The 3 Deadly Sins of Digital Marketing for Tech Startups

The first deadly sin of digital marketing for tech startups is ignorance. Everyone has to start somewhere.

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And part of the reason that I’m often inspired to create these YouTube videos is to help people make sure that they arm themselves with knowledge.

But the reality is, the pace of change in all things relating to digital marketing goes incredibly fast.

And if you want to keep your company on the edge of what’s needed to attract the right people in the right places at the right time, in the right context, it’s super important that someone on your team is keeping up with the pace of change. 

Because whatever you think you knew from five or ten years ago, chances are it is completely obsolete today.

For example, the way people research and make purchase decisions has been massively changed by the mainstream adoption of search engines, personal assistants, social media, streaming videos, and so much on review websites. 

So much so now that the typical buyer will not be ready to speak to someone from your company or someone from your sales team until they are 60%, 70%, 80% of the way through the buyer’s journey.

Many sales teams operate as if that doesn’t exist and the iPhone never existed. And Alexa, Siri, YouTube, and LinkedIn don’t exist, which is crazy.

So it’s super, super important to make sure that you don’t fall into the trap of ignorance when it comes to your digital marketing strategy.

The next, directly related to the first cousin of ignorance, is arrogance. 

This is being absolutely, positively sure that you know exactly what to do because, heck, you get emails. You watch YouTube videos. You look at LinkedIn posts. You’ve consumed a webinar too.

So, of course, you know the strategy. Wrong!

This is very similar to if I, as the dad of two children, decided that I was going to advise a friend or family member who is an obstetrician on how they can better deliver babies when my grand sum of knowledge about that is volunteering in a hospital a couple of times when I was in college.

Sure. When it comes to watching a baseball game or football game, everyone, of course, is the Monday morning quarterback or likes to second-guess the umpire. 

The reality, though, is when it comes to your technology startup, make sure that you don’t allow your arrogance to blindside you and that you lean on the expertise of someone that is keeping their skills sharp with what’s relevant for your buyer personas, your business model and what’s needed to keep your company competitive and build your brand and competitive positioning and thought leadership in the right way to get the right people in front of your brand in the right context.

Playing the Short Game (Entitlement)

And the third deadly sin of digital marketing for tech startups is playing the short game or acting entitled about playing the short game.

What does that mean?

It can take a while to build up a brand. And just for reference, where your brand is way more than just your logo, color chart, and fonts. Your brand is everything your ideal stakeholders say about you and your company when you’re not in the room.

And in a world where so much of their research and decision-making is happening before someone from your team is invited into that room, it’s supercritical that you be realistic around building the proper foundation. So that your company, team, and brand are seen as the go-to experts in your space. 

So that your individual sales reps, for example, are seen more as trusted advisors and subject matter experts and consultants rather than a traditional salesperson that’s begging for 15 minutes of attention among a prospect.

That’s a significant mindset shift. 

And if you’re just focused on short-term outcomes, it’s really easy to think that your default playbook should be cold calling more people and cold emailing or spamming more people or spamming more people’s LinkedIn message boxes.

And all of those things can backfire, especially for tech startups.

I’m often fascinated by the conversations I have with founders and CEOs who depend very heavily on cold email as part of their strategy.

And they’re selling enterprise IT services.

I’m like, “Dude. Let’s back up a couple of steps. Isn’t your core buyer persona the C-level IT executive or a mid-level IT executive?”

Yeah.

“Aren’t they the same people that maintain the filtering software on their mail server that is going to flag you as one of the bad guys if you overzealously email their employees that you don’t have permission to email?”

Yeah, good point.

So the reality is for anyone that is in a technology startup, you must protect your reputation and play the long game. And don’t take shortcuts that will end up hurting your brand with your prospects and customers. 

I’ve seen scenarios where you get a foot in the door, where you get an enterprise IT customer that signs up and you’re trying to get them onboarded.

And oh, shoot. Now you can’t send emails to people or even calendar invitations to schedule that onboarding training. And it gets a little embarrassing to have to go to them and ask for their help to add you to the safelist.

So you get out of the doghouse for some bad short-sighted digital marketing behaviors in the past.

In this short video, we looked at the three deadly sins of digital marketing for tech startups.  

We first talked about the dangers of ignorance. The pace of change goes so quickly. Even if it’s an external advisor, someone from your team has to make sure that you’re keeping your playbook sharp. 

Arrogance, assuming that you have the answers to everything. In reality, you are not self-aware.

And then the third deadly sin is playing the short game, not being willing to play the long game, not being in it for the long haul.

What have you found to be the biggest sin that tech startups make with their digital marketing? Is there a fourth that I missed? Let me know in the comments.

This content was originally published here.

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