June 12, 2019
Have you ever been so frustrated with something that you just needed to walk away? Is Facebook starting to become that something for you?
My last two columns have made the argument for realizing the value of placing ads on Facebook and three of the ways to accomplish that. As I said, I haven’t seriously thought about leaving it because I’m a marketer and I go where there’s the highest potential return for investment. At the same time, I acknowledged that you, as someone in the firearms industry wanting to place ads on Facebook, you must deal with cumbersome and restrictive policies other business types are not beholden to.
As an FFL or firearms range, you fall into one of the most highly censored industries on Facebook. Facebook can shut down an ad, even one that should be allowed according to its own rules — and it will make it impossible to understand why its staff of reviewers made such a decision nor provide a way to remediate the issue. Those policies and unreasonable, often illogical ad kills have become too much for some, and more than a few have walked away from Facebook. Likewise, others have pulled out simply because they just don’t want to support a business that censors so many individuals or businesses. If you are ready to stand your ground and say “No” to a platform that increasingly has its detractors, then keep reading.
As a marketer, I need to know how to best reach the right people, get their attention and change the way they view and interact with their world in order to trigger an intent to purchase. Facebook has been useful at meeting these goals, but let me tell you a little secret: Facebook is not the only way to reach your audience online! Here’s one more secret: Offline marketing isn’t dead! Let’s take a look at three non-Facebook options that can generate demand for your business, the services you offer and the products you sell.
I happen to love YouTube, and I utilize YouTube almost as much as Facebook when it comes to social media marketing. I believe strongly in the use of video; in no other way can you connect with your audience in such a way that they feel like they already know, like and trust you. YouTube hosts the largest collection of online videos, and because it’s owned by Google, its video listings appear at the top of the search list when you perform a Google search. On top of that, YouTube is such an easily searchable resource itself that it’s often considered a search engine, even though it’s not one.
Despite some tension between firearms sites and YouTube, the platform continues to offer value, and ads on this platform top my list my for productive investment for a number of reasons:
They attract and nurture your client base with video that solves problems, entertains and educates.
It is crazy affordable for local advertising — on the order of pennies!
You don’t pay unless people take action or watch the entire video.
The platform gets ads in front of the right people thanks to the vast Google data resources it uses.
Just imagine being able to put your video ad in front of people residing within five miles of your business, especially people who love watching videos that directly relate to something you offer. That’s the power of target marketing using social media, and it makes YouTube a great option if you’re fed up with Facebook.
Local Print Publications
I’ve always been a fan of community, area and regional publications for local business advertising, especially those that come in the form of dynamic print ads. You will have a mix of people seeing your ad unless you advertise in a trade-specific publication, so always ask about the demographics for each publication you consider so that you have the best chance at spending your marketing dollars wisely. Publications you can consider include:
Neighborhood and community magazines.
Area trade magazines that have at least some connection to your business, such as those for general outdoor sport and recreation, outdoor recreational vehicles, travel and tourist guides, etc.
Coupon-pack neighborhood mailers.
Marketing is becoming more about creating a relationship and giving value than it is “This is the best XYZ you will ever buy.” By nature, human beings gravitate towards people with whom they feel a connection, and when it comes to your business, involvement in community events can be just as valuable as all those “friends” on Facebook. Just a few of the ways you can utilize this strategy include:
Participating in community events as a vendor. For such in-person events, make sure you have a dynamic handout — one that lists some upcoming events or a special you have for a limited time — that visitors to your event setup are likely to take home and tack to their refrigerator for follow-up. Have an email signup sheet for your newsletter or just “For More Information.”
Offer free safety training through libraries, schools and standalone events at your own location.
Create a group to teach basics or anything else using the app meetup.com.
When you create or participate in community events, make sure to support your marketing efforts with an offer your audience will be highly inclined to take advantage of. “Free!” is ideal with community events, because most who take advantage will be the people most likely to then become paying clients. That “Free!” is also about getting them onto your contacts list for retargeting, so make sure to incorporate these people into your follow-up efforts.
Walking away from Facebook may not be everyone’s choice, but doing so doesn’t prevent you from creating awareness of your business in other, just as effective (and maybe even more) ways. As with Facebook, you simply need to follow your potential clients to where they spend their free time and grab their attention.
Creating a Dynamic Ads
It’s not enough to say, “Here’s my business, stop by and purchase XYZ.” You have to sell it. When it comes to your ads, whether print or digital, think “dynamic.”
Have a powerful offer your audience members just “have to have.” “Free!” is great, but any truly significant offer your dream customer will have trouble resisting will be ideal.
Create the fear of missing out on something good — limited number, time-sensitive, members-only, first 25 through the door, etc.
Have your print ad readers go to a standalone web page to get the offer or learn more.
Include a video that helps potential customers connect with your business.
Give potential customers a great reason to give you their email address — “Enter Your Email for 10-Percent Off Your Next Purchase.”
Have tracking set up on that page so you can retarget those who clicked through initially.