In our previous article, we spoke about what product marketing is, why it’s important, and that it’s quite hard to do it right. To give you a better understanding of product marketing, we’ll elaborate on common mistakes startups make and offer tips to avoid them.

Common Marketing Mistakes Startups Make

No marketing

It is not a secret that startups often have limited budgets, so they spend their money on product development and ignore marketing. Butif you build it, they will comeis not a reliable strategy. And it’s a big mistake to cut your expenses on marketing.Instead, youshould pay attention to the return on investment (ROI) of your marketing activities. As long as they’re positive, you should continue to invest.

Too much marketing

Along with the “no marketing” strategy, there’s also the “too much marketing” strategy.

Let’s assume you have an awesome product and you want everybody to know about it ASAP. You want to go viral. To be omnipresent. So you spend huge sums of money on marketing campaigns. You’re trying to be everywhere. And as a result, very soon you run out of money. Rein it in and start slow. You don’t want to blow your budget this early in the game. Test different marketing strategies in the early startup stages for little money. Also, doing too much can mean nothing is executed well.

Focus on keeping your customers satisfied: your business will expand naturally from referrals. Don’t chase every opportunity; instead, do research and choose your tactics wisely.

Not gathering feedback

It’s obvious that not gathering user feedback makes it harder to improve your product. After all, how can you know what new features to add and which to change if you don’t ask your users? Almost all digital products have a feedback section. But few people leave feedback if you don’t ask. So just ask them. It’s simple and it works.

Etsy increased their number of reviews by 25% just by sending a follow-up email asking their customers for a review. All they needed to do was ask.

Top Startup Marketing Mistakes
Source: public domain

Let’s take a look at it from the user’s side. Imagine you’re a user and you want an e-wallet. What will you do first? Probably you’ll go to the App Store or Google Play Store and search for apps with high ratings and lots of positive reviews. Research by BrightLocal shows that 88% of consumers trust user reviews as much as personal recommendations and that 57% of consumers will only buy or use a service if it has at least a 4-star rating.

Validating your product and company with social proof is an excellent marketing strategy.

The key to getting positive feedback from users is to make them happy with your product. Give your customers great user experience and they’ll bring you, new customers.

Top Startup Marketing Mistakes

And don’t forget to say thank you for feedback and participation.

Anyone can do it

There’s a reason why marketing is usually done by professionals: marketing is an always-changing landscape. What works today might not work tomorrow. You need marketers who can quickly adapt to сhanges.Of course, you can and should do some marketing activities yourself, butexperience has shown that hiring skilled marketers is much more efficient and cheaper in the end.

Usually, startup owners don’t take marketing seriously. And it can be a fatal mistake.

CB Insights compiled a list of startup failure post-mortems and found that one of the top 20 reasons startups fail is poor marketing. CB Insights cited one respondent who went by the name Overto as saying:

“Thin line between life and death of internet service is a number of users. For the initial period of time, the numbers were growing systematically. Then we hit the ceiling of what we could achieve effortlessly. It was time to do some marketing. Unfortunately, no one of us was skilled in that area. Even worse, no one had enough time to fill the gap. That would be another stopper if we dealt with the problems mentioned above.”

The following chart shows the most common reasons startups fail according to CB Insights.

top reasons why startups fail

No marketing plan

A marketing plan is as important as a business plan. It’s rare for someone to start a business with no clue about how it will work in the future. But many companies do marketing chaotically, with no structure. And as a result, they can’t analyze marketing ROI.If you don’t have a solid marketing plan and strategy, it’s impossible to reach conclusions regarding the overall picture of your marketing campaigns: what’s working and what isn’t.A good marketing plan and strategy can save lots of money.

Too much attention to competitors

It’s essential to track and analyze your competitors if you want to be at least one step ahead.

You can even hijack some useful ideas from them – but don’t blindly copy their strategies. If you’re too focused on what your competitors are doing, you’ll lose focus on your own business.

Copycatting won’t help you. First, your competitors’ marketing strategy might work for them, but it won't work for you. Second, if you follow somebody else’s strategy, you won’t be able to predict and plan your next steps. Each business has its own strengths and weaknesses, and you need to identify yours.

Wrong marketing channels

There are so many places where you can get in touch with your audience: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and many other platforms. But you can’t be everywhere. So you need to choose those channels where your audience hangs out, explore your audience’s interests, and provide awesome and useful content. For example, if your product is targeting 16- to 24-year-olds, LinkedIn won’t be a good choice. A well analyzed and documented customer persona will help you avoid spending money on the wrong channels.

Doing the same thing forever

Marketing can’t be done only once. If you want your product to be in the public eye, engage new customers, and satisfy existing customers, marketing should be your ongoing work. The world is changing rapidly, and your strategies should be adapted to it. You should always explore new ways to improve your messaging and value proposition.

Expecting results overnight

Some companies stop their marketing because they aren’t able to see the results as soon as they want. Maybe somebody told them they could get incredible results over a short period of time. Yes, some marketing tactics can give you quick results. But the whole strategy requires time and patience. Moreover, you should track and analyze everything you do. Otherwise, you’ll never know your ROI and you’ll never get the information you need to make improvements for future campaigns.

Unspecified target audience

Choosing the right marketing channels is very important. However, you should do one more thing after you’ve chosen channels: properly define your target audience. The main problem is that many startups don’t pay enough attention to targeting the right people. The desire to be everywhere leads to draining your marketing budget without getting anything in return. Be specific, save your budget, and find your customers.

Top Startup Marketing Mistakes
Source: by Anna Soboleva

Hiring a product marketer too late

Many companies hire a product marketing manager (PMM) only a few weeks prior to a commercial launch – or even after the commercial launch. They think a PMM will come, do some magic, and make their product spread like wildfire. But thebest time to hire a PMM is right after you hire a product manager. A product marketer needs time to understand your product and build a strategy.


Going big and global is what lots of businesses want. Companies that plan their marketing strategies and execute them mostly end up winning in the long run. They understand their market and customers and have more chances to win.

We hope our recommendations are useful and will help you save tons of time and money. Want to get a free consultation from Steelkiwi? Just message us.