Ever wondered how the elite pros do Facebook ads? This week’s interview with course instructor Nick Shackelford is just that: a no-holding back, all inclusive, step-by-step discussion on running successful Facebook ads.
Returning again to Foundr’s exclusive podcast, Shackelford discusses his learnings on media buying, running facebook ads that convert, and exactly what he learned from spending a ridiculous amount of money on fb ads.
This interview dives deep into the nitty-gritty of all the lessons Shackelford learned doing media buying for Apple, including the budgets he worked on for the launch of the iPhone 7, iPad Pro, and the Apple Watch (and we are talking huge budgets).
Shackelford also discusses how he single-handedly popularized the Fidget Spinner by using Facebook Ads, and how he started his own agency, Structured Social.
In this interview, not only will you discover why Shackelford’s Structured spends close to $20million per month on Facebook ads, you’ll also hear first-hand tips and strategies to success in FB ads within the hardest markets, across all GEOS, for every product or service.
This is an episode you cannot miss!
- How Shackelford first found his way into the industry
- Working for Apple and what he learned from running $100 million Facebook ads
- The rise of the fidget spinner, $1m run rate in the first month, and the importance of opportunity
- How Shackelford has built Structure Social, and now spends close to $20million a month and has over 50 employees
- The biggest lessons he has learned over the years, including the intricacies of media buying, copywriting, positioning, and creative
- Why you only have 3-seconds to make an impression with your ad
- Shackelford’s key advice for those looking to grow their business through Facebook ads
Full Transcript of Podcast with Nick Shackelford
Nathan: Nick, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me today.
Nick: Absolutely. I was just going to joke around with you before we turned lived, and the beauty of the world that we live in, and the blessings and the curses or whatever you want to call it, we are doing this live from Colorado where, our home is Los Angeles but I think with the … I got my setup, I got computer, I got the mic. I love what we’re able to do. Online has just changed so many people’s lives.
Nathan: Yeah, it’s crazy. So, let’s jump in. How did you … I always ask people how did you get your job. I’ve asked you that before, but maybe we want to mix it up. How’d you find yourself doing the work you’re doing today, spending ungodly amounts of money on Facebook Ads every single month? How did you get into that?
Nick: I rejected the phrase of being a salesperson or being a marketer for a very, very long time, and I know on the very first connection we did, the very first podcast, we talked about where I was a professional soccer player, and I had to position myself aka sell myself as a certain person, and the only way that you can like exponentially make more money then just the hour you put in at an hourly wage, which most people are doing which is, again, there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s the traditional route that we’ve all been taught, “Go do that so you can make a great living and have a great house and a life.” The only way you can exponentially have an infinite amount of time/cash is if you take it online. So, I’m like, Okay, if I can find a way to do what I do best, which is understand how to communicate with individuals, and then you start wrapping in understand how to position a product and communicate the benefits of that product to individuals, my time is now multiplied by as many brands, products, offers, that I can really be a part of.
That at its core is what we’re doing today, is how do we understand how to communicate, and how do we as a team, myself, the people on my team, my copywriters, any other marketing space knows how to position a product to sell it versus them going, “I’m going to put one hour in and I know I’m going to get X dollars back.”
Well, if I can put one hour in, understand how to position or breakdown a product, or market it, and then roll it across three similar products, now I just 3X my amount of effort after the one hour I put in, right? The only way you can do this is if you have a massive team, which we all know that as you go that route there’s a lot of things that come in with it, or you just don’t have a massive team and you allow yourself to roll out your learnings, and teachings, and understandings, and processes, across multiple products, which then you can just start scaling. That’s a long way of me saying I understood I was really good at one thing, I applied it to multiple things, and then I started having to tweak the processes to make them more applicable across more industries.
Nathan: Love it. So, we’re talking about leverage here. So, you got a crazy story. You started off as a marketer at Apple, right? What was that like?
Nick: Yeah. It was a gift. It was my first introduction to what marketing dollars really meant. Right before that I knew a $40,000, $55,000 salary living in California in a middle-class house. As soon as they give you a budget that’s like, “Hey, how many people would you like to market towards in the UK?” Let’s check how many pressures it’s going to cost and then here’s your millions of dollars to play with. It broke all limits of what was actually happening. What companies really do … You can ask someone, “Hey, how much do you think that TV commercial costs?” They’re not going to be able to tell you. “Oh,” they’re going to be, “it’s a big number.” If you can literally see adding zeros to campaigns, it ruined money for me, honestly.
Now it turns into, What does that look like in an account when you’re looking at 115 brands? You go, Okay, that brand spent 7000 yesterday. Well, it was actually supposed to spend 10,000. On Apple it was we were supposed to spend five million this month. Well, actually we were supposed to spend 25 million this month but we couldn’t get any spend because this country didn’t allow X amount of dollars. It ruined what dollars meant for me, honestly.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. So, how much were you spending at Apple when it comes to media buying? Were you running just Facebook Ads, or you’re running everything, right?
Nick: No, so we were only running Facebook Ads, so I can only speak to the major campaigns that we were part of. As Apple ran TV spots for their hero products, at the time it was iPhone 7, it was the iPad Pro, and the iWatch. Those are like their things, it was 100 million dollar campaigns. Now, I myself wasn’t the person going like, “Thank you for the hundred.” It was, “You’re in charge of APAC,” you got North America, you got south America. Budgets were chopped. When we as a team sat there and they go, “All right, Shack, here’s what you’re in charge of,” like here’s your deployment of cash, and here’s what everybody else they’re going to do with their cash. At the end come back let’s talk about what your learnings are.
So, again, it shattered all understandings of budgets and what we can do, because when you work with a lot of brands that have VC funding, or they’ve come from they’re publicly traded, they seemingly have deep pockets, and so you don’t have to think about, “Oh, I need to get a return on this.” You’re just going like, “Well, how do we get through this budget or else me as a marketer I’m not going to get that budget next quarter,” because they look at me and tell me I can’t get through that money.
Nathan: Wow. That’s crazy. So, it wasn’t like direct response?
Nick: Oh, god. No, it was, Hey, we have line item. Okay we need to make sure we get rid of this amount of budget. We have deploy it on Facebook. What about Twitter? Ah, let someone else handle it, let’s just make sure we get through it in this country, in this region, at this dollar amount.
Nathan: Wow. So, what were your biggest learnings there when it comes to Facebook Ads, and stuff?
Nick: So, I think this was early in the actual Ad units Facebook was rolling out, so we only were able to leverage just newsfeed, and we were … Look, I’ll you this, there was no stories. There was no IG stories or FB stories, so that was an angle that we weren’t ever allowed to take. We only ran, which was the traditional Ad unit, which is the rectangle 16 x 9, so it wasn’t formatted for the platform, so nowadays we’re always talking about you got to fit the format with the feed, or fit the format for the platform. Back then it was, take TV spot, make it into a 15 or 30-second creative, and deploy it. So, for me what it actually taught me was, if you’re spending enough, or if Facebook deems you important, they are going to give you every resource available.
What I mean by that is, you can do this technically now on a smaller level. Facebook allows access to their API. Through their API, there’s multiple tools. There’s one for like Madgicx, or Viewer Bot, these tools that help you optimise, or perform better. At the time Facebook would, essentially, come to us and go, “Hey, in your Ads Manager, or your Business Manager, you get access to these audiences. Well, since you’re Apple and you have this much budget you actually have access to these audiences.”
We have audiences of 1% to 10% lookalikes. That’s the traditional. There’s up to 20. There’s 10-20 that people can’t even touch. Plus, this was before the data restrictions that we currently have today. You had income and race targeting. Could you imagine what income, and race, and geolocation, targeting really, really meant? Say you’re running credit, say you’re running debt, say you’re running so many of these other [inaudible 00:11:37]. That’s a hindsight learning now applied to Apple, but you could do some dangerous stuff.
Nathan: That’s crazy.
Nick: So, I’ll tell you this. When we were learning this why I was frustrated, and why I moved away, was because there’s a disrespect in my eyes to return. There was no campaigns of other than, “Hey, upgrade your phone.” That’s the only really thing you see is, “Trade in your phone and upgrade,” because they want to repurpose and they want to go to the newest thing. They start phasing out the old models. That was the only time we ever ran something with an objective other than reach, we need eyes. We need eyes. We need eyes. This was the Tim Cook initiative of, “We’re going digital.” We’re going to go to digital before Samsung, before these other brands are going to do it. Let’s lean into it.” We were a part of that trend. Why I left, which leads me into like the success we had with the direct response fidget spinner, is I wasn’t valuable. I didn’t feel the needingness of me as the millennial 30 year old. I wanted to be like impactful. Don’t all of us want to drive impact?
Nathan: That makes sense. So, let’s talk about like Fidgetly popularising the fidget spinner. What were your biggest learnings there when it comes to Facebook Ads and media buying? So, you did something crazy. You’ll have to quote me, how fast did you grow that in terms of dollars?
Nick: We hit a million dollar run rate within our second month. What that translates to, without me there’s two numbers that stick in my mind, it was over 250K in the first month and a half, and then if it wasn’t for me realising, “Oh, by the way, I have to ship all this stuff out by myself and I can’t get all this from Alibaba,” that was like the harshest learning I’ve ever found. Also realise, I’m not a businessman, I’m more of a, at the time I was more of a marketer, and so I had to really dial back, which I kind of ran into another one of those issues with another brand in 2017. That taught me right product, right time, right positioning, you are definitely going to win. I don’t think we ever talked about the angle that actually works, the two angles that worked for Fidgetly did we?
Nathan: Ah, no, no we didn’t. What are the angles?
Nick: Okay, and I’m going to be as like straight forward as this, so I apologise if anybody’s like, “I can’t believe they did that.” Listen, I was young, I was inexperienced, and I saw dollar signs at that, and I was a young marketer. The number one trend that started coming from this were teachers buying us in bulk, so we started seeing a 20-item, 50-item purchase, and then we started reaching out and asking like, “Hey, just out of curiosity why so many? Why are you buying this?” They were special needs teachers, and this was allowing their children, their students, to stay calm and not pick, or tap, or hit their desks, so they were being able to sit and spin it during their lessons.
So, we leaned into what kind of learner are you? Are you a kinetic learner, are you a touch learner? Do you have nervous energy that you have to dispel? Cool, we have that for you. Do you remember, what do they call it, the Fidget Cube?
Nathan: Yeah, yeah, my mom bought me one. She backed the Kickstarter campaign, and it took like so long and she kept following them up for like, “Where is this Fidget Cube?” I loved it. I was thinking about it yesterday actually. I was like, “Where the hell is my Fidget Cube?” I don’t see it on my desk, I don’t know where it is.
Nick: Okay, so this actually was the first … We always talk about this, “Do you want to spend the dollars in educating the market and being an early mover, or do want to iterate on something successful in the market?” Well, Antsy Labs is the original people that created it. Antsy Labs, and you understand the Kickstarter model, if you don’t get funded … You could basically take the cash and say something happens, you could have found a Fidget Cube on Alibaba or AliExpress for pennies, and they were asking, I think, 40, 50, 60 bucks. Never fulfilled because everybody beat them to the market.
I’m seeing this and, Oh my gosh, this is unbelievable, you don’t have to go to KickStart. Beautiful platform, it really does build an audience, but if you’re going to build a cheap product that’s essentially plastic that you can get in any mould, build a mould and make it, it’s first to market. First to market and first to differentiate, which we did.
Nathan: Yeah, so that’s what you learned, when it comes to, I guess, coming into a market you need to move fast, something like that?
Nick: Yeah, absolutely. It’s moving fast and it’s being different. There’s a reason why we were Fidgetly. We were Fidgetly fidget spinners versus being, “I’m a fidget spinner.” That was everywhere. Everybody in the store was fidget spinner, fidget spinner, fidget spinner, but we just put a name brand on it. We let the market do itself, and they started commenting, “This isn’t a fidget.” “No, this is, this is a Fidgetly.” People were going, “No, this has a different cap. This is a different colour. These bearings are not ABEC 7s. This is a ceramic.” It got really interesting.
Nathan: So, you popularised the fidget spinner, but how did you know that it was going to be a trending product? Was it because you ran some ads and you just saw extremely low CPIs and it was taking like wildfire, and then you scaled the crap out of it? How did that come about?
Nick: I think most people will relate to this. As soon as you … After Fidgetly I went towards a really aggressive learning of just media buying and how to crack winning products with drop shipping products. I’d love to update you on that. That was a wild time. As soon as Fidgetly touched an ad in Facebook then we started seeing $1, $2, $3, $4 conversions, I called Jako, I was like, “You need to get as many of these as possible,” because there’s no way that this is real, and we’re looking at the numbers and like, “That’s a $25 purchase, that’s a $2 conversion,” like, Dude, keep going. All we had were mainly three ads. We had the one angle talking about to the teachers doing bulk purchases.
We had an influencer at the time, which was a muscle guy but a lot of following. He did a wall squat with a big BOSU ball. I don’t know if you know what those are, it’s like a core stability. He sat on a wall. He put one of the weights on his chest and he spun the fidget spinner and as it’s going around, “I’m going to wall sit as long as this fidget spinner is going to spin.” So, what we did we challenged everybody, “How long can you get that spin to go for?” That in itself was like, Oh, that’s what happened with the Yo-Yo. The Yo-Yo took off because they started running tricks. Okay, we need to have a Fidgetly pro team of kids like throwing it around. You should see, there’s this one individual that I remember, he used to send us in the coolest stuff. He’d be like pulling it out of the air. I was like, “What is he doing, throwing it around and catching out of the air?”
People in itself were just kind of like, I don’t know what they used to call it, there were these sticks that you would play back and forth with where you’d throw a big rolling cylinder and you’d do tricks with it. So, we tried to make it a trend in terms of a game, or in terms of who can collect them, because as you get popularised, kind of like Pokemon and Yugioh are making a resurgence right now, it turns into a collector’s item, limited-edition colorway, limited-edition plates. It’s the things that aren’t so different now that we all know is like, “Oh, yeah, that’s limited edition, or [inaudible 00:19:28], or … We were doing that just before people understand, “Oh, that was a marketing tactic.”
Nathan: Interesting. So, it sounds like you guys were trying, you were going the drop shipping route, and trying different products, and you saw the fidget spinner just go?
Nick: I want to say we lost quickly but at the time it was a good amount of cash. I think it was just under about 30,000, just under 30K on the hovering boards.
Nathan: Ah, yes, yeah, yeah.
Nick: Do you remember the main reasons why the hovering boards were an issue, and I’ll update you if you don’t?
Nathan: I think it was due to they’d catch on fire, right?
Nathan: We actually got one in the office, and it’s one of those doggy ones, yeah, yeah.
Nick: That was a first, oh, let’s like see this out. I have a corporate job still, I’m working at Apple. This is cool. Then I’m like, Oh, let’s try that product, and Jake tried it. I was like, Oh, it’s heavy. You got to ship it. If you got a faulty one it kind of sucks. Then, you look at the fidgets, all the elements actually make sense. It can be fit in an envelope. Cool. Shipping is light. You can get it there in two or three days. You can ship from middle America it’s going to get to wherever you want it to be.
So, there were a lot of things that were benefiting itself through that product, in hindsight, as to why things worked so well. That wasn’t calculated, that was just right time, right place, right product. Guess what, we were right there right as school was about to come in, so the timing of kids wanting it, end of summer coming into school, that was like its own growth factor. Like, “Dude, what is that? Your mom bought you one of those? Oh, man bummer.”
Nathan: Yeah, that’s crazy. So, you tried different products, fidget spinner, [inaudible 00:21:26], you popularised that, and then you learned some good lessons, as well, on investors and all that side of thing. Then, what happened next? That’s when you went back into industry to work on your chops as a media buyer. What did you learn then? What were some of those key things?
Nick: Absolutely. So I got told, very important thing that I had to realise, and I’m thankful I learned it now. I think we even talked about this last time, is if there’s somebody that wants to get into media buying, or digital marketing, and don’t know where to start, or they’re having trouble because they’re trying to choose a product, one, go listen to Greta on how to find the product and then how to build the audience. That’s one. If that was there back then I probably would have taken a different product path, but since I didn’t know that was a solution I said, “Hey, the one thing that no one’s going to be able to take away from me is if I have the ability to produce, and create, revenue for myself and for other people.” It’s kind of like if you’re in sales you’re usually going to have a job somewhere because you know you can sell. That’s the route I took was like, Hey, if I can produce and feed myself I know somewhere I can provide value, even if it’s a job I hate I know I can have a job.
So, I chose … I’m not going to go spend the money and waste any of the money that we made from Fidgetly on finding another product, because I’ve already experienced one not working, and I experienced one working, which in my mind is like, Cool, there’s an odd of 50/50 and probably way less than that for a success hit rate. Where do I know I can learn if I don’t feel very romantic about a product? I went back into industry, so I knew that if I could learn this skill, and that it could be transferrable across any industry, with nuance. There’s still good fundamentals but if regen versus like eCommerce, slight differences because you have to take in different margins, but I knew if I could learn the skill, and then I knew that there’s like intricacies, and tactics, I’m never going to be jobless, essentially.
Nathan: Yeah, awesome. So, tell me about kind of then you started structured and that-
Nick: No, no, I spent three years, what is it, one, two, three. I went agency wide, and then Common Thread working under other leaders, because A, I didn’t know how to build a team. I knew I was a great marketer, and I knew I wanted to make a bunch of money. Those were the two things I really knew about myself, outside of not wanting to go into products. So, I spent as much time learning. I sold magnetic eyelashes. I think I’ve done a couple million on magnetic eyelashes. Electric flame light bulbs, dog grooming brushes, vanity mirrors, makeup brush cleaner, teeth whitening, charcoal masks. If you were to share, “Listen, have you sold this?” I’m like, that, that, that, because at the time you didn’t have to buy anything, you could just drop ship and make money, and they didn’t really care.
I was having the clients go, “Hey Nick, try this product.” I was, “Hey, good. They cracked down at 50. What’s the next product?” That is where I was like, Okay, here’s my media buying skills, here’s my positioning skills, here’s my collaborating skills, okay but I’m not selling anything I actually believe in. I actually want to start selling branded products, which is the difference between having a sustainable business that’s replicable versus having a flash-in-the-pan, make some cash and you’re onto the next thing. So, after that we got into building structure where I realised I can market, I know how to lead a team, and now let’s see if I can put the old like my Shack spin on it.
Nathan: Love it. So, you’ve been building Structured for a while now. You have over 50 people, around that right, around 50 people, which is crazy, and your agency Structured is spending is it over 10 million a month on Facebook Ads?
Nick: Yeah, I checked it right before we jumped onto this. This month we’ll be at 16, just because we’re picking up where we’re coming right into Q4. I believe it should have been closer to 20, and the reason why we couldn’t get it that close is because some of the partners that we have in communicating what we need to be doing on platform … Now, primarily our audience of who we’re selling to, whether you’re an international brand or non-international brand, you’re still choosing to spend the majority of your dollars in the U.S. The only reason why you’re not is because you have shipping issues or something to do with customs, like you’re having some sort of issue if you’re not selling in the States and you’re an international business.
I don’t believe what’s going to happen because of COVID. I don’t believe what’s going to happen because the elections. I don’t want to spend money right now and, again, it is what it is. It’s not going to be something where we’re going to force things for you, because if that’s the case that’s not a good partner. So, I believe it should have been over 20. We’re going to be just underneath it, but it’s because right now brands are turning their Black Friday offers on now, and we’re just trying to spend into build the audience, because I’d rather be ahead and know what our sell to rate’s going to be, so that if we do have to trim things down when it gets crazy during those major days, those specific days that everybody’s planning for, I’d rather take that and be like, Cool, we didn’t have to wait for these major moments. We spread across our predictability of sales across these three weeks, four weeks, versus aggressive spikes on customer service, on fulfilment, within four to five days.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. Interesting. You guys are spending a lot of money, you’ve spent personally over 85 million, personally, on Facebook Ads, so I’d love to talk about kind of biggest lessons learned, like really delving deep on like spending that amount of money what are some of your biggest lessons learned? You talked about media buying, you talked about copywriting, and you talked about positioning, and then probably mine might be creative, as well. If we could delve on each of those that would be awesome. Let’s start with like media buying. What are some of the biggest lessons that you’ve learned on media buying?
Nick: We’re in Christmas time so I’m going to tell you what that star is right now. I’m going to give you the tree. So, if I would tell you that golden star at the top that is confidence. I would say the confidence in a media buyer is the number one thing, or the confidence in a marketer. If you’re in charge of money, and large amounts of money, you have to have some sort of confidence, and belief, in yourself, because it really splinters down. The confidence to be like, “Hey, I know how to allocate this budget. I know who my target is, I know who my campaigns are, I know what I should be doing.” That’s a confidence, and understanding all your numbers, and understanding all the positioning.
That’s at the top, that’s where we get, but the foundation beneath it is what we’re alluding to right now. What is the biggest thing I learned? If you don’t have a process, or a way of planning, before all your campaigns go live, or all you’re just content that you create, or for your positioning for the copywriting goes live, you’re already losing, because as soon as something starts to work or not work you don’t know where to go back and fix it. It’s like the leaky bucket where every hole you fill you have another one that’s kind of just leaking more water. If you don’t know where that’s going to start, and especially in media buying if you don’t have ways to track back, “Okay, I chose these audiences with this creative, and this amount of budget. Something here didn’t work, or something did work.” How do you double down, or how do you stop it? That to me is the number one thing I learned is, you have to plan your media, you have to have the confidence to execute the media, and stick with the data and allow the data to tell yourself …
We all have this like this subjective bias, which is why we do our naming conventions in our accounts, to not be specific to a lot of the angles, because there’s sometimes where you look and you’re like, “Oh, I want this one to run a little bit longer because I think it’s going to work.” I don’t care what you think, I want you to tell me what the numbers are going to tell you. Should that run or should that not run? That’s hard stop. You don’t have to think about it any deeper. So, on a media buying level you have to have the confidence, you have to have your plan, and you have to understand the metrics that you need to make decisions upon. What was your second one?
Nathan: To MGD, MGD.
Nick: MGD is like you just got to make good decisions, you know what I mean? Making good decisions allows you to be confident, the confident allows you to have all the decision making second nature, because if you’re hunting in accounts, and you’re looking through your dashboards, and you’re going like, “Why is this working? I don’t know, guys, what should we do?” That confidence, because usually you’re not media buying by yourself. You have somebody else you’re communicating with, whether it’s a client, whether it’s your creative partner, whether it’s anybody else on your team. If they look at you as the person driving the ship with the dollars, and you’re the one turning it on and off, and you don’t have the confidence, everybody else doesn’t have the confidence.
Nathan: Biggest lessons on media buying is having a framework to make good decisions and then also knowing your unit economics and just getting really, really clear on what that is, and then just sticking to that. What about when it comes to lookalikes, when it comes to re-targeting versus prospecting, what are your learnings there?
Nick: I know what you’re trying to get over here. So, within media buying there’s ways of breaking it out of where your attention needs to be, and that’s to break down the disclaimer that most people have is Facebook is only good for one thing, remarketing. Or, other people are like, “Facebook is not good for marketing, it’s just good for prospecting.” Actually, it does good as what you want it to be, because it’s a tool. It depends on you as the marketer, and depends on what your fundamentals are. Facebook is a full-funnel acquisition tool. It can do all of it. Whether you have a conversation around Snapchat, or Pinterest, or TikTok, or whatever, Facebook will do it all. The only difference here is at the prospecting level. So, we talk at top of funnel. Prospecting is new customers. That’s your lookalikes, your broad audiences, and your interest bases that Facebook’s going to give you. Those three, those three specific areas, we can talk for days on why you choose one or the other, so I won’t go too deep in there. I think I actually do talk deeply on all three of them.
At that core level those are broad. Those are new customers. We’ll want them to raise their hand. As they move further, and they start interacting with you, maybe clicked around, saved an Ad, that’s your re-engagement level of, Okay, maybe we need to provide them some benefits. Maybe we need to let them understand why they’re going to buy my product, why they’re going to take my service. That’s what we have at the middle of the funnel. Then, we get to the bottom. What’s your offer? How much urgency are you putting to them? Is there any FOMO associated? Why are they going to say, “no”? I assume everybody wants to say, “yes,” but why are they going to say “no”? Let’s go figure that one out.
Nathan: Rue. So, what about copywriting? What have been some of your biggest lessons that you could share? Is copy more important than the creative, video or image, or is it video and image more important than the copy?
Nick: I’m going to answer this two different ways, because I know I’m going to tonnes of hate on this from all of you traditional marketers. I believe, and all the evidence that I have to show this in the tests that we’ve done, creative, as in the actual image, video, thing is more important than the copy. Okay, I said it, I said it. But, to get to good creative, and get the good assets, and images, it starts with copy and storyboarding.
Nathan: Yes, and testing the copy angles, yeah.
Nick: It feeds itself. I don’t want to … If we were to say, “What in this ad unit is the reason why people are going to click?” They’re going to look at the creative, and then from the creative they’re going to move to the comments. Maybe they’re going to go read the story. Comments for me is … Actually, I observed this when I was with my partner, [Shenise 00:33:47]. I watch how she’s interacting with ads, and I implore you to ask your lady, just watch how they go through ads. I’m like, “Did you read anything?” She’d be like, “No, I just go right to the comments.” I’m like, “Why?” “Because I get all my answers in the comments.” I go, “Duh.” What a great conversation. Then, that turns into this slippery slope of like, should your customer service team be educated enough to sell your products? I love that topic, it’s a great topic.
The engagement on, not Facebook. I don’t know if no one knows this, I know I’m going all over the place on this, but Facebook now gives you, and Instagram, the ability to pin comments on ads in posts. Huge win, huge win. That’s a secret, tidbit, pro tip. Anyways. So, on copywriting, copywriting’s going to give you the storyboard to begin your testing. In the actual ad unit itself the majority of the testing that’s going to be most important for us is on the actual creative itself.
Nathan: When it comes to … Yeah, we see this at foundr, like we actually see that the copy is important from working at the creative image or video angles to what is going to get that person’s attention, or that pattern interrupt when they’re scrolling on the newsfeed, or the story that comes out of them. So, it’s that hook, it’s that angle, it’s that crazy theme, or whatever that is, and then understanding the benefits on this. When it comes to copywriting do you have a formula that people can follow when it comes to writing copy? Is it better to go long form, or is it better to go short form, from all your testing, all your experience?
Nick: Okay. The easiest framework that we use, we don’t have one where it’s like, “What is your template?” I don’t have a full template that I’d be able to handout on copy. I would say, it’s less fluff and more benefit driven on selling a physical product. If you can sell a physical product highlighted around the benefits of it, or the solutions of it, then that in itself is a framework. Then, it’s up to us to, Okay, are we listing this as bullets, are we listing these benefits as testimonials, are we listing this benefit as a story? If it’s a product that is easily understood, as in a hat, or glasses, and it isn’t such a unique selling proposition within it that doesn’t need explanation, you can get away, and you’re probably better off, presenting exactly what it’s going to do for you.
Now, say you have a larger ticket item, and you’re selling a truck. You can have that truck … Why is that truck different? Okay, it’s got X horsepower, it’s got X this, but actually the reason why it’s different is because it is a hydrogen-specific truck. Why is hydrogen important? Because it’s the future. Why is it the future? Here’s your story. Now, the more you have to convince them, the more you have to have a higher price tag on products, I believe there are stories involved.
When you’re selling info, a great example Adrian Morrison, the consulting.com guys. They got high-ticket products, they got large ticket items. You’re going to need a little bit of buy in, and you’re going to want to have that story so that I can start building some relation, or instilling something within. Does it have to be in the copy? Not necessarily, that could still be in the video itself. It really is, what’s earning the click versus what’s earning the purchase. Is that ad going to try to get the purchase, or do you just want that ad to earn the click and let the page do the sell?
Nathan: Got you, yeah. So, that’s part of it, as well, thinking about what’s the part, what’s the journey, that that person’s going to go on and really selling that click to make it relevant?
Nick: Yeah. It’s like, what do I want the job of this ad to be? Do I want to get them to sell, because I know we got a great conversation rate, or you’re like, I really got to do a lot of the heavy lifting to break up some barriers right away. Then, I mean, man, we could talk until we’re blue in the face on this, where are they on the funnel? Do I want to sell even right here? Do I just want to keep pushing them in?
Nathan: Got you. Now, dude, I’m hearing around tests, and I think a lot of people would like conclusive tests from all the money you’ve spent, because that’s just straight cut through. That’s why one of the reasons we wanted to work with you on this incredible Facebook Ads course, because you just have the experience. You have just a wealth of experience from all the tests you’ve run, all the money you’ve spent. So, let’s talk about some tests around video and image creative. What have you found from that? What works, what doesn’t?
Nick: Not only do I have the tests but I have the weight gain to prove it. I have the weight gain to prove it. Oh, sheez, oh my god. So, some of tests that we ran, so out of all the tests we have currently running we opt for videos nine out of 10 times at top of funnel. Why are we opting for videos at top of funnel, is because it provides us two different things. One, it provides us a new audience that we can remarket towards, often video views. Two, it provides us templates, or I would say like content bricks, that allow for us to like slide in and slide out to find a right combination. So, it gives us more variables to dial in versus actual image itself. The data of video more convincing than image, at top of funnel, specifically, is there across all of our hundred brands. No argument.
Now, where I think each account is, and I don’t want to say like, “I’m going to hang my hat on just running videos.” Every account is very, very unique, and I’m saying I have one brand they sell Australian clay mask. We run three ad accounts for them. I can have the same exact created at all three of these ad accounts and they’re going to perform completely differently. That’s Facebook being Facebook, and it absolutely, excuse my language, are we allowed to curse on this, I don’t know, …
Nathan: Yeah, yeah.
Nick: … are we allowed to curse on this? It’s absolutely [inaudible 00:39:49] because Facebook does this and you’re like, “Why did that work and why did it not work over here?” Well, I don’t know. I don’t have that answer, I wish I did, I’d be a lot richer than I am. Add to the tests on videos itself, the average duration of where your hook should be, or your solution should be is in the first three seconds. That’s never going to change. That is never going to change because the average watch time across our brands is two to five seconds. So, if you know that’s all the time you have, you better have that hook. You better have that thumb stopper early.
Nathan: Yeah, got you.
Nick: I know you guys see that, as well.
Nathan: Yeah, yeah. So, you’ve found from your experience videos perform better than creative when it comes to prospecting cold traffic, and it’s all about the hook of getting that person’s attention, and it gives you more variability to remarket to that cold traffic, as well, and build that retargeting pool?
Nick: Ah, it sounds so much sexier when you say it than me.
Nathan: That’s so good. So, when it comes to creative for bottom of funnel what is it, video, or is it image, and what kind of things do people need to be thinking about? Do you have any just guaranteed home run stuff, like let’s just say puts stars in the headline, you know five stars. I know they say you shouldn’t do that, but anything like that?
Nick: We used to actually do that all the time until Facebook started like banning, and deleting, our ads. They actually are so frowned upon on putting five stars in the actual … We used to use it as the headline. Write it there, five stars, four to nine the rating. We’d give ourselves a 4.9 out of 5 rating. That is frowned upon. The biggest win for us … So, let’s talk industry specific. If we’re going SaaS for a product that takes selling, a video of a specific pain point from someone that might look like they’re a customer is the most impactful ad unit you can absolutely run. This upfront just human, very natural, very human, because at the end of the day this is a human-to-human platform, I want to see that. I don’t log in, I want Lulu Lemon to be pinging me, I want to have this attractive-looking male or female model talking to me about why they love the product.
So, bottom, or middle, of the funnel needs to be a benefit or an overcome that I have with your service from someone that looks like they would be a purchaser of this product, or purchaser of this service. Now, what we can do to get away with this, if you don’t have the ability to create a video, it’s the image with a quote of the solve that that product, or service, just did. What is happening right now in 2020, 2021 I’m sure, is like the creation of AI weird human faces, they’re not even real people. It’s just like that person looks kind of, its not even real. Isn’t that wild?
Nathan: Yeah. So, when it comes to these kind of objection-handling videos, or images, or whatever that is, do you find that the non-polished ones, like just selfie, works best, or actually professional, in the studio, camera? What works best?
Nick: So, I think you have to take into consideration your AOB. You have to take in the value of your product. If you are … you’re not going to have Rolex, and you’re not going to have Apple, roll something out that’s, it might look user produced but I guarantee you they’re looking like they’re holding some sort of other camera that’s very high evidence shooting it at a very high quality. So, I would look at where is your product and what is the cost of that product, and can you afford to come across as not put together, a little bit more organic? Can you afford to do that? I think if you are not as romantic about your brand, and understand that you are in acquisition mode, you should go as raw as you possibly can. Some people, that rawness it’s to a degree. Would you as foundr go absolutely raw where there was like stuttering, or there’s like some sort of cut through, or the transition isn’t clean? You probably wouldn’t let that go live.
Nathan: No. We want to take our ads to a whole another level. I was talking to Charlie, we need to take it to a whole another level and make it more on brand, you know what I mean? There’s a bit that needs to be done there.
Nick: So, I would tell you that argument, Yeah, I would like it to be as raw as possible, but that raw metre is dependent on where do you want your product to be.
Nathan: So, creative bottom of funnel, it could be a video, it could be image, but what the big focus has to be is around objection handling and also can you handle those objections with customer success stories, or product experience, et cetera?
Nick: I will give you this major win that we just starting texting. I’m sorry to cut you off.
Nathan: Yeah, please, please, tell me.
Nick: So, we’re starting to use a split screen ad unit, and I wish I would have pulled it up right now. It’s essentially is the testimonial of the person, or the founder, talking about the actual product itself, and then on the right side a very nice graphic of the product, or a nice product, or POW product on white or product on colour, just showing what it looks like. So, it’s them talking and doing the experience but then right away you’re keeping the product in frame the entire time. This has worked for years for us, and it’s because I can see what the product is, I’m seeing it in use, okay I can build a relation towards it.
Nathan: One thing you talked about was positioning. You said you were good at positioning. I want to know what is positioning from your prospective, and why is that important as a media buyer?
Nick: I think it’s not even just a media buyer, I think it’s us as marketers. Positioning is which lifeforce that is being talked about is this product tapping into? What unconsciousness of the consumer is this product going to be. I know that was very convoluted. Let me go into it. Every product, service, is going to provide some sort of solution, or there’s a benefit towards it, or else why am I going to buy it? Some of these benefits are to make us more desirable. That is a position of by you having this product, by me having a leather AirPod case, how does this make me look towards the opposite sex, or towards my peers? That is a positioning of raising my self worth.
Then, there’s another position of a product if it’s going to make my life easier and I’m going to live a little bit better. That is positioning of comfortability. That’s the positioning of, Hey, by getting this product I’m actually elevating, so that money I’m spending, that I may or may not have, that’s okay because I’m buying comfort, and I can afford to do that, and that’s going to make me feel good.
Next, is this a product that’s going to make somebody else feel good, and is it such a giftable product that’s going to position me as someone they’re going to have more likeness towards? That’s another way of noting position. There’s these thought works and these frameworks of the unconsciousness of consumers that we don’t even know why we do what we do, but we’re going to choose it. For instance, we have this beautiful MICA Hub in front. I have the AirPods in but I know that this sounds better, and I want that to happen because I want the quality of the product to be here. That is why we bought this or that is why we’re using this right now.
Nathan: Yeah, I see, interesting. So why is understanding the psychological needs of the product, or service, solve that you’re selling on Facebook? Why is that important to you?
Nick: Two reasons. Facebook, or any advertising platform outside of Pinterest, and I’ll talk a little bit about Pinterest after this, is you don’t log in looking to make a purchase. Unless you’ve been scouring the internet somewhere you’re not really logging into this platform to do that. So, you have to have someone that speaks, that provokes, some sort of emotion or else you’re wasting advertising dollars because it’s just taking up an ad space, it’s just taking up a position. So, every ad, whether you’re in top, middle, or bottom, of the funnel has to have the intention of stopping the feed. How are you stopping the feed? With some sort of powerful transition, with some sort of powerful statement, with some sort of agitation of this problem for your solution of your product. If you’re not you didn’t think enough about your product. You didn’t think enough about this funnel.
Nathan: I see. So, before you look at marketing any product, or service, you really go deep on the positioning, that’s a big part of like before you even work out what the creative is, what the copy is, who the audiences are we’re targeting, what the funnel looks like?
Nick: What is the solve, or the main benefits that your product has? Starting there is exactly what’s going to start bringing down who my customer is, who my potential voice is going to be, who my potential audience is going to be. Within positioning there is just a handful of steps that we need to go through before you can go live with that campaign. It is very similar to what Greta is doing. She builds your audience first. After you build the audience then we want to set priorities, because they’ve already given you all the information of how to position it. I have to keep going back to her because she explains it so simply, explains such a large concept so simply.
Nathan: Well, man, dude, you’ve dropped a whole tonne of knowledge on us. We have to work towards wrapping up, but I really appreciate you taking the time and just walking us through the key elements of media buying, and running Facebook Ads that convert, and the things that you need to be thinking about, and all the lessons that you’ve learned from spending just a ridiculous amount of money. Really excited that we’re partnering with you on this incredible course around how to run successful Facebook Ads. We can talk about more of that a little bit later, but long story short, is there any kind of in parting words of wisdom that you would like to share around kind of anyone that wants to use Facebook Ads to grow their business?
Nick: Yeah, I would. I think I did the same thing the last time we had a conversation. Any agency, any marketer you hire, any freelancer, we are mouthpieces, and we are microphones. You are the voice of your brand. You are the voice to your product. If you don’t know the levers to pull no one’s going to solve that for you. They can collaborate with you. They can sit there with you. They can help you come to realisations, but all of the positioning and the product is going to come from you, the owner, or you the entrepreneur. Don’t look at someone as to be like, Oh, they’ve had success. They’re going to find success for me, they might have systems, they might have processes but you have to come to the table with like, Hey, I know this is the direction we need to go and here’s the research we’ve done. I’m going to partner with them. That’s on the product side, that’s on the service side. That’s on understanding your business side.
The second is, you have to know the platform yourself and the right buttons to click. Facebook is the most advanced tool currently. You can log into SnapAlert in a couple days. Maybe Google will be a little bit more confusing. Even after all these years I still fumble my way through it. Facebook has so many buttons and different tabs to go through, just understand the ones that you need now to get up, running, and live. If you can’t understand it yourself how are you going to be able to give critical feedback to someone that might take it over, or an employee of yours? You won’t, you won’t be able to be collaborative enough to do it.
You have to know it to a degree, and you have to trust … You don’t want hacks, you want systems and processes that have happened for a while. So, if you can understand, Hey, I know this is not exactly for my business but I see what the core concept is here, and I see the understanding of this process and what my potential outcome could be by doing these inputs. That is what I’ll leave you with. Understand the voice, understand the platform, before you can really lean into collaboration with others.
Nathan: I love it. I agree. Look, we spend a lot of money on Facebook Ads for foundr. I wouldn’t know how to technically buy Facebook Ads but I know the function of top, middle, bottom. I know what works. I know what doesn’t. I’m very, very invested in the unit economics. I think it’s a big thing that people why away from. You really need to know how much can I spend to acquire a customer? You can get people to work that out for you, but that’s just like you need to know that within your business, because that’s how you grow.
Nick: Oh, man, that’s music to my ear. If you don’t know what, or how much, you can spend you shouldn’t spend, you should not spend. Time and time again we’ve seen fully ventured, fully, fully ventured-backed companies be extremely unprofitable for a very, very long time. The only reason why they’re living is because they keep raising rounds. Unless that’s your path, which most of us it isn’t, be profitable from day one, or at least understand what that step is towards profitability.
Nathan: Acquisition aggression level.
Nathan: I think there’s levels to when it comes to Facebook Ads and media buying. I think level one is like trying to be profitable on the front end, and then level two is like breaking even, but then making sure you have a sophisticated back end. So, you’re prepared to break even, or you’re got a loss leader product. Simple concept is McDonalds. Apparently they don’t make money, or make any profit, on the burger. Where they make profit is via the upsells, the fries, and the drink with that. So, that’s essentially consider it like your back end, or your burger is your loss leader, and that’s level two. Can you break even? Spend money, it costs 40 bucks for the product, can you sell it for 40 bucks, bang. Or $30 cover your costs, so that’s break even.
Then, the next level which is, I believe, the highest of all levels which is, Can you spend money to acquire a customer at a loss? If you can do that, that’s when you become the king or queen of your industry, the market that you play in, and that’s effectively what you need to work towards, depending on your business model. Now, there’s a caveat, depending on your business model. You can bet that if you look at like one of the now most valuable companies in the world you can bet that like Jeff Bezos knew that for a very, very long time that’s why he was happy to lose money, or break even, and that was his opportunity to take margin. That’s how I think of like the levels of acquisition aggression. What are your thoughts there?
Nick: The only thing that stands out to me is the last thing you said. The business that can spend the most to acquire the most customers is going to win. That means they fully understand the business, they fully understand the margins, and they’re willing to know, Hey, I’m going to spend this money and I’m not going to realise that cash flow until month three, six, or nine. Okay, because I understand what LT looks like. It takes you time to build those models. I don’t think it’s business started, I’m going to try to be unprofitable. You got to work your way up to that, which like you said, Yes, the person that can spend the most will win. Hard stop.
Nathan: Love it. So, look, we have to work towards wrapping up. We’ve done a lot to put out some incredible content to help our community, and we’ve work together on this extremely in-depth course on how to run Facebook Ads for beginners, for anyone that wants to start. Below this video, or after this video, if you do want we recommend checking out the Masterclass with Nick and myself where I go through the MGD framework. I go through how the hell you actually do this. What is that formula, what is that framework look like, and really take you through step by step of what it’s like, interactive slides. It’s awesome. So, make sure you go and sign up to that if you’d like to kind of get a little bit of a teaser around the full course, and if you do like everything around Nick’s way of doing Facebook Ads, which is a proven process, we highly, highly recommend you enrol in the full programme. Nick, 30 seconds from your perspective how have you found working with us, and the time we’re spent putting this incredible course together, man. You’ve given a lot.
Nick: This is probably going to come out in the bloopers on here, but we put in wild, wild hours in this. I would have never done this if I wasn’t doing it with your team. I would have never been able to push through this on my own. I would have never been able to sit there and deliver the depth of content to the standards of what foundr creates if it wasn’t for the foundr brand. If it wasn’t for what you guys stand for. I myself, yes I love to believe that I have the highest standards in the world, and I think a lot of people like to believe that, but when it gets down to putting the hours and hours of content, and the depth, and like the processes that we’ve learned over the past six to seven years, and put it into like this 0-10 course that we made, I couldn’t have done it without the team that was supporting me, you, everybody on your side.
Man, I wish I could name every single person out by name but I don’t want to give them up because I don’t want anyone to steal them, because they are too valuable. This, I wish I had that 30 seconds. You can give me 10 minutes I can cover all 10 minutes of the gratefulness I have, but thank you so much for the opportunity to share. I truly believe that this is going to help a lot of people start, scale, and grow their business, and I would have never done this with any other partner.
Nathan: I know we covered a lot of ground. We went through media buying, copywriting, positioning, creative, your story, all the lessons you’ve learned. Thank you so much, man, for just like taking the time to speak with me today and working with our team on this incredible course. It’s been months in the making. Yeah dude, where is the best place people can find out more about, also, Structured Social?
Nick: I think, honestly, the website you can find it’s structuredsocial.com. There’s not much content there. Find me on Twitter. Find me on Instagram. I’m weird, I’m out there. I love the interaction. I live this. This is what I do. I log into my computer and Facebook every day, so this isn’t something I have a team off shore running it. This is me. This is my life. So, come see what we’re about. I am Shackelford on Twitter. I am Nick Shackelford on Instagram. Please reach out to me. I love this space.
Nathan: Awesome. Thank you so much for your time, man.
Nick: No problem. Thank you so much, brother.