content marketing and organic growth

Content Marketing Beyond Mass Market: Acquire Customers Without Buying Facebook and Google Ads

So, you need customers. Shocker. And while Facebook and Google ads are great, it’s a rat race of burning cash quicker than the competition. It’s not sustainable, especially as an advantage.

Sure, you can get really good at advertising, get your cost of acquisition (CAC) down. But in the end, you’re still paying to acquire every customer. That’s rough, especially without VC funding. And even with funding, eventually, you need to transition from paid acquisition to more profitable, sustainable strategies.

And that’s where content marketing often comes in, or social, or influencer campaigns.

There’s a million ways to do it. And for each business/industry, different strategies and channels will have differing degrees of success.

But in business (as in life), the worst thing you can do is to achieve exactly what you set out to, but with the wrong goals in the first place.

What really matters to your business?

Every business comes down to money in versus money out. It’s all about profit (even for superfunded juggernaut’s like Uber, more on that here). But if it’s all about the money, is that what you’re really optimizing for?

How many businesses track social followers, website visitors, subscribers… Those are some of the most common metrics. And what gets measured gets improved upon.

Source: Pexels

If my goal for The Disruptors podcast was just to increase downloads (which until recently it was), I could grow it to 36k listeners without ever building anything more than an advertising business.

And for some, that’s okay. But reaching 36k downloads an episode is almost unheard-of, top 1% type material. And if I’m honest, taking years to reach a sustainable size isn’t my only goal.

Sure, we have Patreon supporters, some 1% of our audience… but that doesn’t cut it.

And when it comes to focus, the same is true for you — be that Twitter, Facebook, Youtube… If you’re selling granny panties or diapers, millions of muscle heads watching your videos isn’t gonna cut it. It isn’t targeted and your conversions will be garbage.

By the same token, posting run-of-the-mill uplifting quotes to Instagram and Pinterest probably won’t land you many SaaS contracts. See what I’m saying.

Who is your ideal customer?

You should have already answered this. You know exactly who you’re trying to reach. But how are you doing it? And why?

Why those channels? Why that strategy?

For me, I’ve decided I want to do more founder/CEO coaching and growth consulting. It’s what I’m good at, love doing and it pays the bills as I pursue my sci-fi writing career.

And after thinking things over, I realized I was doing a piss-poor job focusing. The Disruptors was all over the place: from AI, space and big tech to economics, inequality and the future of genetic engineering. It was an ADD assortment of the most interesting and relevant topics affecting our tomorrow.

But what percentage of my audience (of folks interested in futurism and more) would be ideal coaching clients? A fraction, if that.

Plus, I had affiliate offers for products I loved and rarely promoted myself or my services. I sought to make content EVERYONE (or at least everyone interesting) would enjoy.

I fell for the original sin of entrepreneurship: trying to please everyone.

Which content should you create?

This is one of (if not the) most important questions you need to ask yourself as an entrepreneur or marketer. It’s the reason I’m doing more writing lately. Blogging connects to a different core audience, and it’s a place I’ve established myself as a marketing/startups expert. And in text, adding a call to action’s pretty easy.

(Interested in working together to scale your startup/business/self? Apply here.)


With blogging (or any other medium), you can often repurpose content. Trying to connect with founders or business-folk? LinkedIn and Medium are great channels. Selling something fashionable — post to Pinterest and Instagram.

For every article I write on, my team copies it to Medium and LinkedIn and share links on Twitter, Reddit, Hackernews and Facebook. Might as well get your money’s worth, right?

And if people are reading/commenting/engaging, that means they’re interested.

But which channel do you/should you focus on? For me, it’s my website. It’s the ONE channel I control

How do you leverage multiple channels? Because building/basing a business on single channel (be that Amazon or Facebook) is suicidal. You’re playing on someone else’s playground (unless you build an email list), and they can stop sharing WHENEVER they feel like it (more on platforms and playing with fire here).

Designing towards your KPIs

What is your funnel? How do you convert average Joes to excellent customers? If, for instance, you see 10% of your subscribers buy your widget or service, guess what your job is…?

Source: Flickr

It really can be that simple. And for many businesses, email subscribers is the god stat. The more individuals (or businesses) who offer up their inbox, the better (usually).

But even then, how are you funneling folks towards that? Is it a lead magnet, an exciting newsletter, a coupon code?

Are you testing multiple offers? What if ALL of your customers aren’t the same?

That’s certainly the case for me. I work with founders and CEOs of world-positive companies from post-seed to pre-IPO to help them 10x results. Even so, there are a million different industries, issues and needs.

To that end, I’ve built multiple guides (lead magnets) to help each and every one. From a 15-page guide to acquiring and retaining customers to a perfect pitch deck template VC’s can’t ignore.

For mission-focused founders, a step-by-step to impact-oriented success and even a DIY to hack the 5 types of network effects.

And still, there are so many other problems my “customers” face: leadership, self-doubt, funding… The opportunities for content and valuable guides are endless.

What are they for your business? What does your ideal customer struggle with and how can you help them? Create the content and guides that help them help themselves and inevitably, a certain percentage will come to you for additional support.

When they do, be ready. Calls to action are key. If you don’t ask, they won’t buy. So, layer CTAs throughout the content you create in an organic, helpful way.

“Still struggling with email marketing… our automated solution could help. Find out more…”

If you could only pick one channel

Yes, the Pareto principle, and you’ve heard it before. It bears repeating.

80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers.

80% of results come from 20% the effort.

What channels are you currently building/focusing on? Why? Which ones are working and which aren’t?

Don’t kill the losers, not yet. Instead, look to “outsource” the underperformers to simpler setups.

An example:

Let’s say you’re building a fitness company and creating a Youtube channel to promote it. Maybe you’d want to do Instagram stories, blog, stream to Twitch, post images on Instagram…

Inevitably, not everything is working. Odds are, one or two channels drive the lion’s share of your revenue/results. If you killed everything else, how much more could you put into that ONE winner? An extra video a week, two, ten…?

What are the risks? What about rewards?

In general, when it comes to creating content, that’s a creative task. Repurposing however, that’s much more rote. Outsource as many rote tasks as you can to lower labor costs/increase output.

Create your Instagram stories and infographics but have someone else do the rest. That diversifies your channel risk and let’s you double down on what’s working, saving you the headache/heartache of juggling multiple things at once.

An overview of your business & strategy

How does everything fit together? This is something a lot of entrepreneurs (myself included) struggle with…

When you look at the truly great innovators, the ones changing the world and building landmark businesses, there’s almost always ONLY ONE thread throughout everything they do.

Bezos’ goal is to own a piece of all economic activity. To do that, he creates internal systematized products he later ships/sells to customers/general public: AWS,, Amazon Health. (He builds platforms like no other. Here’s how.)

Source: Investopedia

Facebook and Google aim to own all consumer data: hence their acquisitions, product lines and push into all things fast/free/privacy-destroying. (More on Facebook and Google’s future here.)

And while Tony Robbins has infomercials, seminars, books, podcasts and more… it all stems around self-development to drive individuals into his funnel.

What is your brand building towards?

Is it in alignment with your content, marketing and vision? Coke can’t exactly market a “Make America Healthy Again” campaign.

Refining your business model:

  • Who is your target customer?
  • Where do they hang out?
  • What problems do they have?
  • How are you helping them (both with and without your product)?
  • And why are you THE best company for them and their values? (more on mission-driven marketing/branding here).

So, what do you think? Answer those 5 questions for your company and you’ll be well on your way to an effective, sustainable marketing strategy your competitors can’t easily copy.

And the best part: it’s free-ish, and will set you up for long-term success.

Closing thoughts

How are you acquiring customers/users/visitors? What percentage are organic vs paid? How do you see your business evolving in the future? What are your competitors doing?

There are millions questions to ask. The most important: what is your endgame — what are you building towards?

That’s the key to what you should do. And regardless, longterm organic marketing MUST be on your roadmap. You can’t pay the “idiot tax” forever.

And if you need help with any of this, this is what I help companies do best. Reach out here to find out how we can design your perfect growth & marketing plan to hit your goals.

What is working for you? What isn’t? And what do you think about the article? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

You can follow me on Twitter and share your feedback there.


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