Five Marketing Mistakes First-Time Entrepreneurs Make

Launching a company is challenging, whether it be a simple online shop or the next billion-dollar app idea. This is mainly because we take on roles that are new to us and we lack the know-how to execute them properly. One of these roles will undoubtedly be “marketing manager”. Marketing is a broad domain and I would certainly advise you to learn some of the basics, but for now I will walk through some of the most common mistakes that I’ve seen starting entrepreneurs make.

1. Assuming you have a good product

Marketing always begins with the product. Without it there is no marketing. A good product can make all the difference in your marketing efforts, and unfortunately entrepreneurs are not always the best critics when it comes to assessing the quality of their own products. We all have our “aha” moment when we think were on to something, and we can offer a unique product to the world. The problem with this is that we base this on an assumption. Scientifically speaking this is the same as assuming your hypothesis is true without doing an experiment to prove it with factual data. So before you start with your marketing efforts, you need to prove that your product is a good one because even the best marketing campaign with a substantial budget can’t compensate for a bad product.

There are a number of different ways to do this, my favorite is concept testing. The goal of concept testing is to validate your business concept to determine whether your product can potentially be successful. The most common method entrepreneurs use nowadays is building a landing page or making a video explaining their concept. You can test the level of interest there is in your product by setting up a signup box to measure how interested potential customers are in your concept. The beauty of this method is that tit is cheap and easy to do and you can validate your idea almost instantly without wasting time.

2. Poor planning,

Marketing is a very strategic operation and thus requires precise planning. Not doing so will likely lead to poor return on investment and thus you will be flushing your money down the drain. The key to a good marketing plan is to understand the individual components and to use them strategically. All though there are quite a few components of a marketing plan I would start with the following:

- The target group (who is going to buy your product)

- The positioning (where does your product fit in the market)

- The message (what are you going to tell the target group)

- The medium (how are you going to tell the target group)

- The metrics (How are you going to measure the results)

These should be enough to get you started, however don’t hesitate to look at the competition and learn from what they’re doing.

3. Not willing to invest money

Having worked with quite a few entrepreneurs I often notice a big hesitation to invest money in marketing as it is considered a less prominent priority. Many entrepreneurs feel that it is difficult to invest money in marketing when you don’t see a direct return on investment. The thing with marketing though is that it isn’t a formula in which investing x amount of money will generate y amount of business. If it were anybody could do it. It’s far more experimental than that and requires accurate and strategic planning as mentioned before. However the good news is that marketing has become so much cheaper than ever before, not to mention more accurate. Both Google AdWords and Facebook Ads offer extremely cheap ad space with remarkable results. If you understand your target group well, you don’t have to invest a whole lot of money.

For those just starting out and who are not willing to invest money in marketing because they don’t have any, I get it. But don’t let money stop you. There are so many free digital channels that you can use to make impact, however it will require you to think creatively and outside of the box. Again ill mention that buying digital ad space doesn’t have to cost you a whole lot.

4. Relying too much on social media

I know what you’re thinking, I just mentioned how social media is such a great tool for cheap and affordable marketing. But that’s only if you’re paying for it. Many entrepreneurs think they can do everything with free social media, and unfortunately this isn’t the case. Most free social media channels make money from advertising, and because of that they restrict the impact level of free advertising. I would advise you to use social media, but be prepared to spend a little.

Furthermore entrepreneurs tend to forget that there are more channels at their disposal than just social media. The best marketing strategies make use of multiple channels to offer a wider reach and to engage customers on different levels. Think of ways in which you can reach your target group beyond social media. Get creative and don’t forget offline channels!

5. Poor value proposition

Value propositions are a core part of marketing. They serve as the foundation of your message and essentially show the consumer why they should buy your product. In other words the value proposition indicates the value of the product that is promised to the customer. This should be summarized in a simple and clear statement. For first time entrepreneurs this is often a challenging task as it requires a deep understanding of your product however this is also a good exercise.

No matter what your product is, it always does one thing and that is solve a specific problem. Your value proposition should demonstrate which problem you solve, what the benefits are of your product and why you as a brand are unique in comparison to your competitors. Your Value Proposition is the first thing your customers will read when coming into contact with your product online. It should be a well written statement that is concise and to the point. Anyone should be able to understand it. Use the Mom Test. Let your mom read it and see if she understands it. If so, then you’ve probably written a good value proposition.

Avoiding these five mistakes will definitely help you to hit the ground running but don’t forget that marketing is a very comprehensive domain. I would advise any entrepreneur to learn as much as you can about the principles of marketing and how to execute them properly. You don’t have to become a marketing major or even take classes, but pick up a couple books and browse the internet to learn more. Trust me, the more you know the better off you’ll be.