Facebook Ads: How to Out-Compete Big Brands without Losing Your Shirt

Check out the surprising truth that enables you to raise your game and beat even billion-dollar corporations to the click every time.


How Things Were in the Bad, Old Days

Throughout the 20th century and well into the new millennium, big corporations had things all their own way when it came to marketing. After all, they were the players with the outsize budgets needed to compete and dominate in the era of mass-market advertising.

Back then, most advertising was a blunt instrument – yet sheer scale made it work. Media such as TV, radio and newspapers made it possible to reach millions, even tens of millions, of people with an ad campaign. But it cost serious money. Want the massive brand awareness that a Super Bowl ad can bring you? Sure, it can be yours. All you have to do is write a check for several million dollars…

Even a relatively small regional advertising campaign would cost serious money. You had to be prepared to pay out tens of thousands of dollars to run a test campaign, and then add a zero to that if you wanted to scale things up.

The targeting was broad at best, but advertising worked on the principle of ‘throw enough mud at it and some of it will stick.’ As you probably know, John Wanamaker – department store king – once said:

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is…I don't know which half.”

At least he was aware of the problem. Most corporations don’t even think about it. I once worked on a big corporation campaign where nobody cared about sales or even brand awareness. The only objective of the campaign was to spend the $20 million advertising budget before the end of the financial year. That way, they would get another $20 million to waste the next year.

Stupid, or what?

Of course, your average Mom and Pop business cannot afford to throw money around so extravagantly. Small businesses have to actually make a profit on their advertising, and bring in enough cash flow to fund their ongoing marketing campaigns. Because of this, the old order continued for decades.

Big companies largely remained big companies, despite being top-heavy, inefficient and recklessly extravagant. They had the clout of massive budgets to keep them afloat. Small businesses mostly remained small, because they could not compete against the giants. Growing through advertising was just too expensive and difficult.


The Wind of Change that Brings You Opportunity

Then along came the Internet, and things started to change. Now small businesses had new ways of reaching customers, and they soon adapted to them. The lumbering giants of the corporate world were slower to adapt and change. Like oil tankers going ahead at full steam, it took them a long time to change course and refine their marketing strategies. But they got there in the end, and started to dominate platforms such as Google AdWords. The old order was back in place.

And then along came an upstart called Facebook. By any standards Facebook’s growth was astonishing. In its first decade it grew from a college dorm project into a corporation with $10 billion annual revenues. Three years later, it was making that much in a quarter.

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More importantly, it had created an advertising platform with a reach never seen before in history. With over two billion active monthly users, Facebook has the ability to reach just about anyone who may be in your target audience.

But that’s all. In the last few years, the sophistication of the Facebook advertising platform has advanced tremendously. I consider it to be the greatest selling machine in the world. With ultra-granular targeting, a vast amount of user data and a wealth of objectives and placement options, it is truly one of a kind. Even Google, Facebook’s only serious competitor for digital advertising dollars, can’t compete in functionality or potential ROI.


Whip the Big Guys without Mercy

So how does this help you out-compete the big brands? The fact is that while big corporations are slowly adapting to the world of digital advertising, most are not very good at it. Of course, there are some savvy corporations who hire talented staff or agencies to manage their Facebook campaigns.

Those are the ones who understand that a complex and highly-specialized marketing medium demands expertise. Facebook advertising is not something that can be left to office juniors who have to figure it out as they go along. You need experts with plenty experience in the trenches, a deep understanding of how Facebook advertising works, and the ability to stay one step ahead of competitors. So they employ top talent and get an amazing return on their Facebook campaigns.

But after reviewing countless corporate Facebook campaigns, I can tell you this enlightened group is very much a minority. Most big company Facebook campaigns are a train wreck. They are poorly conceived, badly-executed and usually never tracked. Sometimes my jaw drops when I look at their ads, their landing pages and their sales funnels. And then my eyes pop out on stalks when I see how much daily budget is wasted on these campaigns which are doomed to failure.

As a small advertiser, you are competing against the biggest corporations for every Facebook ad impression. But now it’s a level playing field. You don’t need $100,000 to run a Facebook ad campaign. You can get started for $5 and scale things up when they start working.

Now it’s not about who has the biggest budget…but about who gets the biggest return on their ad spend. And that means you can trounce most of the corporates, most of the time.


Whip the Big Guys without Mercy

For once, being the little guy is actually an advantage. That’s because you care personally about getting results from your marketing. When it’s your own Visa card that gets dinged regularly by Facebook, you sit up and pay attention. If your ad campaigns are not producing profits, you will pause them and rethink.

So if you take the time and effort to get good at Facebook advertising, you can win – even when you are competing head-to-head with monster corporations. On the savannah, hyenas take down big animals like buffalo by repeatedly harassing them, tearing off small chunks of flesh every time. Eventually, the big animal is so weakened by all the attacks that it falls – and the battle for survival is over.

You can attack big advertisers in the same way. You can bite off chunks of their business by being much more capable and efficient in your campaign implementation. Give yourself an unassailable advantage by fully optimizing your:

  • Granularity of targeting

  • Choice of placements

  • Preferred creatives

  • Lead magnets

  • Sales Funnel

  • Upsell Sequence

  • Retargeting campaigns

  • A/B Testing

...and so on. If leads are costing an inefficient advertiser $10, you may find that you can get the same leads for $1. That tips the balance massively in your favor. You can win a lion’s share – or a hyena’s share – of the business and kill off the competition.

We live in an age where it really is possible to know which half of your advertising budget is being wasted. You get that information from a small test, and then stop the ads that don’t work. John Wanamaker would have been cock-a-hoop! But most big advertisers will continue to be wasteful, giving you a chance to beat them with efficiency.


Now is the Time to Cash In

Act now, and you have a fantastic opportunity to win market share. But don’t wait too long. Those big corporate ‘oil tankers’ may be slow at turning around, but they will get there eventually. Start getting good at Facebook advertising now and give yourself a head start in the race for customers.