If you are used to doing something one way only, getting out of a habit is a hard thing to do.
You can’t relentless treat the way that you communicate your business as one ongoing campaign. It just centres everything on what you produce, not what you actually believe in.
This article has its roots in a conversation with a company in Sussex who put all their efforts in Facebook Ads to promote their company. In their words, “It works, why should we look at other alternatives when it gets people to buy our products.”
They have a point. If someone is getting results, why should they look beyond what is in front of them? If product/service messages are on Facebook Ads and driving revenue, isn’t it time to pack up and throw in the towel and we can all reside in the same place, happily ever after? If we are spending around an hour a day on Facebook, isn’t this the safe bet?
Facebook has helped millions of businesses, by making it easier than ever to target others to attract people to buy. Facebook announced during the summer they now have 2 billion monthly users and that’s more than 25% of the worlds population. I use Facebook for a bit of paid promotion for the You Are The Media Conference.
However, if the results are looking great for the short term, how does the long term look?
A Little Story From Your Childhood
By going with the, ‘our business is getting the results,’ angle reminds me of the hen that laid the golden egg.
The story is of a farmer who was struggling to make ends meet. To ease his problems he was given a hen. The hen laid one golden egg, every day.
The farmer managed to sell an egg each day. Over time he became rich, however he believed that if he could get inside the hen there would be a barn of golden eggs. He would then become the richest man in the village. He grabbed a knife and cut the stomach of the hen to get to all the eggs. He lost any ability to have more eggs, and lost the hen too.
The message being, when you stick resolutely to one medium as your source of income, you’ll be more inclined to look for faster ways for a quicker return.
Playing To Someone Else’s Rules
When you stick wholeheartedly to one game plan on someone else’s turf, the objective is always to see what you can take ie. the person who consumes on that space, the objective is to make the decision to spend money with you.
This means that people are in a continuous loop of living in a campaign mode, which inevitably means you are continually paying someone else for the privilege and have no means of building your own media asset.
This will always centre on product themed messages within an agreed time period. However, this is what I have found by just being more locked in to reading ads in my timeline than those from people I know over the past month or so. Every message is coming from a company perspective and not audience focused.
When it comes to being in constant campaign mode, one ill thought ad can bring a brand that has built a strong message, to one where a reputation is in tatters. This is what Dove did last weekend (Saturday 7th October), by releasing a Facebook Ad that was a GIF showing a black woman turning white after using the soap. Anger certainly generates a higher rate of viral content. The hard work on championing women’s diversity, has currently been put way down the agenda.
Producing Content Around A Campaign
The Facebook brush is pretty one sided. No wax on, wax off, just wax. When you come from a pure company perspective, you produce content around a campaign. If you come from the perspective of your audience, you come from a different position, that is centred on delivering worthwhile experiences on a consistent basis, over a long period of time.
When your message revolves around products, all you want other people to see is what you want them to like, click through and to get that warm achievement of building web traffic.
The reality is when all you can bang on about is what you are looking for someone to download/sign-up/buy, there is no room to build that dialogue. If something is bad, no one wants to engage with it, let alone read it. If you can’t deliver something that someone wants to get to know a bit better, someone else will provide the value they need.
You can’t live a full life where you look to squash people into a pipeline and call them leads. No matter how much money you throw at it.
What About You?
When you start to look at everyone as just a pound sign, you detract from looking to build an audience, but become over reliant on the hand that currently feeds you.
Whilst there is a sense of reward saying, “It works, why should we look at other alternatives when it gets people to buy our products?” Lets start looking at the longer term implications if you are thinking about a strategy that revolves predominately around Facebook:
-Are you prepared to spend a sizeable budget, in one place, for a long time, to see a return?
-How different is this really from getting in a time machine back to the 80s and knowing that spending in a glossy magazine was the best route possible for a return as the target audience was owned by someone else who provided temporary access?
-You spend on Facebook Ads, you get ads back and so does everybody else. If we have now reached 2 billion users, that certainly is a space that is currently being bombarded. Facebook and Google now control 60% of all digital revenue (according to eMarketer
-The real winners of advertising online is not small businesses, but Facebook and Google
-If all we are seeing more adverts that have no editorial control ie. you pay, you have a presence, this means more bad content that we start to become immune to and people not paying attention. We now live in a fact free shouting match arena for other people to hopefully listen.
-The space becomes flooded with similar messages, so over time it becomes less effective
-If the marketplace is currently limited to one person having the freedom to spend and be targeted with advertising to see a return then that is a fortunate place to be. As the market becomes saturated, that once sizeable return won’t plateaux, it will decline as more competition become comfortable in the same space
-Over time, if this becomes the sole source of marketing spend, nothing is no longer new, exciting or provides a new dynamic to the business.
-One size fits all. You pay for an ad, that ad is then promoted
I asked Ian Rhodes, my former Marketing Homebrew podcast partner and ecommerce consultant on what he thinks when it comes to becoming comfortable on using Facebook as the prime media to build a customer base.
Ian wisely replied:
“You could run your store with Facebook as your single source for paid acquisition.”
“You could have a defined business model where a programme of lifecycle marketing means that your acquisition costs are based upon the lifetime value of your customer.”
“You could have in place continual optimisation processes to learn and understand your customers buying habits to boost revenue per visitor figures through your website and email marketing.”
“You could, via exceptional customer service, brand building and positioning, build word-of-mouth awareness that delivers zero-cost advertising and ramps up your revenues.”
“9 times out of 10, however, this does not happen. Instead we dabble and hope. That’s not a good way to run an online (or offline) business.”
So, What Is The Alternative?
When you live in a walled garden, you get to see the world on somebody else’s terms. For instance, when you are on Facebook’s mobile app, that’s where the internet is and where you tend to spend most of your time, in a beautifully crafted space that wants you to become comfortable.
It is like starting a new school and the only crowd that will have you are the cool kids. Over time they are the ones who slowly manipulate you to do what they want you to do to and then toss you aside when they are finished. Or in a business sense, when you have spent all your budget and can’t manoeuvre for anymore.
A more robust, longer term view is to actually get to know your audience and the people you are targeting, rather than the safety of the thumbs up and the click throughs. As an aside, the man who invented the Facebook like button has just deleted the app from his phone. If you can observe and be part of the interactions in your own garden, you can contribute to the development of your own audience development strategy.
The audience that you build, by being customer driven, grows when you dedicate everything on the audience and demonstrate your knowledge and beliefs within an area that you can break through and deliver value.
Every You Are The Media Lunch Club guest has demonstrated this. From Michael Grubb Studio sharing how they make better spaces to live and be part of through lighting design, to Jeremy McDonald, director of SEO for 360i who highlighted that we need to have a point of difference that can help us be found.
Even this months Lunch Club guest (click here to book for 26th October), Jake Moore from Dorset Police has only been producing short films for the past year for the cyber security team but this is now being recognised on a wider scale for Jake to help others including the NHS and Dorset County Council.
These are all examples that are widely removed from producing campaign work, but centred on an audience where the message is consistent over a period of time.
You can drive the value of your audience by having something that you can truly put a stamp on and look to increase the value over time. For instance, Crimson Guitars started by producing a series of ‘how to’ videos on YouTube, over time, this has grown to workshops and bringing people from all over the world to a remote part of Dorset. You can launch new products off the content you produce, rather than a third party allowing you access to promote one thing.
On a personal side, the Thursday morning email that started in October 2013, managed to build a subscriber base, that became You Are The Media Lunch Club, that will become a full blown conference in 2018. Building an audience is not about scraping lists or thinking that a like represents someone who is ready to buy and have a deeper sense of connection, it is about people recognising that you can stand on your own two feet and are prepared to come on board with you, on your terms and not somewhere where you borrow from.
Lets Round Up
Sitting back and thinking that conversion and customer acquisition is answered by spending money on one channel is a naive and wrong approach to make.
It has to be a part of a much wider scope where the focus is on the people who want to interact with you and not treating everyone as though they are ducks and geese on a force feeding frenzy for the greatest serving of foie gras.
When you get to know your audience a bit better and tune into their side, you can start to monetise in different ways, rather than treat everything as a sprint for a prompt return.
You create better customers when you move from living in a universe that revolves around a product, to one that revolves around other people and the role that they play within your world.