Paid advertising, specifically Facebook Ads, can be a powerful way to grow your business. Countless experts say the only way to grow is through these paid ad platforms. But this is where the experts are wrong. It isn’t how you grow a business in the modern landscape, and Facebook’s update last week reinforced that point.
How Facebook ads are changing (or ruining) your business
Late last week Facebook announced a massive update: you can now see every ad being run by that business. In just a couple clicks, you get a look into how a company runs their Facebook advertising and marketing.
This update is likely in response to the Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well as the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Those events, along with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg being grilled in front of Congress about transparency, led to one of Facebook’s most interesting updates in a long time.
Once I saw the news (from Facebook’s Twitter account, ironically), I was instantly addicted. Now I can quickly see all of the Facebook ads run by any company, not just ads targeted at me. As a marketer and copywriter, it’s a fascinating look behind the curtain of companies and thought leaders I respect.
Yet when I saw the news, I couldn’t help but think of one real truth:
This will dramatically impact online marketing. And it will likely reveal a difficult truth for many companies:
Facebook ads aren’t about volume. They’re about clarity.
Like most things in marketing and business, however, just having Facebook ads doesn’t guarantee success. This is where lots of good people waste their hard-earned money: they pour dollars into an ad budget with little return.
Because they focused too heavily on how. Just having Facebook ads running isn’t enough. Beta testing images and audiences isn’t a guarantee for success. Many invest time and resources into how they communicate and reach people, yet spend little time on what to say.
And as Donald Miller says, “People buy products and services only after they read words that make them want to buy those products or services.”
How you should use Facebook ads
Now everyone can see how business pages use Facebook ads. And what will happen? It will expose many who focused first on how instead of what. It will reveal which companies are wasting money every day on ads that aren’t working.
And no business owner wants to lose money intentionally, yet so many people do.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be one of those people. You can answer the what question first by doing these three things:
- Choose a single problem to solve. Customers and prospects have problems related to your product or service. Pick one and think about it. How does it make your customers feel? How does life get worse if their problem isn’t solved?
- Have a clear solution. People pay attention when you talk about problems because they want a solution. Create a clear, simple path they can take to solve the problem in front of them.
- Give them just one action to take. Don’t create options for how to move forward, and don’t be a wimp about it. If you’ve talked enough about their problems and revealed how you can make life better, then confidently tell them what to do.
As I said earlier, focus first on your words. Put some time and effort into getting those right, then move on to ad creation.
A real-life example
I’ve followed the work of Michael Hyatt for a long time. His blog, podcast, and resources have been incredibly valuable for my life and work. He’s been open in recent years about how his company grows rapidly, and I think a primary driver of leads for him is Facebook ads.
Let’s take a look at two ads he’s running right now for his Full Focus Planner, and I’ll show you why each one works.
This ad works because it focuses on our aspirations, addressing who we want to become but also empathizing with what keeps us from getting there. So here’s how that ad fits in the three-part framework I listed above.
- Single problem People have goals but rarely achieve them due to busyness and distraction
- Clear solution A system that tracks your tasks in light of your goals by providing greater focus
- One action Click the link
This ad also focuses on the planner, but it takes a different approach: using social proof from a satisfied customer. Instead of sharing what the customer’s problem, Hyatt lets a customer tell us what the problem is. We see ourselves in this quote, and it works. Let’s take a look at it based on the three-part framework:
- Single problem A task list that’s a mile long
- Clear solution A system that forces you to focus and finally get more donw
- One action Click the link
Yes, when you see the ads run by his Facebook page, the number is overwhelming. But remember: his team is testing different messages for different audiences to see what works. So I scrolled through his current ads to show you some great examples of getting the messaging right first:
Now it’s your turn
Transparency can be a good thing, although sometimes it’s a bit painful. Letting everyone see your Facebook ads may seem a little overwhelming, but it’s a great opportunity to do a reset, to focus first on content then on delivery.
So here’s what I want you to do:
- Look at your current ads in light of the 3 steps I listed earlier.
- Pick one ad and rewrite it based on that formula.
- If you aren’t sure what ad to choose, grab a free 15- minute review with me here.
Your business deserves to grow, and that starts with a better message. Now go out there and create it. The world needs to hear it.