To help new entrepreneurs avoid common marketing pitfalls, we asked 20 marketing professionals and business owners to share their insights. From embracing marketing strategy experimentation to maintaining a clear brand message, these experts provide valuable advice on how to navigate the marketing landscape and achieve success.
- Embrace Marketing Strategy Experimentation
- Leverage Existing Clients and Referrals
- Gain Genuine Followers, Not Bots
- Market Solutions, Not Product Features
- Don’t Create a Faceless Brand
- Ensure Consistent Content Distribution
- Avoid Overspending on Early Marketing
- Prioritize Aligned Marketing Ideas
- Understand and Address Customer Needs
- Invest in Brand Building Activities
- Embrace Honesty in Marketing
- Check Out Organic Marketing First
- Establish a Specific Niche Market
- Invest in Audience Research and Strategy
- Build a Trustworthy Organic Presence
- Balance Your Story and Product
- Master One Channel Before Diversifying
- Delegate Tasks to Professionals
- Target a Specific Audience
- Maintain a Clear Brand Message
Embrace Marketing Strategy Experimentation
Often, entrepreneurs make the mistake of settling on one marketing strategy. They pour all their efforts into it, only to find it unexpectedly ineffective in driving new business. With a willingness to test and experiment with various marketing strategies, they can find the most effective approach.
New entrepreneurs should be bold and mix it up! They shouldn’t be afraid to explore different marketing avenues to find the one that best suits their business and resonates with their target audience.
Colleen Sproull, Content Marketing Manager, Evinex
Leverage Existing Clients and Referrals
One of the simplest mistakes many salespeople make is they don’t ask for the sale. They can provide great expertise and service to help their clients decide, but if they don’t actually make a sale, they wasted all of that time and effort. Many top salespeople possess the confidence and wisdom to ask for what they want: if the client is ready to close the deal.
It’s a similar lesson in marketing as an entrepreneur. Many startups focus on the hottest new web design, curating perfect photos for Instagram, and paid marketing that they overlook the obvious: clients that already believe in you/your product are the best ROI you can find.
Whether it’s their own repeat business or referrals from them, more focus should be put into keeping existing clients under your roof and building your community. This can be as simple as asking them to spread the word about your new business, which many will do. You can also reward them with special discounts and referral bonuses.
Chris Atkins, Owner and Founder, Central America Fishing
Gain Genuine Followers, Not Bots
New entrepreneurs can become overly excited about opportunities to promote their product. My company recognizes that we must use a variety of messaging to reach our varied customer base, from individuals to mega-corporate buyers.
Everyone acknowledges social media is an essential platform for business marketing. Yet, please be aware that buying followers on social media can be a scam. Often, perhaps most often, it wastes your money.
One basic reason for this is that a multitude of these followers, a measure of viewers and customers, are bots (i.e., not actual humans). Entrepreneurs think the more followers they have on Instagram, the better. But not all followers are created equal. Stick with known or at least screened potential customers, and watch closely where your new customers have discovered your offerings.
Ashley Kenny, Founder, Heirloom
Market Solutions, Not Product Features
Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of starting social media accounts, posting random content, and then wondering why it doesn’t work. If you’re optimistic, you might think that you just need to conduct more tests and continue learning. However, you’re likely running yourself in circles, wasting time, money, and effort.
In today’s crowded market, customers are bombarded with countless products and services. To stand out, businesses need to focus on the problem they are solving when they market their brand, rather than just the features of their product or service.
Because customers are not interested in your product, they are interested in solving a problem.
Joyce Tsang, Content Marketer and Founder, Joyce Tsang Content Marketing
Don’t Create a Faceless Brand
Your audience needs to know, like, and trust your business before they will buy from you. People love to buy from other people they align with.
Faceless brands can create skepticism in the eyes of consumers. When this is the case, the audience will question if they will actually get something in return when they plug in their credit card information for a purchase.
One way to establish the trust factor is to show the face behind the brand. Using this marketing strategy allows the audience to get to know the business owner faster. When the business owner shares their mission, core values, quirks, and humor by addressing the camera, this comes across as much more authentic than a static image post can feel.
It can take time for a new entrepreneur to get comfortable getting visible as the face of their brand, but with practice, this strategy can make a significant change for their business.
Megan Gersch, Owner and CEO
Ensure Consistent Content Distribution
Entrepreneurs often make the mistake that one press release or article in an industry publication will fix their pipeline issues. Every once in a while, you will catch lightning in a bottle. However, standing out in a crowded marketplace and generating inbound leads requires consistent content creation distributed through multiple channels via social media, blogs, emails, etc.
Paul Ptashnick, Self-Employed Copywriter and Marketing Consultant,
Avoid Overspending on Early Marketing
I’ve seen new entrepreneurs over-budget their marketing in the beginning time and time again. They’re trying to get their company in front of as many eyes as possible, but what they don’t realize is that they have no reputation to back the marketing.
Gain some traction, establish yourself, and get some happy customers behind you before you spend big on marketing. Thankfully, I never did this because contractors traditionally depend on word of mouth. I just let our work speak for itself for a couple of years until we grew enough to have a marketing budget.
Rick Berres, Owner, Honey-Doers
Prioritize Aligned Marketing Ideas
Entrepreneurs are usually excellent at coming up with ideas that are innovative and solve problems in new ways. The problem is that when applying that talent to marketing, an entrepreneur can often end up with a lot of great marketing ideas that aren’t supported by a cohesive strategy and a lack of capacity or budget to execute them all.
To avoid this trap, it is important to prioritize one or two ideas that connect to a business’s overall objectives and execute them all the way through to determine if they were successful before moving to a new idea. This way, an entrepreneur doesn’t end up with a lot of random acts of marketing with no strategy or measurement in place.
Jennifer Marino, Chief Marketing Officer, Marketri
Understand and Address Customer Needs
An expensive mistake by some new entrepreneurs is marketing aggressively as they launch their business without a well-thought-out mapping of the customer journey. New entrepreneurs can avoid this costly mistake by starting with in-depth research and being where their customers are to know them personally.
If you are a new entrepreneur, it is crucial to identify your market and truly understand their needs early in the conceptualization stage of your business so you can directly address them through your offering and, equally important, in your service.
The first hour of a new business is your first moment of truth in marketing. It is in this critical hour that customers would be delighted when they see you deliver your brand promise.
While it is a tremendous bonus that some of you can immediately afford various marketing activities, it would do your business better if the approach could be more targeted and focused on key messaging, if possible.
Tristan Harris, Demand Generation Senior Marketing Manager, Thrive Agency
Invest in Brand Building Activities
When I was a new entrepreneur, the biggest mistake I made was spending excessively on marketing. An expensive marketing budget does not automatically ensure that your efforts are reaching the right audience.
If you haven’t clearly defined your target audience or developed effective marketing strategies, you may end up targeting a broad or irrelevant audience. This can cause low conversion rates, wasted impressions, and ineffective lead generation.
It is important for entrepreneurs to keep in mind that focusing solely on expensive marketing tactics without investing in building a strong brand foundation can hinder long-term success. Brand building involves establishing your business’s unique identity, values, and reputation. It requires investing in activities like brand positioning, customer experience, and relationship building.
Neglecting these aspects in favor of costly marketing campaigns may lead to a shallow brand image and difficulty in building customer loyalty.
Joe Coletta, Founder and CEO, 180 Engineering
Embrace Honesty in Marketing
The #1 mistake new entrepreneurs make in marketing is to follow the advice of so-called “experts” who invite them to lie in their marketing to create fake urgency and scarcity. Examples of what not to do are:
1) To include a countdown timer in your email marketing and mention that the offer will no longer be available after the countdown expires, when in fact the offer is still very much available
2) To tell your audience that there are only 2 spots left for your offer when, in fact, there are more.
To avoid making this mistake, the solution is easy: be authentic, transparent, and honest. To have a sustainable business with loyal customers, you must value integrity first and foremost.
To invite your audience to buy using authentic marketing strategies, focus on how important it is to solve the problem they currently have (that your product or service solves), and what their life would look like after said problem was solved.
Jade Francesca, Aligned Marketing Strategist, Strategize with Creativity
Check Out Organic Marketing First
A costly mistake new entrepreneurs make in marketing is immediately spending money on paid advertising. They don’t realize how untapped free marketing can be if done properly.
For example, when you post on your personal LinkedIn account and someone likes or comments, your post will get pushed out to their network. This can quickly spiral into thousands of additional views on your content and profile at no cost to you.
With this chain reaction, there is a higher possibility of an entrepreneur’s post landing on the right person’s feed, and a potential lead being generated from it. I’ve generated 1.8M+ organic impressions from personal LinkedIn content without a single dollar in paid ads.
So, don’t dive right into paid advertising. Test organic marketing strategies and turn those impressions into leads that help you thrive in your entrepreneurial journey!
Matt Parkin, Founder, Mornings With Matt Consulting
Choose a Specific Niche Market
Many new entrepreneurs think they can serve the entire market. They want to serve small, medium-sized, and large businesses. Or they want to serve every age, every gender, and every other group that will spend money.
It’s a mistake to please everyone all the time. Instead, pick your target audience and focus on their needs. Be the best provider for small businesses or for women in the 35-54 age range, or some other group.
Then, narrow that down further. For example, be the best marketing company for small women-owned law firms in the New York City area. The narrower your niche, the more likely you will be to succeed in that space.
Dennis Consorte, Digital Marketing and Leadership Consultant for Startups, Snackable Solutions
Invest in Audience Research and Strategy
A common mistake new entrepreneurs often make is not fully understanding their target audience, which can lead to misguided initiatives and fiscal inefficiencies.
To circumvent this, entrepreneurs should invest time in thorough audience research. This includes identifying the ideal customer’s needs, wants, and pain points, conducting market research to understand their demographics, interests, and purchasing behaviors, and using social media to gain insights into their online discussions and interests.
Upon forming a vivid understanding of the target audience, a bespoke marketing strategy should be crafted. This strategy should delineate distinct objectives, select suitable marketing channels, generate captivating content that strikes a chord with the audience, and crucially, embed procedures to monitor and assess the outcomes.
Olga Noha, Chief Marketing Officer, Splitmetrics.com
Build a Trustworthy Organic Presence
New entrepreneurs typically understand that social media is a necessity when building up their business, however, the platforms have become more “pay to play” and have pushed the initiative with every “high performing” post that is created.
A mistake I see often is putting hundreds and thousands into social media ads without investing time into building their organic presence. People don’t trust social media profiles that appear abandoned or neglected—it seems like a scam.
Think about the times you’ve seen an ad on Instagram and you go to their profile to check out their trustworthiness. That organic presence can convert or turn off a potential client or sale.
Corey Brausch Hurley, Social Media Strategist, Seven Willows, LLC
Balance Your Story and Product
Your background story, if interesting enough, should be woven into the story of your company. But understand that you’re selling a product. You sell yourself to investors to get your company launched, but once it’s launched, you need to reward people to buy your products and services.
They like to learn about what inspired you to start your company, but your focus still needs to be on the company and what it offers them. Make sure they understand why they should choose your brand over the others.
Emily Onkey, Co-founder and CMO, Aplós
Master One Channel Before Diversifying
We’ve been helping entrepreneurs and brand founders since 2016. The major issue they make in marketing, especially if they don’t have a marketing background, is that they are trying to do everything, to be present everywhere, on all social media platforms.
Now, unless you have a massive team of experts, this is very difficult. You’re better off focusing your energy on one communication channel (that could be Twitter, Instagram, Email, or Radio) and becoming fantastic at it. Once you have gained a sizable audience, only then is the time to diversify and work on other channels.
Gabriel Kaam, CEO, KNR Agency
Delegate Tasks to Professionals
One mistake new entrepreneurs often make in marketing is attempting to learn and handle everything themselves. While it’s necessary to take on multiple roles in the beginning to build a proof of concept, it’s crucial to focus on setting up the essential foundations and then delegate tasks to experts as soon as financially viable.
By hiring professionals, entrepreneurs can benefit from their expertise and experience, which leads to more efficient and effective business strategies. It’s important to avoid micromanaging and instead allow the hired experts to do what they do best. Trusting their skills and knowledge will enable entrepreneurs to use their experience and achieve better business outcomes.
Adriana Stein, CEO and Founder, AS Marketing
Target a Specific Audience
“Sometimes too many is very less for specialization.”
Following the same, you must plan your marketing strategy that focuses on a specific audience. Let’s take an example of you wanting to open a new restaurant in India, but you choose to market through TikTok influencers or email marketing with data from the USA subscribers; then your money will be a complete waste.
I used to focus on Instagram and Facebook more to get updated about my field, but most of the time, I got distracted with reels or other stuff there. But then I was active on LinkedIn, which turned out to be very helpful.
Remember, it’s not about being everywhere, but about being in the right place where your target audience is most engaged.
Himadri Patel, Digital Marketing Executive, Ace Infoway Pvt
Maintain a Clear Brand Message
A mistake new entrepreneurs make in marketing is not having a clear and consistent brand message across all their marketing channels. Your brand message is the essence of your business and what sets you apart from your competitors. Without a clear and consistent message, your marketing efforts may lack direction, making it difficult for potential customers to understand what you offer.
To avoid this, take the time to define your brand message and ensure that it’s consistent across all your marketing channels. Your brand message should be simple, clear, and resonate with your target audience. It should highlight your unique value proposition and what sets you apart from your competitors.
By having a clear and consistent brand message, you’ll be able to create a strong and recognizable brand that attracts and keeps loyal customers. It will also help you establish a solid reputation in your industry and make it easier for potential customers to identify and engage with your brand.
Russ Turner, Director, GallantCEO