Why Facebook Ads Aren’t Dead: The Truth About Paid Marketing

Before we dive into why I’m not running ads right now, I want to call out a few things:

  • none of the concepts in this article are new–most of them I’ve covered in more depth in other blog posts
  • my experience with ads isn’t uncommon, but it’s also a sole example: please don’t construe this as advice for your personal business
  • the most important thing I want to call out: it’s all about the ecosystem–content, offers, measurement. It’s hard for me to separate them because they flow into each other and kaleidoscope together

We’re covering one, why FB ads aren’t dead, two, why your organic marketing has to be in place before paid marketing, and three, why I’m not running ads yet and what I’ll do before I start again.

The main point of this episode isn’t that Facebook ads are dead, and it isn’t that I won’t run them again. It’s an acknowledgment that I’m not ready for them right now and that I’m putting in place the things I need before I revive that traffic engine.

Facebook Ads Are Not Dead

I haven’t hit the gym a single time this week and my lower back was feeling a bit tweaky this morning, so I went for a walk around the neighborhood and finished the last three episodes of Chrisse Riese and Eliya Finkelstein’s private podcast. (It’s a bonus for joining their Rebellion, but a little birdie told me they’ll be using these six episodes as a lead magnet soon!)

In either the fourth or fifth episode, Chrissie specifically said, “Ads aren’t dead. Bad ads are dead.” She also went on to say that the days of using FB ads as ATM machine are over, a concept I’ve talked about before as far back as a year ago.

Chrissie called out the days five years ago when you could spend $3 on an ad and get $10 back, when you could convert straight off an ad to a high-ticket offer. Your advertising can’t just be pretty or flashy–it’s got to have substance. It’s the depth and beauty and combo that will win over time. And we’re building businesses for the long haul, right?

Your Organic Marketing Has To Be In Place Before Paid Marketing

In that same ATM article, I said, “If you think your potential clients aren’t doing a quick check through your social media to see if you really know what you’re talking about — even if they didn’t find you on social media — you’re wrong. We’re all doing this. I promise.”

A year later, I still stand behind that quote. Your entire ecosystem needs to play well together. I know that’s a mom phrase, but it works! Your kid doesn’t just go to preschool to get out of your house, they go to start learning order, rules, playing well with others, and sharing. Your business is the same; all the pieces you’ve put in place need to share with each other.

While it’s not totally true to say that what works in organic content works in paid media content, it usually gives you a lot of clues. And more importantly, since we’ve already acknowledged it no longer is profitable (or even works at all) to simply send out one ad and expect a sale, your ad strategy needs a lot of content.

Ads That Work Today

I first learned ads from Jenny Singh with her Have Them At Hello method. Instead of running conversion ads, run ads to your organic content, then retarget those who viewed and interacted with your organic content into conversion ads.

To say that in example form, to make it more clear, run a video ad with a one-minute video of you talking about your main method or framework.

If I were going to do this right now, I’d teach on my 3 M’s: make, measure, multiply. I’d quickly explain that a good content plan starts with making on-brand content, measuring the results so you can see what resonates with your people, and then multiplying those efforts by repurposing the content that brought leads into your business.

Then I’d retarget the video viewers who watched the majority of that video with either an offer or, more likely, another piece of content to ensure they’re really my people… eventually leading to an offer they’ve, at this point, self-selected into and are eager to see.

Of course, all of this depends on having a small arsenal of organic content from which you can direct your ads.

My Organic Marketing Strategy

I have a well-oiled podcast content machine in my business. When I relaunched the podcast in 2019, I did so with few rules–specifically, deciding to give myself grace if I couldn’t quite commit to a weekly episode. But you know what? I’ve only missed a couple since then, and it’s been three years. The last year, I haven’t missed a single week. I am about to go on a four-week hiatus to spend a bit more time researching a few things and putting together the next round of content, but that’s planned.

I have a fairly well-oiled social media content machine. I regularly post on Instagram, I’m in the process of figuring out a few things on Pinterest and why it’s not working as well for me as I expected (which I can hopefully report back on soon here), and I’m evening out my new-for-2022 LinkedIn strategy.

In addition to feeling confident with my podcast and social media strategies, I revamped all my funnels and website this past spring. So why am I not running ads right now if I feel like my own organic content strategy is in place?

What is the goal of your ads?

I’m not running ads yet because I don’t know the answer to this question.

I could set up a list-building goal. I’ve mentioned my annoyance over the “size matters” people out there. I’ve even sent emails out poking fun at the people who want me to come to speak at their summit for free, but only if I have a list size of 5000 or more. If I built my list up enough, then when I do my quarterly scrub and remove another few hundred emails who aren’t engaged, I’d actually grow my list instead of maintaining size.

But that leads to the next question: what’s the point of a big list?

It’s to grow. That may mean growing revenue by scaling services, growing by moving from a 1:1 model to a 1:many model with courses or programs, or growing your hours worked.

I’m at capacity in my business at the moment. Timewise, I can take on two full Visibility Accelerator clients a month on top of a few content measurement dashboard clients and a few email sequence writing clients. And until I decide what to do with my kids’ education, I don’t envision that situation changing. Right now, I’m homeschooling our 10-year-old and our 4-year-old has multiple therapy appointments each week–and frankly–I like having time to work out and read books.

So I’m not interested in growing my hours.

I’m also not at a place where I want to hire and manage a large team, so I’m limited to content planning and dashboard building being a 1:1 service for now.

I do have Content Lab and could easily scale that with an ad strategy that built out a case study for it. And that’s definitely a consideration for the future. Content Lab is perfect for the business owner who realizes, yes, they need a solid organic content strategy that doesn’t make them want to pull their hair out with endless to-do lists.

But all of this brings me back to a point I’ve discussed before: service providers have very different audience needs than course creators. You don’t need a massive audience if you only need a handful of clients each month. You need a larger audience if you need to fill a 10-person program each month. And if you’re going to launch a course to hundreds a few times a year, you need a massive list to hit those numbers.

When will I run ads again?

There will be a time, probably in the near-ish future, when I start running ads to my podcast again to build up listenership and reach audience segments that weren’t available before.

And you can bet I’ll be measuring the results closely–so I can report how adding paid content adds to my organic content strategy–and ensure that this new marketing strategy is working for my business again.

Additional Resources

If your organic content strategy needs some work, I have a few options for you. You could go back and listen to my two favorite content marketing articles, Sticky Content and Monopoly Content. Sticky content talks about creating memorable content that moves the needle in both your audience member’s head and your business. Monopoly content talks about the difference between mass-market, watered-down content, and sticky content–and why you want to focus more on niched content.

Already heard those episodes or read those articles and after working on those two things, you need further help? The DWY Content Lab or DFY Visibility Accelerator is probably the next step for you. If that’s the case, contact me.

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