You don’t need me to tell you that Facebook ads are one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing on the planet right now. And for 98.99% of businesses, they should absolutely have a central place in the marketing toolkit (yup I just made that stat up – but you get my drift!)
But I’m willing to bet that, if you’re reading this, you’re feeling overwhelmed, confused or just plain scared and it’s really putting you off from making the most of this amazing opportunity for your small business.
Thing is, that there are a lot of people making a shedload of money right now by taking advantage of the fear that we all (well most of us) face about starting something new. In fact, many are adding to that fear by talking in jargon, or perpetrating myths about Facebook ads that simply aren’t true. And it’s not on!! (Insert foot stamp for effect!)
However, there is a basis to some of the confusion. It doesn’t get talked about very much, but it’s this:
The way to use Facebook ads to get great results for small businesses is, on the whole, very different from the way that big businesses and brands need to use them. Those with budgets of £1000s a month, or with large marketing teams will of course want different things from their ads from the average small UK business with a budget of £100s (if that) and a marketing team of 2-3 people, if they’re lucky! But most people don’t make that distinction!
So when you read a blog or catch a YouTube video sharing the latest ‘hacks’ or ‘underground secrets’ for Facebook ads you have no idea whether this is for a big internet markety (a new adjective I’ve coined) set up, or for a small hight street store. They rarely say.
So, urban myths circulate, everyone gets even more overwhelmed and confused and businesses that could and should be getting great results with Facebook ads never get started. Is that resonating ? Even a small bit?
Great! Because I want to bust those myths and show you the opposite – how Facebook ads for small businesses could be the best opportunity you’ve had to grow your business in years – and one that you should be taking advantage of right now!
(By the way, this is also relevant if you’ve dabbled with ads, but haven’t got very far, or if you’re currently outsourcing your Facebook ads work – if you don’t understand the principles, how can you know whether someone’s doing a good job for you or not?)
Hold onto your hats now – let’s face those myths head on …
1. Facebook ads are just a way for Zuckerberg to make money – they’re making us pay for what we used to get free
I still hear some serious grouching still goes on about this one!
Yes your small business Facebook Page has seen a decline in organic reach and you now have to work harder to get your stuff seen by your audience.
But Facebook ads are not just a replacement for that organic reach. They offer an amazing opportunity to reach a whole new, laser-targeted audience that you would never be able to reach otherwise. Plus they offer the ability to go back and talk to people who’ve shown an interest in our business (using retargeting) and to find a whole new group of people similar to our current customers. Since when could you do that with a Facebook Page?
2. Testing Facebook ads – that’s just another way to make money for Zuckerberg
I have had this raised as an objection to running Facebook ads, so I thought I’d quash it here and now!
The best way to do that is to say – what other form of marketing on the planet gives you mega results for a tenner and allows you to switch it on and off at ease and allows you to test all sorts of different approaches, giving you detailed feedback on what worked and what didn’t?
Could you do this with printed flyers? An entry into an online directory? Direct mail campaigns?
3. You’ll get guaranteed results with Facebook ads
OK this one is huge! Virtually every day I get an enquiry for someone who’s seeing Facebook ads as the new silver bullet for their business. Yikes! You can strike it lucky but usually, just like anything else, Facebook ads for small businesses need a bit of planning, time and effort to get the best results.
4. Facebook ads are all about selling
Err nope! Think about the context! Your audience is on Facebook scrolling through their newsfeed for funny cat photos or news about their best friend – they are not there to buy! Facebook is not Google!!
We all know this – but seem to forget it in the digital world:
Your Facebook ads will be catching your audience on the off-chance, so they need to resonate, be a part of the conversation that’s naturally occurring and entice your visitors to take the next baby step towards your business. The best way to look at Facebook ads for small businesses is to think of them as a highly targeted communication tool, one that allows you to make that initial connection that you can then nurture.
5. Facebook ads won’t work for my small business – my customers aren’t on there
Absolute tosh I’m afraid- one in every 7 people on the planet is on Facebook, including men of 60+ on there to chat with fellow property investors or wine buffs in Facebook interest groups, teenagers catching up with (aka stalking!) friends and mums researching stores or keeping tabs on relatives.
Small businesses who are using Facebook ads properly are seeing fantastic results- and they’re in all sectors- B2B, B2C, retail, service industry, or entirely online. Facebook ads work brilliantly in B2B – I’ve used them to build the foundations for my own 5 figure launches! People forget that even if you’re selling B2B, you’re still selling to a human! A human who is just as likely to sit on the settee at the end of the day with a glass of something chilled and watch Gogglebox with an iPad on their knee as any other human! Getting great results from Facebook ads for small businesses is all about getting under the skin of the people you want to attract – the more you focus on your audience, the better your results will be!
6. Facebook ads are only useful for small businesses when you have something to launch
Let’s rewind a minute here … The idea behind launching something is usually about making sales, right?
But we’ve just agreed (see #4) that you need to connect and build trust before you can sell.
So Facebook ads for small businesses aren’t just for Christmas (or launch season) – they’re for life!! Go back to #4 up top – the thing about Facebook ads being a communication tool.
Use them regularly to share great content, showcase customers and their success, and to demonstrate the way that you are different from the others, and you will be building the essential foundations for a great launch (and ongoing business) – a ‘tribe’ of fans who love what you do!
7. You have to be a big business with a big budget to get results
Err – wrong again! You’ll be delighted (I hope!) to know that you can achieve tangible results with just a tenner! Yup! A measly ten pound note could generate thousands of video views or impressions from a relevant audience. (And what other form of marketing can you say that about?!)
8. You have to use Power Editor to get good results from Facebook ads
Just not true. Power Editor has a couple of useful features that aren’t there in the Ads Manager (such as no limit to the amount of text in your ad), but most of its’ extras are really geared to big businesses or massive ad campaigns. A good ‘rule’ for anyone using Facebook ads for small businesses is to get to grips with the basics and learn the principles before jumping off and exploring whatever the current new shiny feature is that Facebook have just introduced.
So don’t let anyone make you feel inadequate because you’re not using Power Editor to set up your Facebook ads. (And remember that there seems to be an increasing trend now to market to small business owners based on fear – not a nice trend at all!)
9. You have to endlessly test everything to get results
There are some people who live, eat and breathe data – yep , they really do exist! So they’re going to be very tempted to test every single component of their Facebook ad, targeting, bidding, budgeting and everything else they can think of, so that they have lots of data to satisfy their craving!
Similar but different is the big brand, spending £1000s a day on ads. They need to know that their ads are optimised to the last nanometer, as a tiny improvement multiplied up = a BIG difference in budget.
So if you listen to advice on Facebook ads from either of the above, you’re going to think that you have to try a zillion combinations, download your stats to excel and do massively complicated calculations to understand what’s happening.
All well and good if you want to wallow in overwhelm and confusion.
In a small business, time and focus are key. So you’ve got to weigh up the priorities here. If testing another combination of Facebook ads for your small business could mean the difference between success and failure, then go for it. If, however, the testing is all about shaving 0.1p from the cost of a website click, you’ve got to ask yourself whether this is really the most cost-effective use of your time. Seems like the phrase ‘good is good enough’ got lost somewhere in the digital wilderness….
10. You have to use re- targeting or you’re throwing your money away
Yes, Facebook have given us a golden opportunity to make the most of every shred of interest in our businesses by offering us custom audiences and retargeting! And these truly are marvellous features.
But!! Not everyone can use them – for example some small franchise businesses have to operate with web pages controlled by developers who refuse to add pixels. And other, often local, businesses, might not have a website at all – but if this is you – don’t despair – you can still create a big impact using Facebook ads.
One client of mine operates in a highly regulated space, so they only ever use Facebook ads to share educational messages. They don’t do custom audience building or retargeting of any kind. Yet, for an ad spend of £130, they recently got their message (in the form of a video) out to over 64,000 highly targeted people. And those people were sharing the video with their friends, so it obviously resonated, and provided value and at the same time built trust for and positioning of the brand. Pretty good result, all round!
So please don’t get discouraged if you hear this – it ain’t true!
11. Getting great results from Facebook ads is all about getting the lowest cost results
You’ll see people bragging about how many zillions of Facebook ads results (clicks, or opt-ins usually) they got for a ridiculously low sum of money. It can then be very tempting to think – ‘oh wow that means I can get the same results – YAY!’ or ‘I’ve never got results like that – I must be useless at it!’
Both of these responses, you won’t surprised to hear, are unjustified.
The cost of generating any response via a Facebook ad will vary depending on your sector, the audience you’re targeting, what you’re offering (even if it’s free content), your imagery, and on your landing or web page for starters. That means it’s nigh on impossible to compare results from one small business’s Facebook ads results with another. And … quite frankly – and we all know this really – when it comes to any form of small business marketing (and Facebook ads are no exception) then cheapest is very rarely best, is it? (What we’re looking for is the return on that spend, not the spend per se.)
Is the cheapest lead really the one you want for your business? If you’re offering a lead magnet and attracting visitors to your email list – do you really want a gang of freebie-hunters as a result, or a group of potential ideal clients who are motivated to solve the challenge you help with?
The cheapest result isn’t always the best!
Having made your way through this list, I hope that the message you’ve heard loud and clear is that Facebook ads offer an amazing opportunity for small businesses.
We can communicate with exactly who we want to, in so many different ways – imagery, text, video, or with anything published on our website – and can then go back and talk again with anyone who showed an interest.
Not only are they the most cost-effective form of marketing on the planet, but they are also one of the most flexible – you really can use them to communicate however you want. And that is the key – you can use them to support whatever strategy you can come up with and in pretty much any way to choose.
So next time you see a ‘must’ ‘must not’ or ‘can’t’ in the same sentence as ‘Facebook ads for small businesses’, you’ll know with 99.9% certainty that it’s a load of tosh. Ignore it and concentrate instead on creating your own success story.