The Best Free Marketing

Corollary: advertising spend equates to accelerated acquisition

If you spend money on Facebook ads and Google Adwords, assuming you have a great campaign with suitably aligned messaging and accurate targeting, then you will surely drive quality traffic leading to purchases. Done well, this can be crazy effective.

I’m happy recommending PPC (Pay Per Click - Digital Advertising) as the main channel for many offerings out there. However, if for whatever reason one decides to avoid this route, there are still many options!

Reasons you might not want to use PPC:

  • can’t afford it, if you're just starting out or being outbid in a highly competitive market
  • don’t want to use push/interruption marketing
  • want to use pull/inbound marketing
  • wanting to focus on other channels like content or events

All marketing has a cost. Even if we’re talking about free marketing. Which may not cost dollars but still costs time and attention (only the most valuable resources!).

Whether its the upfront cost of ads, or the hours it takes to curate a good ad campaign, or the cost of hosting an event, or the time it takes to create good content, or the time to set up analytics and tracking, or the creative energy for outside-the-box thinking: they all cost us.

Sidenote, keep an eye out for this future post: "The obscene benefit of PPC, data and accelerated learning"

How to choose otherwise

The question shouldn’t be which channels are the cheapest, or which of the free channels are the best, but which channels provide the most direct path to your audience. 

Or, which channels are you most comfortable with? Or, allow the most authentic representation of your message. 

E.g. if your message is best told through video, then you might consider youtube, or Vimeo for higher art pieces, and then fold that video into your bigger content strategy.

The best free marketing channel is Content Marketing

This means constructing the narrative arc (telling a story) using free tools. The main one is blogging. The medium can vary between text, audio (e.g. podcast) and video (e.g. vlog, explainer videos, youtube channel). You should have one main message, delivered through one main medium. Then build up other related assets to support this. 

For example, let us break down the marketing of MKBHD, prolific tech influencer and Youtuber.

  • Message: tech reviewer and now influencer
  • Marketing channel: content
  • Main Medium: video (youtube)
  • Supplementary mediums: social media, Reddit, etc

Does MKBHD spend any money on advertising? I doubt it. I’ve never seen an ad for his channel, or any of his digital assets. Can assume "No". But does he spend on marketing? Absolutely!

Ignoring for a second any sponsored content, collaborations, or invites to specific events and conferences; he still has to spend a considerable amount of funds on video hardware and software to shoot and edit his videos. Plus travel to attend tech events and to shoot on location. Plus, as far as I am aware, he purchases most of the tech items he reviews (phones, computers, cameras, etc). I'm sure companies also send him samples and gifts.

Having joined Youtube in 2008, this will be his tenth year as MKBHD. In that time he has amassed 5.6 million subscribers and 818 million views. 

It’s taken him time to build this operation. He’s been doing this one thing, tech reviews on youtube, for 10 years! It’s been a slow and steady, consistent, authentic, rise to the top. Consequently, he now has legions of diehard fans and has cemented his place as a tech influencer.

Is Content Marketing free: technically. Does it cost: absolutely.

Is Content Marketing the best free marketing: only if you’re willing to put in the work, remain consistent, tell an authentic story, and aim for the long burn.

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90 Day Content Challenge: Day 14