Marketing your startup is your first priority whenever you launch a company. You have no platform and you have no existing customers. Gaining traction is an obstacle the majority of startups fail at, and it's why 90% of startups continue to fail.

The biggest reason for failure in marketing is that so many companies make major mistakes in their strategy and in how to use content marketing. This guide is going to show you some of the dos and don'ts of startup marketing.

1. DO Increase Your Marketing Leverage

To make money you have to spend money. Unfortunately, as a startup, it's easy to waste a lot of that money. When scaling up your marketing efforts, you should be looking for both ROI and an increase in revenue. Alternatively, you can consider this in the same area as marketing leverage.

You should be both innovating and gaining an ROI at the same time. This is how marketing efforts for companies constantly evolve. It's all about promoting accelerated growth.

2. DON'T Disagree with the Customer

There's a saying in startup marketing that you have to lead from behind the customer. This is no myth that has to be debunked. The customer is STILL always right. If you have a disagreement with your customer base, you are going to have to resolve that, and it always has to be resolved in the customer's favor.

If you disagree with your customers, the chances are this is something that you have done wrong.

3. DO Fail Fast

Startups also fail because they remain with strategies that don't work for so long. They continue to plug away despite the fact the strategy has little chance of succeeding. Smart startups fail as much as any other, but they fail fast.

What this means is that when they see a strategy that clearly isn't working they terminate it. They don't try to make it work. They move onto something else simply because the risk of wasting your marketing budget for the year on an ill-fated campaign isn't worth it.

4. DON'T Discount the Value of Free

There's a lot of value to be gained through free marketing programs. The most powerful forms of marketing are free, including word of mouth, organic search, and guest blogging. Yet a lot of startups automatically discount them because they assume that if something is free it probably isn't going to offer them much value.

But going back to the point about marketing leverage, the cheapest marketing options all offer the highest marketing leverage value. You only have to earn a small amount of money and you are already in profit.

5. DO Seek New Revenue Streams

It's much easier to earn 1% of five revenue areas than it is to dominate a single revenue area. You have to go out of your way to seek out new revenue streams. Startups should aim to diversify as soon as they can. The more people you have in your target audience the easier it is to gain traction.

These revenue streams don't have to cross over into different industries. It can be as simple as offering a variation of a currently available product or service.

6. DON'T Settle

One of the things you should absolutely not do is settle for less. Go out of your way to always improve. Startups commonly mess up when they gain a tiny piece of success. They are so pleased with themselves that they lose intensity and they try to settle on the results already achieved.

Any success should be taken as a reason to accelerate the intensity in your marketing. Use the art of persuasion to convince both investors and co-founders that you have to increase your marketing resources not take the time to celebrate.

7. DO Use Automation

The use of automation is common in the world of startup marketing today. Facilitate the customer journey through using automation and you'll make things more efficient for both you and the customer. Using automation is simple because there are so many options on offer today for how to do it.

8. DON'T Have Mixed Messages

You should make sure that your marketing is sending a unified message across all platforms to avoid confusing your target audience. Companies like Amazon and Google debunk the myth that things have to be complicated by sending exactly the same message across all platforms. They never send more than one message because they want to accomplish one goal and one aim.

How will you market your startup today?

Published on: May 4, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.