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The Top Growth Marketing Mistakes Tech Companies Make (and how to avoid them)

Learn about common growth marketing mistakes from 7 growth marketing experts, who share their answers to the question, "What’s the #1 thing tech companies get wrong about growth, and how can they get it right?"

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Introduction

This month, we wanted to dig into the top growth marketing mistakes that tech companies commonly make.

So, we asked our specialists, “What’s the #1 thing tech companies get wrong about growth, and how can they get it right?”

We hope you enjoy these diverse viewpoints from our talented specialists!

(Like what you see? Click through to check out each specialist’s profile for more information on how they can help you 1:1)

So…

What’s the #1 thing tech companies get wrong about growth, and how can they get it right?

 

Marketing Mistake #1 · They don’t talk to their customers enough

Whoever is building the ‘thing’ stops talking to their customers. As a result, they drift into that peculiar form of blindness that tech founders develop—i.e., “we built a hammer and the world is a nail.” When you keep talking to customers and keep asking about the choices they make and things they do—as opposed to their opinions on what you’re building—you’re less likely to succumb to that blindness. It can be painful to realize eventually that you’re building the wrong thing, but that’s still better than running out of runway before you’ve found what people will pay for consistently.

— Austin L. Church · View Austin’s Profile

I often see tech companies chasing requirements shared by customers without validating the understanding of why the requirement/functionality is needed.

But this one isn’t talked about enough:

Forgetting to talk with customers on a frequent basis. Many of the conversations are around renewals or adoption, rather than confirming impact & focusing on growth among other lines of business. Growth is a function of aligning with business objectives & speed to impact. Leverage your public data (product information) and private data (customer feedback) to identify growth opportunities.

— Mike Simmons · View Mike’s Profile

To avoid this marketing mistake:

  • Talk to your customers (or if you’re super early, talk to whomever you believe will be your ideal customer)
  • Learn about their problems and struggles, don’t just ask them for their opinion about what you are building
  • Stay open-minded about the possibility that you may have designed or build the wrong solution
  • Try to validate early whether customers will pay for what you’ve built; for more on this topic, check out the book Monetizing Innovation
  • If you’re later stage, make sure you’re talking to customers about the impact your product/solution is having on their business; you need to confirm you’re delivering the outcomes you promise

Marketing Mistake #2 · They don’t understand who their target audience is

I would say that many tech companies do not fully understand who their target audience is. They do not conduct proper market research; and many times, they are missing out on a big chunk of their audience. The target audience that the founders perceive may not always be the exact audience that would benefit from their product or service the most, or can be just part of it. It is important to get an outsider perspective, conduct surveys and focus groups and segment their audience into several personas with distinctive messaging and tone to attract each segment. Each segment may also be present on different platforms so understanding their full audience will help them prioritize which growth platforms to invest in.

— Mohammad Hijazi · View Mohammad’s Profile

To avoid this marketing mistake:

  • Stay open-minded about the possibility that there is a group of customers out there in the world who might appreciate your solution more than your initial group of customers
  • Segment your audience into several different personas
  • Use distinct messaging for each different persona
  • Identify which different platforms or channels you might be able to use for each different persona

Marketing Mistake #3 · They don’t allocate sufficient resources to achieve the aggressive goals they’ve set.

I’d have to say setting high goals and not providing enough support for the team to reach them.

— Jamie M. Israel · View Jamie’s Profile

To avoid this marketing mistake:

  • Make sure your team agrees they have enough resources (time, budget, team, etc.) to achieve the goals you’ve set
  • When goals are missed, debrief with your team to discuss why they were missed; did you allocate sufficient resources?

Marketing Mistake #4 · They don’t develop a strong brand or brand identity or core messaging early enough in their journey.

Tech companies have many challenges when it comes to growth, everything from competitive research to marketing strategy. But, I think one overlooked area is brand identity, and how you weave the identity into your presentation materials.

Early stage companies often underestimate the negative impact of a poorly developed brand identity and also underestimate the huge upside of having a well developed brand identity.

Brand identity isn’t just a logo, or throwing a logo on a web page or slide deck. Properly developing a brand identity is a process that includes customer research, competitive research, and of course all of the design considerations like color palette, typography, design language and logo design.

Your logo and color palette are often the first representation of your business that a potential customer, partner or investor encounters—if they’re done well, they will create the right emotion and feel. A solid brand identity can convey a sense of reliability, trustworthiness and quality. It can help you stand apart from competitors in a noisy market, and promote a sense that you will be able to deliver value. A great logo conveys the brand purpose and aligns with the company story and values, like transparency or boldness.

Apart from brand identity, another big mistake is not developing effective messaging around the value you are promising to deliver to your users or customers. Another often-overlooked piece is messaging that addresses the customer’s key concerns (such as FAQs).

— Bright Nwankwo · View Bright’s Profile

To avoid this marketing mistake:

  • Take your company name seriously; check out this post by James Currier on the importance of your company name
  • Engage an experienced designer to create your brand identity (logo, colors, design language, etc.)
  • Collaborate with your team to create a “Core Messaging” document early in your journey. This should include your value propositions, product description, features, selling points, FAQs, etc. 

Marketing Mistake #5 · They don’t approach growth marketing in an organized, data-driven manner.

Marketing at big companies is no different than at smaller companies. 

It does not matter who your competitors are, there ALWAYS exists a growth hack to the top. 

Solution: Find a real-deal growth marketer that: executes, analyzes and refines your efforts the way honest, accomplished marketers do. Don’t believe what you think works. Believe what actually does.

— Erik Smits · View Erik’s Profile

To avoid this marketing mistake:

  • Don’t try to do everything yourself; consider hiring a growth marketer who has experience growing businesses in your industry and/or with similar types of products
  • Track and measure your marketing efforts, and use the data to make decisions about what you should lean into and what you should cut out

Marketing Mistake #6 · They don’t prepare their teams, tools and processes for growth.

They tend to think about growth in isolation: e.g., scaling sales/customers, scaling product, etc. A solid growth plan thinks about scaling the different parts of the business together, and doesn’t forget to consider how their teams, tools, and processes will scale along the way.

— Kevin Smith · View Kevin’s Profile

To avoid this marketing mistake:

  • Be mindful about how you’re creating internal workflows and processes
  • Consider using automation tools like Airtable or setting up a free CRM like Hubspot early in your journey

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