We’re all looking for the key to growing our business, but does it lie in using paid marketing or organic marketing?
Unfortunately, there’s no magic spell we can cast that’ll instantly fill our inboxes with customers.
However, there are fundamental concepts and strategies that work for getting results. It’s all just about what you’re willing to invest.
The truth is, you’re going to have to pay in some form.
Either by spending your time and energy on creating content or working on organic strategies.
Or, by spending money on advertising or hiring people to do the work for you.
Each has their own pros and cons that we’ll dive into below.
What Will It Cost You?
The first step is probably the easiest. It’s about deciding what you’re willing and able to invest into your marketing right now.
If you’re a smaller business, it’s likely you’ve been bootstrapping this operation since the beginning.
At times like that, it’s not always easy to drop money on advertising, and that’s OK!
However, you can’t give up and tell yourself you can’t afford to market yourself.
Your best bet is to find the time to start learning and working on organic growth strategies.
Things like content marketing, social media, search engine optimization and more.
Through these strategies, you’re directing and capturing people’s attention towards your business organically.
It’s going to take consistent hard work, but it’s worth it in the long run for your business to succeed.
However, if you’re at a stage where you have got some funds to invest, perhaps it’s worth looking into paid marketing.
By setting up things like digital ads on places like Facebook or Google, you’re able to target potential customers and get your business in front of them.
You’re pretty much paying for the attention of key groups of people, rather than trying to win their attention organically.
In both cases, you’ll still need to win them over and make them care enough to engage with your business.
So, what else sets paid and organic marketing apart?
How Fast Will You See Results?
The biggest desire for most entrepreneurs is getting new customers. However, second to that is probably getting customers as fast as possible!
The next thing you need to weigh up between picking your paid or organic approach is what sort of timeframe you have available.
A lot of work goes into both approaches, but paid marketing tends to beat out organic marketing in terms of speed of results.
Why? Typically because you could set up a Google or Facebook ad today and start getting eyeballs on your business and traffic to your website straight away.
You’d still need to create an ad that’s good enough to grab people’s attention and spark enough desire to click through.
However, it’s much faster because you’re paying to get right in front of people straight away.
Organic marketing takes time and effort. You can’t just post to social media once and expect a flood of new customers by tomorrow.
Instead, you need to consistently show up and invest long term into organic strategies.
For example, you need to consistently post great content that builds up a social media audience of people who actually care about your business.
Or, you need to consistently create content and optimize your website for search engines so that you show up higher than your competition on Google.
These strategies take time to see results, but can cut down on your need to keep paying for ads into the distant future.
If you need results in the short term, it might be worth starting with paid advertising. However, if you’re willing to invest in the long-term growth of organic marketing, it may be worth your while.
Before you jump in though, what else should you consider?
How Interested Are Potential Customers?
Something to consider when starting either type of campaign is how you convert all that attention into actual sales.
Not every single person who sees your social media post or advertisement online is instantly going to buy from you.
We all have varying levels of awareness and interest, based on the frame of mind we’re in.
Let’s just say you’ve invested heavily into organic strategies and you’ve started to build up a decent following on social media.
This is a fantastic spot to be in for a business, because you now have an engaged audience who knows and trusts your business.
Typically, the stronger that customer relationship is with your business, the more likely someone is to buy from you.
So, we can make the assumption that it would be easier to pitch your products or services to the following because they already have a previous relationship with you.
It’s important to note though, that organic reach, even with followers, will typically continue to drop overtime as platforms become more populated with content.
Compare that with paid advertising strategies which many people use to target new audiences.
Because these audiences are colder and don’t have previous knowledge or experience with your business, they’re less likely to purchase straight off the bat.
That’s not to say that a good amount won’t convert into customers. It’s just to say that it’s a bigger hurdle to overcome because they have less of a relationship with you.
This may also change depending on who you target and where you advertise.
For example, running retargeting campaigns that show ads to people who have previously visited your website have shown to be effective, because those visitors have prior knowledge about your business.
It also comes down to where you advertise and the frame of mind someone is in too.
Running a Google Ad typically is an easier opportunity for a lot of businesses, because people are already going to Google to find key products or services.
Compare that with a Facebook Ad, which is usually interrupting people and trying to pitch them on something when they aren’t interested or in that frame of mind.
This is a big thing to consider, because as you start to grow you’ll slowly develop more of a client database and following.
What Do You Need to Get Started?
One last thing I wanted to cover is the skills, tools and level of experience you might need to get started with either paid or organic strategies.
It’s safe to say that we live in a world where you could easily create a post on social media or set up an advertisement by the end of today.
However, because that barrier to entry is so low, it means the competition is higher than ever.
More free content than ever is being posted online each day, and that means your content has to compete to be seen on these platforms.
If you decide to pick an organic approach, you’ll need to invest heavily into the quality of your content so that it stands out from the competition.
That means creating content that adds massive value to your key customers, holds their attention to want to stick around and is so good they want to follow you for more.
Compare that with paid marketing, which has grown in popularity over the past few years too.
Platforms have made it easier than ever to start advertising, but will your campaign stand out from everybody else who is advertising too?
You’ll need to make sure you write really persuasive headlines and copy, use really engaging imagery or videos, and target the right audience.
In reality, I think business owners who are willing to invest in learning and developing their skills in either approach will see the benefits.
My Final Thoughts
Truthfully, the best companies in the world try to use a combination of both organic and paid to get ahead.
Why? Because both offer benefits at different stages of the full digital customer experience.
Organic marketing offers you the ability to build an engaged following and stand out as a leader in your industry.
Paid marketing offers you direct access to key audiences and the ability to pitch and convert people into sales easier.
If you’re still on the fence about which option to choose, your biggest step forward will be deciding to just start learning.
Business owners and entrepreneurs who truly care about the growth of their business should be proactive, in a world where digital marketing is the future.
It doesn’t mean you need to do everything yourself. It just means understanding how the digital world of marketing works.