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  • Writer's pictureGlenda Beagle

There's So Such Thing as a Free Lunch

I get it, no one wants to pay for any more marketing than they have to. But then again no one wants to pay for anything.

Far too often I see social media coaches touting - get more organic traffic, never pay for another social media ad ever again. The funny thing is, if you were to look beside their name of that post in your news feed, odds are good you are going to (or at some point) see that shiny word “sponsored”. Yep, that social media coach that wants to teach you how to drive traffic without paying for social media ads only got in front of you because they paid for social media ads.

I get this question a lot, in fact, recently I was coaching someone and they said to me “I was talking to another coach and she said I only needed to do this and I would never have to pay for social media ads again”. I’m going to give the coach the benefit of the doubt and say perhaps a few things got lost in translation.

Consuming a product (such as marketing for your business) without paying for it - ever. It is the equivalent of saying you never again need to pay for lunch, just make sure you give yourself enough time to hit all of the sample tables in Costco during your lunch break. It can be done. Let me ask you though, will that truly fill you up? Will you leave Costco smacking your lips together thinking wow that meal was gourmet. Or are you going to leave the store thinking, hmm, I tried a few things I hadn’t tried before, they sure don’t go together. A few of them I would try again but wow that one was disgusting.

What happens though when you find an item you really like, that satisfies your craving, gives you that nutritional boost you were looking for? How do you get it for lunch again tomorrow? Do you go back to those Costco Sample booths and demand that they give you that same sample for free?

Heck no! They already know you loved it, so now they have it out ready for you to purchase. Free samples of any business are not intended to become the way you consume their product for eternity. This includes social media!

As a business or organization, you get to sample the system by being able to post content for free. It’s sort of like a community pot luck. There’s always some great stuff there, but without fail, someone has made some sort of jiggly fruit-filled cream based … never mind don’t want to know, because they just said it has meat in it. There is also that item on the table that you never saw until you are sitting next to someone else who has it on their plate, and when you go back it’s all gone.

Posting content for free is great. There are some opportunities for it to be seen by a very limited audience, and the good news is that if it’s the right person you quite possibly will be able to make a deal. The reality is, however, that on platforms such as Facebook your content is being shown to as little at 1-3% of your audience organically. Trying to grow your audience organically probably isn’t going to be that much more successful either.

Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, are now offering the option to purchase ad space so that your posts are seen by more people. The best part is that you can get really specific in who sees your ad. In fact, you can customize a whole new ad set for each section of your demographic. This means that if you are trying to attract multiple locations of people that all have the same profession, you can tailor the images that they will see based on their location. This means that if you are targeting a rural demographic and a very urban demographic, you could swap out the images or the copywriting to better attract that audience.

While it’s possible to get a free lunch once in a while, the reality is social media is still a business. Just as you have most likely at some point in your business given out a free sample to entice a new customer so too did they.

One final note on this… when Covid-19 hit, the free sample booths at Costco and other stores across North America suddenly disappeared. If that was the only way you were getting your lunch, I suspect starvation may be on the horizon. The same goes for your marketing. If your entire marketing strategy hinges entirely on “free marketing”, when the next snap or slap of the algorithms comes, you’re going to be the one starving.

When you understand the foundations of creating great marketing, you are no longer solely reliant on the algorithms of free marketing. Your ability to recover and adapt will be much faster and you will be much more profitable.

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