With a satisfied sigh, Michael reclines his seat, cracks a “vacation beer” and sets in for an afternoon of binge-watching The Office.
As of last week, he is earning more working for himself than he ever did at his “real job.” And to honor all his hard-work, he’s taking a few days off to relax and enjoy his win — a luxury he hasn’t been able to enjoy in quite some time.
In fact, come to think of it, over the last few months Michael has rarely felt as relaxed and satisfied as he does right now. It has him thinking twice about whether he should be celebrating at all.
Sure, financial-freedom is satisfying. But what about time-freedom?
As he sat there, beer in hand and remote poised, Michael realized that the current version of his business wasn’t going to cut it much longer. He barely has time to get everything done as it is — what will happen when he wants to grow? Or work on new projects? What happens if he and his wife have kids?
It was an eye-opening moment for Michael. And now that he was making more money than ever before, he felt it was high-time to start investing some back into his business.
Starting first with an upgrade to his systems.
Using money to buy back your time
When you start your business, you have more time than money. But as your business grows, that reverses — and you’ll soon have more money than time. ~ Ramit Sethi
If you’re like Mike, then you’re looking for a way to create more freedom and flexibility. Outside of hiring someone to help you (or flat-out ignoring specific tasks), your most straightforward option is investing in some automation.
Whether it’s to manage your clients, operate your business, or market your services, if you can create systems and leverage technology to automate repetitive tasks, you can save yourself a ton of time, energy, and effort in the long-run.
But what should you automate first?
As a freelancer, you can use automation for any number of things. But arguably the most important tasks to focus on are the big four:
- Getting more leads
- Converting more leads
- Getting repeat sales; and
- Generating referrals automatically
These routine tasks, turned into systems, can power the growth of your business. Today, we’re focusing on a solution to tackle the first two functions from our list — getting more leads and making more sales.
Ads + Email: A simple system for generating new leads, fast
As a freelancer, finding new clients is fundamental for your business growth. It’s also time-consuming, arduous, and for some of us — our least favorite job.
But it doesn't have to be…
With the combined power of paid advertising and smart email marketing, you can create a lead generation system that does most of the hard work for you.
Which means no more awkward networking events. No more cold-calls. No more on-the-spot selling.
Instead, you can use your money to increase your audience reach and technology to maximize your marketing efforts. Creating a seamless system for generating, nurturing, and converting more leads (on a consistent basis).
If you want to discover how to put this kind of system in place — so that it works and you don’t waste your valuable resources — then keep reading this article. Plus, over the next four weeks, I’ll be sharing a simple strategy for using Facebook ads to find new clients and more time in your business.
Today we’re kicking off our system upgrade with the all-important prep work.
Automated Lead Gen: The strategy in a nutshell
This lead gen strategy saves time by using paid advertising to get fast results. We add in automation to attract, serve, and sell to our target audience at scale.
To get you up to speed (before we dive into the details) here’s how the strategy is designed to work:
- Pay Facebook for their audience: Using the only traffic shortcut available — you’re going to pay money to gain access to a bigger audience; making it easier to test and target your offer.
- Grab attention and spark the relationship: Using a well crafted and cleverly targeted Facebook ad — you’re going to attract your ideal client.
- Secure the lead: Using an irresistible lead magnet (offered up in your ad) — you’re going to propel your target audience to click on your ad and hand over their email.
- Send ‘em down a funnel and deliver the goods: Using automation and a basic sales funnel — you’re going to deliver your lead magnet and onboard your new lead to your email list.
- Build and nurture the relationship: Using content, copy and conversation, you’re going to add value to your audience, demonstrate your expertise and soft-sell your services.
- Optimise to skyrocket your results: Using smart technology (and an experimental mindset) — you’re going to test and optimise your ad (and the rest of your system) to improve your click-through and conversion rates.
Of course, this kind of lead generation takes time to plan, prep, and piece together. And for most people — a completely new skill set. Which is why I’m going to take you through each stage of setting it up, so you can start out on the right track.
Warning! Most people get Facebook ads wrong
The idea of an upfront financial investment, with no guarantee of getting it back, is scary. It’s why most people find paid advertising so intimidating.
But with the right strategy, you can make it work for you. Especially if you avoid these three surprisingly common mistakes:
Mistake #1 — Forgetting that Facebook is a passive ad platform.
It’s critical to remember that your ads will be shown to people who aren’t actively looking for what you offer.
They haven’t typed a query into Google and are now searching for a solution — they’re on Facebook, scrolling through status updates and watching bad lip reading videos. They may be mentally checked out.
So to combat that, you need to be crystal clear about who you target and what you use to attract their attention.
To win with ads — you must understand the platform you’re playing on, as well as the person you’re advertising to.
Mistake #2 — Being short-sighted and misguided about the goal of your ad.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking your ad is for selling your services directly.
It merely gives you the opportunity to connect with an audience you don’t usually have access to, and leverage that connection into permission for ongoing contact.
The goal of your ad isn’t to make a sale on the spot.
It’s to provide enough value in your offer so that your ideal prospect willingly gives up their email address; creating more opportunities for sales in the future.
Mistake #3 — Failing to test.
The biggest mistake beginners make is stopping when things get uncomfortable.
When their ad doesn't work, they get scared and turn it off — assuming failure.
But they haven't even tested anything!
Success with ads requires experimentation and optimisation. And if you stop before you do any testing — you're going to waste your time and your money.
The Essential Prep Work: Five tasks to tackle before you spend money on your first ad
For this project we’re not just creating an ad — we’re building an automated sales system. And it has multiple moving parts that need to come together for it to work. So to avoid costly beginner mistakes, it's critical that you do the necessary prep work first.
Here are five things you must do before you can go live with your first ad.
1. Research your target audience
Advertising works best when it’s highly targeted and personalised.
And given Facebook is typically used for mindless scrolling you must have an irresistible offer to captivate your ideal client.
And to create something irresistible, you have to know your audience exceptionally well.
Here are a few simple exercises to get crystal clear on who you’re ad will be targeting:
- Perform the “pains, gains and jobs-to-be-done” exercise
- Fill out a customer avatar worksheet
- Create a list of Facebook groups your audience is likely to follow; study the conversations in these forums
- Create a customer empathy map
- Survey your current clients and see what they need help with
As someone who already works with clients, you should have a good idea of who your target market is. But by performing a few of the exercises above, it will sharpen your insight and improve the targeting, positioning and direction of your entire campaign.
2. Create an irresistible lead magnet
Before you have an ad, you need to have an offer.
Something that will stop your audience from scrolling and cause them to act. And this is where a well-crafted lead magnet comes in handy.
If you’ve never created a lead magnet before, then here are a few resources you can check out first; here for text and here for video. But in short — it's your “bribe to subscribe”; the thing that compels your target audience to hand over their email.
And here are the two most important things to remember when creating it:
A. — Apply the acronym SAGE
Keep your lead magnet:
S – Short
A – Actionable
G – Goal-Oriented
E – Easy
B. — Craft an exceptional headline
Your lead magnet headline is what will drive clicks and improve your click-through rate on your ad.
And when it speaks directly to the biggest pains of your clients and offers up a simple solution — you're going to get an excellent response. IMO the two best resources for creating epic headlines are:
- How to Write Magnetic Headlines — from Brian Clark at Copyblogger, and
- 52 Headline Hacks — from Jon Morrow at SmartBlogger
Both are free to download — and funnily enough, both are excellent lead magnets. So take some notes!
4. Create a Facebook business page
You must have a business page set up to take advantage of Facebook's advertising platform. It doesn't have to be full of content or overly polished. You just need to have it.
You can set one up for free in a matter of minutes from a mobile device or a computer. If you don’t have one already, follow these simple steps to create one now.
5. Choose your email marketing software
Your project is to save time by automating how you generate and nurture new leads in your business. And to do that, you need to take advantage of the tech designed for the job.
Now is the time to get your email marketing software sorted. It will make it possible for you to serve more people at a larger scale — with the same level of attention and care. Plus, it allows your lead generation system to work for you 24/7.
The email marketing tool I prefer is called Drip. Drip provides true email marketing and automation power, so they're also an Unemployable marketing partner, naturally!
Getting Started: How to map your project and prep yourself
Adopting automation in your business is the first step to freeing up your time and having more flexibility in your schedule. And if you can automate something as time consuming as lead generation, then you can significantly shift the weight of your ongoing workload.
Freeing up your energy and focus too.
Today we only scratched the surface of what’s involved in setting up a lead generation system powered by Facebook ads. And we’ll be covering much more in the next few posts we have lined up.
But what’s important right now is to get the necessary prep work done. So, before skipping ahead to the next article in the series, you should set yourself some homework first.
Here’s what you need to get done this week to get the ball rolling:
- Complete the audience research exercises to get clear on your ideal client
- Create an irresistible lead magnet relevant to your service
- Sort out your Facebook business page
- Choose your email software
To make progress with any new project, you have to put first things first.
So copy out this to-do list, schedule in the time this week, and get to work. I’ll have the next steps waiting when you finish.
P.S. To save yourself time and keep your Facebook ad project on track — download this free four-week guide + checklist: How to Create Your First Facebook Ad from Scratch (no email required)
Additional reading in this series: