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Why should I pay for advertising when there are many free options for promoting my business?


Valid question, and I hear it quite a bit.

My friend, the answer to your question is: “You don’t need to pay for advertising, if your time is ‘free.’ ”

Because until you get to the position of Taylor Swift - who can start humming and people will snap to attention desperate to buy the next album - you have to do something to attract customers to your business if you want to keep growing.


It’s like absolutely everything else in business; do it yourself, or outsource it. The right choice depends on your circumstances and your business.


There is plenty of scope for success with “free” advertising options, which are all very valid and effective when done consistently and well.


You’ve got to put the time in. Keeping up your social media profiles is free but takes time (and leaves you exposed to the mercy of proprietary algorithms if it’s the only advertising you do); blogging, writing, attending networking events, doing stuff for free to get referrals and reviews, developing freebies and giving them away, showing up on LinkedIn regularly, running a Facebook group, running a free challenge or webinar, mailing out to your subscriber list, implementing refer-a-friend schemes, SEOing your website (either deliberately or fortuitously)….the list is endless. All worthwhile and we should no doubt all be doing plenty of the above.

It may not be what springs to mind what we say “paid advertising”… but it is all promotional activity and comes at a cost.

The old adage of business - “time is money”- although true, is also crude and incomplete. I’d like to believe that for most of us, time means quality of life spent with loved ones and doing fun things, at least as much as money.


The old adage of business - “time is money”- although true, is also crude and incomplete. I’d like to believe that for most of us, time means quality of life spent with loved ones and doing fun things, at least as much as money.

By “free” advertising, you risk valuing your time input at £0.00.


It’s always a choice, and the right choice depends on you and your business, your own skillset, your team, the industry you’re in, your growth ambitions, and so on.


I sell many forms of advertising and marketing and get a lot of repeat business. That’s because it’s not an expense; it’s an investment that clients get their money back on over and over again.


But even if you’re struggling to see it as an investment, paying for a bit of advertising is a small price to pay for freeing up a weekend instead of slaving over a blog post or being stuck in your social media prison. It’s like a shortcut.


So that’s why I recommend buying some advertising and/or getting someone to write effective emails and landing pages for you. Have a dabble and see how you like the freedom.


Here is the most fundamental question to help you decide where best to spend your effort and money: Who are your ideal customers and where do they hang out? If your ideal customers are in the more mature age bracket, getting stressed about your lack of TikTok profile is a waste of time. If you have a physical service premises or shop, research how far people will travel – or decide how far you want to travel to reach them - and focus on making a noise in that area. Take the time to identify clearly who you’re targeting, research the best way of reaching them, and focus on that.

All the big brands are advertising all the time. They do all of the “free” things listed and they pay for a ton of advertising. This should be a big hint about the value of advertising to solid business success.

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