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23 September 2023
4 common advertising mistakes tech startups make and how to avoid them

4 common advertising mistakes tech startups make and how to avoid them

In the fast-paced and competitive world of technology startups, effective advertising plays a crucial role in gaining visibility, attracting customers, and driving fast growth. However, many startups often stumble upon common pitfalls that hinder the success of their advertising campaigns.

As a marketer, I have had the privilege of reviewing numerous marketing strategies and advertising campaigns over the years. Through my experience, I have identified several common mistakes, red flags, and brand roadblocks that early-stage companies often encounter when starting their advertising. In this article, I will delve into these missteps and share lessons learned on how to overcome these challenges and pave the way for effective promotional campaigns.

1. Lack of clearly defined business goals for advertising campaigns

This is one of the most prevalent mistakes I come across when I conduct marketing audit and analyse ad performance. Without well-defined objectives, companies often struggle to establish a focused and directed campaign. It is crucial for businesses to understand what result they want to get before they launch an advertising campaign on Facebook, Instagram, Google or any other digital media platform.

For example, “Lead ads” as an ad objective in a Facebook ad campaign account helps to collect leads for your business or brand. It is highly effective for gathering valuable information from new contacts. It is particularly recommended for utilizing instant forms, messages, calls, and sign-ups.

These objectives serve as a roadmap and provide clarity to the marketing efforts, aligning them with the overall business goals and significantly reducing the risk of wasting a promotional budget.

2. Narrow focus on a few tactics that worked for their competitors

Another red flag I frequently encounter is when companies limit themselves to a narrow set of actions that delivered great results for their competitors. While it is essential to identify tactics that resonate with the target audience, it is equally important to diversify marketing efforts.

I came across one case when a consumer tech startup was inspired by the outstanding return on marketing investment (ROMI) achieved by their closest competitor. Eager to replicate their competitor’s success, a founder of this startup decided to set up their advertising campaigns in the same manner as the competitor did.

At first, it experienced a few positive results, generating initial interest and engagement with their target audience. However, as time went on, they began to notice that their advertising campaign was becoming increasingly ineffective. Despite their initial optimism, they failed to achieve the desired conversion rates and sales numbers.

To avoid such cases and increase their chances of achieving sustainable results and ensure growth, startups should explore various channels and tactics.

3. Overreliance on advertising as the sole marketing method

Relying solely on advertising as the primary marketing method can be a cause for concern. It may indicate a lack of initial revenues and raise questions about the growth perspectives.

While attending a technology conference in Paris, I had a talk with a founder who asked me for a piece of advice on promoting his fashion tech startup. When I asked him what ways he chose to promote his startup, he said that he ran ad campaigns on social media. It didn’t work.

Understanding his frustration, I explained to him that relying solely on paid performance marketing may not always yield the desired results. While advertising can be a powerful tool, it needs to be complemented by other strategic efforts to maximise effectiveness.

To build a robust approach, companies should consider diversifying their marketing channels and methods. Incorporating content marketing, social media engagement, influencer partnerships, and public relations can provide a more stable and resilient foundation for a startup.

4. Ignoring regulatory compliance for paid ads

In certain industries, such as financial services and pharmaceuticals, overlooking advertising regulatory compliance can have severe consequences. Vague creatives and non-compliance with regulations such as GDPR can result in reputational damage, legal liabilities, and financial loss.

One German startup I know of has developed a wearable bracelet for monitoring health conditions. Excited to promote their innovative product, they launched a performance marketing campaign without considering the requirements for advertising in the healthcare and medical technology industry. Unfortunately, their ad account was swiftly blocked due to non-compliance with regulations, and their campaign failed to achieve the planned return on marketing spend.

This scenario highlights the importance of thorough preparation before engaging in advertising within regulated industries and verticals. To avoid similar setbacks, it is crucial for startups to allocate time to analyse and tailor creative concepts and messaging while ensuring adherence to digital advertising laws. By doing so, companies can navigate the complexities of regulated industries effectively and maximise the success of their promotional initiatives.

By addressing these common mistakes and red flags, companies can set themselves up for marketing success. Clear goal-setting, diversification of tactics, avoiding overreliance on advertising, and remembering about regulatory compliance are key elements in building an effective marketing strategy. By implementing these insights, businesses can navigate the marketing function with confidence and achieve their objectives.

Svetlana Stotskaya a marketing consultant with deep expertise in strategic marketing and brand management.