9 Biggest Marketing Mistakes of Startups

Posted Posted in Marketing Automation, Startups

I’ve worked with hundreds of startups over the years. Some struggled, some failed and some were wildly successful. The thing the companies that struggled and failed had in common was making serious mistakes in their marketing. The one thing the wildly successful firms had in common was avoiding the worst marketing mistakes and pitfalls.

Here  is a list of the 9 biggest mistakes that startups make:

  1. Failing to Invest or Not Investing Enough – When you’re a startup cash is always an issue and keeping a tight lid on expenses can be a lifesaver when you’re just starting. But just like other areas of the business, you need to invest in marketing. Marketing, done properly, can have an outsized effect on the growth of the business.
  2. Failing to Focus on the Importance of Branding and Positioning – The beauty of marketing is there’s a lot of things you can do to promote and grow your company and many can be done without spending a fortune. But one of the areas you need to spend is in imagine and branding. Having a professional image, a clean logo and good branding standards can make you look bigger and badder than you really are. It’s almost like faking it ’til you make it.
  3. Leading with Tactics – When you’re starting out, the first thing you think you want to do is get customers and revenue in the door. You think about running individual tactics such as advertisements and social media marketing. But before you drive up a tab on executing tactics you need to make sure you’ve got a strategy and that strategy should be driven by a fully-orbed, well-thought-out and clearly articulated vision.
  4. Failing to Specialize – When I meet with new clients one of the first things I ask them is: What’s your target market and what does your “ideal client?” Successful companies can answer that in a heartbeat. Struggling companies say, “Well we’ve sold to a lot of clients in the XYZ industry and we have referenceable clients there. We also have clients in the ABC industry. But we wouldn’t turn away work from the ABC, LMNOPQ, DEF, RST industries either. You need to focus! What industry/industries do you offer the most value to? In which industries do you have a strategic advantage over other competitors?
  5. Failing to Say What You’re Not – This may surprise you, but in addition to saying who you are and what you do, it’s equally (or more) important to say who you are not and what you will not do! A company that tries to do everything for everyone when they’re first starting up will fail. Think about where the areas or industries where you don’t have as strong of a play or aren’t completive. You either need to adapt and get the skills that allow you to be successful or avoid that industry and move on.
  6. Failing to Prioritize – When you’re starting out, there are a million tasks that need to be done. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of things that need to get accomplished every day. Successful entrepreneurs know how to prioritize their time and strive to “be ruthless with time and gracious with people.” The reality is, in addition to investing money in your company’s marketing you have to invest your time as well.
  7. Failing to Delegate – When you’re starting out, everyone is busy and they have a lot to do, but you’ve got to learn to delegate. If you don’t have anyone staff with the appropriate skills to complete the tasks you want to delegate, you can use inexpensive services like Fiverr or Upwork to get tasks completed quickly without breaking the bank.
  8. Over-Investing in Agencies – Okay, you’re probably thinking, they just told me to spend and invest and now they’re telling me: “Don’t over-invest in agencies.” The reason I say this is because using a full-service marketing agency can be very expensive. While agencies have a broad set of skills that you can’t afford (in time or money) to learn, their pricing can force you to pay for things you don’t need or aren’t appropriate at your stage of development.
  9. Wanting to Automate Too Soon – Marketing automation can be incredibly powerful! You can use a marketing automation system to develop a “lead generation machine.” They can also be very expensive. The mistake that a lot of companies make is to invest in marketing automation too soon. Marketing automation works well once you’ve developed a strategy, built a website and built out a library of premium content offers. Having all of these things allow you to create workflows to trigger automated events to help nurture prospects. But investing and trying to implement a marketing automation platform system can be costly and frustrating because you’re “putting the cart before the horse.”

If you’re a startup, there are a lot challenges. There are a lot of demands on your time. By avoiding some of these common pitfalls you should be able to get more done in less time. If you’re a startup and need help, you may want to take us up on a free consultation.

3 Reasons why Bad Marketing is Worse than none

3 Reasons Bad Marketing is Worse than No Marketing

Posted Posted in Marketing Automation, Startups, Strategy

Marketing done poorly is worse than no marketing at all! How do I know? Because I’ve witnessed it first-hand. Marketing done poorly can irreparably damage your brand.  There are a lot of reasons why this true, but we’ve narrowed it down to 3.

  1. Bad Marketing Sets the Wrong Expectation – If your marketing is inconsistent and unreliable, prospects will expect the same thing about your company’s products and services. For example. if you say you’ll be sending out a weekly email newsletter and you send one out and then another 6 months later, what does that say about how you keep your word?It’s incredibly important that your marketing is a consistent, planned effort that makes your company look reliable, dependable and competent. We recommend using a content map and editorial calendar that maps out your marketing plan and sets deadlines and keeps you on point.
  2. Bad Marketing can be Unrecoverable – An improper marketing strategy or bad branding can destroy your product. An example of this that you see with some degree of regularity is companies that take a product or brand to a new geographic market without knowing what your brand or product name means in their language. There are entire websites dedicated to this concept. But sometimes it can be a simple type that can ruin your brand. Once you put out your marketing piece, it belongs to the internet. Nothing will go viral faster than an embarrassing gaff or typo. Some errors are embarrassing and laughable others are fatal.
  3. Bad Marketing Wastes Time and Resources – You have a limited number of resources and a limited number of hours in the day. Time and resources wasted on bad marketing can be better spent on other activities that drive sales or improve operations. Time is the most valuable resource and once it’s gone it cannot be recovered. The opportunity cost of resources wasted on marketing that unproductive (at best) and damaging (at worst) is incredibly high because not only are resources not put to their best and highest use, but the negative effects of bad marketing can irreparably damage your brand.

So how can you know that you’re not engaging in bad marketing? It’s simple:

  • Be consistent with your marketing. Don’t allow dates to slip and introduce new marketing materials when you say you will.
  • Strive to only create marketing materials that add value for your prospects. If you can’t readily and immediately answer the WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) question from your prospects’ point of view, chances are you’re missing the mark.
  • Only release marketing materials that are worthy of your brand! This can be a little tricky. Some think that everything that’s produced must be perfect and highly polished. For many businesses, a short, impactful marketing piece may be sufficient. For example, you don’t need to rent out a production facility to create a promotional video. A decent video with good content and good quality audio and clear visuals can go a long way.

If you’re worried that your marketing is getting off-track, we’d love to speak with you about it. We even offer a free, no-obligation consultation.


Future Proof Your Marketing

Future-Proof Your Marketing

Posted Posted in Marketing Automation, Marketing Best Practices, Marketing Trends, Strategy, Uncategorized

There has been a great deal of buzz lately about “Future-Proofing Your Marketing.” The articles have fallen somewhere in a range between unhelpful and “intriguing.” The reason these articles have been largely unhelpful is because they have: A) Lacked any meaningful insight on what the future of marketing of will be. B) Lacked any type of actionable steps to prepare to “future proof” your marketing

So why have these articles been, by-and-largely, so unhelpful? How can you provide advice on how to future-proof against future threats most lack the vision on what the future will hold?

Artificial Intelligence

The future of marketing will be all about predicting and influencing consumer behavior via Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI will be used for predictive analytics. Being able to anticipate consumers’ behaviors will separate successful brands from dinosaurs. Some companies are doing this very successfully, Target comes to mind. They were on the bleeding edge of this trend more than 6 years ago, and the anecdote of their success became stuff of legend when they predicted a pregnancy. Having the ability to predict behavior will enable you to tailor offers to shape consumer behavior and choice.


Imagine having the ability to create real-time, on-demand user driven content that provided searchers and consumers with EXACTLY the content an information they are seeking. Today, creating content is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process that requires content creators to come up with content ideas, conduct research, create the content, edit and optimize the content, publish the content, promote the content. Imagine if AI and marketing automation could do all of it providing exactly what the user wants…that’s the future of marketing.

Omnipresent Marketing

As wearable and smart devices become more and more intelligent and integrated with consumers, they will provide an invaluable way for companies to track, monitor and even shape consumer behavior. Knowing an incredibly personal information about a person’s behavior will enable marketers with access unprecedented insights into buyer behavior and new and unprecedented ways to communicate with and influence consumers.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

Imagine test driving a car from the comfort of your home. Not just a tour of the vehicle, but interacting with it. You drive, steer and control the car and car reacts as it really would if you were driving it. That’s the potential of Augmented and Virtual Reality. You will be able to interact with brands and products in as-to-now unimagined way.

So How Do You “Future Proof” Your Marketing?

Know Your Market

To stay ahead of your competitors, you need to know your market better than they do. Studying your customers and prospects and learning and knowing everything you can about their end-customers will keep you in the driver’s seat.

Collect Data

If you’re not already doing so, you’ll want to begin collecting as much data as you can. Sales data, and client behavior, product preferences, etc. You should also start collecting and analyzing website data. In the short-term you will learn new insights about your customers and prospects’ behaviors. In the long-term, with enough data and the right AI technology, you’ll be able to predict their behavior and the content that will draw them to you.

Embrace Technology

The use of marketing automation can improve your ability to outpace your competition. Used correctly, marketing automation allows you to test different approaches and tactics to determine which ones work best.  The use of CRM systems will allow you to track client transactions, track client preferences and help grow your business.

No one knows precisely what the future will bring, betting closer to your clients and better understanding of their pains, preferences and buying habits will always pay dividends. We’d love to hear from you! What are your ideas of what the future of marketing might look like and how you plan to future-proof your marketing.



Marketing Automation Implementation

6 Things to Consider When Implementing Marketing Automation

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Marketing Automation

A well implemented Marketing Automation system can create a lead generation machine and create a definitive competitive advantage. A poorly implemented marketing automation can put your entire business in jeopardy.

While there are lots of things consider when implemented a marketing automation system, there are 6 important factors that should be at the top of your list.

  1. Select the Right Platform – There are a number of factors that will impact the marketing automation system you choose (e.g. scalability, functionality, cost, industry.) A marketing automation system that is designed primarily for business-to-business (B2B) will not be priced appropriately for a business-to-consumer (B2C) that’s marketing to extremely large numbers of people.
  2. Strategy First – Map your customer’s buyer journey; create content that ties to the journey; create conversion offers that appeal to your buyers. Marketing automation systems should simplify the process of giving prospects the information they need at the moment they need it. Mapping vague, meaningless processes because they’re what you’ve always done negates most of the advantages of having marketing automation.
  3. Marry Sales and Marketing – Marketing should drive sales leads. Sales revenues should fund marketing initiatives. The marketing automation system should be, to the greatest degree possible, seamlessly integrated with your sales team’s CRM system. This will provide the sales team with visibility into the marketing team’s activities and results. This will also allow marketing to make sure that leads are being followed up in a timely manner as well as allowing them to see the amount of revenue a particular campaign generated (imagine having accurate marketing ROI!)
  4. Automated Workflows are Your Friend – Nearly all mainstream marketing automation systems have the ability to create automated workflows. These are automatically generated responses to a particular event is triggered. For example, once a prospect responds to a call-to-action, the system can be set up to initiate a series of follow up emails to spur additional engagement and qualification. Many systems even allow to create automated responses that involve a decision tree type of logic. This allows you to tailor offers specifically to a prospect’s particular interests.
  5. Policies, Practices and Procedures – It’s critically important to create policies, practices and procedures on how the systems will be used. User roles should be defined. Reporting frequency and the metrics that are to be tracked. The rules for what would constitute a lead sufficiently qualified to initiate a sales initiative.
  6. If You’re Not an Expert, Find an Expert – If you’ve never implemented a marketing automation system,  you should pay an expert to help you. What’s the most expensive software system? One you pay for but never implement! Find someone with a demonstrable track record of successful implementations.

This list isn’t exhaustive, nor it intended to be. These are a few of the most important factors to think about. If you’re at the point where you need a marketing automation system, you’ll pay for it whether you purchase it or not. Properly implemented, a marketing automation system can be a game changer. Are you at a point where you’re looking systems and need guidance, contact us!