Entering the world of entrepreneurship leaves you vulnerable to countless mistakes. You may have a great idea, a great plan, and a dedication to seeing your vision through, but your inexperience as a company leader is inevitably going to lead to some missteps.
Once you’ve got a solid system and a reliable team in place, one of your biggest priorities is going to be marketing your company. Through marketing, you’ll be able to build a reputation for your brand, get more attention for your products and services, and start attracting an initial customer base. But before you can start seeing success in your marketing strategy, there are several critical mistakes you’ll need to avoid:
Your brand is your company’s identity, and it has to be your absolute priority. Otherwise, should you start placing ads, writing content, or communicating through social media, your messages will seem disjointed and unrecognizable, even if you’re communicating frequently. Before you promote any messages, written or visual, make sure your brand is developed and in alignment. It’s also a good idea to hire a professional when it comes to branding rather than trying to do it all yourself. You’ll have to identify the key colors, tones, and personality elements that characterize your brand and commit to those elements for a long, long time.
Just because your magazine ad and your PPC landing page exist in separate mediums for separate campaigns doesn’t mean they can’t be related. In fact, your messaging will be amplified if your channels are all tied together and diminished if they remain apart. For example, you can carry a single theme throughout all your individual campaigns, regardless of medium, and anybody who sees multiple iterations will recall the previous iterations. It can help your brand feel more familiar, prompting them to take action, or at least improve your brand recognition in the general public.
As an entrepreneur, you probably like to trust your instincts, and in many cases, your instincts will enable you to make the best decisions. However, starting a marketing campaign based on instinct alone is a recipe for disaster. You need to have some measure of data before you make a single move, and use that data to help point you in the right direction. Market research will help you learn your audience and key demographics, competitive research will help you understand the landscape of the industry, and financial data will help you determine the most cost-effective strategies around. Without any data to ground your decisions, you’ll be flying blind.
On the other extreme, relying too heavily on data can be your undoing. If you’re simply looking at what your competitors have done in the past and following what they’ve done, you’re going to end up regretting it. Your company is unique. Your product and brand are unique. And you’re in a unique moment in time—yesterday’s most effective strategies won’t necessarily be today’s. Do take your historical and competitor data into consideration for your marketing decisions, but don’t make them the sole determining factors. Consider the environmental variables in play, and use critical reasoning.
Startups have notoriously low budgets. If you’re just getting started in the entrepreneurial world, you’ll have to be extra careful how you allocate your budget. Unfortunately in most companies, marketing is considered an unnecessary expense, and is typically one of the first things to go when the budget hits dangerously low levels. However, as a marketer you should be making decisions based on ROI, or the return on your investment. If you spend $1,000 on a marketing campaign and earn $2,000 in profit from new sales, you’ve essentially gained $1,000. When considering your budget, make sure you’re looking at ROI instead of total spend.
If you don’t have some means of measuring the results of your campaign, you’ll have no idea whether your efforts were successful or not. No matter what type of medium you’re using or how long you’ve been implementing a campaign, take the time to ensure an effective means of tracking related activity, such as visits, engagements, leads, and eventual sales. In their haste to establish something as soon as possible, many entrepreneurs neglect this step and simply get their ads rolling—don’t let this happen to you.
Obtaining the data from your results is really only the first step of the process. The important part is to learn from that data. What factors of your campaign led to your results being higher or lower than you anticipated? How can you modify your campaign to be better in the future? The most successful marketers today are the ones who learn to adapt and change based on their previous efforts. Continue to improve your marketing campaigns for as long as you’re running them.
If you’ve already made one or more of these mistakes as a new entrepreneur, don’t be discouraged. Even the most seasoned marketers out there make mistakes from time to time, and you’re always going to have the opportunity to learn from your mistakes and move forward stronger.
Take this time to critically evaluate your approach to marketing and look for any potential improvements you can make. Getting your business started on the right foot with a strong initial marketing initiative can propel you to a reliable stream of revenue in a matter of weeks.