How to grow your business without paying for ads
Amelia Harrington
Calculating read time...

Growth is the lifeblood of any successful venture. It means more customers, increased revenue, and expanding opportunities. But let's face it, growing a business is no walk in the park. As a business owner, you find yourself juggling multiple tasks, trying to be the CEO, the marketer, the accountant, and everything in between. All that can be exhausting, and finding the time to focus on growth can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack.

Traditionally, many businesses turn to paid advertising as the go-to growth solution. Sure, advertising can yield quick results and provide an instant boost to your business. However, it can also be a double-edged sword. If not executed wisely, it can drain your finances faster than you can say "ROI."

So, the question arises: How can you achieve sustainable growth without relying on paid advertisements? Is expanding your business organically and thriving in a competitive marketplace even possible? Well, the answer is yes and here is how.

Start with what you have

A powerful strategy you can't afford to ignore if you want to grow your business without paying for ads is starting with what you have. It's all about leveraging your existing resources and maximising their potential. Here's how you can do it.

  • Truly understand your customers. Who are they? What do they want? What are their pain points? Above all, where can you find them online? Dive deep into research and speak to your previous and existing customers. Their insights are like gold nuggets that can guide your growth strategy.
  • Harness the power of buyer personas. Use audience research tools to create detailed profiles of your ideal customers. This way, you can tailor your marketing messages and reach the right people with laser precision.
  • Never underestimate the impact of exceptional customer service. Deliver a world-class experience that exceeds expectations. Happy customers become your advocates, spreading positive word-of-mouth and bringing in new business through referrals. Social proof is a potent tool for growth.
  • Remember conversion rate optimisation (CRO). Spend time optimising your website to squeeze the most out of your existing traffic. Fine-tune your calls-to-action, streamline your checkout process, and create compelling landing pages that convert visitors into customers.

Growth starts with using the resources and knowledge you already possess. So, don't underestimate the power of your existing resources – they hold the key to your business's expansion.

Creating a simple methodical strategy

Start by choosing one or two channels to focus on at a time. Don't spread yourself too thin. Whether it's social media, email marketing, content creation, or partnerships, give your full attention to a couple of channels and master them.

Measure the results of everything you do. Track your efforts, analyse the data, and make data-driven decisions. You can refine your strategy for optimal growth by understanding what works and what doesn't.

Embrace a mindset of experimentation. Try a variety of things, learn fast, and fail fast. Not everything you try will be a success, but each failure is an opportunity to learn and iterate. Adaptability is key to finding winning strategies.

Search engine optimisation

Search engine optimisation (SEO) allows people to find your business for free! SEO basics involve keyword research, on-page optimisation, and creating quality content. Understanding what keywords your target audience is searching for helps you tailor your website to rank higher in search engine results.

Remember mobile optimisation and site speed! Check your analytics to see how much of your traffic comes from mobile devices. With the increasing use of smartphones, ensuring your website is mobile-friendly, and loads quickly is essential.

SEO offers long-term visibility, brings "free" organic traffic to your site, and enhances your business's credibility. However, it does have its drawbacks. SEO takes time to show results, and search engine algorithms are constantly changing, requiring ongoing adjustments to your strategy.

Consider using tools like PageSpeed Insights and Ahrefs to aid your SEO efforts. PageSpeed Insights allows you to analyse your site's speed and identify areas for improvement. Ahrefs is a valuable tool for keyword research and competitor analysis.

Social media

Social media is a valuable avenue for growing your business organically. It grants you access to a large audience and provides immediate customer feedback. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of social media:

  • Focus on one channel where your audience predominantly hangs out. Avoid succumbing to the allure of the "in" platform, as it may not align with your target demographic and yield the desired results. For instance, if your audience is CFOs, you should focus on LinkedIn rather than TikTok.
  • Regularly post engaging content that resonates with your target audience. However, remember that quality should always triumph over quantity when it comes to content. Instead of simply mimicking other creators, focus on content that your audience will find valuable.
  • Encourage community engagement by responding to comments, starting conversations, and asking questions.
  • Leverage social proof by encouraging your customers to post about their positive experiences with your business.

Unfortunately, managing social media can be time-consuming, and addressing negative feedback requires tact and diligence. Tools like Buffer and Taplio allow you to streamline your social media efforts.

With Buffer, you can schedule and manage your social media posts, ensuring consistent and timely content sharing. Taplio lets you improve your LinkedIn content, time your posts optimally, connect with new people, and track your progress.

Posting to directories

Posting to directories is an often overlooked yet powerful strategy to grow your business without paying for ads. You can increase your visibility, especially on platforms like Google Maps, by posting to local directories in all your geographical areas. If you're a startup, consider posting to startup directories such as Betalist to gain exposure within the startup community.

The benefits of directory posting extend beyond just visibility. It can also positively impact your SEO efforts. Search engines recognise your online presence as more trustworthy and credible when your business information is listed in relevant directories, potentially boosting your search rankings.

However, it's important to note that posting to directories can be time-consuming and requires ongoing management. A tool like Semrush Listing Management can help you identify relevant directories and manage your listings more efficiently. Growthmode offers a Google Sheet of 200+ startup directories.

Partnerships and collaborations

Partnerships and collaborations are another great way to grow your business without relying on paid ads. The key is finding the right partners who share your target audience but offer different products or services.

Collaborating with compatible businesses can provide access to new customer bases. For instance, a fitness trainer partnering with a healthy meal delivery service can offer a holistic health solution to their clients. Shared resources, such as marketing initiatives or distribution channels, can also maximise your reach and efficiency.

Consider the partnership between Spotify and Uber, where passengers could control the music during their rides. This integration enhanced the user experience for both companies' customers and boosted brand loyalty for both companies.

While partnerships offer significant benefits, they also require effort. Finding trustworthy partners and investing time in nurturing the relationship is crucial. Tools like Notion and HubSpot can be invaluable in streamlining your partnership endeavours. Notion helps with collaboration and project management, while HubSpot is an excellent free customer relationship management (CRM) tool if you're looking for a more sophisticated solution.

Email marketing

Even with the rise of social media and other digital marketing channels, email still offers a direct and personal way to communicate with your customers. Consider offering lead magnets or signup incentives to grow your email list. These can be valuable resources, exclusive discounts, or compelling content that encourages visitors to provide their email addresses. Website pop-ups with opt-in forms can also be effective in capturing visitor information.

Email marketing is full of benefits. It offers a high return on investment (ROI) and allows you to communicate directly with your audience. You can personalise your messages, segment your subscribers, and tailor your content to their specific needs and preferences.

Unfortunately, email marketing is not without some drawbacks. Maintaining a consistent content creation schedule and sending emails can be time-consuming. Your emails can also be considered spam if the content is irrelevant or the frequency is too high. Being labelled spam can cause all kinds of problems with your domain reputation. So, ensure the content is high quality, relevant, and well-paced.

To streamline your email marketing efforts, tools like Mailchimp and HubSpot can be immensely helpful. Mailchimp offers user-friendly email marketing features. HubSpot, too offers a robust, free email marketing solution similar to Mailchimp's, which seamlessly integrates with its comprehensive CRM solutions. Both tools allow you to manage your contacts and campaigns effectively.

Growth hacking

Growth hacking is an innovative approach to growing your business without relying on paid advertisements. Its philosophy embraces creative thinking, experimentation, and unconventional strategies to achieve rapid and often cost-effective growth.

Growth hacking offers the potential for fast and scalable growth while minimising costs. It encourages out-of-the-box thinking and pushes businesses to find unconventional ways to reach their target audience. To think like a growth hacker, you have to:

  • Emphasise experimentation: Test different ideas, channels, and messages to identify what resonates best with your audience. Learn from failures and iterate rapidly.
  • Prioritise data-driven decision-making: Use analytics and metrics to identify trends, measure success, and optimise campaigns accordingly.
  • Harness the power of virality: Craft shareable content, incentivise referrals, and create buzz to leverage the network effect.
  • Leverage partnerships: Collaborate with complementary businesses or influencers to tap into their existing audience and expand your reach.
  • Optimise user experience: Remove barriers, simplify processes, and personalise interactions to drive user acquisition and retention.
  • Automate and scale: Use technology and automation tools to streamline processes, maximise efficiency, and rapidly scale your operations.
  • Think outside the box: Embrace unconventional ideas and non-traditional approaches. Challenge assumptions, explore untapped markets, and disrupt industry norms.

Unfortunately, growth hacking can be risky, and not all experiments yield sustainable results. It requires careful analysis and monitoring to ensure long-term success. Partner withGrowthmode to help you implement a growth marketing strategy that will minimise your risk and guarantee results.


Growing your business without paying for ads is possible, and it is particularly advisable in the early days when you're trying to expand while minimising the financial risk to your budget. However, it's crucial to note that these strategies can be time-consuming. If you want to streamline the process and focus on other aspects of your business, consider outsourcing the task to professionals.

At Growthmode, we remove the guesswork and help you find the formula for rapid, profitable growth. Our team comprises experienced professionals who have previously founded and successfully grown startups. Contact us today and let our experts help you grow your business with no ad spend!