Your business idea is solid, your product is outstanding, and you’re all over the major social networks. So why aren’t sales going through the roof? According to Drew Williams, serial entrepreneur and author of Feed the Startup Beast, which is a seven-step marketing system to kick-start businesses, it all boils down to one major issue: poor and inconsistent marketing programs.
“Most entrepreneurs have great ideas for products and services, but don’t know how to market them,” said Williams, co-author of “Feed the Startup Beast” (McGraw-Hill, 2013). “By creating a proven, repeatable system of marketing, entrepreneurs will be able to achieve a high level of consistency, scalability, measurement and, finally, success.”
Williams identified several marketing mistakes that will keep your startup from reaching its full potential:
Failing to ask customers what they think of your product. Not having a product or service that the market really wants or needs is one of the biggest mistakes startups make. It’s also one of the main reasons few startups realize the revenue they expected. Show your product to potential customers and ask what they think. You may receive some excellent suggestions.
Not thinking of your website as a sales tool. Most startup websites are not built to sell. Your website should be a key marketing tool. When a prospect finds your website you want to convert them from “anonymous visitor” to “known prospect,” with whom you can start building a meaningful relationship. That requires going beyond a website that’s merely brochure ware.
Not pursuing prospects. Many startups think that marketing is covered if they run a little SEO, a blog and social media accounts. That is, until sales don’t take off. Marketing that generates revenue starts with actively finding best prospects. Identify prospects that should be interested in buying your product, and reach out to them with a campaign that starts to build a relationship. As you engage those prospects, roll out the campaign to additional prospects, and so on.
Not measuring success and creating obtainable goals. The fastest path to growth is to figure out what marketing strategies actually work for your product or service. “Understand marketing and be hands-on in developing a system so you know how it works,” Williams said. “It bears remembering that one of the greatest tech entrepreneurs of our time wasn’t a technologist, it was Steve Jobs, a marketer.”
Putting the wrong people in charge of marketing. First of all, you can’t do everything yourself. In my 20 of years running a marketing agency, I’ve seen that “Founders Syndrome” all too often. Your passion and zeal is commendable, but a Jack or Jill of all trades can thwart the best business. Hire a dedicated marketing team, even if you start small. Not only is launching a start-up a big job, it requires marketing expertise. On a related note: do not hand the keys to your social media accounts to a college intern even if they’re super social-savvy. These channels represent your brand and are worthy of a seasoned spokesperson.