Are you struggling to attract new customers using Facebook Ads? While most businesses are seeing customer acquisition costs go up on Facebook, there is another approach that can help you really connect with your ideal customers. Facebook Ads expert Jennifer Spivak shares her four bucket approach to messaging in ads that has attracted new business for her and her clients.
Rich: My guest today is the CEO of The Ad Girls Agency, and all-female Facebook ads agency. She’s helped hundreds of businesses generate millions of dollars on Facebook and Instagram, with many seeing a 1,000% or more return on their ad campaigns. Her all-female team enjoys crunching data, helping women owned businesses make tons of money, and breaking the rules when it comes to Facebook ads.
She’s been featured in Forbes, in The New York Times, listed as a Top Facebook Ads Manager to Watch in 2019, and is an adjunct professor of digital marketing at the City College of New York. You know what? I think my parents went to CCNY.
Jennifer: No, way! Well I also went there as well, and then they brought me back in as an adjunct professor a couple of years later.
Rich: You probably did not graduate the same year that they did. I’ll just throw that out there.
Jennifer: Probably not.
Rich: Okay. Anyway, today we are taking a fresh look at advertising on Facebook with none other than Jennifer Spivak. Jennifer, welcome to the podcast.
Jennifer: Thanks for having me, Rich, Looking forward to this.
Rich: So in a few words or more, what is your unconventional approach for Facebook ads, or what is it that you feel people might be doing with their ads today?
Jennifer: Yeah. I think that the unconventional approach is actually all of the things that we’ve been taught to focus on; the media buying, technical aspects, the pixel iOS, it’s actually looking in the wrong direction. And when you have your messaging dialed in perfectly and are actually using truly unique messaging, not just like the pain point stuff we’ve all been taught to do, it actually does not matter what algorithm change occurs. It does not matter if you’re actually not that great at media buying or if your funnel is not that great, the messaging actually floats the whole thing. And so much of the industry is actually looking at the wrong place.
Rich: There’s a lot to unpack there. But one thing I did hear you say is, not really focusing on pain points. Which a lot of marketing is all about what are the pain points of the customers and how do I aggravate that and then solve that problem. So, so why are you not interested in pain points?
Jennifer: So I wouldn’t say that it’s let’s never use pain points ever. Like, that is tried and true marketing 101, but that by itself is not enough. Now this is especially true in certain industries. So for example, a lot of our clients are in the business coaching space, and everybody and their mother is a business coach these days. And so if all you’re doing is marketing and running ads on Facebook in an incredibly crowded newsfeed, talking about the pain points of your audience, every other person that does what you do – of course with some variable degree – is also talking about those same pain points. And so it’s simply not enough with how crowded the online business landscape has gotten to talk about pain points. You actually get to talk about what’s truly unique about you, your service, your offering. And that actually comes down to you and your personal story. That’s the only thing that your competitor can’t have.
Rich: Okay. So it’s not that we shouldn’t use pain points as a rule. It’s just that if everybody’s using pain points, you’re not going to stand out Your phrasing is, you need to be unique. We often talk about finding what makes you remarkable on this show, but the idea is basically the same. You do need to stand out to avoid any algorithm changes, privacy changes, or anything like that. That’s what I’m hearing.
Jennifer: Yes, absolutely. And again, when you have the right messaging, the other things become an afterthought. At the end of the day, let’s go back to the basics of what advertising actually is. It’s interesting that we’ve made Facebook ads something different and separate. But advertising has always been right messaging, right audience, and just paying for eyeballs. And so if we look at Facebook advertising or any sort of digital advertising in that way, the fact that the industry has gotten so focused on the technical skills, we’re veering away from what actually is what controls buyer behavior.
Rich: The other aspect of that is, at a certain point everybody’s going to figure out the mechanics, everybody’s going to understand the algorithm, everybody’s going to be playing at that level. So if in the past your skills of understanding the Facebook ads algorithm was better than most, that puts you at an advantage. But that advantage is quickly slipping away, if it even exists.
Jennifer: Yes. And that advantage is also quickly slipping away because when you have changes, like the iOS14 changes that hit last year and everybody and their mother lost their mind, it was because they were banking on what we’re talking about. They were banking on their technical skills. And when the game changed and they didn’t actually have any of the right foundational skill sets, for example in messaging, everything that they’d been having the upper hand on went out the window.
Rich: Absolutely. So let’s talk a little bit about the messaging then. When you’re talking to your clients, what is the message that you’re putting out there about messaging?
Jennifer: Yes. So what we talk about is our proprietary messaging system, and it’s got sort of four components to it. And we use this structure to develop messaging that again, is actually unique. We may use it alongside some pain point stuff, but the foundation is these four core buckets.
And so bucket number one is credibility. This is a space in which I would say as business owners, we’re most comfortable operating in terms of our messaging, right? It’s the normal stuff that we’re used to, the results that we’ve achieved, the media placements that we’ve gotten, podcasts that we’ve been on. All of that stuff that says, “Hey, I know what I’m doing. I’ve been around the block.” So that’s like bucket number one.
Then bucket number two is vulnerability. And so that’s that story. I think like the best example is, it could be your ‘why’. That’s such a corny concept, but more of the personal story. Something that really creates intimacy that would have a person on the other side of their screen seeing your Facebook ad feel a personal connection to you. Even if you are a brand and not just a personal brand.
And then bucket number three is personality. I always say that this is the bucket that should have the people on the other side of their screen feel like they want to get a drink with you after work. So it’s really like just showing up as your weird, quirky self, whatever that may look like.
And then bucket number four is feel good. And that’s really, it’s like the icing on the cake, right? Like when you got credibility, I know what this person’s doing, they can get results for me. Vulnerability, I feel that human intimate connection with them. Personality, I want to get a drink with them after work. And on top of all of that, I can feel good about spending my money with them because, for example, they support some sort of philanthropic cause that I care about, or they have a commitment to hiring really diverse groups of people. Just something that has your money to go towards something that you really care about in the world on top of all the other great stuff.
Rich: Okay. I have a few questions about this. I want to take a look at each one in turn, but I’m wondering, when you think about a sales funnel or the customer journey, there is a progress from one point to the next point. Is the same true in these messaging buckets, or is it just a matter of using all four of them at different times?
Jennifer: I personally liked to use all four of them both together and at different times. So for example, the primary funnel that I’ve used to grow my own agency, our ads, we have different ads that lead with different angles. But if you end up clicking on the ad and coming to our primary landing page where people can learn about us and book a call, you will see. And even if you go to the page right now after what I just shared, you’ll see us. There’s credibility. There’s feel good. There’s personality. There’s vulnerability. So we weave it throughout, not only for ads, but that’s actually become the north star of our messages, for email sequences, for our website, for I’m sitting down to create a Facebook post. What should I talk about? Right. Let me go back to these messaging buckets, because this is my guide of what I should be talking about to make sure that my perfect people are specifically attracted to me, not just another Facebook ads agency, another business coach, another whatever it is.
Rich: All right. So let’s take a look at those first four. I think the first one is the most obvious one. I don’t know how much time we need to spend here, but it is credibility. So is there anything you can tell us a little bit about credibility, whether you have a unique approach to it, or whether just make sure you’re checking these boxes?
Jennifer: Again, I think that is a bit of a checking of the boxes. The other stuff is important because at the end of the day, we are always selling to another human being, but let’s not gloss over the fact that we also want to position ourselves as experts. It’s not enough to say, “Hey, do you want to have a drink with me after work? Give me $20,000.” We obviously want to communicate that we’ve got the certifications, the skillset, the street credit, to actually deliver on our promise.
Rich: Alright. Excellent. So vulnerability. And it’s interesting, because I’m taking a leadership course and we talk a lot about Brene Brown, who talks a lot about the importance of vulnerability, almost as a skill. What can you tell us about vulnerability? I’m sure there were a lot of people who are like, look, I don’t want to look vulnerable. I just want to show that I’m credible. And now you want me to break down in tears or something. Educate me. Tell me about vulnerability and how we can use it in our advertising.
Jennifer: So definitely no tears required. And don’t go hunting for a sob story if there isn’t one. I think that actually, that’s a really important point for all of these things. Like this should really be genuinely who you are, who your business is, not digging for something just to fill these buckets, so to speak. I think that at the end of the day, vulnerability is just about creating connection and having the person on the other side of a screen see you as a human being or see your brand as human. It can be a really vulnerable story, that is what I use personally in my own marketing. But at the end of the day, it just has to be the thing that your perfect person, again, they’re on the other side of the screen, they’re just scrolling through an ad and they’re like, “Wait, there’s a human element here”, and it’s going to have them pay that much more attention to you then all of the other ads.
Rich: And not that my dad ever used this in an advertising campaign – I don’t know if he ever advertised – but he’s a child psychologist, and he speaks often to other psychologists and charismatic adults. And he tells a story about his first day in private practice. And when the people started showing up he’s like, “I hope they don’t have any real problems because I don’t think I can help them.” That was literally his first day on the job and that’s how he felt. And I think a lot of psychologists, a lot of therapists, can immediately relate to that. So I think that there’s that understanding. It’s not, he’s being vulnerable. He’s showing that he’s a human being. And so now I’m more apt to listen to him. I’ve made that connection with them on an emotional level.
Jennifer: Perfect example, beautifully said.
Rich: All right. So let’s talk a little bit about personality. How is that different than vulnerability?
Jennifer: I think personality is, like vulnerability is often more like a story, like you just touched on. Whereas personality is more just like elements of your personality and who you are. So for example, my business partner and I, we have this running thing – it’s kind of corny, but people love it – where I have cats and she has dogs. And so we have this running thing with our ads of teen cat versus teen dog. And people are showing up to sales calls going, “Just FYI, I’m team dog”. And so we really get people excited. I was like part of just, there’s nothing to do with business. It’s just something interesting about who we are as human beings. That isn’t about a vulnerable story, but just this is who we are, and we get people to be a part of it and to be excited about it. And then they’re participating in that as well. And all of a sudden, we’re like all friends.
Rich: I think that also is a good point where you will start to attract people who you are better able to help when you put your personality out there. If you are irreverent, you’re probably going to work better with irreverent people, so you’ll attract the kind of person. If you are more factual and more specific in whatever it is, you’re going to attract more people like that. It’s just going to be a better fit. So I completely agree with you on the personality side of things. And lastly, feel good. And again, how does this differ from the last two, or specifically the last one?
Jennifer: Yeah. So again, feel good is meant to be something that shows your audience that the money they’re going to pay you, at least part of it, goes towards something that they care about. They can feel good about spending their money with you on top of all of the other things. So, I mean, look, the obvious one is to, it’s like the Tom Shoes example, right? You buy a pair, we’ll donate a pair, 10% of our proceeds go to this. But again, don’t force that if that’s not real. I’ve seen people use it by just saying, hey, we have a commitment to making sure that our team is diverse. This is a thing that we care about. Or, we do one pro-bono project every month that supports children’s causes. There’s so many different ways to make that look. Again, the cherry on top for our agency, is that we donate a percentage of all of our profits to an amazing organization that helps survivors after they’ve left domestic abuse situations actually get on their feet financially. And so people love that on top of all the other buckets that we’ve hit, that they’re going to give us money and that’s going to further something, it’s going to further women’s empowerment. They love that. And it’s just like a win-win all around.
Rich: And again, this is something that should really be authentic and in alignment with your mission, vision, and values. Not something that you tack on to say, look I give some money to the local charity. It should be something in alignment with your personality anyways, and then you’ll again, attract those like-minded people.
Jennifer: Yeah. I mean, look, I think at the end of the day, in my own business and my own marketing, I back ended into this. I didn’t sit down and go, what are my messaging buckets going to be? I just existing as myself on the internet and something was working, and I tried to reverse engineer and see what it was. And so again, it does come back to actually getting to exist fully as yourself, fully as your business. And that being the thing that will have you defy the odds and make competition irrelevant with your ads, with all of your online marketing, not some like technical media buying hack that you know about that somebody else doesn’t.
Rich: So as I’m listening to all this, I think it’s great. And it makes a lot of sense for somebody like you or a coach where it’s so personality driven. But how does it work if you’re a business, if you run a car mechanic shop, or you’re an accountant? When there’s a whole business and not necessarily an individual personality, how do these buckets work or do they?
Jennifer: Okay. I was going to pick accountant because that’s an easier example, but let’s go with car mechanic shop. This is on the fly. We’re going to go with this, but let’s just say first and foremost, let me just say that this was designed for and does very directly apply to personal brands, without a doubt. But that does not mean we can’t take elements of it and use it on different types of businesses.
So we’re talking about a car mechanic shop. Let’s see where I go with this. Credibility would probably be something along the lines of how long you’ve been in business. How many cars have you serviced? Does that, what we want, is that the right language?
Rich: I think that’s a good one, sure. All your mechanics are ASE certified. I think A-S-E is a certification platform.
Jennifer: Yeah. So again, what would make a person know that this car mechanic shop, at bare minimum, can do the job effectively. Great. Okay.
Vulnerability, this one’s going to definitely be a little bit more difficult for a car mechanic shop. But is there any story about the owner or their employees or… like Domino’s. Oh, I just thought of this. So Domino’s has been doing this really awesome commercial lately where they’re talking about how the majority of their franchisees actually were employees of the store at one time, and how they help move them up. So these really just good, juicy stories of, “Oh my God, this brand, this car mechanic shop is really human.” So something like that in there.
Rich: Also the Domino’s, if you remember, they also ran an ad several years ago talking about the fact that their pizza was not good. And how they were really going to work to make their pizza tastes better, and they wanted to hear back, and they brought in all these chefs, and they were using higher quality stuff. I would have to say that a pizza company, national chain, saying our pizza is really not all that good but we’re going to fix it. That’s certainly showing some vulnerability, right there.
Jennifer: Great marketing. Exactly right. Perfect example. So personality, again, this would be the car mechanic shop coming up with maybe something funny or quirky about their personality. One great example that I do have of using personality for an e-commerce brand, which has nothing to do with any sort of personal brand, is I can’t remember the name, but there’s a women’s underwear brand. And all of their Facebook ads are basically underwear that won’t get stuck in your butt crack. And it’s okay, if we’re just talking about underwear, right in general and like running ads for women’s underwear, like that is funny. The right person is going to be like, this is a really funny brand. Like I want to have a drink with them after work. And they said it just hooks them in with something different by really showcasing an aspect of personality in their brand. Right?
And then again, the feel-good piece, of course, I think is easy to apply. The car mechanic shop could have some sort of training program where they train local high school students, where they give a percentage of something to whatever, or they fixed the car pro-bono for a kid in need. Like all of those things. And so it isn’t always necessarily as easy. And it does require the owner, for example, being willing to potentially share some of those stories.
But similar, it’s the same conversation where if that car mechanic shop just simply ran ads that said, “Do you need your car fixed?” That would look like the ad of every other car mechanic shop and that wouldn’t be enough to stand out.
Rich: All right. That makes a lot of sense. So you’ve given us some on the fly advice if we happen to run a car mechanic shop. And I like all the things you’re saying. It’s actually very much in alignment with things that I say to that. I think in a certain point, SEO, Facebook ads, what have you become skills that almost everybody’s going to have, so how do you continue to stand out?
But I’m wondering, yes, this all feels good. Not to steal one of the names of your buckets, but do you have any stories, or examples, case studies that looks at a return on ad spend and that this approach actually makes a difference?
Jennifer: Can I use my own, because it’s really a great example? Okay. So, again, I stumbled into this backwards and by accident. Long story short, I have a lead generation campaign that I’ve used to grow the agency. We’ve been running it for maybe a year and a half at this point. Don’t quote me on this. But at last check, the stats are something like around $50,000 in ad spend, and $1.1 million of closed client revenue as a result. And so that’s like over a 20 times return on ad spend. We can’t argue with that. That is freaking amazing. And it’s not a blip, it’s a year and a half worth of data.
Now looking at the actual funnel itself and the ads themselves, they are so stupid simple. I never touch it. I never update it. It was not impacted by iOS14 changes at all. It just runs. And it’s not because I’m a magical ads buyer. Like the people on my team are much better ads buyers than I am. But again, it’s because the one or two or three ads that I’ve run consistently for a year and a half, and the landing page that we send that traffic to, it does such a good job of indoctrinating people essentially into our credibility, our vulnerability, our personality, and our feel good, that they are booking calls at a significantly higher than average rate. And my no-show rate is, I almost have zero no shows, which is very uncommon in the high-ticket sales space when you’re coming from a Facebook ad.
My close rate is incredibly high. And then just like a soft metric, which I feel like important here, is that people show up to my sales calls saying things like, “I feel like I already know you”, “I didn’t know you existed yesterday, and today I want to be your bestie. Also, I want to pay you money”. It’s not even fair to call them sales calls. Like, quality of life has dramatically improved because I don’t need to work so hard to convince somebody why we’re different, or why we’re better or why they should work with us. By the time they’re showing up to the call with me, it’s no longer a question of should I hire The Ad Girls or some other team. It’s, I’ve picked The Ad Girls, I’ve picked Jennifer and Courtney, I’m team dog or I’m team cat. And they’re just so into it that yes, we’ve got the financial results, but also just the process of acquiring a customer is so much more seamless and authentic and organic.
Rich: When they show up, have they seen ads that check off all the different messaging buckets, or what does the process look like?
Jennifer: Great. Great question. So the primary ad that we are running that has brought in I would say probably the most calls, is a little bit more I would say credibility and personality focused. That’s where we really use it to pull them in. Then they get to our landing page, and it’s got all the buckets just really throughout really nicely weaved in directly from the landing page. They click to our booking page and book a call with us.
But this last piece is really important. We’ve got an email sequence that runs between when they book and when their call actually is. And for some reason, people forget about this space. They do a lot of automatic reminder emails, but there’s no real nurturing. And so we’ve got a six-email sequence and it hits on those bucket points. It’s chef’s kiss. It is just epic and beautiful.
And also in the meantime, from when they first booked to when they have their call, we are also serving them like $1 a day retargeting ads, and each one of those ads will cover a different bucket. And so they are completely indoctrinated from all angles and all touch points from the first time they ever see an ad, all the way through to that sales call. And even if they’re in the decision-making process between the sales call and when they decide to close, they feel like they’re friends with us. They feel like they know us. And it’s a profitable way to do business, and I also think it’s a more enjoyable way to do business.
Rich: Absolutely. If people want to learn more Jennifer, if they want to check you out, where can we send them on?
Rich: Awesome. Jenn, this has been fantastic. Lots of great advice. Thank you so much for your time and expertise today.
Jennifer: Thanks, Rich!
Jennifer Spivak and her team not only empower female entrepreneurs, they use a simple formula to help their businesses grow through Facebook & Instagram ads. Check out their website to see exactly how they’re doing that. And be sure to follow her on Facebook and Instagram for more great info and tips!
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 20+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.