Why Your Startup Sucks At Marketing

Don Draper is the man. Whenever I see him in Mad Men, I want to pour myself some scotch and say some really cheesy ad campaign line. Unfortunately, after the show I realize that if I acted like Don Draper I would not last long in my startup. This is because traditional marketing is not the marketing that your tech startup needs. If you don’t understand the difference between growth hacking and traditional marketing, it’s going to be a painful journey for you.

Below, I’ll outline some mistakes most startups make when it comes to marketing. The old ways of billboard ads and PR firms are becoming obsolete, in today’s world a new frontier of marketing has surfaced. It’s called growth hacking. If you don’t know how to use it, you can bet that your competitors will show you what it means soon enough.

1. You Care Way Too Much About Press Releases

It’s great being a contributor for Inc. and a bunch of other tech outlets. It allows me to reach people around the world, and hopefully have a meaningful affect on their lives. With that said, I see too many early stage startups spend way too many resources trying to get press before they’re ready.

It’s easy to see why this is. Getting into a major outlet is fun. Your friends all congratulate you, your parents are proud, and investors offer more dollars. The problem is that press creates a spike, not a permanent increase in attention. Getting someone to cover you doesn’t mean you’re successful, and it doesn’t mean you have product market fit.

We’ve been blessed to get a lot of attention for Alumnify through news outlets. With that said, taking the success of getting a story in a major outlet too far can be disastrous. It will cause you to think you’ve made it when you haven’t, and you’ll become less focused on getting meaningful metrics. Don’t chase PR until you’ve proven your model, or you’ll just waste time and go down a broken path.

2. You focus on vanity metrics

A big part of growth hacking is being able to identify meaningful metrics. For novice marketers, they take a look at vanity metrics, try to put makeup on them, and use them to confirm success. To not suck at marketing for your startup, identify the meaningful metrics that mean success for your company. Does user sign ups really matter, or is user retention the real measure of success? How long do users stay on your platform? On which screen are people leaving?

All these metrics need to be tracked. You need to first identify what metrics you want to focus on. After that, use data to tell you how to achieve exceptional performance on those metrics.

3. You don’t let the marketing team work with the product team

The major difference I see in old marketers and growth hackers is that growth hackers help with the product. A growth hacker’s job is to make the company grow, but to do so he or she understands that product market fit must be found. There are many ways that marketers can help this process.

The most obvious is by telling the product team where and when users are leaving the service. This tells the product team where to focus, which removes wasted time that would’ve been used elsewhere.

The other way marketers help the product team is by making the product easier to go viral. This should be built into the product. Dropbox did this by making it easier for users to get free storage by sharing with their friends. Airbnb did this by syncing their listings with Craigslist. Tons of money wasn’t spent to achieve these marketing techniques. They were achieved by creating a relationship between growth and product.

source: inc.com BY AJ AGRAWAL


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