Content always outperforms Ads, so why do so many small businesses choose Ads?

Why are you spending so much money on paid Ads? Do they work? Can you measure how much return they generate? More often than not, business owners can’t, so why do they keep spending?

The major platforms, Facebook and Google, have spent millions of dollars making marketing websites to tell you that Ads will work, and Ads are the answer, but from what I see for small businesses I’m not convinced.

I believe that making great content with real value is the answer to most peoples marketing problem, and it always outperforms Ads in the long run. So why are businesses spending so much on Ads?

Ads are an expensive way to buy customers

When you have a marketing plan that works you can use Ads to reach new customers and measure a great return on investment. However, most businesses don’t have a marketing plan, they’re just throwing money at Ads and hoping they work. They ‘want’ them to work so much they will keep putting money in even if they don’t.

Ads are like a tap

Imagine Ads as being like a tap. You pay to turn on the tap and all the time you’re paying the water flows. If you have a bucket you can collect some of this water and take it away, if not the water goes everywhere.

In this analogy, the bucket is your marketing plan and the tap is Facebook or Google. If you’re ready to collect the water, paying them is a great idea. If you’re not you’re just wasting water.

So Ads can work well if you have a marketing plan in place before you use Ads. Ads are a great way of boosting your marketing, and sending a lot of traffic to your site, video, shop or app, but you need to be ready for that!

Without a marketing, plan Ads will cost you more than you make back

If you spend your marketing budget on Ads and they don’t work, then what do you do next? It’s easy to be seduced by the promise of a quick win, but if you don’t have the cash flow to keep the Ads running, you have to turn off the Ads, and the customers stop. So unless you can measure the return your Ads are generating then it’s going to cost you a lot more than you make back.

Creating content builds results that last

When you make and post your own content you’re building a relationship with your audience, you’re earning more and more of your customer’s attention over time. When your ideal customers spend time with you they will get to know you and then if they like what you say and what you have to offer they will want to make a purchase.

Your content finds your customers for free

When you post your content on social media it spreads on its own with the network effect. This is when users share the content with their network, either directly, with a social post or mention, or indirectly with a like or follow. So you put the content out there and it finds it’s own way to your ideal customers.

The content could be a blog, article, webpage, video or a social media post, it can also be a combination of them all. Your content tells your story, it shows how you’re different, how you add value to your customer's lives, how you have the solution to the problem they have.

Yes, you can do this with Ads, but it’s a short term interaction, they see it and click it. You have to pay for another Ad to repeat that process. Whereas, if someone watches your videos, reads your blogs or subscribes to your mailing list then you can reach them over and over again with no ongoing costs.

The content format will be different for every business but the underlying principle that engaging content builds a relationship with your ideal customer is always true. Your blogs, videos and social content will be there working for weeks, months or even years. You invest in creating it once, and then it keeps working for a long time after.

You don’t need likes to see if it’s working

You don’t need to have hundreds of likes or comments for it to be a success, just one customer who converts after saying I saw your blog, or I watched your video or I’ve seen your posts on social media means it’s working.

If you got 1 more client a month from them seeing your content how much is that worth? Vanity metrics are just that, vanity. What matters is money in the bank. So if you spend your money turning on the Ads tap, or if you invest it in content, make sure you measure what works!

How to get started

The best thing to do is just start. Write a blog post, post on social media, record a video. Just share something that you think your ideal customer would like to know more about.

Make it manageable, don’t try and post 5 times a day if you know you can’t do that. Try and start with two blogs/videos a month and go from there. You’ll soon be posting a lot more as you start to see it working.

  • You can create a blog on Medium or on your website. You can also post this as an article on LinkedIn.
  • You can put your videos on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.
  • You can email links to this content to your mailing list using Mailchimp.

Whatever you do, be authentic and make content to engage your ideal customer, think “what would grab their attention?”

Tag us on social and we’ll give you some love and some feedback!

We have a course on how to get started with a marketing plan and you can access it free inside Marketing Success Club.

I write a weekly blog on marketing for small businesses and you can follow me so you don't miss an article.




Marketing mentor currently writing my book Ethical Marketing for Your Personal Brand - to change the way we think about and do marketing.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Marketing does USPs And Product Does Not

TikTok: the Modern Social Media Marketing Platform

TikTok: the Modern Social Media Marketing Platform

Understanding customer experience


<img src=”marketing-illustration.jpg” alt=”Growth in Marketing ”>

When to Outsource Your Content Marketing vs. Keeping it In-House

Top 2 Marketing Analytics Priorities for B2B Marketing Teams

Marketing Analytics marqeu

37 Must Know Terms of Digital Marketing

Consumers say that they have higher customer service expectations — New Media and Marketing

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Simon Batchelar

Simon Batchelar

Marketing mentor currently writing my book Ethical Marketing for Your Personal Brand - to change the way we think about and do marketing.

More from Medium

Is content overload killing Netflix?

David Bowie in the film The Man Who Fell To Earth watching multiple TV screens

4 steps to make a content strategy that produces converting content

In what language should you write your content?

Different languages

Why I Work With a Content Team Even Though I’m a Copywriter