The Real Cost of Free Marketing
Free marketing is good. Free
marketing improves your bottom line by saving you money on the expense side.
Free marketing brings you visitors that others might have to pay for. Free
marketing is easy to find on the web. Free marketing is everywhere, free
marketing is wonderful! Free marketing is NOT free!
Free marketing will almost always cost you more in terms of your time than
will similar paid marketing options. For example, let's say you decide not
to invest in an ezine ad or bid on keywords on a PPC engine. Instead you
decide to join 30 to 40 free safelists that allow you to post every day.
(Yes, you can find that many that will allow free members to post every
day). So instead of spending a few minutes placing an ad
or bidding on some keywords, you spend 45 minutes every night posting to
Extend this example a little and assume that you build your entire marketing
effort around free advertising. You use start page programs, surf for hits
programs, viral ad sites, classified ads, FFA page postings, and anything
else free you can find. It can be done, but you might find yourself spending
six to eight hours per day just taking care of your marketing chores. Using
paid advertising you could accomplish more in
less than one hour per day.
How much "free" marketing actually costs you depends on how you value your
time and what you can do with the money you save. It also depends on how
effective "free" is versus its "paid" counterparts.
Are there other revenue producing activities you could be taking care of
with this additional five to seven hours? If you have employees working
these free programs, could their time be more profitably spent? If you
market online on a part time basis and you are a parent, how much is an
additional five to seven hours with your children worth? Or time with your
spouse, girlfriend, parents, friends, or whoever else? If you do other work
on the side as a consultant, how much revenue are you potentially losing by
using your time "working" free marketing
Your time is very valuable. An additional five to seven hours a day to take
advantage of all these free opportunities could be costing you anywhere from
$350 to $3,500 or more per week in opportunity cost.
What are you doing with the money you save? Are you reinvesting it in your
business to make it grow? If you are, are the returns from this investment
higher than the potential returns from paid advertising?
What kind of sales numbers are you getting from your free advertising
efforts? If you've ever tried paid advertising, how do your results from
free marketing compare?
A properly planned paid advertising program should bring you at least three
times your investment in revenue (and often much, much higher). This makes
paid marketing efforts actually LESS EXPENSIVE than free!
Am I saying you should ignore free options? Absolutely not! Even if
you can afford to pay to have everything done for you, you will still want
to take advantage of EFFECTIVE free opportunities. But you have to be
mindful of the real cost of "free" and you have to be able to track and
discern what works and what does not.
Many people who give up trying to make money on the Internet do so because
they become frustrated spending so much time to earn so little. Most people,
understandably, start off relying very heavily on free marketing methods.
Most free marketing methods do not produce results like paid alternatives
do. So people give up thinking they can never make it online. Most people do
not have the patience to build slowly, and reliance on free marketing means
you WILL build slowly.
A word of caution is appropriate here for those of you who have not used
paid advertising before and are ready to try it. All paid advertising is not
equal. Some paid advertising is no better than free advertising. Do your
homework and invest wisely.
If you absolutely cannot afford to incorporate any paid marketing into your
business, then approach using free alternatives with the right frame of
mind. Realize that building your business will take longer. Learn what to
expect, how to track your results, and how to change your strategies as the
Here are some guidelines for using free marketing that we have developed
based on our own test experiences:
1. BE MINDFUL OF THE LIMITATIONS
Free marketing methods are very rarely going to result in a direct sale. Use
them strictly to get people to your website, to get them signed up on your
mailing list, to get them to accept a free product that will bring them back
to your site, to get them to subscribe to your autoresponder offering a free
course or free report, or something similar.
2. TRACK YOUR RESULTS
Use some form of ad tracking that will allow you to see exactly where your
hits are coming from. If a form of free marketing is doing absolutely
nothing for you, drop it and replace it with something else.
3. BE BRIEF WITH ANY FORM OF EMAIL MARKETING
Free email marketing, such as posting to safelists, will go largely ignored.
Work on creating a catchy, but honest, headline that stands a chance of
creating enough interest to get read and then tease them into visiting your
site in the body of the message with as few words as possible.
4. MAKE YOUR FREE MARKETING RUN ON AUTOPILOT
Use your free marketing efforts to build your downlines in your free
marketing programs. For example, if you build downlines in surf for hits
programs you will reach the point where you don't have to click your life
away for traffic. You don't want to spend the rest of your life clicking for
visitors when the response rates are so low. It is easier to get signups for
free programs when using free marketing sources than it will ever be to
generate a sale.
Always be on the lookout for tools or methodologies that will save you time
when using your free marketing programs. Remember the value of your time. If
it costs you a few bucks to purchase a product that will save you hours of
time daily it is well worth it.
6. CONCENTRATE YOUR FREE EFFORTS ON VIRAL MARKETING
Wherever possible, invest your time in setting up free marketing that is
viral in nature. For example, if you give away a free ebook or report, make
sure it is customized with links to your site. Allow the people who accept
it to give it away freely, thus spreading your links to many more potential
customers. Over time, your website could be advertised to
thousands at no cost.
Free marketing definitely has a place in your marketing portfolio. Use it
wisely and make it work for you but always be aware that nothing is totally
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