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Organic vs paid traffic...which is better

If you haven’t read an article telling you “The ONLY way to market is X/Y/Z!!!!” congrats on avoiding this very bleak, vast small business marketing corner of the internet.


The truth is there are different ways to market that fit different types, sizes, and goals of businesses. Anyone giving you a one-size-fits-all answer is not being honest. This doesn’t mean there aren’t some key things to keep in mind:


  1. Know your Data


“Half the money I spend on marketing is wasted - The problem is I don’t know which half.” John Wanamaker


This quote perfectly captures the issue many of us experience when struggling with where to spend or not spend our marketing budget. If you see sales coming in from one campaign or effort then you may think, “Great, it’s working”. However, if you pull all the data of not only what you’re getting out (sales/conversions), but also what you’re putting in (time, effort, money), then you may find another channel is performing only slightly worse yet takes TONS less resources to convert. Whatever the data may reveal, just make sure you or a team member is regularly checking it.


  1. Know your audience


Once you have a concrete idea on who you are marketing to you can make better decisions about where they are hanging out (Instagram, Clubhouse, your local newspaper). Why is this important? You might hear you have to have Facebook Ads. Every small business is doing it and so you have to as well, right?! Nope. If your audience doesn’t really hang out there, then you should not be spending time and resources there!


If your audience is crafters who love scrolling through templates, then Pinterest is probably going to be a better option and this platform offers a lot of room for organic traffic.


  1. Know your budget...not just with money


Both organic and paid traffic is going to cost you something. The obvious price is the cost of your ads. However, don’t forget to calculate the cost of creating those ads and the time spent setting them up correctly (either by yourself or paying for help). Conversely, even organic traffic is going to cost you time and effort. Showing up consistently on various platforms, interacting with your audience, and seeking out new leads. The bigger cost is going to depend on your specific business and what you have and want to spend.


Once you have these 3 items in place you can begin to strategize a paid, organic, or, most likely, mixed marketing plan for your business!