Here’s another installment of our new series, that will soon become a podcast. We’re giving you tips and tools that will compliment FunnelDash and help you run your digital marketing agencies successfully.
Charles Kirkland recently interviewed Will Irish. Will is well-known and well-respected in the world of Facebook ads. As a consultant, he’s helped thousands of business owners create and run Facebook ad campaigns across a wide spectrum of industries and niches.
In this interview, Will and Charles dig into the “why” of your Facebook ad and how to get your messaging spot on, as well as the best ways to identify and speak to your audience, so your ads are most effective.
As always, we recommend that you start your potential client’s journey, and track their campaign successes, with FunnelDash. Click on the button below to get your 30-day free trial.
Enjoy the conversation as Charles and Will get into the nitty gritty of how to make your Facebook ads work, by asking "why?"
Charles: Hey, hey, hey. This is Charles. Hope everybody's doing great today or this evening, depending on when you're watching or listening to this podcast. Now, we have been working to get some of the best Facebook experts on the planet on the podcast, and I am super, duper excited to have Will Irish with us here today. I'm going to tell you this, I rave about this guy because he is the real deal.
Will: Thank you. I'm flattered already. Appreciate your invite, honored to be here, buddy.
Charles: Oh dude, thank you so much. So guys, let me give you a little background. In this very small, elite little mastermind of people that do what we do, a conversation came up a while back. They're like, "Are you connected to Will Irish?" I'm like, they're just describing this guy who I didn't know at that point. I'm thinking, "Man, this guy's going to charge me $2000 for a six week course or something." I just knew I was about to spend some serious coin.
So, I clicked the link, go to the site, and I'm like, I'll tell you this. The content that he gives out has been better than most $2000 courses. I'm not going to get into what he charges yet, but I will tell you, every month or every other month, it's like you've got a $2000 mastermind, private one on one course dropped into your lap.
So Will, tell us a little bit, how did you get started with Facebook?
Will: Oh, man. That's a good question, and thank you for the kind words. I've been marketing since '99, just a little context. Before Facebook really was on the scene, I found out that you can sell digitally and you can get your message out there online relatively early so, I sold my first eBook, I think it was in 2000, for about $47.
I thought, "Wow, that's really crazy. That's a digital product that I sold through the internet" and to me, it just opened my ideas to the communication channels, and for many years, I really started to get involved with the Google side of it.
Because here you have people using this new trusted confidant called Google and they would Google everything. So, whatever was on their mind, if you knew how to do a little keyword research, you basically were able to figure out what people really thought or felt about anything without any veil, without any sort of filter, because there was a vulnerability of not being judged and they just spoke what they really thought.
That was absolutely fascinating to turn Google around backwards and see that, and so for quite some time I was involved with just understanding search engine optimization and understanding what people really wanted, not what they said they wanted. And then making sure that I showed up in front of them, since that's where people were going. 2007 comes along and Facebook is on the scene, and they launched their ad platform.
So of course, I want to understand the pay-per-click side of it, and I think the biggest thing was, when I started looking at Facebook ads and what they had to offer, it was pretty right hand side at first. It was really poor. But the ability for the reach of an audience in getting it out in front of you was immediately clear.
I could take something and get a message out in front of people that I wanted to reach almost globally, because Facebook grew really quickly, and when their ad platform came out, they just decided to give us access to it.
I went in there and failed miserably at first, because I tried to do my Google thing on Facebook, and that was a big mistake. So, I started learning really quickly that it's a social intention that people use on Facebook and there's a huge distinction between Google where commercial intent is primarily the reason, people are looking for solutions, whereas in Facebook, they're searching through their newsfeed let's say, and if you're just an advertiser, you're almost invading their personal life.
I had to figure out how that all worked and being the analyst that I am about things, yeah, I just dug into that and I really understood what it looks like to reform your advertising messages on the different platforms.
From 2007, I started recognizing that we have two of the most powerful tools on the planet at our disposal, and one is obviously Google where people will go to search for things, and then you have Facebook where you can pretty much with precision targeting, get your message in front of virtually anyone, anywhere, anytime.
That to me is what fascinates me. So, that's how I got started. In 2007, I was just doing it with marketing, and I recognized, "This is going to be really powerful" because it's a one-two punch that really is unprecedented in history. Since then, it's evolved. It's only gotten better, and our ability to get our message in front of the right people at the right time has only intensified. So yeah, I love it, man. It's been great.
Charles: You just hit on a very valid point. I think so few people realize, there's a massive difference between Google and Facebook, and I will tell you personally, I was using Google when it came out. When it first came out, I was one of the first advertisers and when I went to Facebook, I just assumed I could hammer away the same way.
I'd been having success in Google, and I remember same story. I remember I was like, "I can't believe I'm bleeding this much money. This is stupid. I don't like it. There's something." But I knew other people were making it work, but I kept hitting it from the, "What is the intent? Here's my stuff. Push, push, push."
You really hit on a very, very massive distinction. It's apples and oranges, both of them are fruit, both of them will get you traffic, both of them are just amazing platforms, but you go about two totally different ways to market to these people.
I think so few people understand that and I think often you can't take the Google mentality to the Facebook world and have it succeed, because I think that's one of the biggest stumbling blocks I see.
Will: Yeah, and I think the word pay-per-click is where people thought they were synonymous. I know I did. "It's pay-per-click, okay, so pay-per-click on Google AdWords, pay-per-click on Facebook, so therefore there's some similarity and synergy there," and you're right, it's like the Yellow Pages went into Google, and the billboards went into Google, and everyone still pushed the message.
But you're absolutely correct. It's a huge misnomer that not too many people really speak about, because they think of an advertisement. You're supposed to write an ad, so that's why I don't like to call them advertisements.
I do it for the sake of people understanding what I'm talking about, but in my mind, I really think of them as messages. I try to train the people that I coach not to think of them as ads, and not to write an ad. Instead, write a message, because you're competing with people's friends and family, and personal updates, and it's just an amazing opportunity to get wrong.
Charles: Yes, unfortunately I'm raising my hand. If y'all looked at my first ... I will make this statement, it's quite embarrassing. Some of my first Facebook ads, and I didn't even know they would deny you for guideline issues back then. I tried to throw a bunch of diet affiliate offers on Facebook, and they didn't take that too well.
So, with that, as we're looking at Facebook, we know you can't use Google techniques to get the same result, but if you were to start today, let's just say that you were saying, "You know what? I'm starting over."
How would you approach this, with the knowledge you've got, with the personal and coaching experience you have, if you were to start somebody brand new into Facebook, what would you tell them? Not necessarily dialing the buttons, what would be the strategy you would give somebody to run a winning Facebook campaign?
Will: Wow, great question. I particularly love it because I know you have followed me now for I think the past couple of years anyway, and one of the things I love is challenges. I love challenging myself, and so I do that. I literally will take a curiosity interest and create an experiment out of it, and see if I can make it work. Just to really vet myself and have fun at the same time.
The question at its base is really what would you tell somebody who's brand new, to have the best leverage going into it?
I think the very first thing is you have to have an end in mind. I think that's a principle that everyone should know, is know why you're actually running ... I'll call it an advertisement here. Why you're running a Facebook ad to begin with. Because if you said what people often will confuse, and this is foundational but there's a difference between, you said it, strategy, and the toggles. "What are the buttons I can push? what can I do technically with Facebook?" Versus, "What should I do?"
Starting with an end in mind, knowing why you are placing the ad is so important. When you're running an advertisement, you first know why you're running it, and if your answer is to get a sale, you have to go deeper.
You have to go deeper, because if you're trying to get a sale, then you should be asking, "Well, what are your asking your ad to do?" When you think like this, you start to reverse engineer all the way back to, "Okay, well if they're going to click on an advertisement, what do they have to?"
This is a great question that people should ask themselves. What do they have to know and believe about me? Or my product or service, in order to buy that thing. Then, you have to build backwards from there and really meet them where they are.
The very first thing is just to fundamentally understand your purpose of running the advertisement and make sure that you're not running straight for commerce right from a social feed, and think that you're going to have really great return immediately.
Unless you have a very advanced background, it's hard to do without a lot of retargeting. That's the first thing I would say
The second is know who you're talking to. Know them well. Understand exactly what fires them up and what kind of lights them up in the social lens. Just to give a quick example of that is often times, especially businesses, will look at brands and especially in the B2B marketplace, they'll look at a CEO of IBM and they'll think, "Okay, let me get this in front of IBM and they can target IBM and the employees of IBM and the CEO of IBM, and all that good stuff."
But even the CEO of IBM, when he or she goes onto his Facebook newsfeed, they're seeing through a very personal lens. They're not looking through their chief executive officer lens at work, and so knowing that you understand your crowd well is of paramount importance, because it's going to change how you say what you say, and make sure that you target your audience appropriately.
I would say once you have that down, those two steps right there, once you have that down, you obviously know who you're targeting and why you're placing this ad. Then, it's about putting a message in front of them that they will react to. Something that will get their attention.
What I generally ask people to ask themselves when they write an advertisement or a message is, "Is that going to make them stop and say, 'Should I consider this? Am I curious to hear more about this?'"
If your answer is no, or not a definitive yes, try again. Because at that point in time, you're not really tapped into the area of what this person really wants, and so it's all about knowing what they're after and really making sure you're putting it in front of the right people, so that when they do see your post or advertisement coming through their feed or on their phone, the first thing that comes to mind is, "Hey, this is interesting. I want to hear some more. I should pay attention to this."
Once you do that, it's really about putting it in front of the right people to stumble across, because there's a big difference between being sold to and people discovering something.
That's the difference that I want people to take away from any coaching lesson I would give out, is that I found out for myself that when people are pushy or salesy or hypey, that's a great turnoff with many people. They just hate to be sold to, but when you discover things and you find something cool, you have that social proofing of Facebook’s common denominator, where people share and like things for a reason.
So, let them discover what they want to discover. That would be a short little strategy side of things, is knowing your message and why you're targeting them. Know how to target them and what they like, and what fires them up, and then let them discover what they want to discover, what you know that they want to discover, so that they're really interested, and the way that last part works is asking that question.
That's the strategy side of things, is make sure you put something in front of them that will make them pop and respond, hear more from you, and then you take them to the next stage where you can build trust, but it needs to be a cool factor, a value factor, an intrigue factor, and discovery factor.
You have to have all of that in your initial exposure with your ad. I know that's kind of long winded, but it really has to be thought through, because I love what David Ogilvy, one of my all-time great copywriters said.
He basically said that the wrong advertising can actually unsell your product. So, I tell people the Hippocratic oath of Facebook is first do no harm to your brand. Don't run something out there that's going to hurt you in the long run as a brand.
I'd rather you not run an ad than run an ad that's going to affect your brand, and sometimes that hypey, salesy message to your market is a real turnoff to your brand and can hurt you. So, I want people to realize the social impact that has.
Charles: Right now, I can see people going into Facebook, turning off those campaigns, because you just nailed a million dollar concept. Most people are looking at it as, "What's in it for me?" As an advertiser, like, "What's in it for me? Leads, sales, profits, and I'm going to push my offer as hard as I can to people that don't know me from Adam's house cat. I'm going to ask them to give large sums of money to some guy they've never seen, and a place they've never heard of, for an offer they don't even know they need."
I think that, and this is just my observation, most people when they log into whether it's AdWords or Facebook or any advertising platform on the planet, it's like they're in a race. It's, "How fast can I create the campaign? I'm just going to copy and paste whatever verbiage I have on my website. I'm going to get it done and hit publish and walk away from it," completely impersonal, no research. Not really thinking through it, and then they wonder why it's just not working.
Will: Yeah, that's right.
Charles: I think you really nailed it there because at the end of the day, you're asking people that don't know you to take an action, to believe in you, to give you something. Whether that's time, email, money, you're asking for something in exchange, and that's a big deal. That's harder than it sounds, it really is.
Will: It is, on a social platform especially. Yeah, everything is a brand builder, so you're going to build a brand one way or another. It's what type of brand you're going to build that’s going to be the key.
Once you have that mindset down, though, it really does come down to following the sense, really making sure everything is congruent. So, they don't go from what they find in the newsfeed that they were initially excited about, and land on a completely different page or offer than you were sharing with them. Because that's not why they were there.
You can spend a lot of money, and you can learn the hard way, but you will learn. I promise. I think I said your wallet will be your best mentor, it's certainly been mine.
Charles: No doubt. Will, tell us ... First of all, I love your newsletter. Tell us a little bit about your newsletter, why you created it versus creating just a giant six week super marathon class? Why did you decide to do it as the content which is basically a newsletter that has a monthly building Facebook course? Why did you go that route versus just, "Here's a webinar. Buy my stuff?"
Will: Yeah, you know, it's funny. Mari Smith actually asked me that very question on a live stream last week, and I wasn't ready to answer it. I didn't really have a set story behind it, except to share my thought behind it. It started with I did create courses. Anybody who's been in that place where you're creating content that's video absorbed, one of the biggest issues with it is Facebook is constantly evolving.
I mean, the dollars that they put into making their platform better and more effective is ridiculous. So, when you think about creating a course, you have to think about the longevity of it. Like, in two months, that interface may be 1000% different and people will be very confused by what they purchased.
So, you can certainly create courses, and I do, I create some things that are a little bit more evergreen, and warn about some of the cosmetic changes, but to keep all your courses updated would be very hard.
I talked to a lot of people I was coaching with, and one thing was really clear is that they are tiring themselves out with learning about what to do with Facebook, what can they do, and what should they do, and what's changing with it.
So, it started about three years ago now with the idea that I just want to get a publication, one publication out there, where once a month I can send it out to somebody in the newsletter form, but it would be a video distribution inside the newsletter.
And I could share with them the top updates or the top strategies that are working today with Facebook, any big changes that are out there, a lot of foresight of what's happening.
Because I do a lot of coaching, I see a lot of how the vertical markets are moving and the ways things are affected. So, it's my way to keep everyone updated with what's happening now so every 15th of the month or so, I have a new addition going out on a new topic, and hopefully I've never repeated a topic.
That's the funny part. That's how much there is to know around Facebook ads, so if you are in it for the long term and you want to learn it, FB Insiders Report is what I call it. FB Insiders Report is the name of the newsletter.
I'm not particularly fond of the name, I just didn't really know what to call it when I launched it. I had no idea there would be such a huge demand for it, as I originally anticipated, and ever since I've kind of evolved it. It's moved into more of a training course every month, as you said.
It's definitely moved towards that because I found people really needing both sides, the strategy, and the technology. That's why I started it, how I started it, and I leave it out there for people to digest it.
And a lot of people just yeah, they swallow it up once a month and they're not chasing a bunch of blogs around and hearing a bunch of different teachings and trainings and never putting anything to work. I'll close on this note, too.
One of my core goals with FB Insiders Report is to make something actionable. I don't want to just say, "Hey guys, you can do this." Or, "You should do this." I only teach what I test, and I try to make that applicable, so people can play, pause, and implement whatever I'm teaching them.
Whether it's something as intricate as retargeting or it's something as basic as, "Here's how you choose your objective." Every month has a different topic, and so yeah, it's been a lot of fun to create, for sure.
Charles: Hey guys, one thing I'm going to tell you, one thing I love about the FB Insiders, you did the case study with your brother?
Will: Yeah, that's right.
Charles: I think I've enjoyed that as much as anything.
Will: Is that right?
Charles: It was really good.
Will: Yeah. They've done real good, so my brother, he's not a marketer or advertiser at all. He lives up in Rhode Island but he's in a band and they're in the top 10 right now based on the exposure we got for them.
I ran one ad for them, but I documented that as a case study, experiment, as you said, and they have since doubled their fan size and broke into the top 10 in Billboard Charts, which is outstanding. Really great publicity. They've done a new video release and they've just really heightened their awareness and are getting booked a lot.
He's having a great time with it, for sure, but I was showing him as well, that's the power of marketing when you do it effectively. You can have a lot of fun. That's the experimenting side of it, so yeah, thanks for that. It was a good one to do.
Charles: Yeah, you want to give a shout out to the name of the band, or?
Will: Yeah, well Torndown is the name of the band. Torndown is one word, T-o-r-n, down. They have a Facebook page that was pretty stale and right now they just released their video I think about two months ago, and I did a little behind the scenes footage, a paid post engagement ad.
I think you'll probably remember from that one, one of the pieces that I did in that experiment, was really just ensure we get their music in front of the right people.
Because that was a great case study for the purpose of what you were saying before. Why are you running an ad? Well, when I first asked them, he said, "I want people to buy my album." I said, "Well, okay. You have all these bands that you need to actually get heard.
I need your fans to be engaged and love your stuff, so let's get people loving you guys first, and then you can worry. The commercial will take care of itself" and it sure has for 'em. It's changed their whole principle of the way they even pursue advertising right now, so it's been great.
Charles: And I think that was a great case study. We often think online marketing is competitive. It is nowhere nearly as competitive as the music business. The music business is mature, it's a billion dollar business, and for a band that a couple of guys get together, play good music, to be able to breakthrough to even get awareness in that niche is huge.
And you did that and guys I'm going to tell you, Will documented, and I remember, going through this I'm like, "Oh wow, this is so" ... You literally documented how you got started.
I mean, literally everything that you would do and everything you did for that, and the results. I mean, that was huge. That was absolutely huge.
Will: Yeah, I think it's really good for people to hear from me, too, that I don't win every time. I wish I did, but I like to tell people that the approach you should take is be as informed as you can, and then I take the approach of you either win or you learn, but there is no losing, because you learn when you realize what's not perfect or what's not happening.
Why I do case studies like that is I want people to see me launching the ad in front of them. I want them to see what the update is. Where are they now? How did that do? I want them to see the impact a message has or doesn't have on a group, and what my thought process goes into it.
Yeah, I think the training side of me or the coach side of me sometimes gets a little bit too detailed for my own good, but from what I hear back is people eat that up because that's what they are missing from a lot of these $2000 courses that you say that will teach you these one-off techniques.
Instead of that, I like to share people principally, "Here's my approach for this" and boy, if you can get your message in front of anyone at any time, know that if you've got your message out, then I can't make you like his music, but I can figure out who's most probable to like your music and then put it in there with a message and a story that people can relate to.
Then, let them be attracted or not to it, and that's where you start building on audiences and you start finding out what really is dialed in. That's why that case study was powerful for them, so yeah, thanks for the feedback on that. I heard a lot of great things from it, as well.
Charles: First of all guys, I'm going to tell you. When this newsletter hits my inbox, you can check. I'm the guy that opens and clicks and downloads it ASAP.
Will: Thanks buddy.
Charles: Where can we sign up for it? Guys, I'm going to tell you, you may need to look at maybe cutting down on some food, 'cause it's an expensive, expensive course, so how much is it and where can we find out about it?
Will: Thank you. It's at FBInsidersReport.com. Just as it sounds, FBInsidersReport.com, all run together. You'll see it's built right into my fan page there and to purchase it right now, I sell it for $27/month. I launched it at $9 back three years ago, and have since just built out on it to create these mini courses so to speak. It's $27 a month right now, and it's not like there's a premium version of it. It is the premium version.
So, it's the publication that I love publishing, because it keeps everyone really in tune and up to speed with the latest techniques. I hope people find it valuable and thanks for your kind words about it.
Charles: Hey guys, I'm just going to tell you this. At $27/month, if you're even remotely imagining you're eventually going to run ads at any point in your life, what you learn from it will pay for itself time and time and time again. Just as an example, when you're looking at this, you get the PDF.
It's got videos embedded, and one thing I like about the videos is a lot of times when you're looking at training, it's pretty much Bob on a screen, and he never shows you anything other than some scripted out scenario.
When you're looking at Will, he's explaining it. "Why am I doing this? How am I doing this? What are the ramifications if I do A, B, C, or D?" He really breaks it down, and like you said, Facebook is changing literally at least I feel like, on a daily basis. So, I do not recommend people go buy those big, long six eight week whatever, multi-thousand dollar training courses.
Because by the time you finish it, the interface, A, will look different. The buttons have moved, and Will focuses on the strategy, the stuff that's going to be ... You've covered here. The stuff that will be timeless. It worked last year, this year. It's going to work for a very long time, because you're focused on the strategy.
Even though you do show dialing the knobs, pushing the buttons, you explain this strategy behind it. So guys, check that out. I'm just going to tell you, I'm going to give it all the endorsements I can. Absolutely rocks. Dude, thank you so much for being on the podcast. Thank you, and guys, have a good one.