Top Start-Up Marketing Mistakes You Cannot Afford to Make

by | Dec 15, 2020 | Digital Marketing


It takes a lot of research, planning, and analysis to start a new business venture.  And of course, financial investment too.  Every new role requires us to undergo a learning curve to master the job, and so does entrepreneurship.  We all grew up learning that we need to learn through our mistakes.  But marketing mistakes, at times, can be too costly and can cause irreversible loss to the business.  Here are some marketing mistakes that you cannot afford to make.

What are the Top Start-Up Marketing Mistakes to Avoid?

  1. No Unique Selling Proposition
  2. Not Reinventing Business Model
  3. Incomplete Market Research
  4. Not Being on Par with Competitors
  5. Not Adopting Industry Trends
  6. Complete Renovation That Loses the Customers’ Loyalty
  7. Inadequate Market Positioning

Let us look into each of these points in detail.

1. No Unique Selling Proposition:

Marketing is a constant process by which a business survives.  Not just start-ups, this is the case for even the famous brands that sustained the market for a long time.  Improper marketing strategy and lack of a unique selling proposition is one of the biggest marketing mistakes that could cause doom even to the best brand, as it happened with Panasonic in Australia.

Panasonic TVs were the best-selling for two decades, post which they saw a vast dip.  It is because they remained stagnant without endorsing a unique selling proposition for their brand.  The average consumer found no reason to prefer a Panasonic television to other brands.  With no better marketing strategy to regain their lost ground, the tech-giant decided to no longer sell TVs in Australia, as per the news report.

2. Not Reinventing Business Model:

Compaq was a successful start-up in the 1980s and continued successfully into the 1990s.  After merging with Digital Equipment Corporation, Compaq failed to sustain its PC sales due to diverse business interests, with Intel giving it a disadvantage.  With Intel producing chipsets and motherboards that other PC companies and local assemblers used.  It brought down the price of the PCs without letting down the quality, while Compaq computer had AMU CPU with a price above them.  When the quality of two products is nearly the same with a price difference, the customer naturally picks a lower-priced one.  Thus, Compaq sales dipped.

Eventually, Compaq could not survive even after HP acquired it.  A reinvention of the business model, such as outsourcing the chipsets to Intel and lowering the price of PCs, could have perhaps saved the brand.

Start-up businesses need to reinvent their business model periodically.  Overlooking this step is another big marketing mistake that you could make.  What could have worked initially for a start-up business may not work after some time.  For instance, the present times require digital means to bring a more expansive customer base to your business.  An expertized digital marketing agency can help you with your marketing needs.

Top Marketing Mistakes

3. Incomplete Market Research:

Businesses entirely generate revenue from the market, and obviously, could not thrive without complete market research.  The history of Polaroid could better explain this fact.

Polaroid was first found in 1937 in the United States.  Initially, it took off very well, and the cameras were a hit.  There was less competition at that time.  In 1977 Edwin Land introduced Polavision, the instant home movie camera.  While videotaped based systems were becoming popular in the market those days, Polavision failed to appeal to the public.  The sales diminished enormously, and the Polaroid Corporation went bankrupt in 2001.  The company sold off its assets.

Much later, in the 1980s, the company entered the market with videotapes.  It manufactured digital cameras in 1996 but failed to capture the market.  They made scanners and printers in 2000 but faced tough competition from Nikon and Minolta and entered bankruptcy once again.  The shareholder of Impossible Project subsequently took it over.  However, the main reason for the failure of Polaroid is because it failed to assess how digital cameras could impact its film business.  There was no proper market research, and it was one of the most unaffordable marketing mistakes.

4. Not Being on Par with Competitors:

Imagine a top ranker in the class who maintains consistent grades every semester.  The following semester, the second ranker works smartly to push up the scores to surpass the top ranker grades all of a sudden.  The topper now falls to the second position.  There is nothing to do except trying better the next time.

Isn’t it eye-opening for start-ups to see Bill Gates admit that “his greatest mistake ever” was to let go of Android to Google?  Google acquired Android in 2005 and gained a lot of profit.  The major mobile companies today sell products featuring Android, while the top-notch company Microsoft could not sustain the mobile phone market with its Windows OS.

It shows that by not being wary of your competitor’s public moves, you could fall behind.  Resort to digital marketing to bring your business to the face of the world much ahead of your competitors.

5. Not Adopting Industry Trends:

Industry trends change as per the customer’s needs.  It is a failure to rebrand yourself if you do not keep yourself on par with the industry trend because you land up not delivering what the customer wants.

Look at the case study of Sony in the field of mobile phones.  They faced a key dip in sales from 13.5 million units in 2017 to 5 million units in 2019.  The reason is that Sony mobile failed to incorporate the trend of the day.  Sleek design, a camera of high resolution, huge memory, regular software updates, and competitive pricing are some of the features it missed on.  It made no sense for the average customer to invest a high price in a mobile that had no concurrent features.  When the customer’s needs are not met, it turns out to be a lost battle. A costly mistake, isn’t it?

Consumers today find it all the more convenient to purchase online from the comfort of their homes.  Especially the present environment of the global pandemic has confined the world to stay at home.  It would be wiser to adopt the industry trend and go digital in your marketing strategy if you have not already done.

6.  Complete Renovation That Loses the Customers’ Loyalty

While some businesses fail to adopt the industry trends, few others make vast changes to their branding to impress the consumers.  Unfortunately, the renovation could change its brand image, and it may not sink well with their customers, as in the case of Gap.  

It was in 2010 that Gap, the clothing brand, changed its iconic logo.  Customers who were loyal to the brand for several years could not appreciate it.  It is the product and the business model that needs constant upgrading and not the logo through which customers bond with a brand.  Just within six days, the company realized that it made a big marketing mistake and went back to the previous logo.

7. Inadequate Market Positioning:

When you release a product into the market, your sales pitch goes high only when the product appeals to your target audience.  Your marketing strategy should focus on how you position your product based on the customer’s need, product price, product quality, and product use.  

Inadequate market positioning was one of the reasons for the highly innovative and successful sportswear brand Nike to fail in India and China.  Nike aimed to provide a premium product with highly comfortable athletic wear.  While sportswear is an everyday essential in cold weather countries, in India, it is a different scenario.  The temperature is warm, and the majority of the population did not essentially need a high-budget premium product for occasional formal sports events.  The company had to shut down several stores as it saw a low return on investment.

What Can I Learn From the Marketing Mistakes That Top Brands Made?

By studying the success and failure stories of several leading brands, entrepreneurs can gain better exposure to analyze where their business marketing is going wrong.  You can always find an opportunity to do better, letting your start-up marketing mistakes make you wiser.  No one is perfect and even the best brands make a wrong leap at times.  Courage is all that it takes to stand up and rise again.  You may take the help of a qualified digital marketing agency to bring your business to the needy clients, and stand as an example of a successful entrepreneur.

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