A Winning Marketing Strategy That Doesn't Involve AI

09/14/2023 4 min read Written by Corie Stark

AI is everywhere. Everyone is using it. It was the hot topic at INBOUND 2023 this year because everyone wants to know how to best use it. But like everything else, it comes with pitfalls. 

There have been stories in the news about lawyers using it in their defense cases, only to find out AI generated false information. In a 2020 soccer match, automated AI cameras were used instead of cameramen to shoot the game. The cameras confused a player’s bald head for the ball.

What’s the pitfall in the marketing world? If everyone asks AI the same marketing-related questions and gets the same answers, all marketing starts to look the same. The lure of AI is evident… it seems easy to let a robot give you all the answers, but you already have a strategy that doesn’t involve AI: giving something away for free. 

At INBOUND 2023, Neil Patel, founder of NP Digital, shared how to do just that.

A Marketing Strategy That Doesn’t Use AI

Patel shared a marketing strategy that launched his business revenue into nine figures per year. What does it involve? Giving something valuable away for free. Where do you make money? On the upsells. 

Here’s how it works:

  1. Calculate the total addressable market (TAM) for a product or tool you want to give away for free. TAM is the overall “revenue opportunity available for a product or service if 100% market share is achieved.” The TAM represents the full potential of market opportunity. You have to determine a need for a product and make sure the market isn’t oversaturated. 
  2. Give away something for free that people are used to paying for. 
    1. Examples: a shaving company giving away a free razor, a payroll software company giving away free payroll software, and HubSpot giving away its Website Grader. The idea with these examples is that for the razor, you only need one handle, but you will be back for more blades and other shaving equipment. If you give away free payroll software, presumably the companies you work with will scale, which means you can sell them on insurance, 401(k), etc. With HubSpot’s website grader, it’s an opportunity to buy the CRM.
  3. Create your free product or acquire it. If you don’t have the funds to acquire an app that already exists, AI can be a great help in coding new software or tools. 
  4.  Keep adding features to optimize your tool. Take what other people are charging for and give it away for free, as long as your cost is small or what you’re selling is so massive that it makes up for the cost. The more you give away, the more effective it is. 
  5. Collect leads/emails and keep selling them on your other services.

Here’s how it played out for Patel: He created an SEO tools suite using functionality other companies required users to pay for. The idea (which was backed by research) was that people pay more for marketing services than marketing software.

It started basic, with some ups and downs, but after listening to user feedback, he began to offer more functionality that led to more usage. He kept adding features to his free tool that made it more popular than other paid options.

Once people shared their emails to use the tool, they were in Patel’s ecosystem. His salespeople would then reach out to these users and try to sell Patel’s other services (he runs a digital marketing agency). That could look like hiring Patel to improve your ad campaigns, or it could mean hiring Patel to take over SEO optimization on your website, among other options.

What Tool Can You Give Away for Free?

Turning to AI for your marketing needs can help you in the short term, and while it may make marketing more efficient, it won’t help you stand out. There are still plenty of things you can use AI for, but relying on it as your sole solution for everything related to marketing could lead to a lot of homogeneous messages. 

Working with a HubSpot Elite partner means you work with a team of experts on all things HubSpot and marketing. We have a team ready to help you convert more leads today. Contact us to learn more.

Become a Reporting Master 

Take the first steps toward data-driven decisions and business success today. 


By: Corie Stark

After spending many years as a sports journalist, Corie switched to marketing in 2013. Her love of writing, talking to people, and keeping up with the industry enables her to use her skills for anything from social media to long-form blogging. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking with her dogs and making her cats chase the ever elusive red dot.

Subscribe Today

Stay Up-to-Date With HubSpot and Marketing Trends

Never miss a beat with the latest marketing strategies and tactics. Subscribe to the Lynton blog and receive valuable insights straight to your inbox.