Are Facebook ads effective for small businesses?

Facebook ads for small businesses

A question I hear all the time is ‘Would Facebook ads work for ‘x’ type of business?’. My answer is typically ‘yes, but let’s take a look at a few things first…’.

Facebook ads can work for any type of business: whether you’re a one-man-band or a household name.

However, we need to see Facebook advertising for what it is. It’s simply a platform/technology that allows us to distribute our content in front of specific people.

Can Facebook help me grow my business?

First, before we determine whether Facebook ads can work for your business, we need to determine what ‘work’ means. Does it mean brand awareness, lead generation, sales?

Sometimes Facebook can feel like a catch-22.

You need them to make money; but you need money to make them work.

Cash is tight as a small business owner and therefore you need to see a return on anything you spend.

However, if you’re new to the Facebook advertising game, it can take some time (and money) to get them to work.

It can be frustrating.

But once you get over that initial hurdle, you could see some life-changing results.

I’ve tried Boosting posts… but I saw no results

The biggest problem I see small businesses make when it comes to advertising on Facebook is running ads, trying to sell something to an audience of people that have never heard of them before.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally get it.

Money is tight. You need that return, so when you create your ad, your instinct is to sell.

But that’s not how Facebook works. If you think of the typical user on Facebook (think about your own user behaviour), they’re there to speak to friends and family; to waste time; as they’re sat on the toilet etc.

Chances are, they don’t care who you are or what you have to sell. So when you put an ad in front of them attempting to sell something, they’ll ignore it.

Relationship building at scale

We need to treat online advertising in the same way we treat offline relationships.

Serving an ad trying to sell something to someone random would be like standing in the middle of the street, shouting to people, interrupting them, asking them to buy your product…

You wouldn’t do that, right?

We need to embrace the concept of relationship building: bringing people through the process of meeting us, liking us, knowing us and trusting us. That’s how sales work in “real life”.

The reason Facebook is so powerful is because we can bring people through that process all within the one platform – on autopilot.

Remember: it is real people on the other side of your ad, not just numbers.

How do we create a funnel on Facebook?

Rather than going straight for the sale, we might instead serve an ad to people with something of interest and value to them for free, such as a blog article or a video. With my client, (the worlds largest bass guitar membership site), we often send people free bass guitar lessons, like this.

ScottsBassLessons Facebook ads

We’re not expecting them to do anything or to take any action, we just want them to learn something from the content we serve.

After they’ve consumed that content, we might then retarget them (using Facebook custom audiences) with an ad, offering them some more free content. This time, in return for their email address (so we can communicate with them on Facebook and email). This is what that looks like in Scott’s case:

Retargeting Facebook ad

And as you know, people will only buy from you once they trust you.

We hope that after sharing lots of free content with them, they would trust us enough to buy – that’s when we offer them a 14 day free trial to the membership:

Retargeting Ad to sale

Can you see why this works?

So do Facebook ads work for small biz?

As you can see above, yes, without a doubt. But it’s important to be realistic with your expectations when you start off and you need to realise that Facebook ads are just the tip of the iceberg.

You need a website that converts, an offer that people love and a solid content strategy.

You want to look at Facebook ads as a way to Amplify what’s already working, rather than seeing it as a golden bullet or plaster; fixing something that’s fundamentally broken.

Otherwise you’ll end up broke.

If you’d like to learn more about the strategies above, check out my free Facebook advertising blueprint.

Ads Agency Audit


Your weekly dose of advertising

Join over 5,000 people who receive the Monday Morning Yatter newsletter.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.