Startups are extremely fragile and running such a company is a lot of hard, hard work. One thing that startups have going for them is the fact that marketing has gone digital, which enables them to get serious presence without breaking the bank, something that was impossible two decades ago.
Unfortunately for startup owners, digital marketing is surrounded by so much hype and unchecked enthusiasm that startups often end up doing stuff that makes absolutely no sense for them and that ends up wasting their very limited marketing budgets.
Today, we will be digging a bit deeper into the perilous world of digital marketing hype and why startup owners need to be extremely careful not to fall for it.
The State in Digital Marketing
The reason why there is so much unwarranted hype in the world of digital marketing is the nature of this ecosystem itself.
We need to remember, for one, that digital marketing is still in its earliest infancy. The internet itself is exquisitely young and it is still finding its own identity. Digital marketing is even younger and it is in such a state of perpetual flux that things that work today may not work in just a few days. It is also an ecosystem with surprisingly monopolistic players and somewhat dodgy data that is insanely difficult to verify.
The most obvious result of this is that it can be excruciatingly difficult to determine what works and what doesn't.
More importantly, it is even more difficult to work out who to trust. Internet is absolutely inundated with various "digital marketing experts" and gurus whose credentials are hard to check and whose past work is often very obscure and almost purposefully obfuscated.
These "experts" know very well that the overall chaos that permeates digital marketing will allow their non-facts to go unchecked; allowing them to profit from it before someone even considers calling them out on it.
Another thing worth noting is the self-perpetuating nature of digital marketing hype. Namely, once a new and wondrous digital marketing practice starts getting some attention, various writers and experts will jump on the bandwagon because it is fresh and because it will attract clicks. As a result, the hype grows and it starts becoming a reality.
Why It is Harmful for Startups
Digital marketing hype is harmful for every business. That being said, startups are at an even greater peril, for a number of reasons.
First of all, startups rely on innovative approaches to everything, including marketing. Because of this, startup owners are more likely to try the latest miraculous digital marketing tactic in order to get the upper hand on their competition. It is the innate innovativeness of startups that makes them particularly vulnerable to marketing hype.
Startups also have extremely limited marketing budgets and wasting money on something that turns out to be nothing but hype means that they will not be investing in marketing that would actually do good for them. This can easily mean ruin for a startup that is at its most fragile.
Finally, we would be remiss not to mention the fact that jumping on bandwagons for the sake of it makes a company look unstable and fickle, which is never a good look when you are trying to attract a new round of funding.
What Startup Owners Can Do
Sure, the allure of the next big digital marketing thing can be difficult to resist. The competitiveness of the startup ecosystem and the potential benefits are sometimes too much to ignore.
This is why the crucial first step in resisting hype is to give it a few days until the initial emotional effects have worn off. The simple act of not acting will be enough to avoid the vast majority of overhyped practices that would have ended up badly.
The next step is to starting looking for the sources and the data.
All digital marketing hype can be traced to one or a few persons who were the first ones to mention it. You will often find that these initial descriptions are much less aggressive and much more nuanced, but that they got amplified through a game of telephone. Nonetheless, you need to go to the source and get the whole picture.
It is perhaps even more important to investigate the data. Namely, in the majority of cases, you will find out that the data behind this particular digital marketing craze is flawed or even nonexistent. In other words, the numbers just don't add up.
A great example of something that is absolutely not digital marketing hype (in fact the opposite) is email marketing. It may not be the sexiest digital marketing tactic, but it gets the job done. You know exactly what you can expect and you can modify your email marketing efforts down the line. Marketers know which kinds of campaigns work and which emails should never be sent to customers.
If there is enough data on a digital marketing tactic to make it seem boring, then it is bona fide. If someone is bending backwards to give you a descriptive summary of a tactic, you might want to do some more checking up.
Always look for sources. Always crunch the numbers. Digital marketing hype will take more than a few years to become a thing of the past and in the meantime you need to be careful.
Your startup needs you to be careful.