Despite good execution and deliverables with an effective sales message, there are other factors influencing poor marketing results that may be beyond your control as a CMO.

Marketing factors not in your startup’s control can cripple you and your startup. This can be frustrating, but don’t get discouraged. You can do this.

The founders of successful organizations reach their eventual success in markets, and with products and sales approach far different from those they started out with.

startup marketing problems
Source: Canva

Uncontrollable marketing problems and factors

Venture Funding

Sometimes you will discover that prospects will buy your company’s product, but only in a sales cycle that is much longer than you and your management team anticipated.

When I was selling and marketing ERP systems to enterprise organizations, the sales cycle would be as long as 18 to 24 months. This was due to a lot of factors, factors like the complexity of the sale, board approvals, convincing other members on the selection committee, and convincing them that change was a good thing.  And the same thing applies today.

The more complex the sales, the longer the sales cycle. That's human nature. Click To Tweet

The more complex the sales, the longer the sales cycle. That’s human nature.

If you’ve ever made a large dollar purchase, like a home, then you know about a long sales cycle. Did you go and buy the first home you saw, did you do any research about the neighborhood and schools?  I think you get what I mean.

Email and PPC ad campaigns or SEO strategy can help pull responses, but prospects take far longer to make their purchase decision than originally hoped. Because of this, your company will need a higher level of funding, both for its marketing budget, and its ongoing operations, to sustain this more prolonged sales effort.

Know your burn rate and runway.

Market timing

The problem of products that are ahead of their time has been covered previously, there are other bad timing factors that influence your lead generating programs.

Industry dynamics, such as a major slump affecting the industry served by your company’s product, a deep recession, a natural disaster, or any other factor beyond your company’s control may be more than any marketing program can overcome.


In mature industries, the competition in your field may be dominated by a very few, very large, powerful, and well-entrenched competitors. And some markets, a single company may exercise total dominance.

And these situations, not even the most effective conventional marketing program executed by a startup or new market on entrant can compete against large, wealthy competitors in these mature markets.

Market size

Although the total size of the market, and the total sales generated from it, should always be assessed before a product or service is created for it, the management team of a startup or a new product launch may sometimes realize, after some time has elapsed, that their company has entered the market that is too small.

Therefore, a very effective marketing program will often harvest all the sales that can be made from these markets within a year. After that, the response generated by every additional marketing dollar spent takes a steep drop.

Test Your Marketing Skills

Would you consider yourself a marketing pro?

Take our short, 5-question quiz to discover the information you need to keep your company ahead of the pack.

Good Luck!

When the market has been tapped out, there are no more new email campaigns, email list, no more new industry publications in which to advertise and other ways to reach more prospects in this market, because everyone who can be reached in your market has already been reached.

There are but for a few examples of situations that are often beyond your ability to control from a marketing standpoint.

A better email campaign, a better digital paid advertising campaign a more targeted ad won’t generate any more sales when the prospects in the market are highly resistant to buying from a new industry player. Or when your biggest entrenched competitor has a virtual lock on the market.

These are the times when all the positive mental attitude you can muster will be ineffective because you are operating inside a negative environment.  It’s kind of like pushing rope up a hill.

marketing issues startups

Action is a cure for adverse target market conditions

Your initial market research help to develop a successful marketing strategy.  Over a period, you spend time in product development, getting ready for your product launch and you’ve hit a wall. Yes, running a startup is hard.

The antidote to any adverse major marketing factor you can’t control is action. Don’t ever give up.

When you are operating inside a negative environment, that’s resistant to your marketing campaigns, and, after a thoughtful assessment, you are convinced that there’s nothing wrong with either your product or its sales program. Change the environment.

Thinking about how and where your product could be sold. Do this by trying new options—keep testing new markets, and keep making changes to your product or service that you and your team think we’ll make it more attractive to buyers, and keep working all the options available to you.

Taking action always creates more options

These new options will often lead you to more effective ways of selling your product or service.

  • A new test email campaign in a totally new and different market or industry that generate sizable interest and response.
  • A cheaper spin-off of your product that makes its price point more affordable and triples your sales volume in a few months.
  • An overnight change in your pricing or distribution methods that removes key sales barriers to buying your product.
  • Or maybe a pay-per-click advertising campaign that dries response in a totally new test market.

Shaking up the perception of your product in the minds of your prospects, or putting your product in front of a whole new set of prospects in a new market are but two examples of action that creates new options.


Get your comprehensive analysis of how your digital marketing programs are performing.

Keep blasting away and these breaks will come

Every day, the mere fact that your company is active, and “in the arena” with its marketing campaigns keeps your products profile high, and brings good fortune a little closer.  It was my father that used to tell me, “the harder I work the luckier I get. running a business requires sweating hard work, not luck.” Well, that stuck.

Entrepreneurs and founders of many successful companies reach their eventual success in markets, and with products and sales approach is far different from those they started out with.

As CMO’s, the responsibility for finding these markets, and in executing plans to make a success of your company’s sales efforts there, often falls to you.

You only fail if you quit—so don’t quit!

There’s always something you can do.

Have something to say about uncontrollable startup factors? Share it with us on Facebook, Twitter or our LinkedIn.

Increase Web Traffic With SEO - Get To The Top Of Search

High-speed crawler, issue prioritization (errors, warnings, notices), flexible settings. Multiple checks: architecture, security, on-page, mobile, technical and international SEO!


Perform Your Own SEO Audit.


You have Successfully Subscribed!

Develop Your Marketing Plan in 3-Days or Less

Social Media Plan Templates — Write SMART goals. Analyze your tactics. Set your budget. Featured Resource. Free Marketing Plan Template.


Marketing Plan Template - Easy To Use Template‎


You have Successfully Subscribed!

Marketing Automation Solutions Comparison


See side-by-side comparisons of the top 6 marketing automation vendors in one convenient guide.‎


You have Successfully Subscribed!

Test Your Website for Google's Core Vitals

See where your site needs work with actionable results.


Is your site ready for Google's May UPDATE? Get Your Test Results Immediately.


You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This!

Share this post with your friends!