Launching a new line of business is hard. It is not for the faint of heart!
For all of my career, I’ve been a corporate office worker, with an occasional work-from-home option. Now that I’ve moved to Portugal (from the U.S.) and started a coaching business, it was time to break out of my comfort zone and begin finding clients beyond my traditional corporate circles. I would need to find people in other countries that I’d never met before, but who I knew could benefit from additional skills and confidence in leadership, teamwork, and product delivery via agile thinking and methods.
I knew I needed to create some online ads, so I started reading all I could find about what worked and what didn’t. From a LOT of experts. Lots of varying opinions.
The historical baggage I carry is getting ‘taken’ for a very expensive advertising ‘ride’ back when I had a very different business around 2004. That fear drove me to want to try to learn this for myself, and not hire any outsiders. At least not yet. I knew I did not have the luxury of making that mistake again. I had the time and desire to learn and experiment.
I decided to try applying my agile thinking techniques to my ads. Small experiments. Try. Measure results. Learn. Adapt. I decided to focus on 1 week ads spending a max of $15 per week, $3/day for 5 days. Each week would be a ‘sprint’, and I could measure my output (leads and clients) at the end of the week, along with any learnings to tweak my process.
At the start, I knew that my LinkedIn profile was valuable, but my network alone would not be broad enough or large enough to be my only marketing platform. I’d have to figure out LI ads, but I didn’t want to muddy my learning process, or add more cost yet. But I also know that Facebook is not a well-loved platform for my target audience, 25-45 year old young professionals, still in their first or second management role.
I opted to begin by using Facebook’s business ad platform, making ads from my business’ FB page. I settled on the age group 25-45. I opted to ‘find the audience’ based on interests, and came up with a list of about 15 words/phrases to use.
I am am American now living in northern Portugal, so I chose some EU countries that are in my timezone plus/minus 3 hours. That would keep scheduling coaching calls with clients relatively easy.
Sprint 1: I started with the objective to ‘send message’ in FB which uses the Send Message button. Via country and interests, I was targeting 56 million people. I got 4 messages but they were mostly bogus, BUT 4700 people saw the ad. The image was a photo. The person was female, preparing to take a wilderness hike. The message was ‘Mastery is a Journey’. Not bad. Moving on to sprint #2.
Sprint 2: The photo and message had seemed to resonate, so I kept that, but changed to a ‘learn more’ button to take people to the website. I kept the same audience, so still 56 million people. During this second week, I increased to over 7000 people reached, and 49 clicks! I was doing better, but no clients came out of the pipeline.
Sprint 3: I decided to try promoting an ‘monthly agile tune-up’ service for corporate teams who only needed an occasional agile coach. I updated my business website with this information, and then built a new ad for this week focused on that. This service was more likely to have to be in-person, so I created a new audience here in Portugal only, and people focused on agile software development. The audience was 2.2 million people, and over 11,000 people were reached, with 38 clicks to the website. Smaller pool, but much better result in views. The Learn More button might be the issue.
Then came the week that I attended the Web Summit in Lisbon with about 70,000 other tech and startup enthusiasts from all over the world. And then I got sick. Advertising sprints were on hold.
After the Web Summit, I wanted an ad that might reach people who had attended the summit, and I wanted to try video. I had read that videos are FAR more watched than simple text or even photos. A few friends and family nudged me to try a podcast video to share some of my personality, provide some value, and allow people to get a sense of my thinking around agile topics. I figured out how to film the video with Zoom, use YouTube to prep it for sharing, added a business YT Channel, and then built a new FB ad using that video.
Sprint 4: Before turning this podcast into an ad to strangers, I tried it out on my personal LinkedIn and Facebook pages. This allowed me to alert family and friends, get a little boost of confidence, and spend a few more days seeing if I wanted to tweak it, or perfect any of the information in the YouTube channel setup. This was a successful sprint as I still did have a few things to learn and tweak in YouTube.
Sprint 5: I finally then created this new podcast as an ad in FB using the same audience around Europe at 56 million. I switched from the Learn More objective back to Messages. I had thought the video would do better, but after just 2-3 days, I didn’t like the results. I think I do not like the Messaging button. I put the ad on hold early, and started down another path.
Sprint 6: Still believing that the video idea was solid, and that it should produce better results, I went back the drawing board. I found the Promo.com tool and worked to hone what my client would look like, age range, and what his/her needs were. With those phrases at the ready, I created my first video ad. It wasn’t hard, and I liked the result. Once the video was ready, I could add it to my YouTube Channel for access and reference, and then also use it in a Facebook ad. Now, I decided my goals would be LEADS. I switched to a Call to Action button that says Sign Up. I modified my audience to a few LESS countries and a few less phrases which resulted in an audience of 17 million people With the SIGN UP button, I got brave, and asked for their email address and phone number so that I could contact them via What’s App, and ask them which they’d prefer. Success!!! I have had 4 leads and have 2 potential clients, and the week isn’t over yet.
All in all, it has been a great learning experience, and I’ve had time and practice tweaking my message, my target audience, and the ad objectives. I call them micro-ads due to the length of time they run and the tiny amount of money I’ve spent. If I even find one person who wants and needs my coaching services to advance their skills and confidence, my $82 investment has been worth it.
In case screenshots are helpful, here’s what the Facebook Ad Center pages look like.
Please message me if you’d like more information, or if you have any recommendations to share.
Nov 24 UPDATE: I realized I had missed and mistaken a few bits of info in the above post, so I’ve made some corrections to Sprint 5 and 6 information. The ad finished today, and I’ve gotten 1272 people reached and 6 leads in all! 5 of the 6 leads are women, so I’ve now created a second version of the video ad that features women. I’ll be launching that in a NEW micro-ad today as Sprint 7.
Nov 26 UPDATE: For those of you wanting to learn more about FB Lead Generation ads, check out this article. The Lead Gen ad type is how I got the name, email, and phone number (for What’sApp) of the people that I could connect with. The Lead Ad uses a Lead Ad form which you create in the FB Publishing Tools section (described in the FB article). None of this was hard to do, but I’m happy to help anyone who wants a little bit of training/guidance. https://www.facebook.com/business/help/397336587121938… Below is my Lead Ad form with the questions, in case this gives you ideas.