May 08

Shira Abel: Five top marketing mistakes startups make


"Yes, the investor gave you the money, but the customer is how you'll survive. Few companies who ignore the customer survive”.
 
Overconfidence in your product, focusing on marketing and not the product, paying attention to investors’ orders instead of the customer, a lack of communication between Marketing and Product Development departments and an absence of forceful go-to market strategy - these are mistakes most often made by start-ups, warns Shira Abel, a digital marketing and marketing strategies for start-ups guru, also this year’s keynote speaker at PODIM 2014 Conference.
 
In her 15 year long career of advising start-ups, she has seen and experienced the ups and downs of the business. In a short interview before her speech at PODIM 2014, she describes five mistakes young start-ups most often make.
 
  • The first is an overconfidence in your product. If none knows your product exists, that means no one is buying it. “That's what marketing is for,” says Abel. Don’t spend all your money on development, because you will need to hire someone with the required expertise. It’s also important that the marketing starts the moment the product is conceptualized. With this, you raise awareness about the product.
  • The second mistake is the reverse, focusing on marketing and not the product. Abel says: “I've seen more than a few start-ups that had massive budgets focus only on marketing and ended up failing because no one wanted the product. Nothing kills a bad product faster than good marketing. Nothing”.
  • The third mistake is of crucial importance: paying attention to investors’ orders instead of the customer. As Abel puts it: “Yes, the investor gave you the money - but the customer is how you'll survive. Few companies who ignore the customer survive”.
  • The fourth mistake: No communication between Marketing and Product & Development departments. Abel explains: “In the world today, Marketing has to be married to the product. This means no feature is built without an actual use that marketing approves of. It may not be as much fun for the programmers, but the customer will be happier”.
  • And the fifth mistake: No strategy. Abel says: “If your customer base isn't on Facebook, there's no reason for you to be there. If there's no benefit, don't invest your time into it. And A/B test (controlled statistical hypothesis testing) everything. EVERYTHING”. 
 
If these mistakes made you think and you are wondering how to build-in the elements of virality in your product, how to make your first users passionate evangelists of your product and how to build a community of enthusiastic users, it’s about time you meet Shira.
 
Shira is an American living in Israel. She is the CEO of Hunter & Bard, a full-service marketing agency that works with start-ups, small companies, and entrepreneurs. She is also The Next Web's contributing writer in Israel. She is a thought leader in the start-up marketing space and works with companies to build and implement smart marketing strategies that accomplish company goals. Shira has experience speaking worldwide at conferences about marketing for start-ups, judging competitions, teaching marketing for start-ups, and mentoring at several start-up accelerators. She also works with companies to build the marketing into the product. She has an MBA from Kellogg School of Management.