Top 21 startup mistakes to avoid: #6: not having a specific market for your product or service

Top 21 startup mistakes to avoid

“A common startup mistake is not taking the time to understand the market or customers you are building for. For technical founders, writing code can seem easier than talking to customers, but there is no way to know if you are on the right track unless you are constantly getting feedback from current or prospective customers. It is important to recognize that building a great product often does not translate into a successful business. Many companies find themselves focusing on a market that’s simply too small to build a big business in.” ~ George Deglin, Co-founder and CEO, OneSignal

Generic products do not do the magic!

It is quite common to have startups who claim that their products are meant for everyone, men, women, children, students, and workers. Often, they secretly believe that by doing so, they can make sales and generate more revenue and profit.

But this is a great deception! You do not need to have a product targeted at everyone to make sales as an entrepreneur. You can create a product targeted at just teenagers and still make sales. You can also create a product for chief executives of financial institutions and still make sales. To succeed in the marketplace, product differentiation is key.

Arguably, businesses need to deliver value and need to be different enough from their competitors that the customer will purchase or switch. It is not enough to be just a little bit different. Research shows that a product needs to be at least 10x better, faster, cheaper, lighter…to truly differentiate it from the competition and give you the possibility of success in business.

Startups must focus on creating a well thought out product. Remember it is not about making money. You are there to solve a problem first…before the money!

Develop game-changing marketing strategies

In addition to developing products targeted at everyone, there are also entrepreneurs who develop great products targeted at specific individuals and make no effort in marketing those products. One of the biggest, most persistent mistakes startup founders make is assuming they do not need to market and that their customers will find them.

Many believe that marketing is a function they can do without for the longest time and they almost always use it as a last resort to gain traction. But thinking you can create a major, sustainable growth organically without an aggressive approach to product marketing is very naïve. You must decide on an intentional strategy to promote your product.

Market your product aggressively

Regarding marketing, the other mistake startups also make is to develop a great product for a specific market and not develop any marketing strategy to push the product. The point is this: there is no need to develop a great product and keep it in the dark.

Obviously, the best type of marketing for you depends on the kind of business and your target audience. But whether it is traditional advertising, online marketing or content marketing, you will need something to scale, and that something has to be a strategic choice with clear key performance indicators and returns on investments that are well measured. Too many startups take strategic marketing for granted!

Of course, it is important to employ an all-round marketing strategy. This must be reviewed from time to time and expanded where necessary to include some new developments in the market or industry.

Being strategic in your marketing does not mean becoming dependent on one marketing channel only. That can be disastrous! An entrepreneur, Abi Lokesh from Fracture shared his experience: “One mistake we made at Fracture while scaling was putting all of our growth eggs in one basket. We rode the wave of what helped us achieve scale, somewhat naively hoping that it would never end, without taking advantage of that opportunity to diversify our marketing efforts.

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