Early in my entrepreneurial career, I tried to get the ball moving on one of my projects by paying a certain social media giant to advertise it for me.
Businesspeople everywhere are convinced that any great product will sell, if you pay enough to advertise it.
And the social media giants? They’d have you believe it, too. Promote this, advertise that, capture this, monetize that. They’ll do it all for you, for a modest fee.
Oh, it’s just one little fee. Peanuts. A drop in the bucket. It’s an easy thing to believe if you’re a business owner. I’m used to believing ridiculous things. My career is built on that curious ability.
But it’s not just a drop in the bucket. It’s a hole in the side of a boat. It’s a crack in the superstructure. The debt creeps in, drop by drop, until the entire venture is sunk.
I remember seeing the abysmal results of my attempts at advertising. No sales. No attention. No results. I asked myself, “Why? Why isn’t this working?”
Everybody does it. So how can it be wrong?
It took me a long time to realise the truth. And the truth is simple: people don’t like being advertised to. Pretty simple, right?
I grew up in an era where watching The Simpsons on television meant that I had to stop every seven minutes so I could get brainwashed about the latest laundry detergent or whatever.
I didn’t want to watch those damn commercials. But I had no choice. Streaming wasn’t a thing back then.
Thankfully, things aren’t like that anymore. With adblockers, Netflix, and a host of (free!) tools, I have almost total control of what advertising I see whenever I’m on the Internet. And that’s how it is for most people.
And there isn’t a damn thing that paid advertising can do to fix that. The winds have changed.
These days, I promote my projects without paying a social media platform to do it. It works well. And there’s no way that I’m telling you how to do it. It’s my secret.
But I’ll tell you this much: if you’re paying money for it, you’re doing it wrong.