12/01/12 | Uncategorized

4 Marketing Mistakes Startup Founders Make

Learn what *not* to do from entrepreneurs in the startup trenches.

By Angie Chang (Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Women 2.0)

A recently list of Startup Marketing Mistakes held some useful tips and advice for startup marketing, tried-and-true from entrepreneurs in the trenches. They asked sage entrepreneurs – “What is the #1 marketing mistake startups make and why?”

Here are the top four tips on marketing from sage entrepreneurs:

“The #1 marketing mistake I see startups make is relying on a silver bullet. You think: if we could just get a partnership with Forbes. If L’Oreal would just say yes. We’d be on the path to explosive growth. But there’s almost never just ONE silver bullet; rather, most companies succeed by a combination of many small efforts and unpredictable wins,” said PITCH NYC 2012 finalist Kathryn Minshew of Daily Muse. “I keep a lot of irons in the fire so if one partnership doesn’t go through, or one deal turns out to have much less impact than I’d hoped, I still have plenty of other things in the works.”

Los Angeles-based PromoJam co-founder Amanda MacNaughton said, “One of the biggest marketing mistakes startups make is staying in ‘startup stealth mode’ too long. Startups are often afraid to start marketing until their product launches, but that can dramatically hurt you in the long run. Building a customer and fan base takes time, and you should start marketing your company well before your product launches. Build a website, create a Facebook and Twitter page, and start creating your brand image online at least 3-4 months before you bring your product to market. You want to build a base of fans who are excited about your new company, so that when you launch it people will pay attention and care.”

“A key mistake we see tech startups make in crowdfunding (and thus marketing) is telling ‘the what,’ rather than selling; the why.’ We see startups jump to the features and functionality before tackling an idea’s impact on the world. We see them answer the question: how it works, before answering: what problem their idea is solving,” said Danae Ringlemann, co-founder of crowdfunding platform Indiegogo.

“In terms of a great tip that companies don’t do enough: Create content early. Build an audience by writing interesting content, even if it isn’t about your company or product,” said Cloudflare co-founder Michelle Zatlyn. “If you establish yourself as an expert on a specific industry, programming language or topic, then you’ll have an easier time hiring and building a reputation for your product once you’re ready to scale.”

Thanks to the Marketing Before Funding blog for interviewing so many female founders to cull a long list of marketing advice from entrepreneurs in the trenches.

Women 2.0 readers: What do you think are the top mistakes startups make in marketing? Let us know in the comments below.

Angie Chang is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Women 2.0. Our mission is to increase the number of female founders of technology startups with inspiration, information and education through our platform. Previously, Angie held roles in product management and web UI design at various Silicon Valley startups. Angie holds a B.A. in English and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter at @thisgirlangie.

Anne-Gail Moreland

Anne-Gail Moreland

Anne-Gail Moreland, an intern with Women 2.0, was on the StartupBus. She studies neuroscience at Mount Holyoke College, where she is trying to merge a passion for tech and the brain into a new wave of cognition-based technology

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