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How to Win When Paid Ads Aren’t An Option

You don’t need paid ads to win.

And today we’re diving into how to grow your brand without a paid advertising budget, with two examples:

  1. Marketing Examined
  2. Mini Katana

Is it harder? Potentially. But is it worth it? Yes. Here’s why.

Invest in your organic content.


In October, we reached 200-300k people with a $10k ad spend. But, we reached the same amount of people through organic content.

With a critical caveat.

New audiences who watched my videos organically had a much deeper connection to Marketing Examined than those who came from paid ads.

Our engagement data on an organic subscriber vs paid ad subscriber proved it.

So in Q4 of 2023, we turned off paid ads and went all in on organic.

Organic content creates PR opportunities.


If you have a viral content idea, it’s much faster to whip it up and build buzz yourself than pitching it to traditional media like Good Morning America.

In fact, if your content goes viral, publications will jump at the opportunity to cover your story anyway.

And now, you don’t have to pay them for it.

Own your content and distribution, the rest will take care of itself.


Mini Katana, a katana and sword company, built their entire brand through organic audience.

Because the product category isn’t allowed to advertise, Founder Isaac Medeiros had to pivot their content strategy.

They grew to $360k/day in revenue in under 23 months, 100% from organic video marketing.

With 1B views a month across all their channels.

Crazy, right?

You can do it too.

This is Isaac’s playbook for growing a brand with organic content.

The real shortcut to viral growth is consistent content


Mini Katana posts at least 1x a day on IG, YouTube, and TikTok.

They don’t skip a day.

More output = more eyeballs

More iteration = more feedback

It takes time to hone your skills and get people to see you consistently.

Grab attention with short-form to get people into the funnel.


They use short-form content with unique angles and crazy hooks to get as many eyeballs as possible.

Like the “Can We Slice It” series.

You have to keep testing and refining different content pillars, angles, and hooks until you find the one that works - a viral button you can keep pressing.

Even then, you need to continue experimenting by splitting your content into growth content & testing content.

Because a hook or style can get over-saturated and stop working at any point.

Educate with long-form content that fits your brand


Any brand can go “viral”, but it’s hard to convert the attention into a brand fanbase.

Once you get viewers into the funnel, use long-form content to dive deeper and show the use cases of your products.

How do you source ideas?

Many of Mini Katatana’s long-form content ideas are based on questions from fans.

But they are still entertaining!

Community matters.


Community engagement is crucial to turning viewers into fans.

Isaac makes it a priority to interact with their audience through Mini Katana’s social accounts, such as replying to comments, personally responding to DMs, and creating videos replying to comments,

These seemingly small gestures make each customer feel valued.

They also leverage YouTube’s community polls to interact and broaden their reach, a strategy that not only engages but shows they value their community’s voice.

Creative is the variable to success whether you invest in paid ads or organic content.

As an early brand, you might as well invest your limited budget into getting really good at organic - because it’s extremely challenging to compete with VC-backed ad budgets without incredible creative.

And if you have incredible creative, well, you can drive audience through organic for a fraction of the cost.

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Hey! I’m Alex, the Founder of Marketing Examined. I send these case studies to over 200k founders, marketers, and creators every week, straight to their inboxes. And if you want, I’ll send it your way too :)

But, I want to let you in on what I’m building here:

Vision: To create a world where the best growth marketing content is at your fingertips.

Mission: To help 5M people build successful businesses or elevate their careers through marketing.

My Promise: To send you case studies full of all-action playbooks to build your business or elevate your career.

Alex Garcia
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