Tips to Market Without Paid Ads
It’s not a pipe dream–you can advertise without paying a dime. Top-tier brands know how to get customers without advertising.
Go spend ten minutes on social media. You’ll be exposed to more promoted content than it may first appear. Yes, there are brands who pay the platforms to put an ad on your news feed. But be more analytical. Many adverts lie within the posts themselves. The trick to advertising without advertising is to hack the system and be subtle–like a ninja.
Why market without paid ads?
Most people don’t like being sold. Our brains are tired of the constant promotional stream. We’ve developed internal “ad filters” so we gloss over the most obvious ads.
But if you ask people, “Do you like watching funny videos?” or “Do you enjoy reading blogs?” you are more likely to find people saying, “Yes.”
People don’t like the aggressive approach on social media many advertisers practice. When you work to build your brand through alternative methods, many people won’t notice you’re pitching them a product or a service. Another benefit of this method is you can still reach people with ad-block installed.
How can you advertise with spending money?
For social marketing, jumping on the bandwagon and following the crowd can actually drive eyeballs towards you. I’m not saying everything popular is good. But if something is trending, there’s usually a reason. Use that popularity to your advantage.
Most YouTubers make more money from sponsorship than they do from YouTube itself. And I haven’t listened to a podcast in ages that isn’t sponsored by someone.
Quora and Reddit
Quora and Reddit are some of the most visited websites in the world. Using the traffic to your advantage is a great opportunity. Aren’t people always looking for a resolution of a problem they’re having? You can advertise here, but a ninja wouldn’t do that. Instead, actually be helpful and answer some questions people posted on Quora using your business profile. Your engagement will be noticed for sure, and people will appreciate you making an effort to resolve their problems. This is a free method and it’s not that time-consuming.
Even though YouTube is filled with many professional creators, there are still a lot of individuals creating new content.
Sponsoring a YouTuber will either mean they’ll pause during their video to talk about you, or they show your product or service in their daily life.
For example, if you have a clothing line, a YouTuber doing a video about how clothes boost your confidence might say something like “Wearing a great outfit, like one from our sponsor XXX, can give you that extra confidence boost you need.”
Instagram has increased its popularity across demographic groups and for that reason has drawn a lot of attention to itself. Some Instagram influencers charge thousands if you want them to promote your company. This new celebrities, the “social influencer,” are people who have gotten famous from basically being a human billboard.
But you don’t really need to pay an Instagram influencer to win advertising. Many brands are making use of the micro-influencer trend. Instead of one big fish with tens of thousands of followers who may or may not be interested in your product or service, they go for high-quality little fish. These smaller pools of influencers may only have a few hundred or thousand of followers. By picking the right ones, you could actually increase who sees your brand and negotiate a way to leverage the micro-influencer’s reach without paying anything.
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Blog posts aren’t what we think of when we discuss discreet advertising. However, many blogs contain sponsored links or act as an advertisement in disguise. As we’re talking about industry trends and tips, what we’re subconsciously telling our reader is “we can do this for you!”
Example: your company sells a face cream, so you write a blog about the importance of taking care of your facial skin.
We can use the blogs to outright promote our services. Example: if you run a travel agency, you might write an article called “Top 8 Things To Do in London.” Add a call-to-action at the bottom like, “If you want to visit London, a company like XXXX makes the whole booking process easier”.
Another blog-based approach for advertising without paying is guest blogging. Either you find leading media resources in your field and propose a blog article to be shared on their site to their audience or you invite a guest blogger to your platform. This is a great way to grow your audience, especially if you can leverage both platforms’ social media to promote the blog.
Advice for collaborative marketing
Before you start contacting people about sponsorship or partnering, first know your target audience. Knowing whom you’re trying to sell determines the platform you should try and which creators to contact.
Look to the demographics of the different platforms. As a company engaged in social marketing, you’ll likely already know where your main pool of customers are active. If not, start with the general information available through many a web search. For example, Instagram is mainly used by young people. Trying to sell retirement plans by paying models to promote them isn’t the wisest idea.
Contact the right ones
Contact content creators with an audience that consists primarily of your target market. They ideally should already have created content that shows an interest in the product or services you’re offering. If not, your collaboration still shouldn’t be a stretch. For example: a basketball star supporting a joint vitamin isn’t too far-fetched, but a basketball star promoting home furniture might be.
The big buzzword in today’s digital marketing landscape, user-generated content (UGC) doesn’t cost you a dime. Instead, you rely on your existing fan base to get the word out about you. Anytime someone writes, texts, create a video, image, or social post that mentions you, that’s user-generated content.
Why does it work? Because people trust other people more than they trust other brands. They know companies always have the exterior motive to sell, sell, sell. When a random person happens to endorse your product, people are more likely to comment, engage, and share it with their audience.
To find UGC, have a plan for social listening in place. Track mentions of your brand. Make sure to thank and comment anyone who’s talking about you. Another option is to outright run a contest asking for UGC. You can use a campaign hashtag to make the content easy to track.
Marketing without ads is not new
Advertising without paid promotion has actually been around before the internet was a thing. It was a skill used in direct-response mailers and the print media world.
In magazines, some drinks companies would write about the importance of staying hydrated. These articles were written in such a way they led people to believe that real scientists backed specific products or services.
On television, you would find brands paid to be featured in the show. When people said or used these products, viewers just assumed the characters liked them; they didn’t realize they were being advertised to. You can still see this today if you look carefully. The next time you watch your favorite show or movie, see if the characters’ tech products or the vehicles are all one specific brand.
What to be careful of when ninja marketing
There are risks to this type of digital marketing.
The biggest is that creators who promote a lot of products can gain a reputation of being “sell outs.” People stop trusting their advice. That’s why any collaborations, partnerships, or guest work you do must stem from an authentic relationship.
With information more available than ever, people are becoming more aware of how companies advertise. We think the best approach is to be upfront with your audience.
Get customers without advertising
Marketing without paid ads is a great chance to connect with your audience on a different level.
Engage with your audience using some of the methods mentioned above to differentiate your digital marketing strategy from the mass promoted content on today’s digital world. When you advertise in this way, you can bypass any “ad-block” software that many will have “installed” on their devices and subconscience.
Our recommendation is to always infuse your marketing strategies with empathy. Be aware of where your audience is living and what interests them. Always make an effort to always bring an added value to your content.