Yes — more changes to the business model.
Someone will read this someday and laugh, but if I can finally make this work, it won’t seem to silly.
In my last post, I was going down a path of offering Facebook advertising as a service for small businesses and, but as usual it went from being something relatively simple to being pretty complex.
I figured that best way to keep costs down and reduce manual labor, I needed to automate the entire process of ad creation and management. I’ve done this sort of thing over and over — starting with a simple idea and then adding features that require custom programming and ending up with something pretty complex. Then eventually realize I’m ending up with something that’s strayed considerably from my main goal which is to offer something that’s easy to sell, easy to fulfill, and solves a real need.
So after getting discourage once again, I came across a post in the HighLevel Facebook group by someone (Jake) offering a free course that taught how he was succeeding with the software. Essentially what he was doing was selling page #1 ranking on Google, then fixing the client’s Google Business Profile and adding in some of the automated feature in HighLevel, including things like call-tracking, missed-call text-back, webchat widget, etc with the idea that those feature will make the client “stick” even if you haven’t quite gotten them on Google page #1.
You will recall that my original plan from way back was to offer an inexpensive way for businesses to advertise using my website and Facebook. I hadn’t completely lost sight of that, but I wasn’t convinced that the business model would bring in enough money, at least initially, to be sustainable.
Offering page #1 ranking on Google seemed like a better thing to offer because virtually every business needs it and you could charge more for it. So I thought it might work to start with that as my initial offer and later sell them advertising services.
I realized there was a lot I needed to learn about page #1 ranking, and the more I got into it, the complicated and ambiguous it was. I discovered it more of an art than a science, and there were many opinions on how to get to the top of local search.
So, instead of offering something relatively simple, like Google profile optimization, like Jake was doing, I felt compelled to go further down the path of trying to become an expert and offering the best service possible.
But since no one (other than Google, who isn’t talking) knew what the best service really was, I became frustrated. And I was straying far from my goal of offering something simple and easy to explain.
Jakes approach was to run Facebook ads to generate leads. He then had an email nurture process to get them on the phone, although he admitted he often had to chase them down.
When he could get them on the phone he would try to sell them on a $500/mo package. He seemed to have pretty good success, although he estimates it cost him around $250 in ad cost for every sale.
I liked the idea of generating a steady flow of leads using Facebook, but I did not like the idea of having to chase them down. I could see that his process required a pretty aggressive amount of chasing and closing. The more I thought about that, the less I liked it.
I felt there ought to be a way to sell without so much personal interaction with the leads so I decided to create a VSL (video sales letter) to explain the services — essentially replacing the need for one-on-one sales calls.
Then I had to decide on exactly the approach I should take which largely depending on the offer or promise I was making up front. Ultimately I decided that the hook should be that I was offering to show them how to improve their ranking for free, meaning that my training would allow them to achieve their goal without purchasing anything. But, of course, I offered at the end to do the work for them since they’re likely too busy to do it themselves.
This took a bit of work — first creating a slide deck, then rehearsing my script, then finally producing and editing it. I ended up with something that I felt was too long (about 30 minutes) so I decided to break it up into 4 pieces.
But as soon as had finished that project, I began having some doubts about the approach I was taking and began working on a shorter single-video version.
All of this occupied my time from December through most of April.
What got me off that direction was yet another shiny object — a webinar by Caleb O’Doud. I ignored him for a few days, but since I was discouraged I finally fell for his offer (which I really couldn’t afford) which was to use a Facebook “mini-group” to sell a service.
I loved the idea of using a Facebook group to develop relationships with prospective customers. It makes sense that this approach will have a much higher success rate than trying to develop the relationship within a very short window that you typically have with the typical sales process.
Initially plan was to use the strategy to sell Google ranking services, but I couldn’t quite buy into Caleb’s strategy which was to keep the Google group open for only 12 days or so and take everyone through a scripted sales process together simultaneously during that time.
The first problem was simply building the group quickly enough so that everyone was essentially coming in at the same time.
Another issue was that I felt that once I get business owners into a group, I want more time than that to develop a relationship and potentially have more than one thing to sell them as well.
Caleb taught that you should create a series of videos that first build excitement, then teach, then close sales. You would set a schedule and introduce a new video each day.
I eventually decided to just have one video, and instead of introducing it to the entire group at the same time, I would simply introduce it to each member as they joined — a much less pressure-filled approach.
So I went to work on the new video, spending at least a couple weeks on it before I even started recording it.
During all this I occasionally thought about all the twists and turns in my journey and also realizing I had almost completely lost sight of my previous plan which was to offer low-cost advertising through my business directory and deals website, and wondering this is really where I wanted to go.
As I was reflecting on everything, I suddenly could see how a Facebook group could greatly aid in getting the advertising business off the ground, and furthermore, that I should focus on cooperative Facebook advertising.
In a way, the concept had always been cooperative advertising with many advertisers on my website, and using Facebook to promote the website. But for some reason it had never occurred to me that my main product (or service) could be cooperative Facebook ads instead of a cooperative website.
The website was still needed, but only as a support for the main product which was the Facebook ads, the idea being that multiple advertisers would be featured on one ad (possibly 10 to 20), thus sharing the cost and greatly reducing the individual cost.
But that wasn’t all. Using that strategy, I could see how the website could eventually grow to the point where Facebook was no longer needed to sustain it.
With these thoughts in mind, I’ve spent the last week developing the “Facebook Co-op Ad” concept. I decided to create county-based Facebook groups instead of city-based, so at this point I have groups for Cuyahoga, Summit, Stark, Portage, and Mahoning counties.
Inside the groups, I plan to start conversations around what a co-op ad is and how it works, get opinions on the best market to target with an ad, and then get people to sign up.
Ultimately, I can see this as a good-sized enterprise with a lot of automation. The main human task would be approving the offers that are to appear in the ads.
But I dare not get too far ahead of myself. The current task at hand is to lure business owners into my groups. Success hinges on that and I’m only beginning to test ways to do that. Hopefully I won’t get too discouraged along the way. We really need to make this work, especially since our employment (at least Susan’s) is about to come to an end.