Usually when someone asks me if they should do paid advertising or otherwise spend money marketing, I tell them — do everything I teach you for 3 months organically (non-paid). Then look at your analytics and see what’s working and not working. At that point you’ll know which networks are…
- Driving the most traffic to your website
- Bringing you qualified leads that convert into customers
- Garnering good relationships
Then it makes sense to spend money on paid advertising and management tools to help your marketing on the one or two networks where you’re seeing results.
However, there may be some instances when you want to spend some money marketing upfront…
- Planning and strategizing. You have visions, goals and objectives. Putting together a good strategic marketing plan is crucial to having a roadmap as you dive into the world of social media marketing. Once the strategy is set, then comes the tactical plan on how you’re going to implement the strategy. What you’re going to do, for how long, where?
- If you’re a startup, it takes time to build a social media following. If you’re a brand new business, you can’t afford to wait a month to grow a following. (Unless you’re under construction, then you can build a following while you’re literally building your business.)
- You’re not very tech savvy. I can teach anyone — no matter how much of a technophobe you are — how to effectively market your business on social media. It takes time. Furthermore, no one can know your business like you know your business, so hiring someone to do it for you takes some hunting to find someone who knows your field or industry.
- You have a budget. Many startups don’t have a budget or they spent it on building a website and other marketing needs. In that case, you need to figure out — how much is my time worth? Do I hire someone to do it for me? Can I trust them? 73% of Small Businesses Invest in Social Media Marketing
- You don’t have the time, skills or knowledge. If you don’t have the budget, you have to put in the sweat equity to market your business. Moreover, you need to produce content — blogs, videos, graphics and/or podcasts. Creating your marketing content takes time. Do you have the right tools? (I’ll get to that in a bit.) Do you have the knowledge on how to use the tools?
Learning how to do social media and digital marketing now -- understanting how it works -- can save you a lot of time and frustration down the line as you try to figure it out on your own.
Learning how to do all this is beneficial.
Sure, it takes time up front, but as you do your marketing daily, you get more comfortable in the networks and using the tools and it takes you less time to do what you need to do. Even if you do end up hiring someone to do it for you, you still need to supervise them and make sure they’re doing everything they’re supposed to be doing. The only way you can do that is if you understand how everything works. Also, if you do hire someone, make sure they provide you with monthly reports. This is your way of tracking their efforts.
What Can You Spend Your Marketing Budget On?
If you’re not carefully choosing where you’re going to spend your money, you can easily end up spending $2500 a month or more with someone and you don’t know how many blog articles they’re doing a month, if your SEO ranking has improved or not and if your website site traffic has increased at all. The latter two things mentioned here are two primary objectives of blogging and content marketing — better SEO and increased traffic to your website.
If the traffic is going to your site, but people are not converting — that is, not downloading the freebie, coupon offer, contacting you or buying — then there’s something wrong with your website. It could be:
- Your offer isn’t enticing enough.
- Your call-to-action isn’t clear to the first-time-visitor to your site.
- The text on your site doesn’t walk the visitor to convert or buy.
- Plus a slew of other factors that I don’t have space to get into here.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
A website and social media profiles aren’t worth a darn if you don’t come up on Google when someone is searching for what you have to offer. Here’s what you can buy in regards to SEO if you don’t want to learn how to do it yourself.
- In the US, 75.42% of SEO consultants charge between $101-$200 per hour. Most SEO consultants (36.17%) say they charge a minimum of $1000-1,999 for a monthly retainer. (Source: “How much SEOs are Charging for Services” Search Engine Journal)
- Services they provide:
- SEO audit – testing to see where your site is failing. You can do this for free here.
- Technical SEO setups for your website – your web designer should have included this in your website building if they were worth their salt.
- Monthly monitoring and reporting
- Blogging — Beware that the content they are providing is fresh and unique to your website. Some services sell and resell content. Duplicate content only helps the website where the original was first published. The best way to find out if they provide fresh content is to ask for sites of current customers. Copy the first sentence of one of their blogs, then paste it in the Google search box to see if it comes up anywhere else. I remember I did this for a legal firm and it came up in over 50 other websites. Now, that’s throwing your money away.
Copywriting, Blogging and Content Creation
- Am I a good enough writer?
- Can I write content that will entice people to buy?
- Do I have the time to blog at least weekly? (If you’re website is brand new, you need to blog 3-5 times a week for the first 2 weeks, then go down to 2-3 times a week for the rest of the first month so that Google will notice you.) What should you blog about?
- What about visuals? Videos, graphics and pictures. Am I creative enough? There are free tools like Canva.com to create logos, social media cover graphics, blog titles and more! For free video editing, if you’re on a Mac, you have iMovie. For PC users you have Movie Maker.
- Do you have the time and skill to create the content? Do you want to learn how to do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you?
Social Media Marketing Tools:
Start using them for free for 3 months or if they have a 30-day trial. If you find that you can’t live without it and you’d like to upgrade to get the whole gamut of functions or to add more networks, then factor in their cost into your marketing budget. It’s cheaper to pay for the year. I did that with Buffer. Since I manage social media for a few clients and myself, I found that I could save time and effort in sharing outside related content using the Buffer app so I upgraded and manage 10 accounts daily.
Most of the tools are around $10-25/month with discounts for paying annually. Again, try them first, if you feel the cost is worth it, go for it.
Be careful, because you can get nickled-and-dimed to death with all these. Make sure it's a tool or service you can't live without and it makes sense to use it to save time or money or do something that you wouldn't be able to do on your own.
Here are some of the other tools that I use for free to their limit.
- HootSuite – free to manage up to 3 accounts and you get 2 RSS feeds. Buffer is great for scheduling, but not for monitoring. HootSuite’s streams make it easy to monitor messages and notifications.
- JetPack – free WordPress plugin. Use their “Publicize” function to automatically share your new blog posts to your Facebook business page, LinkedIn personal page and Twitter. I use 1 HootSuite RSS feed to share blog posts to my LinkedIn company page.
- Dlvr.it – great for automating posting from trusted sources that’s of interest to your target market that is relevant. LinkedIn is a pain here since it keeps disconnecting itself every 3 months and has to be reconnected. So, I use it for Twitter and Facebook.
- HootSuite and Buffer now connect with Instagram and Pinterest.
- If you’re selling products and your find that Instagram is a good source, here’s a tool called HashtagsForLikes. This gal increased her Instagram following using it.
What about Paid Advertising?
Again, try doing it organically for 3 months. If you feel you could have better results spending some money on paid ads, then go for it. I don’t do paid advertising as I believe that anyone can become social savvy enough to manage it all on their own and be successful. Moreover, there are instances like you’ve saturated your market with your current efforts and need to expand your reach. In that case, paid ads is the way to go. But before you place a paid ad anywhere, have a clear objective of what you want to accomplish, the message and image you want to portray and a way to measure it.
In short, if you have the budget, spend it well. If you don’t have the budget, you need invest some sweat equity by learning how to do it yourself.