Three common startup marketing traps and how to avoid them

There is nothing more thrilling than having an idea, bringing it to life and watching customers buy it and spread the word.


But marketing your startup isn’t always smooth sailing – there are ghastly winds that can blow you right off course.


To help, here are three common startup marketing traps and how to avoid them.


1. Not marketing early enough


While creating a high quality, value-packed product is important, if you don’t have interested customers to buy it, you don’t have a business.


With all of the time, money and energy you spend in product research and development, you want to be in a position to reap the rewards of your hard work as soon as possible. This starts by marketing your product and building your audience early. While you may not have a product to sell, you still have a solution that you can build excitement around it.


Visibility, credibility and building relationships with influencers takes time, particularly if you are self-funded and don’t have a large budget to throw at marketing and advertising. Better to invest the time early where you can also get valuable feedback from potential customers than having to build momentum once your product is ready.


2. Thinking you are the customer


Creating a business idea out of your frustrations, observations and needs is often a winning formula for success – if you have experienced it, chances are, so have others, right?


While this inside knowledge into your customer’s problems, thoughts and behaviour allows you to be more relatable to your customers and make more relevant products, it can also lead you into the trap of thinking you are your customer.


When this happens your ideas, products and marketing become more about what you want, instead of what your customer wants. While you certainly need to take your preferences into consideration, you can’t afford to take your focus off your customers and what they want or assume they are using your solution for the one problem.


3. Not testing your assumptions


When you go into business, you tend to have an idea of the problem you solve, the people who have it and the reasons why they want or need it solved.


Though more often than not when you start to test the waters you can find that your initial assumptions may not have been as accurate as you thought. It could be that the market who needs your product most doesn’t want it, that your solution solves a bigger problem than you realised or the motivations to use it are completely different.


I’m working with two startups at the moment that had a very clear idea of who their target market was and their reasoning for it made perfect sense. But after customer interviews and social media market research campaigns, they’ve uncovered an unexpected target market that is more motivated to use their product.


So before you embark on a large scale marketing and public relations campaign to educate the market about your product, let the market educate you first.


Amanda Jesnoewski is the owner of Velocity Media + Communications and a copywriter, marketing strategist and publicist.


Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


Clare Hallam is the director and company secretary of Pollenizer and a startup operations specialist. She writes for StartupSmart about what it takes to run a startup.