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Why There Is No Such Thing As Free Marketing

WHAT? There is loads of free marketing, I hear you shout. What about, social media, emailing, blogs, SEO, press releases … see, so many options to choose from. If you’re not advertising and exchanging actual currency, it’s free right?

Well, no. That is not an entirely accurate view of the whole picture. Yes, there isn’t a physical transaction but have you considered how much your time is worth?

How Much Is Your Time Worth?

The details and tweaks, especially the tweaks (!) take up a lot of time. It isn’t just a case about quickly throwing up some writing and copy pasting it 20 times or adding a couple of words to the metadata spaces on your website. Of course you can do this but if you actually want to get something out of your marketing, you need to put in purpose and positioning behind your words.

Are you saying the right thing? Is it reflecting your brand well? Is it in keeping with your messaging? Is it targeting the right people?

All of these activities take up valuable resources, particularly with creative time. If your marketing isn’t working towards your business goals, what is the point of doing it at all?

Your “free marketing” should very much be working towards your business goals. It shouldn’t be acting as a standalone entity or be done “just because everyone else is”.

This thought, coordination and creation is the bit that takes the time. Are you on instagram because your kids are and you think it’s popular, not because that’s where your audience is? Are you sending out emails with updates about your business that no one is opening? Are you sending out press releases that aren’t matching up to your keywords or promoting your message further? Do you even know what is working and what is not?

Setting Marketing Goals

To make these “free marketing” activities work properly for you, it’s important that you understand why you’re doing them and what you’re doing them for. Take the time to set goals, understand their purpose and correlate your promotions to ensure they’re all working together towards the same business objectives.

If you’re not doing this, it means this “free marketing” is not just time consuming but inefficient as well, bringing no additional value. Surely though, it doesn’t matter that much - spent nothing, gained nothing. Nothing lost, right?

Let’s look at it another way.

How long is it taking to write these blogs? Post them online and promote them? How long does it take to optimise your metadata and website to make sure it is appealing to search engines? How long does it take to find relevant information to post about on social media or find the right accounts to associate yourself with?

Even if you don’t pay that much attention to the quality of your “free marketing” channels, you are still spending time creating, implementing and scheduling assets for them. So if you’re not adding value to your business, then all you’re doing is wasting time. And if you’re only wasting time, then you’re actually detracting from your business.

The value is in the content and the cost is in the time.

The Business Triangle

Whether you decide to do the “free marketing” yourself or hire someone to do it, think about that all important triangle: Quality - Cost - Time → what is most important to you? Where is your time and money spent most efficiently? Sometimes it’s more cost effective to bring the experts in.

If you decide to do it yourself, however, remember to make sure you focus on the channels that are most beneficial to your business in terms of reaching your target audience and not just because they are the most popular.

Either way, these “free marketing” channels will always cost you something, so you see, there is no such thing as free marketing.

What are your experiences with “free marketing”? Is there a channel that is genuinely free? Do you prefer to go it alone or bring the experts in? Let us know in the comments.

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