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10 mistakes that will doom a startup’s first marketing campaign

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Entrepreneurs have energy and passion, but those vital elements can misfire without clear direction and a purpose-driven plan. Identifying potential pitfalls can help.

Most new companies (90%) fail within four months—long before they generate profits—and poor marketing is a primary reason.

As you plan your inaugural promotional effort, note these 10 common errors so you can avoid the abyss of failure.

1. Lack of clear goals

“Let’s drive as many visitors to our website as we possibly can, and we’ll achieve maximum exposure.”

Not so fast.

Key questions remain: Whom would you be targeting? Everyone? That’s too broad a goal for a new company.

If you don’t have a large workforce you should have detailed, specific goals so you can measure success. For example, set your sights on:

  • Increasing website traffic by 10% in three months

  • Selling 100 software packages within two months

  • Reaching a 12% conversion rate by the end of March

Such goals give clear direction and help you assess your campaign. Just be realistic in setting benchmarks: It’s much better to exceed expectations than to be disappointed.

2. Targeting too much or too little

Target the audience segments most likely to purchase your product or service, and tailor your messaging to them.

Online tools can make targeting easier for businesses. For example, Facebook Audience Insights and Instagram Insights provide data on demographics, geography, purchasing behavior and other information.

3. Failing to harness your creativity

People are tired of hard-sell marketing. Innovative, engaging ads make a lasting impression by charming the targeted audience. Make your first campaign as creative and original as possible, presenting your brand as unique.

4. Not creating high-quality, dedicated landing pages

A website landing page is a fundamental online marketing tool that captures leads and potentially turns them into customers. Businesses with 10 to 15 landing pages increase leads by 55%, and those with more than 40 landing pages get 12 times more leads than companies with five or fewer landing pages. A dedicated landing page for a specific content persona or customer group boosts lead generation. A mediocre landing page can doom the entire campaign, though. Make sure all copy on those pages is well edited.

5. Failing to monitor and modify your campaign

Online business is not for the impatient; your first campaign won’t make your brand as famous as its biggest competitors. Monitoring marketing campaigns helps you see what’s working and what’s not. You’ll know where to eliminate problems, and you’ll spot the best-performing methods and invest more in them.

6. Not testing the most important elements

When you create multiple campaigns, you must identify which has the best potential. Test different versions—one variable at a time—to avoiding spending on ineffective content.

Note email send times, target audiences, etc. A/B testing is wise, and many platforms and tools provide it. Facebook Audience Insights enables users to create a split test.

7. Not crafting a cohesive strategy

This misstep will undermine your overarching objectives. A single campaign is just a part of the overall business strategy.

8. Failing to develop buyer personas

If you don’t know your ideal customer, you’ll end up with a messy, nebulous approach. Creating a buyer persona to embody your ideal customer helps you understand the behaviors, perceptions, problems and needs of your target audience. Polish your messaging to make it specific and appealing to targeted audience segments.

9. Treating social media platforms as a monolith

Embrace each social media platform as unique.

People visit Facebook to learn about your company’s activities, get information about new products, connect with customer service, and explore upcoming events. Build a fan base through entertaining and educational posts, and then share your products, services, offers, updates and news.

Twitter is an agile platform for jumping on breaking news and interacting with consumers (including customer service).

Instagram is ideal for sharing photos of your products, team members and successful projects.

People visit LinkedIn to share professional experiences, connect with others in their industry or professional niche, and get updates and news on people and companies that interest them. LinkedIn is a great platform for prospecting, recruiting and sharing your expertise.

10. Not offering a clear call to action (CTA)

A CTA encourages your audience to take the key step toward becoming a customer. If you have multiple calls to action on a single landing page, though, you’ll dilute your results.To craft a clear and personalized CTA and maximize its effectiveness, apply these techniques:

  • Make it action-oriented to nurture interest in your company/topic.

  • Make it stand out. All CTAs should be clearly visible to draw audience attention.

  • Key on urgency. Stress that taking an immediate action unlocks key benefits, such as a discount.

  • Emphasize benefits for customers. Instead of using, “Download now,” and, “Contact us,” focus on the specific benefit, such as, “Get My Industry Report,” “Show Me How to Expand My Business,” or “Sign up for Free Trial.”

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