry trends

The Internet world is constantly evolving. Ten years ago, social media was in its extreme infancy. Now, it's driving advertising and if you're not using social media and finding ways of getting your brand and business in front of users, your business won't have a chance against those companies that are making their investment in the right places.

If you don't have the time to do it yourself, hire someone to do it. But keep up with existing trends.

10. Not asking for reviews and opinions

Asking for reviews is the 21st century version of word of mouth marketing. According to reports, around 88 percent of consumers read reviews before buying a product. In the internet world, it's very easy to search a business online. So maintaining a good online reputation is more important today than ever before.

11. Not using their company blog properly

Companies that blog get much more traffic to their website than those who don't. Setting up a blog these days is easy and affordable, and many free resources – like this simple blogging guide – are available online.

Posting valuable, well-researched posts that inspire and enlighten readers and solve their problems can position startups as an authority in their niche, and help them build trust and loyalty.

Vinil Ramdev

Entrepreneur and Business Writer

Vinil Ramdev is an entrepreneur, business writer and marketer. He graduated with a Bachelors degree in Marketing in 2004. Since then, Vinil has been involved in starting and growing several businesses predominantly in retail, marketing, media, advertising and on the internet. His skill for seeing the big picture, and identifying trends and patterns have made him a sort-after consultant for companies who want to grow their business and make their products more discoverable. 

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