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Mike KaputSeptember 24, 20154 min read

How to Avoid the Critical Marketing Mistake Most Companies Make


Noah Kagan (@noahkagan) knows all about online platforms. He helped build one of the world’s biggest as an early Facebook employee. He hacked much of’s growth before it was sold for a cool $200 million to Intuit. And he currently runs a multi-million-dollar business at AppSumo, a platform that offers discounts on tech and marketing tools.

So when Noah speaks, we listen. One of his quotes on platform is also one of his most powerful: “Marketing has always been about the same thing—who your customers are and where they are.” 

But there are more places than ever that demand consumer attention. This year alone saw the explosive and nearly overnight rise of game-changing video platforms like Meerkat and Periscope. The number and type of channels where your customers live is more fragmented than ever, too.

This presents serious challenges to marketers, executives and companies. They are in the dark about which platforms they need to be on, and how many resources to commit to each one. 

The confusion leads many marketing decision-makers to commit a critical error: They think they need to be everywhere

You don’t need to be everywhere.

When executives and marketing directors chase consumers everywhere, without due consideration of their goals, they risk misallocating budget, time and energy to areas that, simply, don’t matter. 

Instead, stick to Noah’s words and find where your audience is. If your audience doesn’t use a platform, it has little value for you right now, no matter what the pundits say or who closed how much funding. 

That includes (sorry Noah) Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. Every business is different, and there are untapped opportunities on every social network and marketing platform. Only by identifying where your customer spends his or her attention can you begin to determine which platforms are actually worth spending your time and money on. 

The importance of doing so is only growing. As PR 20/20 CEO Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer) pointed out in this Content Marketing Institute article

“It’s a given that your content has to be creatively and technically solid, and developed with the best interests of the reader, not the brand, in mind. However, how you activate and promote that content through paid, owned, and earned media is the largest variable in determining the return on investment for your business. When I published my first book in 2012, an industry friend and best-selling author advised that success was 60% content and 40% platform. Having recently published my second book, I would posit that the split is now 80% platform and 20% content.” 

So, how do I find the platform right for my business?

Great question. The short answer is: you get your hands dirty. 

Sadly, there’s no silver bullet to determine exactly where you should be spending your marketing budget. It’s entirely conditional based on your business and audience.

That means you’ll need to experiment, experiment, experiment. You’ll need to consistently study and test new and existing platforms until your content and brand resonate.

How do you know your content is resonating? It depends on the platform. On Facebook or Twitter, it might look like increased engagement with your content. For a blog or a third-party site like Medium, it may be the number of people who view (or, as Medium measures, people who actually read) your content. You’ll want to determine key performance indicators for each platform you test out, and establish either historical or industry standard benchmarks to measure against. If all else fails, give it your best guess. 

After all, this isn’t a quick or easy process, and it requires you to challenge your own assumptions. What’s important is getting started in the first place.

As marketer Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) points out, “If you’re seeking this Holy Grail everybody’s talking about: Understanding what brings people value, you first have to understand that something may bring value to other people, but not to you. Value is subjective.”

The only way to uncover value is to go hunting for it on all the likely and unlikely platforms you can think of. Here are five unconventional ones you might explore to get started.

How does your business find where its customers are? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Platform is just one piece of the puzzle—learn about the rest.

Getting on the right platform or platforms is a great first step to improving your business’ marketing. But it’s not the whole story. You’ll also need the right talent and technology to drive growth with marketing, and a strategy to pull it all together. 

Tips on how to do all that and more are in the Marketing Performance Pack, our free toolkit that's designed to help you improve your marketing. Get it today.

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Image via Canva


Mike Kaput

Mike Kaput is Chief Content Officer at Marketing AI Institute.