When Your Sales Leads Are No Longer Free

Sometimes you can’t help but seek out the cheapest ways to promote your company and gain some traction as a thought leader. You put up a free blog, get a free account on some niche forum somewhere, or start attending tradeshows that don’t charge you for handing out business cards or brochures.

Eventually, some of your sales leads start to come in and it looks like your opportunities were practically free.

Fast forward. You’re now enjoying some moderate success. Your blog’s getting good online readership. Forums have become a source of marketing buzz. All of a sudden, you get a message saying that everything you’ve been using so far is no longer free. You will be now be charged to do everything that you used to do when your business was still flying off.

Is this fair?

In a sense, it actually does. But as anything to do with ethics, lines can get blurry. Take this actual case with Buzzfeed. There are many stories like this and they all beg the question: Would this be right?

To answer this, you need to look at your own business now:

  • Can you afford the cost being asked of you? – The first order of business is if you can actually afford the cost. If you have indeed experienced moderate success, an expense like this need not prove to be a difficult challenge. Still, it doesn’t hurt to check. It can help you put things in perspective when trying to measure the value of marketing and how much you depended on the free service and tools.
  • How much do you value marketing? – Logically speaking, it’s actually unfair on your part to get free marketing without so much as giving some credit for your current success to the people who have helped publish your marketing materials. Services and products in this particular business process don’t necessarily pay for themselves so you could use them for free. In order for them to continue providing that service, they need to maintain their own bottom line. On your part though, how value do you assign to marketing?
  • What is your back up plan? – Lastly, consider this another lesson on being prepared. When it turns out that a particular marketing strategy is going to start charging a few extra dollars, it pays to at least have emergency budgets in hand. If not, you should consider leveraging your current position to seek out more cost-effective alternatives if the price tag is too high.

These strategies can apply even if it’s not so much about something no longer being free. For instance, it can also apply to when outsourcing to a particular location is getting costlier while companies in a nearby area offer lower costs but at the same quality. Marketing may be not be finance but it pays to always have your financial chops at the ready.

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