I have been working with a lot of dynamic, young companies lately as an advisor, mentor and consultant. It’s a lot of fun, and not surprisingly, I see many of the same initial marketing mistakes made over and over. While none of them are fatal, they are pretty easy to avoid in the first place if you just know what to look for:
1. Telling your customer what you want them to know instead of what they want to know. This issue arises mostly in sales pitches and website copy. Typically, founders are so justifiably excited about their business that they want to tell everyone everything. I even have one client whose company’s original voicemail message was two minutes long!
Solution: Realize that your goal is to get people to buy whatever you are selling. Identify the information that is critical to help them decide to purchase. You may also want to identify the information in your selling pitch, materials and website that are cool but really “nice to know” and incidental to the purchase decision.
Try to make sure you are using more “need to know” information versus “nice to know”. And if you’re not sure which is which, pay attention to the reason why your first few customers actually do buy. That’s a great place to start! And remember, as with all things related to marketing, it’s okay to experiment and evolve, as long as you’re paying attention and course correcting along the way as you get new information.
2. Putting all of your content into the body of your newsletter. Remember that one of the primary purposes of a newsletter and other marketing tactics is to drive people to your website. Because of this, all of your articles should drive people to your site.
Solution: Truncate the articles in the newsletter and include links to the complete articles that you house on your website.
3. Doing tactics because you think you should. For example, automatically creating a Facebook page for your business regardless of whether your customers are a) on Facebook and, most importantly, b) would be interested in buying or even discussing your product when they’re on Facebook.
Solution: Take an hour to identify your overall marketing objective and the related marketing strategies. Then select tactics that will actually drive those strategies. Here’s an example of a basic marketing plan template.
4. Not taking the time to rough out your positioning. Just like a business plan, it makes a big difference when you actually write it down versus keeping it in your head!
Solution: Take a few minutes to write it down. Here’s the basic template. Try it out and let me know if you have any questions: Positioning Template
Finally, notice that I didn’t say it’s a mistake to be “doing the marketing yourself” – that’s absolutely okay. Just be thoughtful about your marketing, try to avoid the mistakes above, and leverage your passion to sell in the early days. Once you are around $1.5M-$2M in revenue, it will probably be time to revisit whether doing the marketing yourself is the highest and best use of your time. And hopefully that day will come a lot sooner than you expect!