5 Marketing Deathtraps Every Startup Should Avoid

No two startups are ever the same, but many have one thing in common: ' Many of them fail’. 

As far back as 2018, CNBS insights shared a report showing the most common reasons why startup fails.

Marketing Deathtraps

According to the report, 14% of startup failures are due to poor marketing. There's no doubt that marketing is vital for the success of any startup, but it’s not always as easy as it looks. 

In fact, as a new startup, it is very unlikely to make marketing mistakes, especially in the early stages of the business. 

While the right startup marketing processes are not cast in stone, there are plenty of mistakes you can avoid to improve your chances of building a successful startup.

Here are 5 Marketing mistakes you should avoid as a startup

1. Trying To Sell To Everyone

Launching a new product/startup without a clearly identified target audience and buyer persona is really going to backfire. 

This is because you will be aiming at everything and hope something sticks, but eventually, you will run out of steam especially if you are not getting the desired result. 

Sadly, this is what most new startups do: target every customer/user without checking if their product or service meets the audience's needs.

The best way to avoid this is to identify your target audience, get insights into their behaviour, understand their needs and preference, and then design a user persona with the gathered information.

2. ‘I’ll do it all myself

As a founder, confidence in your ability goes a long way in affecting how successful you will be, but this confidence sometimes leads to wanting to become a ‘Mr know all.’ 

One marketing trap every founder should avoid is thinking they have all the answers and dictating to the marketing team what to do. It is not a bad thing to provide suggestions and guidance especially if you are a marketing expert.

Your best bet is to employ the skills of an expert and constantly learn and listen to them while they carry out their marketing activities.

3. Not testing enough marketing channels

As a new startup, there are always a series of marketing ideas and initiatives that will fail, this is because most times your product, intended customers and market, in general, are new and untested, and many variables will have to come in to achieve the desired marketing result.

However, many founders are very impatient and expect things to succeed almost immediately This becomes a problem because enough marketing does not get tested to ascertain the best marketing channel for the brand.

As a suggestion, you can adopt the Bullseye Framework to whittle down different potential traction channels to between a 3 and 6-month period.

4. Not Creating And Following A Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is important for every stage of your startup, but most especially at the early stage, where you need to squeeze maximum advantages out of your tight marketing budget. 

The marketing plan is important as it helps you:

  • set goals, 
  • identify potential customers and the pain your product could help these customers solve, 
  • have a clear vision of the market/industry you’re about to enter and who your potential competitors are.

As a point of note, your marketing plan should always be aligned with your company vision, but it is not something that should be set in stone.

Most startups tend to ignore the fact that the audience changes as new technologies and products are emerging. This requires the review of marketing strategies on a regular basis.

5. Hiring a Marketing Generalist

Most startup founders find it difficult to hire a marketing person, as they are caught up in making a decision whether to hire an inexperienced graduate, a seasoned startup marketer or someone from a corporation.

Making this decision is always a tricky one.

The truth is, regardless of what you decide, hiring one person to handle your marketing will always be the wrong choice. This is because no single person can really solve all your marketing problems. 

You might be lucky to get someone who does the strategy, writes your copy, manages the ads, does the project management and collects relevant marketing data for reporting. This kind of person is called a ‘T-shaped’ marketer; they specialise in one channel and know a lot about other channels.

However, avoid making them responsible for executing and managing the long list of channels and activities that are available. Doing this will lead to burn-out, poor results and false negatives as you don’t fully test anything effectively.

Startup Marketing requires a team of specialists; you need to hire experts in each and every channel you operate. 

If you’re in a position to hire a team, then fantastic. Most often than not, startups don’t have the budget to hire specialists, so another option is to outsource some of your marketing activities - you can talk to us at Startup LaunchCode.


Startup Marketing can be time-consuming and difficult to get the kind of result you desire, but it is essential to get it right at the early stage of the startup. 

Try as much as possible to avoid those death traps, and you will be on your way to building the next unicorn startup.

You can book a season here or send us an email at info@startuplauchcode.co.

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