Other than hot-blooded passion, your new business needs cold hard cash, from sales, for growth and sustainability. Many start-ups fail at this stage, losing thousands and millions of precious resources! So what you need is a sound marketing strategy to market your product in the right way. With a diverse population, Entrepreneurship in Malaysia calls for much creativity and innovation, especially marketing to different target audiences. Avoid these examples of common marketing mistakes that many startups make.
Thinking that a good product sells itself, magically
Spending all the time, effort and resources to create that world-class product, only to leave it sitting in front of you, is the worst investment any startup can make. Although word-of-mouth advertising is an effective way of marketing; without pushing it out to the world, how will anyone know about your product in the first place? Great products can only be great if they get out there and solve the problems that others face. That is the whole purpose of Marketing, to put your product in front of your customers.
Start by drawing up a marketing plan, a written statement that details who the customers are, how they will be targeted and what the goals are. It should also describe the key marketing strategies and the key areas of measurement so that you know when to switch your course of action. Will the focus be on bringing your business social or on traditional forms like printed advertisements or participating in exhibitions and roadshows? What are your goals and how many customers are you going to convert by the end of the campaign?
Make sure you have it all written down as a research by Content Marketing Institute found that marketers with a written out plan are twice as likely to say that their marketing is effective, as compared to those who had not written it out.
Thinking that a perfect brand comes from you alone
On the other spectrum, we have entrepreneurs who are all for marketing. That is all good unless you are one of those who spends all your time trying to perfect your brand and the brand assets. Perfection can never be achieved in stagnation. With stretched resources, it is more crucial to quickly move and get your product in the hands of your customers than choosing the perfect colour for your website.
Whilst it is common for startups to rebrand or rename their product after some time, it is not just for aesthetic reasons that they do so. Once you have built your audience, obtain feedback to understand what works or does not work for them. Make changes and tweaks along the way to better connect with customers and for a better representation of the product. Only then perfection can be achieved.
Thinking that marketing with a big bang will get better returns
For marketing enthusiasts, this is not true! Many entrepreneurs who are eager to launch their products with a big bang, spend too fast and too much on Marketing. Spending more does not necessarily lead to more returns. It can be likened to casting your net widely in open waters and hoping that you will catch the most fishes. There are two possible outcomes. One, you don’t catch any fishes at all because that spot is simply barren. Two, you catch more fishes than you can handle and the boat sinks.
Rather, work on Targeted Marketing. Segment your customers into smaller groups or into different buying profiles. This will allow you to test and measure the Return on Investments from each campaign and from each market segment. Learn where the fattest fishes swim and how they swim, so you can develop the best techniques to catch them all!
Without a clear plan and understanding of customers, this is a sure-fire way to run out of resources.
Thinking that the best way is the competitor’s way
Competitors, direct or indirect are present in almost all industries. It is important to identify who they are and to know what they are doing. While it is wise to learn from their successes, it is downright lazy to simply copy what they do – not to mention quite unwise as well.
As each business is different, its needs, resources and experiences also differ. For example, a competitor who has been in business for a long time may have amassed a large pool of resources to engage a celebrity for endorsement, while a start-up, on the other hand, may not have access to such marketing tactics. Instead, look where your competitors are lacking and fill up those gaps.
Don’t be a copycat business, identify and market your “secret sauce” – the very thing that makes your product different from another. Build upon this point of differentiation to open up new opportunities for your business.
Thinking that it is a waste of time to test and track marketing
As Chief Sumo of AppSumo, Noah Kangan says, “if you didn’t measure it, it didn’t happen”. There are many ways and platforms available for marketing. If you are doing everything you think works without actually knowing if they work, you are slowly and surely killing your startup.
With limited resources at hand, it is crucial that every dollar works hard. By testing and tracking marketing efforts, you can change strategy to reduce losses or maximise yields by sticking to a certain method. It can be as easy as inserting a serial number in a discount coupon, allocating different links from different platforms leading to the same web page or even crafting different messages for the same group of customers.
Your customers are constantly bombarded by advertising and messages throughout the day how do you know if they heard you through the crowd? How do you know if you got the correct channel to reach them? The only way is to test and track so you can improve, reaching your best customers in the shortest time.
Know of more avoidable mistakes that you’d like to share with fellow entrepreneurs? Share them with us at ‘Share Your Juices’!