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Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz | @randfish | rand@moz.com
The 8 Ways Startups SUCK at Marketing
Why so many founders & early ...
Bit.ly/starketing
Too Many Startups Die Because They
Can’t Get Customers
CB Insightscompiledan
analysisfrom startup post-
mortems.
These 5 are mostly “couldn’t
find enough customers” or
“couldn’t...
To stay focused on marketing, I’m going to
assume your startup has* a:
A)productpeoplewant&willpayfor
B)serviceablemarket
...
A Terrible Name
#1
Problems:
Noonecouldsayournameuntil
theyheardit
Ona.org,sofolksassumedwe
werenonprofit
Took~$500Ktorebrandin2013
(“Moz”)
Problems:
Domainis“getskorch.com”
Normalpeoplewillhear&spell
“scorch”
Theydon’town“Skorch”onany
socialmediaplatform
Problems:
Pronunciationisunclear
Difficulttospell/findevenafter
youhearit
Problems:
Lunarisalreadyassociated
w/dozensofotherthings
(includingotherwatches)
Brandnamedirectly
conflictsw/product’sUVP
Problems:
Hustlehasnegativeconnotations
outsideSV(hustlers,getting“hustled”,
“HustlerMagazine,”etc)
Namesuggestsproductiss...
7RulesforaSolidName:
Easytospell,say,hear,andremember
Hasnoexistingassociationsthatcouldconfuse
Eithersuggestswhatthecompa...
Some Startups WhoNailedIt:
YouCANSucceed,EvenWithaCriteria-BreakingName….
It’sJustHarder.
Pssttt….
Solongasthenamematchesthecriteria,youdon’t
personallyhavetolikeit
Overvaluing 1st Exposure
#2
StartupMarketingMythology
Step1:BuildaGreatProduct
Step2:GetonProductHunt(orHN)
Step3:Customers!$$$!SeriesA!
This is a long process,
with many steps
Yay! You made it to the top of PH & received 15,000 visits
+ 500 email signups
But, only ~0.01% of people are looking for ...
Every day, a few dozen people search for this
(and don’t find you)
Loads of searches for your service,
but none of these people can find
you 
They visit this list (and
you’re not here)
They ask friends +
colleagues (who’ve never
heard of you)
They rely on existing
providers
They lean on social proof
from their networks
If you only play here (first
exposure)
Or here (decision
time)
You’re gonna have a bad time 
StartupMarketingReality
Step1:Getknown+trustedbyyouraudience
Step2:Growapresenceacrossthechannelstheyusetofind
solutionsyo...
Audience
Problem
Market
Existing Solutions
Channels
Position
Message
Strategic startup marketing
encompasses all of these
...
Chasing Growth Hacks
#3
Hack-Chasing Usually Leads to Death Before
Success
Via ProStart
Hack Hack Hack Hack Crap.
Don’t Fight the “Law of Shitty Clickthrough Rates”
Via
Andrew Chen
A lot of exploitable, short-term “growth
hacks” start h...
Great Marketers Focus on Flywheels (systems that
scale w/ decreasing friction)
Moz’s
Flywheel
KW Research + Industry
Intuition
Publish
Content
Promote via Social
Channels
Push to email + RSS
subscriber...
KW Research + Industry
Intuition
Publish
Content
Promote via Social
Channels
Push to email + RSS
subscribers
Earn Links +
...
KW Research + Industry
Intuition
Publish
Content
Promote via Social
Channels
Push to email + RSS
subscribers
Earn Links +
...
Moz is a Business Built on Content
Dollar Shave Club
was Built on a Press
& Media Flywheel
Via NYTimes
Dribbble was Built on a UGC/Community
Flywheel
But… Almost Every Flywheel Finds
a Point (or Points) of Friction
Publish
Content
Promote via Social
Channels
Push to email...
Growth Hacks
Can Accelerate a Flywheel
Hacks aren’t necessarily evil, spammy, or
without value.
They can be useful when applied to a sound
marketing strategy.
Find a Balance Between Long-Term Investments &
Short-Term Hacks
High upfront costs Pay (in time/$$) as you go
Long-Term In...
The Formula for Marketing that Will Work for Years to
Come:
Strategic
Roadmap
Scalable
Flywheel
Long-Term
Investments
Hack...
Saving Marketing
Until Launch
#4
Via ASmartBear
TheFirstTimeSomeoneHearsAboutYou…
You want my
credit card &
email???
Via ProductHunt
Which One(s) ShouldYou Do?
Createablog?
Participateinforumdiscussions?
Buildacommunityonyourownsite?
Becomeaguestcontribut...
Invest in 2-3 tactics long before you launch a
product.
So that when you do, there’s a pre-existing
community that wants t...
Relying on Paid Ads
#5
Via Wordstream
This happens when your CTR &
engagement are high
Via Wordstream
This happens when you have an unknown brand or target a
new/unexposed audience
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, & display ads all
work the same way
Via Resolution Media
HowtoWinatDigitalAdvertising
Step1:Earnbrandexposurew/yourtargetaudience
Step2:Get>1organicvisit(orsocialengagement)
Step3...
Not Prioritizing an
Easy-to-Reach Audience
#6
“Ourtargetaudienceisoff-the-
gridtypeswhohate
advertisingandmostlyread
bookswrittenbefore1950.”
“Wehaveaguerillamarketing
planwebelievecanreachthis
eclecticgroup(andweonly
need$3mminseedfundingto
execute”
easiertoreach
hardertoreach
Knowyoupersonally(&wouldhappilymeetforcoffee)
Knowofyou,likeyou,&followyourworkclosely
Arealre...
INSANITY is…
easiertoreach
hardertoreach
Knowyoupersonally(&wouldhappilymeetforcoffee)
Knowofyou,likeyou,&followyourworkclosely
Arealre...
easiertoreach
hardertoreach
Knowyoupersonally(&wouldhappilymeetforcoffee)
Knowofyou,likeyou,&followyourworkclosely
Arealre...
easiertoreach
hardertoreach
Knowyoupersonally(&wouldhappilymeetforcoffee)
Knowofyou,likeyou,&followyourworkclosely
Arealre...
But Rand…
Mark didn’tstartFacebookwith…
Ohdang…He totallydid.
Brian& Joe didn’tstartAirBnBwith…
Ohdang…Theytotallydid.
Jeremydidn’tstartYelpwith…
Ohdang…He totallydid.
Danielledidn’tstartMattermarkwith
Ohdang…She totallydid.
easiertoreach
hardertoreach
Knowyoupersonally(&wouldhappilymeetforcoffee)
Knowofyou,likeyou,&followyourworkclosely
Arealre...
Failing at Funnel
Fundamentals
#7
Most Marketers and
Sites Focus
on Optimizing for
Conversion
Get More and More
People Through
These Steps
And Get
Paid
$$Bu...
Most Marketers and
Sites Focus
on Optimizing for
Conversion
Get More and More
People Through
These Steps
And Get
Paid
$$
A...
Searching
Google
Browsing
Social
ReadingNews
Engagingin
Discussions
FollowingInfluencers
If you get to know your audience ...
Research
If You Don’t Know…
Via GrowingYourAudiencew/ RandomAffinities Via Use Customer Surveysto DefineYour Content
Marke...
Once you have real
people signing up for
your product, you can
learn more about them
Now we just need to
find out where people
like this guy hang out
Have a community &
can find/recruit folks
excited about your
product?
Do that!
Then you can
survey this
audience to
identify their
clones 
IdeallyYouWantto:
A:Identifyrightcustomers
B:Findwhat/whoinfluencesthem
C:Clone,expand,&repeat
I’ve found it incredibly helpful
to visualize our funnel
I want to see sources
And how each
contributes to
various levels
I also use this to ID areas
(and channels) where my
visitors aren’t turning into
customers
Then I can identify the traits that separate right
prospects (who’ll use & love our product) from
wrong (those who won’t).
My Favorite
Process:
From Conversion Rate Experts’ case study
Boom.
And Shakalaka.
Didn’t try the product Tried, but didn’t love it Tried & loved the
product
What do you think the product
does?
What made y...
Ignoring Brand
#8
Brandis…
Apromise.
i.e.whenyousee“BrandX”itmeans“YAttributes”
Amemory trigger.
i.e.whenyouexperienceproblemZ,youthinkof“Br...
BrandMarketingis…
Acodedmessage.
Remindingyouofthebrand’sexistence
Reinforcingthebrand’scolors,shapes,sounds,experiences,&...
Whatdoyouthinkofwhenyou
seethisbrand?
Brandmarketingreinforcesthat:
Whatdoyouthinkofwhenyou
seethisbrand?
Brandmarketingreinforcesthat:
Beforeyoucanbrand,youneeda
BrandPromise
We
provide…
We evoke
feelings…
We remind you
of…
We share the
values of…
product/
...
How can Penzey’s call 22% of Americans “racist” and maintain a
consumer business?
Online sales up 59.9%. Customer
cancellations up 3%.
EverythingShould(Subtly)ReinforcetheMessage
SEO Snippets
PPC Ads
Big
Content
CommentsTweets
Photos
Landing
Pages
UI & UX
B...
Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz | @randfish | rand@moz.com
Bit.ly/starketing
easiertoreach hardertoreach Knowyoupersonally(&wouldhappilymeetforcoffee) Knowofyou,likeyou,&followyourworkclosely Arealre...
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easiertoreach hardertoreach Knowyoupersonally(&wouldhappilymeetforcoffee) Knowofyou,likeyou,&followyourworkclosely Arealreadyconnectedtoyouviaemail Why Startups Suck at Marketing

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easiertoreach
hardertoreach
Knowyoupersonally(&wouldhappilymeetforcoffee)
Knowofyou,likeyou,&followyourworkclosely
Arealreadyconnectedtoyouviaemail
Alreadyfollowyouonsocialmediachannels
Havevisitedyourwebsiteatleastonce
Haveheardofyourcompany(andcanrecallit)
AreinyourtargetaudienceandreachableviaFB/GGads
2) Not targeting these
people first

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easiertoreach hardertoreach Knowyoupersonally(&wouldhappilymeetforcoffee) Knowofyou,likeyou,&followyourworkclosely Arealreadyconnectedtoyouviaemail Alreadyfollowyouonsocialmediachannels Havevisitedyourwebsiteatleastonce Haveheardofyourcompany(andcanrecallit) AreinyourtargetaudienceandreachableviaFB/GGads 2) Not targeting these people first

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