Content Marketing

Attraction Marketing versus Paid Ads, Explained with Cats and Dogs!

So let me start by saying that I’m a little biased.  I am a huge advocate of attraction marketing.

For the small business owner, especially the one-man-band businesses, advertising budgets are very small.  I always advise my small business clients that spending their budget on online ads, unless they know exactly what they are doing, will likely result in wasted money with nothing to show for it.

When I explain the key differences between attraction marketing and paid ads, the reasons for my advice become obvious.  Now I love a good analogy to help make my point, and it occurred to me the other day that cats and dogs are a pretty good one.

I should also say, for full transparency, that I’m biased here too.  I am mum to three cats.  And I am going to argue here that cats are the attraction marketers of the pet world…

NB. No cats or dogs were harmed in the writing of this blog post.  Although one of my cats was mildly inconvenienced that I sat in her spot to type this.  I will, no doubt, pay for this later.

Attraction Marketing – What it is, plus pros and cons:

In short, attraction marketing is the “buzzword” for inbound marketing.  The goal here is to put a lot of high quality content out there on the web.  This content will be primarily housed on your website, and from there, shared on all of your social channels.

The idea is that your potential customers find you via your awesome content.  They see the value that you have to offer, demonstrated in said awesome content, and they are attracted to you.

Note – this is just one of many reasons why you should have a good quality opt-in offer on your website.  You need to capture the email addresses of those people who were attracted to you.

Pros of Attraction Marketing:

You don’t pay for advertising.

Content lasts longer than paid ads.  Once the money runs out, ads disappear – but quality content can attract leads to your website for years after you published it.

Quality content demonstrates your value up front. When customers do approach you, there is less of a need to “prove your worth” to them.  Leads convert to sales easier.

Cons of Attraction Marketing:

This is the long game.  Building a pool of quality content, and continually sharing it on social channels takes up time and energy.

Cat or Dog?

I think of cats as attraction marketers.  They don’t chase you (like Facebook ads).  Cats don’t need your approval – they know that cat people will love them for their content, and will come to them, not the other way around.

Little expertise is required, apart from in the subject you are writing/vlogging about.

Obviously, a non-cat person might not just “come to” a cat and give it what it wants.  But that’s okay, there is a lesson here too.  Not everyone is your customer!

Remember you are only interested in your niche – you are not trying to market to everybody.  Cats get this.  The right people come to them.

Paid Advertising – What it is, plus pros and cons:

There are lots of ways to pay for advertising online, but I’m going to use Facebook Ads as my example.  I’ve had several people ask me for advice on FB ads recently, so it seems like a good one to cover.

In short, paid Facebook Ads are excellent if you already have a very warm market on Facebook, plus you have a bit of knowledge of how to use them, or have an expert to do this for you.  Obviously, it takes a bit of budget too.

When you have a warm market, you can ‘retarget’ or ‘remarket’ them with your ads.  I won’t go into depth on this here, it’s a huge topic and needs a whole blog post to itself.  But suffice to say, the people who see your retargeted ads have already engaged with your content before.

You are not a stranger to them – they are a ‘warm audience!’  In these circumstances, FB ads can be an excellent choice.

But when I’m advising a small business owner who doesn’t have a warm, engaged audience on FB, I tell them not to waste their budget.  Instead, I advise them to focus on content and on engaging the audience they already have.  I even recommend offline (in person) networking – yes, me, an introverted digital person recommends this!

Just to be clear – I’m not a fan of speed networking events, I think they are pretty useless.  But connecting with people who already know and trust you is an amazing way to get client referrals.  Yes, even in the digital world we now live in.  The human touch is still important, and referrals are still a top way of securing new clients.

Pros of FB ads:

If you have a warm market, they can really rock your world.

Ads can be a quick way to get opt-ins and even sales for events or products.

You can cover a lot of ground, fast!  If you know what you are doing…

Cons of FB ads:

FB ads expertise is required!

Budget is required, and there is never a guarantee of return on investment.

Once the budget stops, the party stops.  Unlike attraction marketing, the effects don’t last.

Cat or Dog?

I think of Facebook Ads being like a dog.  Dogs want your attention, and are competing for it against other things in your busy day.

Just like a dog wanting you to walk it when you have 57 other things to do in the house; a FB ad is jostling for attention against all the other FB ads, plus the stuff in your newsfeed, and other web-based distractions.


I love attraction marketing because you do the hard work once, then the rewards trickle in gradually in a sustainable way.  I do use FB ads myself from time to time, and when used well and in the right setting, they can be a great boost to your business.  But running ads takes a short burst of resources (time and money) and gives you only a short burst of results.

And you know what?  A short burst of results might be all you need.  I’m not going to tell you to choose one or the other based on my biases.  Just think about what your needs are, then decide…

Do you want to work like a cat or like a dog?



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