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Free ads can still cost…

In my recent post about saving money in business, I noted that ineffective free ads could be too expensive to run.

While that may seem strange (a free ad costs nothing, right?) it is true.

By free ad I mean any advertising you do that doesn’t directly cost you anything so it may be a free directory listing, adding an email signature, using social media or having a banner in someone else’s newsletter. Free advertising is great for cashflow obviously, and has a number of advantages, but it isn’t always good for business or truly free.

So even free ads need to be reviewed and considered for their value. Consider these examples of how free ads can be much more costly than they first appear…

  1. social media is certainly free in that you don’t pay any fees to join or use those sites. However, you may pay for supporting software and you do pay in time – and the smaller expense of electricity, computer wear and tear, etc. If you are spending hours  tweeting every week (and have done for months) and have never had a sale through Twitter, it is becoming an expensive, ineffective exercise
  2. directories that need regular updating but return nothing are probably not worth the effort, especially as many are only viewed by other business people updating their listings!
  3. notice what response the ad is generating – an ad that brings in a lot of queries but no sales is probably in the wrong place or missing the target. In this case the free ad is costing you in time to answer queries rather than giving you time for genuine customers. Try tweaking to ad or just stop using that free option
  4. ads in disreputable places may also not have a price to add them or take time to maintain, but if they are giving your business a bad image they are very expensive ads. Negative associations are hard to measure as you can’t see which people consciously didn’t come to your website. Just be careful where you are listed, and review sites every so often as they may change over time
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