I cringe every time I read an article about how SEO is essentially free marketing. Search engine optimization is not free – not by a long shot, and for years I’ve had to untangle a lot of the knots that our competitors put out there among potential clients.
It’s why I don’t use that word anymore.
SEO is not dead, but the connotations it carries make it as close to dead as it can get. The truth of the matter is that with recent algorithm updates and the ever increasing quality in web design, development and content, the technical side of things is no longer the be all and end all of the industry.
These days it’s about branding and we do that through content and inbound marketing strategies.
Again, these things are not free. It costs money to develop content. It takes time to create a connection with your audience. It takes energy to continue growing that connection.
But there is something buried in all this that IS free and that can almost instantly turn your marketing campaigns into mega-successes.
That’s the word of the people.
Word of Mouth Can Scale Online
Why do you think big businesses spend millions a year plastering their names and logos all over billboards, buildings, posters, and TV ads?
It’s not to make a direct sale – if so, the pitches are way too general. It’s to get their name out there and be recognized so that when someone DOES need laundry detergent or a new car, they think of that brand first.
If nothing else, they can reach a certain level of saturation that gets them word of mouth to grow their business.
That same ideas work online but on a completely different scale. Branding strategies such as those used by Great Leap work because they create word of mouth that makes people want to talk about your products.
And while the things we do to generate that word of mouth are not necessarily free, the word of mouth itself? That’s 100% free of charge.
The best part, though, is that what was once an isolated phenomenon is now scalable. You can generate a message that is seen and heard by people around the globe on social media sites, your blog, in videos and more. And if you’re lucky you can do it for very little or no investment.
It Takes Time To Get There
The big misconception here, though, is that you can do this overnight. That you can just ‘go viral’ on a whim or by hiring the right marketer.
Viral content is a bit of luck and a whole lot of hard work. It takes time to build an audience, generate a platform and create enough content that you can reach that many people at once with the click of a mouse button.
But when you invest in online branding, create a funnel for people to find your products and build an audience that will follow you loyally, whatever you post, those moments of exceptional exposure start to happen more and more often, and when they do, you can get huge volumes of what is essentially free, immensely powerful marketing for your business.