The REAL cost of paid advertising
The hardest part about starting our business (and becoming the CEO) has been learning how to forgive myself.
And the more I read your messages in response to this new “Unhidden” email series, the more I see this same struggle in so many of your entrepreneurial stories as well, which makes sense.
The very essence of entrepreneurship requires a certain amount of risk, an endless cycle of mistakes and missteps, and an ever-growing understanding of yourself, your customers, and your body of work.
And all of this internal and external growth ^^ requires an insane amount of forgiveness.
In my own story, as a Co-Owner of our business, I see this time and again. Whether a new idea flops, or my words (via social media or an email) don’t land, or an investment (that I was sure would pay off) loses us time/money … I have to walk through this same cycle of forgiveness over and over again. For me, this cycle looks something like:
Step 1: Frustration towards myself: I struggle to separate my personal worth from the business “mistake.”
Step 2: Grieving the loss: I’m saddened that my “mistake” didn’t work out the way that I hoped it would.
Step 3: Looking for the lesson: I assess the details associated with the “mistake” so that I can learn and figure out how I can pivot/adapt to do better next time. (At this point, I live by Maya Angelou’s quote: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”)
Step 4: Forgiving myself and moving forward: I forgive myself for ignoring my gut, or ignoring the warning signs/data, or valuing someone else’s advice/shoulds/musts above my own.
And the reason why this forgiveness process is so important (in the midst of an email series about the state of online marketing) is because your capacity to market and sell what you do is directly related to your ability to forgive yourself and move forward in spite of your mistakes and setbacks.
And yet, it’s taken me 5 months to forgive myself for all the mistakes we made, time we lost, and money we wasted on Facebook ads last year.
**Action Step: Think back over your own entrepreneurial journey. What big/costly “mistakes” are you still holding on to? Where do you need to forgive yourself in order to step into what’s next for you?**
Which brings me to the dark underbelly of the Facebook ads world (and everything I had to forgive myself for in the process) …
For context, a few years ago, Facebook was like an ATM machine. Back then, you could put money into the “machine” and it would give you lots and lots more money (aka ROI) in return. Of course, as more and more people joined the Facebook ads bandwagon, this “bubble” burst and everyone began looking for answers as to why.
This led to a wave of online courses and agencies (i.e. folks who could “fix” your ROI problem) which then led to an abundance of small business owners investing in Facebook ads courses and hiring Facebook ad agencies … all in an attempt to try and uncover the root of the “problem.”
Here at Hey, Sweet Pea, we were not immune to this search.
In fact, last year we hired/fired three different Facebook ads teams. And every single 6-7 figure business owner I know? They’ve all hired/fired just as many (if not more) agencies over the last two years.
Because now, more than ever before, everything is changing: Facebook is changing, the market is changing, the market’s trust IN Facebook is changing. And the whole “money in, money out” myth that worked a few years ago, doesn’t exist anymore.
Instead, the #1 thing making/breaking small business growth is organic content.
But most Facebook ads agencies/courses won’t tell you this. They won’t tell you that their paid strategy only works in relation to the quality of your organic strategy. Which means, if you’re already creating high-quality organic content (whether that’s in the form of social media posts or a podcast, blog, newsletter, or weekly Facebook show) then their ad strategy will amplify what you’re **already doing** right.
With “scaling into cold traffic” being so incredibly difficult (i.e. I haven’t met a Facebook ads agency that can successfully sustain this), these same Facebook ads agencies are actually dependent on **retargeting** the audience you warmed up for them organically.
Side Note: Your organic warm audience includes 4 key areas: 1) Your website traffic, 2) Your page engagement (messages, comments, likes, etc.), 3) Your video views, and 4) Your email list.
So everything you’re doing ORGANICALLY is the “secret” to Facebook ads. All that Facebook ads can do is shine a light on what’s already working.
Simply put: Facebook ads do NOT fix a broken sales funnel. Facebook ads do NOT fix your sales page. And Facebook ads do NOT fix any problems with your offer, your pitch, or your product.
This means that the MAJORITY of Facebook ads agencies are not only selling themselves to entrepreneurs far too soon in their growth process, but they’re not communicating the fact that you’re basically paying them to be your glorified “middle man.”
That’s why, after 2.5 years of investing in Facebook ads, hiring 3 different Facebook ads teams, and spending over $84,000 on agency fees, ad spend, and online courses (so we could learn Facebook ads ourselves), I had 3 BIG ah-ha moments:
Ah-ha #1: The weeks when I showed up organically (via Facebook/Instagram live, or newsletter, or by posting on Instagram Stories or our feed) were the **same weeks** that our Facebook ads “worked”. This reveals that the ads were completely dependent on the strength of our organic reach and my connection with our community.
Ah-ha #2: The Facebook ads agencies I had hired (based on their past success stories) had only achieved these results because their clients **already had** the biggest organic reach and market share in their industries. So all the ad agencies had to do was retarget the warm traffic already provided for them and they’d have another sexy success story under their belt.
Ah-ha #3: No Facebook ads agency we hired could create an ads strategy that outperformed the ads we wrote/created/ran ourselves through AdEspresso. Whether that’s because these agencies didn’t truly understand us or our customers/product ... OR because they didn’t really care about how much money they made/lost us in the process, the only people who truly cared about our results and long-term success was us.
And all of this ^^ is what led to us building our own internal #dreamteam.
In August, we hired our first Operations Manager. As of this week, we hired our first internal Facebook Ads Specialist. And over the next few months, we’ll be investing in a few more organic content “key players” like a photographer (since we always need more photos of us) and a designer (so I don’t have to design everything myself).
And every single one of these shifts/hires has required me to forgive myself for not “getting this” sooner. Which is why my BIG question for you today isn’t, “Have you wasted money on Facebook ads, too?” OR “How’s your organic reach these days?”
Instead, my question for you—as the CEO—goes much, much, much deeper:
**What big/costly “mistakes” are you still holding on to? Where do you need to forgive yourself in order to step into what’s next for you?**
Before we move on to the rest of this email series, let’s start there.
What’s coming up for you?
All my love,
Elise + Scott
PS: Due to the overwhelming response about this email coming out today, I decided to do something crazy. Like ... I literally woke up and wrote a 6-part PDF with *even more* insider knowledge about FB ads.
The PDF isn’t pretty or fancy (since I wrote it this morning), but you guys. It’s NEW, it’s current, and it’s 100% free (no opt-in necessary).
Annnnnd you can access all 5 pages of data, depth, and behind-the-scenes goodness in one easy click:
PPS: I’d love for you to forward this onto a friend/client/colleague (who you think needs it most) OR encourage them to catch up on our entire email series here. Every single time you share, it helps this free series **organically** reach and help even more people.