05/18/2015 11:50 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The 10 Most Common Startup Marketing Mistakes


Some marketing mistakes are inevitable, but these all-too-common startup marketing mistakes can be avoided if you know what to look for.

Startups face a number of unique challenges when it comes to marketing. With restricted budgets, limited resources, and a desperate need to get their name visible to the public, it puts entrepreneurs in a tight spot. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, most entrepreneurs run into issues as soon as they get the ball rolling. These ten mistakes are the most common reasons why:

1. Not marketing. Because budgets are often tight in startups, marketing is sometimes seen as superfluous and is the first strategy to get cut. However, if your ROI is positive, any money you invest in marketing will come back to you with interest.

2. Choosing the wrong channels. There are dozens, if not hundreds of marketing channels available. If you only use a few, or you use the wrong ones, you could sabotage your entire effort.

3. Failing to do advance research. There's a ton of data available out there. If you aren't making use of it, you'll be flying blind when you go to market.

4. Neglecting to understand your audience. Your audience isn't "everybody," so who are your real core demographics? Take the time to get to know your ideal customer, and market to them directly.

5. Not putting a brand first. At the center of every marketing initiative should be your core brand. If you don't have a solid brand, you're destined to fail.

6. Expecting overnight results. Most marketing budgets, especially ones that involve building an online presence, require weeks to months of effort before you start seeing results. Don't give up too soon.

7. Thinking you can do everything yourself. Marketing is a lot of work, and it's best handled by someone who knows what they're doing. Hiring a resource or working with an outside agency are your best strategies for success if you have limited personal experience.

8. Mimicking a competitor. Don't simply mimic the strategy of one of your competitors. It could lead to confusion in the market and make you appear unoriginal.

9. Waiting too long. Like I said, marketing is a long-term investment. The sooner you get started, the sooner you'll start seeing a payoff.

10. Failing to measure results. You have to track everything you do, including how much you spent and how much traction you received. Otherwise, you'll never know your ROI, and you'll never get the information you need to make improvements over time.

Raise your awareness to prevent these mistakes, but if you do make mistakes in your initial marketing campaigns, don't sweat it. Mistakes are a natural part of business operations. Learn what you can from the experience and move on to better strategies.

Jose Vasquez is a serial entrepreneur and tech enthusiast dedicated to helping startup technology companies get the direction and momentum they need to succeed. As the founder of Build. Brand. Blast., Jose has established a collective resource for tech entrepreneurs to consult when brainstorming, creating, launching, or expanding a new business. Jose is also the founder and CEO of Quez Media Marketing, a marketing firm that combines technology and creativity to help new and growing companies get the results they need.

Jose graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.

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