With traditional marketing channels (TV, print, radio) the strategy has always been to determine which channels cater to particular demographics and then attempt to speak to that audience directly through paid ads. While Nielsen ratings and subscription demographics paint a picture of who's watching what, its often painted in rather broad strokes. Anyone watching a Monday Night Football game would have to assume the audience is entirely composed of beer drinking, truck driving men with erectile disfunction if they judged purely by which brands are spending the big bucks to get their message in front of that audience. While a certain percentage of the audience for MNF might match that profile, there's a good number of folks to whom these commercials offer little more than a few laughs. Larger brands may be aware of this - but with seemingly unlimited budgets to put towards marketing - a brand like Budweiser doesn't care that I'd never choose their tasteless lager over a delicious Pacific Northwest IPA. They're going to keep throwing spaghetti on the wall, knowing a portion of it is going to stick.
For non-Fortune 500 brands, marketing dollars are a bit harder to come by and can't be thrown around so haphazardly. In many instances, these businesses look to local resources for pushing their marketing – local newspapers, radio stations and television. However, they're met with the same issues, only on a smaller scale. A good portion of the audience viewing their ads aren't ever going to become customers regardless of how good their copy may be. The more narrow your target market, the harder it is to advertise your services using traditional marketing techniques.
With the growth of social media, many brands created their Facebook and Twitter accounts in the hopes of growing an organic following - loyal customers waiting for their next tweet. Not surprisingly, most brands discovered rather quickly growing a following online was not only difficult, but even those folks who "liked" their page rarely converted into customers. A "like" is not a sale and nobody is going eat at your restaurant because the waitstaff did the Harlem Shake.
What many of these brands are missing out on is the overwhelming opportunity that exists in paid-social media content, specifically with Facebook Ads. For businesses which target a niche customer, Facebook Ads allow you to by-pass the clutter and target specific demographics and locations with pinpoint accuracy. The more specific you can get, the greater your marketing campaign will perform and the lower your cost-per-click (CPC) will be. When compared with a traditional ad in a newspaper, there is really no comparison - Facebook Ads is a revolution for small businesses and larger organizations with specific markets.
A great example of this is our client Wailuku Federal Credit Union. Like most credit unions, WFCU serves a specific group of people - in this instance people who live or work in the city of Wailuku on the island of Maui. With a population of a little over 15,000 people, that's a pretty specific demographic. In the past, WFCU advertised in the local Maui newspaper. While this makes sense from a traditional marketing standpoint - there were some serious flaws with this approach. First, while Maui may be an island, it's a somewhat large island and so the local paper reached folks not only in Wailuku but also Lahaina, Kihei, Hana and numerous other towns and cities across the valley isle. In addition - a large number of readers were tourists just checking out the local paper. So while the newspaper could boast of their subscription rates and website traffic, only a very small percentage of that total audience could potentially be customers for WFCU.
When WFCU hired us, the first thing we did was eliminate their ads with the newspaper. We instead took a percentage of those funds to create compelling social media content, and the rest of the budget to push that social media content via Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. On Facebook, we were able to target folks within a 10-mile radius of the credit union itself. This means every advertising dollar spent was spent on someone who lived within their community and could potentially be a customer. Not only did Facebook Ads require a less expensive ad spend, the content could (and was) shared by folks in the community creating organic reach in addition to the paid spend. When was the last time someone cut an ad out of a newspaper, photocopied it and started handing it around to friends and family?
In the past, WFCU ran the same ad week after week after week in the local newspaper. Once the week had passed, that ad was gone for good and provided zero value. Nobody has ever gone down to their local library and perused the microfiche looking for sales. We took an alternative approach, creating a compelling article each month on a topic of interest for their community ("improving credit scores", "the difference between banks and credit unions", etc.). That article is posted on their website and then we produce a variety of social media content – short animations and infographics – pushing folks to that article. We use Facebook Ads to make sure that content not only appears for followers of WFCU, but for anyone who lives in the community. Once the paid ads stop, the post still resides on their Facebook wall (typically with dozens of likes and shares) and the article still exists on their website continuing to drive organic traffic and increase the SEO value of their website. In fact, after the homepage, the three most popular landing pages on the WFCU website last month were three different articles we'd written, none of which had any paid spend during that month.
If you're a business with a single physical location, using targeted Facebook ads around that address could revolutionize your business. I almost wish I'd gone with my childhood dream of opening a deli instead of a digital marketing firm, because the combination of targeted paid-social and my world-famous Italian Sub could have made me a very rich man.
For clients who don't have a physical location and sell nationally, Facebook ads still allow you to target specific demographics, interests, age-groups and genders. For example, our client VAULT furnishes high-end garages with arguably the highest quality garage cabinets on the market. While their products are amazing, not everyone is in the marketing for high-end garage cabinetry. Traditional Marketing 101 would suggest if you want to sell high-end garage products, you need to target car enthusiasts in publications that focus on the luxury car market. However, we learned an important lesson early on that just because someone has a passion for Porches, doesn't mean they have the wallet to afford one. In addition to having an "interest" in topics related to VAULT's product line, we also target other metrics that narrow in on their typical customer. This often skews towards an older male demographic - folks whose kids have moved out of the house and finally can build that man-cave they've always dreamt of. There's no reason wasting marketing dollars on 25-year olds who can't afford your product. In addition, when sharing testimonials, we can target folks in the same community as the individual in the post, increasing the likelihood of readership and conversions. Rather than target "California" - we can identify particularly affluent communities within California and just market to those.
Social media marketing is a combination of compelling content and targeted paid spend. If you attempt one without the other, you'll not likely find success. While organic growth is possible for "fun" brands, most businesses aren't going grow a large, dedicated following simply because they post content regularly. But just because your potential customer doesn't follow you, doesn't mean you can't get your message in front of them. Creating a successful paid-social campaign takes planning, research and a lot of measurement and adjustment to get right. Once you have that market identified though, the potential up-side is unsurpassed.