I recently read an article from Entrepreneur about easy ways to market your business for free. As someone who works at an advertising and marketing agency, this made me cringe for a number of reasons, the most important that this simply isn’t true.

The post riddles off recommendations like growing your social media following, developing referral partnerships, “constantly” engaging current customers, and doing something “viral” (oh, okay). Those of you who have ever done or attempted these things know that not only are they not easy, but they require a heck-of-a-lotta time. And after all, time is money.

Quite frequently, we run into these misperceptions with our clients, who are often tasked by leadership to use these avenues as quick fixes and cheaper alternatives. Take social media for example, commonly viewed as a function an intern could take over, or someone could manage part-time. What many don’t realize is a simple post may take hours of time and experience to come to life. You need to develop a strategy, create the perfect image, carefully vet the copy, make edits, publish the post, and manage the community’s response. Ask anyone who manages social media presences (or even their family and friends) and they’ll tell you just how much time, effort and know-how is involved in creating and building a social following for a brand.

Even further, effectively engaging with customers and prospects is far from “free and easy.” Email nurture campaigns, blog content, remarketing strategy, downloads, video assets and pretty much anything people can consume are all necessary components in engaging current customers (and if you’re doing it right, prospective ones too). As marketers, creating this engagement is one of our favorite things to do. We live for this stuff. But, it certainly takes hours, multiple teams, a gallon of coffee, and usually some type of CRM or marketing automation software to get the job done.

In the end, the juice is undoubtedly worth the squeeze. Customer relationships are built on their ability to engage with the brands they love. And spending the time to create content that initiates and nurtures that relationship is what it’s all about. Just be willing to put in what it takes to deliver meaningful results.