When you’re ready to get serious about marketing on Facebook, you’re going to have to pay to play.

I know, I know. Why in the world should you have to pay to get your followers to be able to see your posts. They’re YOUR followers and they have already expressed interest in hearing from YOU by liking YOUR page.

Facebook doesn’t care. Facebook has shareholders that expect them to bring in revenue.

But if you can get past the bitter taste this leaves in your mouth, Facebook advertising really is an amazing opportunity to target your message.

Is it worth it? Yes.

You get to target your message, measure the response, adjust your ad in real time, and pay to reach ONLY the people you really want to reach.

Here are the big reasons I want you to consider Facebook advertising.

1. Spend a little, or spend a lot

When someone asks me how much they should spend on their ad campaign, I prefer they start low. No more than $5-10 per day. And really that’s all you need. Imagine that you get a poor response and you only get one client this entire month from your Facebook ads. What is the lifetime value of one of your clients? I’d guess at least $500 and more likely $1,000.

If you can spend a couple hundred dollars to get one client, it’s worth it. You should run that type of marketing over and over and over again as long as you’re making a positive ROI.

You can buy ads that run in the right column on someone’s Facebook news feed. You can boost an update that you post to your page, especially any promotional posts (Facebook will likely not show these to your people anyway). Post ads to get more likes or post ads to drive traffic to your website or a squeeze page/opt in form. You can even pay for Remarketing, which simply means your ad follows those people who have visited your website. We’ve had good luck with this strategy spending just a $1 per day.

Some people make the mistake of thinking that the more you spend, the more you get. For example, you spend $150 and you get 30 leads. This doesn’t mean that if you spend $300 that you’re going to get 60 leads.

We’ve found that there is a threshold where the cost per lead increases dramatically. You have to pay attention to your ad results and ad spend to make sure you’re getting the most value from your campaign. This gets easier the more experience you have and by closely monitoring your campaigns. Practice makes perfect!

2. Target your potential customers

I’ll bet at one point or another you’ve taken out an ad in a newspaper or magazine or radio. When it comes to targeting, you can choose the interest type for a magazine, or perhaps a section of the paper you think your audience reads, or a time of day you think your audience is listening to the radio. But for the most part you’re pretty much paying to show your ad to lots of people who don’t care about your gym, are not the right target for your gym, and who are not going to join your gym.

With Facebook advertising, it is almost limitless the ways in which you can target your audience. You can choose a town, a zip code, and how far out you want to go. You can choose gender, age, and a variety of other demographic criteria. However, creating an audience based on their Interests is my favorite way to target.

For example, in one campaign you target women aged 35-55 with a household income over 125k. And lets say you further whittle that list down to those women who love ice cream. Now you can run an ad that says, “We see you eating that ice cream lady! Balance it out with a workout tomorrow. Click here.”

Or maybe you want to target women who are recent mothers. Or men who hunt. Or women getting married. Or newlyweds. Or people employed by a local business. Or people who “like” your competition. Or local fraternity members. Tell me how cool they would feel if they see an ad that says, “Are you a Sigma Pi brother? Click here for a week at our gym”

Don’t try to reach everyone with the same ad. Run 10 different campaigns to reach 10 different very specific groups. The cost is the same, maybe even less, and the results are always better.

3. Measure your results

I mentioned ads in newspapers and magazines…I am not a fan of this type of marketing because it’s just too difficult to measure the effectiveness. Unless you’re the only gym in town, and you’re profitable, and you just want to maintain some back-of-mind awareness, then by all means go for it. I however subscribe to the direct response method in my marketing. If I pay for an ad, I want to be able to measure the results of that ad.

With Facebook ads, you can combine a statistics package such as Google Analytics to measure whether your Facebook ads are leading to subscribers and sales. I think it’s a good idea to have at least one campaign that drives leads back to a squeeze page and/or a low-barrier offer page. Then you can REALLY measure results because you are only driving FB leads to those pages, allowing you to see exactly the kind of traffic and conversion you are getting.

Facebook has some pretty killer reporting as well. For example, we are managing a few campaigns for a studio owner client. She wanted to start by keeping it broad, so we targeted men and women, ages 25-55. After running the ad for a short time we were able to see that women were three times more likely to opt in than were men. We also noticed that the age of these women was more in the 35-45 age range. We also saw that certain images got a better response than did other images.

We used this info to make our targeting of her ideal client even better. We refined to target the audience that was most responsive, she spent less on ads, and got a higher response rate.

It’s not enough to run an ad. You have to be willing to manage the ad.

4. Build your audience

I’m a proponent of getting people to know, like, and trust you rather than just immediately going for the sale. It’s like going to a bar and asking everyone you see to go home with you. Over and over you ask and get told no. Then maybe the 100th time you ask, someone says yes. That’s a lot of energy and time spent to close one deal. When all you really needed to do was spend a little time getting someone to know you, like you, and trust you. (This is an analogy, I’m not advocating promiscuity 🙂

Facebook kind of works the same way. You’re trying to close the deal with someone you don’t yet have a relationship with. You want to take them straight from FB and turn them into a paying client. But there are a few steps in between that will make you far more successful, whether at the bar, or on Facebook.

Get them to like you, build the relationship, close the deal.

Someone likes you on Facebook or opts in to receive whatever you’re offering. You spend time sending them quality information, getting them to know and trust you, THEN you can close the sale. It is so much easier to do it this way than it is to ask people to buy immediately.

As I mentioned last week, the number of LIKES you get isn’t as important as increasing your “reach” with those people. If someone likes your page but Facebook never sends them your updates, what good is the Like?

But if you build up your likes, then pay for some ads targeting the people who like your page (i.e. Boosted posts), then now you’re getting somewhere.

Case Study

One of our clients had 2,000 emails they had collected through our fitness marketing software. We imported those email addresses into Facebook and began advertising to that custom audience.

We ran this one as a LIKE campaign, trying to get prospects and clients the gym already had a relationship with, and asked them to like the gym’s page. The people who are most likely to like your page and be engaged with your page are those people who you already have a relationship with.

We also ran a separate Like campaign targeting friends of those people who already liked the gym’s page. We further narrowed the focus to those friends who lived near the gym, and had an interest in weight loss, fitness, or similar. I believe we even threw in a household income criteria as this was a higher end gym.

The entire ad spend was just under $100 and the number of Likes on their Facebook page went from 100 to 900 in just over a week. This is the power of targeted marketing.

But remember, just because people Like your page, doesn’t mean FB is going to show them your posts. In fact, most times they don’t

So we then posted on the gym’s wall a special offer to try the gym, boosted the post, and targeted the ad to the people who have liked their page.

The gym got 7 new full paying clients from less than $200 spent on Facebook ads.

5. Paying Facebook pays off

I talk to a lot of gym owners. Time and time again I talk to those who are posting on Facebook and Twitter, spending literally hours per week (some spend hours every day!) and getting very little return. I get it. It is so much easier to sit in the office or on your couch and post a message that might reach lots of people. It seems much more efficient than actually doing face-to-face marketing in the community. AND it doesn’t cost anything.

But very few gyms ever get traction organically through non-paid Facebook posts. You get what you pay for. Would you rather spend 5 hours this week on Facebook and get zero clients, or would you rather spend 10 minutes and $10 to get one client. This is the power of paying Facebook in order to be seen by your target audience.

You shouldn’t be doing anything social media related simply because everyone else is doing it or because you think you need to. You must have a plan, you have to act on the plan, and your plan needs to include some kind of paid advertising.

Why? Because it works.

Personally, I can’t stand Facebook. But it is a necessary evil in the life of a gym owner. Unfortunately though, doing it wrong is just as ineffective as not doing it at all. Plan your attack, run some campaigns, monitor those campaigns, tweak those campaigns, nurture your leads, and turn those leads into buyers. It has taken me a while to figure out this formula, but now that I have I am definitely a believer in the power of Facebook ads.

Facebook advertising works. Posting to your wall and trying to organically make your way onto the feed of your prospects and members is important but sometimes futile because Facebook is in control. Spend a little on ads and regain some of that control and make sure your intended audience is actually seeing what you have to say.