Facebook Ads Have Evolved, So Should Your Strategy if You Want to Win

When I heard that the cost of Facebook Ads had gone up 171% in 2017, I knew that I had to do something to help out my fellow entrepreneurs.

Here’s what’s happening… in a nutshell:

  • There’s a war over cold traffic (people who have never seen or heard of your brand). Big brands are spending a lot of money on broad targeting to build their audiences so that they can remarket to those audiences at a lower cost, including using Facebook Ads (more on that later).
  • Inexperienced advertisers are improperly targeting Facebook ads and guessing which audiences are most likely to convert (i.e. to get them to purchase their offers). There is a much more effective way of doing this.
  • People aren’t using the proper tools and ad objectives to properly optimize their Facebook ads. That leads to ads that are trying to accomplish too many goals at one time. Like, trying to increase their audience (Facebook page likes), getting people to engage, and getting people to purchase all at the same time. WHEW… that’s a lot for one ad to accomplish. This used to be possible (like 5+ years ago), but now the game has changed entirely.

Facebook Organic Reach Just Isn’t What it Used to Be

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We’re refreshing our 2017 post to enable you to pull-it-together this year and maximize on Editorial Calendar practices that help the big brands and Fortune 500 companies slay the holidays.

The dog eat your homework?

It’s back-to-school time and, even if you think this doesn’t apply to you, it’s a great time to get a new planner and finally get organized. 


A planner/editorial calendar


Luckily for American businesses, there are many holidays and annual traditions, like back-to-school shopping, that can trigger content inspiration for the savvy business owner.

When looking to increase the number of valuable blogs, social media posts, marketing campaigns or newsletters you share with your audience, these annual events can act as simple inspiration.

An editorial calendar helps you to PLAN AHEAD and CAPITALIZE on the times of the year when the nation is on the same page in terms of what they are interested in.

Grab a new calendar from your local school supply store and think about which of the following holiday-inspired ideas make sense for your buyer personas (discussed in our CMO’s 10 Essentials of a Winning Marketing Strategy article).

1. Monday, September 4th is Labor Day.

It may be too late for you to pull off an elaborate campaign here, but you can still do something nice for your employees that could translate into positive PR!

Throw them an appreciation lunch if you’re not able to be closed on Monday (after all, it was established in 1894 as a “tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers”).

2. Tuesday, October 31st is Halloween and you don’t have to be a candy manufacturer to participate.

This is your opportunity to inject a little fun into your marketing campaigns – if you’re clever.

Do you offer cleaning services? How about an eblast that says “Are you scared of your garage? We’ll clean it up!”

Want to refresh your client relationships? Your eblast subject line could simply be “BOO! We miss you…”

In retail? This is a great time to stock up on items in chic and shiny colors like black, eggplant, silver and gold. Dress your storefront (even your digital storefront) with these items and send out a pic on social showing your Halloween #inspo.

OR, reference the top-grossing movies of the year for a great, timely theme for an office costume party. Your staff will probably share their pics on social and show the world what a fun work environment they enjoy (subtly giving you exposure).

3. Thursday, November 23rd is Thanksgiving, followed by Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and who knows what else they’ll come up with.

This is the beginning of your deep discount phase in retail and it is one of the most difficult times of the year to get your buyers’ attention due to competition in the space.

See our solution to this problem in #4. Hint, it helps retailers capture last minute shoppers.

You may think that direct mail campaigns are not worth the paper they are printed on, but you could reach out to ONLY your best customers with a premium offer.

OR, go with a message of “thanks,” wish them a happy holiday season, and leave it at that. Make a positive connection with them at a hectic time! After all, who gets good mail these days?

4. Hanukkah kicks off the religious, gift giving holidays that make December the fourth biggest retail month of the year.

YEAH, FOURTH! But, in the hospitality world this is one of the ‘gravy’ months! Your holiday promotions need to be communicated to staff 3-6 months out, and to your customers 2-3 months in advance, in order for them to plan their holiday entertaining.

Meaning, you really will need a “Christmas in July” meeting to start your planning.

If you are in the services industry, this is a great time to send some holiday cheer to your best clients. You can put it off until New Year’s if you really need to, but you’ll need to order them this month. We like a few of these “Customer Holiday Gift Ideas That Don’t Suck” by Groove.

In the past, as an agency, we have employed the “12 Days of Giving” strategy, inspired by the advent calendar to keep our retail clients in front of last minute shoppers. We still recommend due to its great performance. 

5. NYE may be the most universal celebration in the western world and it’s on a Sunday this year.

These were the top 7 resolutions of 2017, based on Google searches.

#1 Get Healthy

#2 Get Organized

#3 Live Life to the Fullest

#4 Learn New Hobbies

#5 Spend Less/Save More

#6 Travel

#7 Read More Books

Think…how can your brand help people? These resolutions could inspire daily social posts in January, monthly eblasts throughout the year that relate to the resolution or a special package/subscription that ties into keeping on task through 2018.

Even if you are in services, you can give people the gift of time towards their resolutions by providing them that service.

If you’re a dry cleaner near a cycle studio or cross fit gym, you could say “Laundry day is the new gym day – drop your wash here on your way to the gym.”

6. Monday, January 15th is  Martin Luther King Day.

(ATTN. Travel Industry – you’ll want to check out #10)

This is a great day to share a quote that you find inspirational from Martin Luther King.  I love to use Goodreads.com for quotes because they pull from a wide variety of sources.  This gem would be a great reminder of the wisdom that the Reverend Doctor shared with the world and could easily be shared on social.  

“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”  -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Don’t forget that your customers are people too and sometimes it’s just nice to connect to them on a human level.

7. Wednesday, February 14th is Valentine’s Day.

If you’re in the food industry, Valentine’s promotions may help save your Q1!  

Popular promotions include pre-fixe dinners, two for one purchases, and freebies all themed to celebrate l’amour.

Retailers will often offer specialty items or gifts with purchase, but even free gift wrapping can be of value.  

If you’re a realtor, or other service provider, this is a great time to send a “We Love Referrals” email as a tongue-in-cheek play on the holiday.  

Increasingly, there are Anti-Valentine’s Day campaigns as well.  Hello, singles mixer?!  

These may not work for your audience, but you get the idea.

8. If all else fails, there’s also the long weekend for President’s Day, February 19th.

There is a lot of competition with big-chain businesses offering 20-60% off.  You may be able to capitalize on shopping traffic without having to do a deep discount. Try giving a ‘sales tax’ discount (which in California would mean that you would lower your prices by 7.75%). It may be a minimal amount, but it will give you something to talk about.

This is also the time that you need to start focusing on Mother’s Day if it applies to your business. Remember, 90+ days out for internal planning and 30+ days out for promotion.

9. Saturday, March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day.

If you have a retail store, this is a great time to offer a discount on anything green.  

People are looking for items in this lucky color to wear, or decorate with, throughout all of March.  Try to start the sale a week before the holiday to maximize the weekend’s numbers.

This is also a great time to create and promote signature cocktails and Irish dishes for our restaurateurs.

In services, do a giveaway and capitalize on the theme of “luck” by having a contest or drawing and share it on social encouraging people to email you to enter. You’ll be able to send them an email in return asking how they’ve been since you last spoke (if you know them) or asking them to opt-in to your email list (if they aren’t a customer yet).

There’s always the option of saying “we’re lucky to have such a great team” too. Recognizing your team on social media is a great and subtle way of gaining positive PR which people are prone to engage with. Plus, it’s the right thing to do!

10. Passover, Easter, April Fools…They all tie into April this year. But are any of those right for you?

You don’t have to specifically celebrate these holidays! “Spring is Sprung” campaigns are a nice alternative to religious themes.  

“Spring Renewal” and “Spring Fever” catch phrases work at this time of year too – they speak to health, wellness and self-improvement. This is when we’ll start to hear the phrases “dad bod” and “bikini body” even if we don’t want to.

This is also the beginning of Festival Season, so break out your boho vibes (if you have them) and join the conversation on social. Share what you can in terms of fashion, trends, even camping gear.

U.S. schools also usually choose to time their “Spring Break” around these holidays.  Meaning this is an increased time of travel and family get togethers.  

Attention. If you are a travel agent, you should have started promoting Spring Break specials in February or March.

To that point, this is the month you’ll want to finalize your summer promotions so that you have enough lead time to execute them with your team.

11. April is also a time when people start their spring cleaning.  

Whether that means cleaning up your home and business in order to donate items to a charity for positive PR or offering to help with a community event for Earth Day on Sunday, April 22, you can find something worth tooting your horn about this month.

We are intentionally leaving out Tax Day, Sunday, April 15th. We don’t think we need to explain why.

12. Sunday, May 13th is Mother’s Day.  

The MOTHER of all spring holidays is always the second Sunday in May, but somehow people tend to forget it.  

Why not send out a friendly email blast 2 weeks ahead with some sort of tie in to the next week’s holiday?

Whether it is a story about your own mother, a friendly reminder to book a table at her favorite restaurant or a line-up of Mom-approved gift ideas, almost all of us have a mother-figure that we like to spoil this month.

Those in the hospitality, beauty, and service industries will want to finalize their plans right after Valentine’s Day for this major, competitive holiday.

13. Monday, May 28th is Memorial Day.  

This three day weekend is informally known as the kick-off to summer.  

This is a great time to introduce summer fashions or get rid of remaining winter items in your stock room.  

It’s also a popular weekend for a White Party, thanks to Sean “Puffy” Combs. Start a new tradition with your staff by having a themed office party and share the pictures on social.  

Whatever you do, get geared up for the warm weather to come.

14. Sunday, June 17th is Father’s Day.

Much more toned down than Mother’s Day, this is a great time of year to celebrate manhood in general. Think tools, barbecues, camping, boating, workshops, Daddy daycare, men’s grooming and so on.

Put together a great Dad’s makeover outfit grid to display in your store and share it on social.

Do you offer goods or services?  Consider doing a discount or a two-for-one if you can.  

Whatever you do, advertise your special the week before (and again, two days out).

If you’ve followed our suggestions, you’re mid-way through the year and you’ve already done 14 campaigns.

15. Wednesday, July 4th is Independence Day.  

When this type of holiday falls in the middle of the week (Valentine’s Day is another example this year) you can  S Q U E E Z E  a little extra out of the marketplace by offering an entire week of promotions.

You can take this idea for free

“1, 2, 3, Happy 4th!” That’s a great initiator for a four day drip campaign to your clients, potential customers, and social following. No matter what you sell, it’s a great way to capitalize on the buzz in the air.

You can anticipate your employees being a little unproductive on the 5th. You may also see a decrease in call volume and traffic due to the holiday hangover effect. So, this might be the right time for an office clean up party and left-over potluck, smorgasbord.

16. Restaurants may be a little light on business on the 4th. Why not throw a Fourth of July pre-party on Sunday, July 1st?  

This is a great way to juice the lemon!

We’ve even seen great results in this industry from restaurants that close early to dodge lost profits due to costly overhead. When coupled with a pancake brunch on Sunday for businesses that usually only serve lunch and dinner, it’s a creative solution to ‘business as usual’ losses.

Think outside of the box and offer something that people aren’t thinking of.

If you can’t figure out a special for this day, send a simple message to your audience to have a safe and wonderful holiday. Mention to them if you will be closed or trying the ideas above.

17. Lastly, celebrate YOUR personal milestones!  

When did you open your business?  Have you added any staff to your company?  Is there a birthday to celebrate?  Are you opening a new location?  Did you hit a thousand followers on Instagram?  

Your communications with your audience don’t always have to be a promotion or sales pitch. Give people a look at who you are and what you are all about. This will make them feel like there’s dimension to your brand.

Your company is not a cookie cutter and there is no way to design a one-size-fits-all calendar

This is just the beginning of a conversation.  

Take time to look at a holiday website and chart out what makes sense for you.  

Another great tip that doesn’t cost anything?  Subscribe to a national retailer’s newsletter list today.  Next year, you may be able to use their publishing habits as inspiration.  

If you can find a competitor to subscribe to, then do it…

A word to the wise, make these campaigns your OWN.  There is a fine line between flattering imitation and copy-catting; your audience will probably know the difference.

Announcing Our Partnership with Innovatory Solutions and WE Labs

We are happy to announce that today is our first day in partnership with Innovatory Solutions at WE Labs in Downtown Long Beach. This endeavor brings together Amara Omoregie, Lincoln Bauer and Ted Sieving as managing partners of a creative marketing and business development agency that will draw on the talent and experience at the WE Labs coworking location on Broadway. By providing Long Beach’s businesses, government, established and aspiring entrepreneurs with access to local artists and creative services, Innovatory Solutions will bring authenticity and originality back to Downtown and Greater Long Beach. Amara put it best, saying “Long Beach has so much talent and is capable of so much, all with its own unique and amazing identity. It’s time to start believing it by building businesses and campaigns that speak to and about our community in authentic ways. Local is authentic. Long Beach is authentic.”

Lincoln goes on to explain the efforts to champion local business and emerging brands from this area, stating “we don’t sit around and wait for opportunity and change, we actively seek both out.” To this end, Innovatory Solutions will offer two monthly sessions to develop the entrepreneurial culture in Long Beach and will be participating in I Week this October. In addition, Lincoln Bauer hopes to develop a strong brand incubation program to select businesses this year. All brands that work with Innovatory Solutions will benefit from the over 30 combined years of experience that these three managing partners brings to the table and the support of dozens of working professionals that Innovatory Solutions will partner with. The sky is the limit for this collaborative agency and we are proud to be joining the journey.

Tinder’s Three Prong PR Problem

On Tuesday, August 11, someone in the Tinder company utilized the company Twitter account to go on a “Twitterstorm” in response to a Vanity Fair article that uncovered some pretty unsavory uses of mobile dating apps like Tinder, Happn, Hinge, OkCupid, and more by members of the Millennial group. Without making predictions of how well Tinder will perform in the next five years, I have noticed that they have a pretty serious problem; their public relations. At Chapman University, I took a course in public relations where I learned a simple perspective on who is served by a company or brand’s efforts in public relations. My professor, Allen Levy, taught us that to be successful in PR, you have to nurture your relationships with three groups: your workforce, your customers, and potential customers (aka the world community at large). So, for instance, when it comes to your labor force, if you make sure that they are trained and equipped to do a job that they are proud of they become a word of mouth ambassador for your brand (and the opposite being very much true as well). As for your customers, keeping them happy by being accessible and providing them with solutions for their problems is the most important thing you can do to keep their loyalty and business. Finally, by maintaining a reputation of quality and esteem with the world at large, over time you may gain their dollars, but more importantly they won’t have a reason to question your value.

In the wake of the Twitterstorm, early on  August 13, Tinder announced that CEO Chris Payne (hired in March, with experience at eBay, Microsoft, Amazon and many others) was being replaced. So, who is being placed at the helm in these uncertain times? Former CEO and founder, Sean Rad. I repeat, former CEO and founder, Sean Rad, is taking his job back from Chris Payne after being demoted to president in November 2014 on the heels of a sexual harassment lawsuit that ended his friend’s career as CMO at the company. So, this may seem like old school, reaction-based management (and it is) but it may be more indicative of a lack of genuine leadership that can poison a company. High levels of turnover are not unusual at tech companies (ahem, Amazon), but this type of hire-fire-hire environment has led to some volatile conditions that affect loyalty and brand sentiment in the top tiers of the labor force and can make it difficult to attract a replacement squad further down the line. Maybe it’s NBD for the majority shareholders at InterActiveCorp (IAC), who in June announced plans to take their Match Group (containing Match.com, Tinder and OkCupid) public with an IPO, because Tinder is only a little fragment of their total investments in internet services and is becoming a bit of a black sheep.

I don’t doubt that there is talent at Tinder and a future for their app; I doubt they have a strategy for approaching their public relations proactively. That might sound harsh, so I’ll back it up a little. Their off-the-cuff “Twitterstorm” (which you can read in its entirety) started with a brief tweet eerily similar to the hyper-sexual communications that those interviewed in the Vanity Fair article reported as typical in their experience:


The message changes about 13 tweets later, but not the inflammatory tone:


Then 20 posts later this melodramatic martyr remark surfaces:


Dealing with negative press is difficult, but a professional public relations department works on their reputation consistently to ensure that they keep their customers happy and to gain consumer trust. In order to do that in this case, they would be better served to follow up in a manner that would discover to what extent this environment may exist and then act on it if it is not in line with the environment that they want to provide to the Tinder community. Why didn’t they point out that their users are able to report members of the community that send “harassing or offensive messages” along with the other safety issues that they may be exposed to on the platform? Afterall, educating the consumer is the responsibility of the brand and this could have been seized as an opportunity to strengthen a perceived weakness. Why didn’t they ask people to reach out directly to them via a feedback link to show that they are listening? This would give them an opportunity to highlight positive feedback and control the narrative. What they did instead was demonstrate an attitude of arrogance and insouciance towards critics who believe their product to nurture unfulfilling social experiences.

This reaction may not be damaging to their current members, who will probably come and go naturally, but could be a turn off to the world at large. This is the third, and equally important demographic, that good PR practitioners address in their strategy to maintain a good reputation and strong presence in the market. If it is true, as GlobalWedIndex has reported, that “about 62% of all location-based dating app users are male” and Tinder wants to increase their female presence on the app to better serve and retain their male membership, it’s important to pay attention to what they can do to draw in the ladies. This could even present an opportunity for them to explore the possibility of horizontal growth. If they do their due diligence and discover that there is a group that is being underserved due to the environment that their users are creating on their app, they could begin targeting a whole new segment of users that need a solution to mobile dating with a different purpose in mind. Given their access to innovators in technological development, and the billions they could raise when they go public, they could truly be sitting on a goldmine. The emergence of dating sites that target people looking for a particular result in mobile dating (such as J Date, Christian Mingle, Farmers Only, heck even Ashley Madison) hints at how specific people are when it comes to their expectations from service providers. No matter what their findings, once they do the data collection and analysis, they will have a convincing argument for their investors and a clear path for their evolution that will attract new users.

Was Vanity Fair unfair? What would you have done differently if you were on the Tinder team? Does this sound like a publicity stunt to you? Do you second the reactions that fans of Nancy Jo Sales are putting out there on Twitter? What do you think the future holds for the mobile dating industry? There are a lot of different ways to interpret the leadership changes Tinder is going through, their approach to understanding the market, and their public reaction (labeled a meltdown on AdWeek online) to Vanity Fair. Our job, is to practice the type of PR that we are confident in and encourage other entrepreneurs to do the same.


Re-branding: Depend® Takes It Down To the Skivvies

Necessity is the mother of invention. Judging by the amount of time and money (a reported $2 million to spokeswoman Lisa Rinna) Depend® has spent on re-branding themselves this last year, they must have decided it was time to recreate themselves. They did so with a great amount of enthusiasm as they started their “Drop Your Pants” campaign around July of 2014.

Essential to the campaign is a new way of looking at their product, wearable adult incontinence solutions. These “adult diapers” are the thing of over-the-hill parties and gag gifts meant as a not-so-subtle joke. Our reaction to them only perpetuates the embarrassment that people feel when they make a purchase of these products. That’s why the “Drop Your Pants” campaign battle cry is #NoBigDeal.

Whether or not this is a slogan that will work, the people at Depend® are sweetening the campaign with a little PR twist. They are diligently cranking out shareable content for social media and have made a promise to donate $1 per social share of their content with the hashtag #DropYourPants or #Underwearness. To date their website says they have reached over a million shares.

What do you think about this? What would you do differently?


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