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Bad Marketing Decisions That Kill Startups


Marketing can make or break business startups, and that’s one truth you have to know if you’re about to join the fray. There’s another truth you have to ponder on, not to scare or discourage you, but to give you a rational perspective: Startups are more vulnerable than established businesses. Thus, it makes even more sense to have a solid marketing plan at the outset.

The thing is, many beginners make fatal mistakes that kill their businesses before they even begin to thrive. We don’t blame them. In fact, failures are common in business. Bad marketing strategies and approaches are so common that we would be surprised if any successful business or entrepreneur would tell us they sailed smoothly all throughout.

So what do starters do wrong?



The first thing we notice is marketers or businesses spending big on marketing early into the business. Overzealous marketing is not necessarily bad. If you can get away with shelling out huge funds to promote your brand, then who are we to keep you from doing it. However, from what we’ve observed, spending too much too soon has noticeable, sometimes painful, drawbacks. The biggest risk is breaking your bank for nothing. The other drawback is exact opposite — a surge in popularity and demand that you are unprepared for.

Overzealous marketing also takes the form of a crowded marketing staff. You want the best for your business, so you hire the best people, pay for premium marketing services in town. Wait a minute! Just how big have you started? How big is your business? How big is your potential market? Does it make sense to hire a team? Or is it possible to hire one or two marketers? There is the right market budget and marketing team size for every type of business. As your business grows you may need more people. But right now keep your business up within your means.

The third mistake we often see is too much focus on the brand. This is what customers hate about advertising, the chief reason they have gone deaf to TV or online ads. In today’s marketing climate, it’s a no-no. Brand-centered marketing irks customers. What customers like to see is you talking about their issues and offering solutions. It’s impossible to know what your customers want without research. Thus, you have to do your homework. Understand your niche. Recognize what people in this niche look for. Cater to their needs. Make them the focus of your approach. Remember your business is about them, not about you.


Copying what your competitors are doing is a newbie mistake. We understand that. You want to create your mark early on. You want people to notice you. Who else would you be chasing aside from the followers of your competitors at the start of your business? So in the process, you find out what your competitors are doing and copy them. Wrong! This is disastrous. Keep in mind your competitors are way ahead of you. They have perfected the template your merely copying. You most likely will not replicate their success. The only thing you may have succeeded in doing is making a bad copy of a well structured plan. Find unique selling points. Devise your own plan. Catch people’s attention without appearing like a hilarious copycat. In some cases, starting relationships with competitors, as in the case of influencer marketing, which may sound counterintuitive may just work.



Perhaps there is no bigger tragedy than failing to measure the results of your marketing efforts. A rational marketer thinks about where every penny of their marketing budget goes and whether they get anything for every penny spent. If you are not wondering whether your plan and strategies are working, then you’re shooting without checking you’re hitting your targets. You are potentially wasting money and resources. You may think it’s a stupid mistake. The truth is, 84% of businesses, for instance, don’t track return of investment of their social media strategies.

Today’s marketing for the most part is digital marketing, an activity that requires you to be tech and internet savvy. If you’re not, then hire someone who is. The thing about online marketing is it relies on analytical and tracking tools to measure the effectiveness of your strategies. Google Analytics easily comes to mind. It’s free, so you have no reason to not use. It’s a very popular and reliable tool that marketers and search engine optimizers use to track the success of their tactics.

The seventh mistake is spreading yourself too thinly. Many entrepreneurs start on tight budget. It’s seriously challenging, forcing starters to do everything alone. But marketing is a multifaceted aspect of any business. It demands so much time and attention that if you’re only focusing your resources on it, you’re potentially leaving other aspects of your business behind. Many business owners think hiring a marketer is a waste of money, and that closes doors to opportunities. In most cases, the issue isn’t whether or not to hire a marketing specialist, but who to hire.


Finally, the thing we see not uncommonly is not doing any marketing. Many businesses, especially small ones, opt out on marketing. This is a terrible mistake. Even local businesses suffer from the consequences of forgoing marketing and advertising. People need to know about your brand, and the only way you can put it out there is through marketing. Also, you can’t expect your business to grow without growing your audience.