The Best Things in Life Are Free, Except Marketing

In 1979, the Flying Lizards released a song titled “Money (That’s What I Want).” You may not know if off the top of your head but you’ve heard the song, I’m sure. “The best things in life are free, but you can give them to the birds and bees, I want money.” As marketers and business owners, we all want more money, that’s why we got into business into the first place. Well, to make money, you’ve got to spend money.

I hate to break it to you but 2016 will bring the end of organic marketing for all of us. Sure, we’ll all still get some reach, clicks, and a few leads from some quick hit marketing campaigns this year, but that’s about it.

As the owner of a digital marketing agency, I field between five to ten prospect calls a week – and I’m not exaggerating this number at all. 90 percent of them ask how they can get new business without spending any additional money above our services. Think of the product you washed your hair with this morning, the coffee you drank, the brand of shoes you wore – they all marketed to you and it worked. Out of the ten billion pairs of shoes in the world, you chose their shoes because something about their messaging/look/feel worked for you.

If you had been living under a rock for the last 60 years and came out and watched cars drive by for an hour – would you know that the Mercedes driving by was much nicer than the Honda? Probably not. Years of advertising, marketing, and brand building have told us that Mercedes is a luxury vehicle. So we work our entire lives to finally be able to afford that Mercedes so we can feel like the people in the commercials feel when they drive it.

Have I made my point yet? Your hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop may have the best sandwiches on the planet but if you aren’t getting the word out, it won’t matter. You have to showcase your product, sell it, and find the people in your area that love sandwiches and make sure they see your advertising.

Your hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop may have the best sandwiches on the planet but if you aren’t getting the word out, it won’t matter – people will still spend their money at McDonald’s because of the lifestyle they’re selling. You have to showcase your product, sell it, find the people in your area that love great sandwiches, and make sure they see your advertising.

Five years ago, Facebook business pages and advertising were new. It sure was great when 1 percent of businesses and 50 million people were on Facebook. We could post an interesting article or picture and everyone saw it organically, shared with their friends, and maybe even bought something from us. Guess what? There are now 1.55 billion people on Facebook and 98 percent of (smart) brands have a presence. We’re not competing with people who have 200 friends and like five business pages on Facebook anymore. People have thousands of friends, like hundreds of pages, and still have that same one news feed for us to reach them in. Want a presence in that exclusive newsfeed? It’s pay to play! The same goes for Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat, Google search results, email inboxes – you get my point.

Free isn’t just about money, it’s about time. Starting today, marketers must invest more time into creating shareable content and more money promoting it to their potential customers. Use data, find a formula that is profitable and start marketing your product without a cap if you’re making money.

A few weeks ago, I wrote “5 Marketing Tools You Probably Aren’t Utilizing” and guess what? All of them work and none of them are free. I recommend you check it out.

If you have a great product, you must create amazing content to showcase what you’ve created and spend the money needed to make sure the people that need that product are seeing it. The original saying, “the best things in life are free” was about love. It’s 2016, and millions of people are spending hundreds of dollars a year on sites like Match, Tinder, Farmers Only – not even love is free anymore.

Being small and scrappy is not an excuse for not having a marketing budget. Your competitors are all marketing themselves and if you don’t start, you’re going to be left in the dust.

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Written by:
Adam Greenbaum is an award-winning entrepreneur and CEO of WhiskerCloud and Greenbaum Digital in Denver, CO. Most digital marketers pride themselves on specializing in one particular aspect of marketing – social media, web design, analytics, email marketing, search engine marketing – Adam specializes in all of it. A true data nerd, Adam lives to beat the previous month’s numbers, every single month. Adam can often be found roaming Denver with his Boston Terriers and his camera. He’s also an avid fan of the Broncos, Avalanche, Nuggets, Rockies, and Oklahoma Football.
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