We talk to other bloggers and business owners about marketing a lot. I am also a member of some startup groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.
And what do I tell them?
In many cases, I recommend social media marketing. Because you can make it to social media success in social media without paying a dime for advertising.
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But that obviously results in a big misconception that social media marketing is cheap. And the next step in that utterly wrong perception of social media marketing is the expectation that you can pay an expert a tiny bit of money and they solve all your marketing problems.
I have seen comments in Facebook groups, asking why there are no consultancies that offer a startup package for let’s say 500$ so that startups can profit from the expertise and outsource the marketing tasks.
Why is that so wrong?
An expert easily takes 100$ per hour for expert work. (Yes, I am aware that there may be some consultants who take less, but there are also experts who take a lot more).
That means a 500$ package includes around 5 hours of work. Even if a consultancy treats startups as future big-time clients and reduces their rates, you will have a hard time to find an expert who offers you more than 10 hours for those 500$.
I doubt that you will find a single entrepreneur who found success after 10 hours of hard work. Honestly, 10 hours as an entrepreneur who just started that is just one business day!
The great thing about social media marketing is not that it is easy. It is also not that it does not require work.
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The great opportunity of social media is that you can make it if you invest hard work instead of hard money which entrepreneurs and new bloggers do not have.
I expect an entrepreneur to be willing to put in hard work to make their dream come true.
No expert consultant will invest the hard work into your success if you do not pay him/her their rates. Why should they? It is not their business but their work hours. Why should they give those hours to you for (almost) free?
Yes, entrepreneurs often tell us, they would be willing to pay more once marketing pays off.
But again, that is a huge misconception about social media marketing.
Because social media marketing is hard to start but scales beautifully once you found the marketing tactic that works for you.
Once you have a huge audience on Twitter or Instagram, the effort to keep it running is much less than to grow that audience from scratch. Once you created hundreds of pins for Pinterest and figured out a schedule to pin your content: You can use a scheduling tool for less than 20$ per month and your traffic will still come in.
There will come a time when you just have to pay for some automation tools and spit out some new posts once in a while and still get a ton of traffic from social media.
But that will only happen if you invest in the early social media marketing efforts. Investing just does not mean money. Investing in social media can be done with hard work. But if you are not willing to put in the hard work, you still have to pay hard money for social media success.
So, how can you profit from social media if you do not have the money to pay for ads or pay for a consultant to do the work?
You (or someone in your startup team) put in the work.
(in case you are wondering what tasks a social media manager works on in all those hours, check out this story about a social media manager working at Buffer.)
Either you learn marketing yourself, or you invest in someone IN your company who is willing to learn and work on making it happen.
In addition to the above: Social Media is still Social!
If you want people to listen to your brand on social media, your brand needs a voice (and a face.) A consultancy that speaks for you will never be the best option for social media because they are not part of your brand. They can develop a brand story, but they are not the person behind that story.
Adding your personality to your social media marketing efforts will increase your chance of success.
When we started our first business we had some funding that included money to hire a marketer. Which we did. But we soon had to realize that marketing was key to success and we rather invested the effort to learn marketing and make it happen from our hard work than wait for a paid marketer to figure it all out and hope for the best.
Trying to bring that business to success turned us into marketers. Because we learned that even with a budget for marketing, we had to understand marketing and find a marketing strategy that worked for our business or we would send all that money down the drain.
Note on the side: We did send some money down the marketing drain before we stopped the agency and advertising and developed our Twitter and content marketing strategy.
What brought us success?
What did we get from all that work? 500k pageviews per month, 80k signups and a fast-growing online business. And a ton of marketing knowledge that allowed us to grow this blog fast.
Marketing is crucial to business and blogging success. Why do so many entrepreneurs treat it as if it is a necessary evil that you try to keep as small as possible? Why do so many entrepreneurs care so much more about products and finances than how to make the word spread about their business?
Honestly, it is rarely the best product that is a huge success. Most of the time the success of one product over its competitor product is based on the superior marketing strategy.
You want (online) business or blogging success? Learn marketing!