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How to thrive without Instagram ads

With increasing costs, reducing targeting options and more, it’s time to look beyond our beloved Insta ads and explore other channels.
We’re addicted to Instagram ads.

They’ve been a great tool for us. But they’re becoming less effective.

With increasing costs, reducing targeting options and more, it’s time to look beyond our beloved Insta ads and explore other channels.

How can we succeed as marketers without Instagram ads?

Go back to basics

First things first. Before focusing on reach and awareness, you need to check your fundamentals

Go back to the five Ps of marketing and ask yourself if you’ve got product market fit. Are you selling something customers want? Is it at the right price? If your product proposition isn’t right, there’s no point going after growth.

The next thing to look at is your comms/key messages. Do your comms get people to buy from you? Make sure you’re articulating your benefits so what you’re saying to customers works.

Then, have a look at your website. Does it reflect your product and convert customers?

Get to know your customer

Find out everything you can about your customers. Bring them to life to the point where you feel like they could walk into a room.

This is key so you can understand where and how to best reach them. Dig into what your customers are engaging with and when. Are they on TikTok after work? What are they doing there? Does your customer commute? Would they be interested in your product at a train station?


Use the CACI Acorn groups to help. Have a look at the list and see if you can pick out your customer.

The most important thing here is to get insight from your real life customers to help you build your picture. The best way to do this is to spend the day with them, either IRL or through video diaries.

Test new channels for the top of funnel

You don’t need a fortune to test out new channels. Content doesn’t have to cost a lot to produce, so just get cracking and get testing. Find new ways to grow reach and brand awareness at the top of the funnel.


Get on TikTok NOW

If you’re not already, get on TikTok. Start with organic content, then start putting money behind it.

Hooks are everything with TikTok. Test different iterations of the first three seconds of your video to see what works and change your hooks up regularly.

Content fatigues quickly on TikTok so you’ll need to churn it out. And remember, it doesn’t need to be really expensive, high production stuff; some of the best TikTok marketing videos were shot on phones.

Go hyper-local

Because you’ve done your homework and understood your customer, you should be able to pinpoint some postcodes where your product will do really well.

Invest in spreading the word in local areas. Take Freddie’s Flowers as an example. The team focuses on areas they know will be open to their offering. Then, they make their presence known with flyers, events, and team member presence.

Think about ways to reach your customers that don’t necessarily need to be digital.

Don’t abandon the gram

Instagram is still a key channel that you need to focus on. It’s just less effective than it used to be.

Think of your gram as a virtual storefront. Customers will still check it out, so organic content is important. But like a storefront in a physical shop, you don’t need to constantly change what it looks like.


Keep your grid updated with new content every couple of weeks and stay active when followers engage with you.

Inspired to venture into a marketing world with less use of Instagram ads? Become a member to watch the full talk and get more tips to help.

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