Startup Marketing and Entrepreneurship
I read an article by Gabriel Weinberg, the founder of search engine Duck Duck Go, about how he was able to use the ad targeting parameters in Facebook’s “Custom Audiences” to advertise to just one person. This really got me thinking about how I could apply this to my business. I did some further research and found that it was indeed possible using several methods. I setup a small campaign to test this experiment and it proved to be successful.
Since Facebook ads are dirt cheap, I would highly recommend this strategy for any small businesses that wants to advertise on a budget. If you are wondering what the cost is, it’s typically no more than $6 for 1,000 ad impression ($6/CPM). Last night with my test I spent $1 and was able to get over 700 ad impressions and 3 clicks on my ads. That’s pretty good compared to other advertising platforms. Now, let me show you how you can do some snooping around and use this tactic to gain new clients.
The first thing you need to do is create a list of your target clients. I am not talking about defining the characteristics of those clients (ex. Small business, IT category, in xyz location), I am talking about the actual names (Jims Auto Repair, Anthony’s Pizzeria ect.). For me this was simple. There are a dozen companies that I know I can help, and who I know could use my help, but since I don’t feel like cold calling them I’ll run some ads to build up my brand awareness and make the call later.
The most effective way to target the user is to have their email address. The only main issue with this strategy is that the email address they are using for their Facebook is usually not the same as their business email address. For this project, we need the user’s personal email address because we will be targeting their personal Facebook account. We will discuss two methods to conduct this campaign, a strategy that uses an email address, and another without the email addresses. According to Social Media Examiner, Facebook is able to find 30-50% of the emails you enter into the custom audiences tool.
First we need the email address. Start with your first targeted business and identify the decision makers in the company. Use their website “about” page, and check on LinkedIn and other websites to see who is working at the company. If you can grab 4 or 5 of these people it would be great since this advertising is so affordable.
The best way to get their email is to go right to their website “contact page” or their Facebook page. If they don’t have it listed there, use a Who Is tool to find their email. If that information is private, then you can head back to their website and if they have a contact form, just fill it out with a random email address and wait for them to reply by email. Wait for them to reply? No time for that! While you wait you can try going to Google and running a search in the following format: “site:chrissanfilippo.com *@.com”.
This will display any email addresses on the website. Many intelligent bloggers put a space in their email address to prevent bots from crawling and collecting this information, so it may not always work for us with the Google search.
If that still doesn’t work, run a search for each of the target employees. Look at their LinkedIn profile to see if they have public contact info. Look to see if they have a personal blog. If they do, scope it out and run the “Who Is” on them. If you find a photo of your target employee use Google Chrome’s “Search Google For This Image” feature to find any other instances of this photo on the web. This could give us more information, and maybe even a link to their Facebook profile.
If you have obtained their email address you can now create a custom campaign. There are two ways I would create the campaign. I would either create one campaign for all of your target audiences, or create a unique campaign tailored to each individual target client. The latter would be more effective in my opinion.
If you have exhausted all efforts in the previous section don’t worry, there is still hope. You need to hope and pray that your targeted individuals have a “semi-public” Facebook profile. For many scenarios, this turns out to be the case. We only need one section to target these people, and that is the “likes” section of their profile. Once you find a target client with a public “likes” section, start entering in these likes into the “interests” section of the Facebook Custom Audience tool. With each of their likes that you add, you will see the size of your target audience drastically reduce and eventually stop when it reads (fewer than 100). You can continue to add more “interests” and it will still continue to decrease the number of audience members, but you won’t see the exact number of audience members. Smaller audiences are obviously better because they are hyper targeted.
Now you can almost guarantee that your ads will be displayed to your target client, and at the same time, you have a controlled ad campaign just for this individual. It will be cost effective, and simple to turn off. Now if you decide to cold call this person in the future, they will probably know who you are and will be more likely to hear your offer. They have probably checked out your website and know your services anyways. They may even contact you before you reach out to them. You will actually be able to see in your campaign statistics the number of times they clicked your ad and went to your site.
Now that you have custom ad campaigns for your dream team of clients, it’s time to create the ads that you will display to them. I prefer newsfeed ads, but since this campaign is so small, it won’t make that much of a difference. I would create an ad that’s targeted towards their business category and their main services. So if they are a company that sells software, create an ad that says “We help software companies increase sales/ROI/efficiency by 33%” or something similar. Tailor your services to their needs. Another example would be an ad for a roofing company that reads “We help Roofers, plumbers, and electricians gain new clients!”.
You could go a step further and create a custom landing page for that specific target client. Create a page that expands on your Facebook ad and strip out all navigation and menus so they only see the message you have created for them. Place a strong call to action like “Let us show you that we can help. Forget our $599 one hour consultation, we are offering a 30 minute consultation completely free to our visitors from Facebook” or something similar. I’m not a landing page expert but you get the idea here. Target the landing page to them if you can, and have a call to action as the center of the page.
You could use this strategy for practically anything. Maybe your mom plays Candy Crush Saga 24/7 and you’d like to play a prank on her? “How Candy Crush Saga Leads to Depression!” or “Why Candy Crush Saga Will Ruin Your Life”.
Why not use it to get your next job? You could target some ads towards the hiring manager of your dream job. If you created an ad and a landing page just for them, I’m sure they would think very highly of your Internet marketing skills, I know I would. Advertising may just be the new way to market yourself! Head over to LinkedIn and run a search for “recruiters” or “hr”, and select the companies you would like to work at. Then you will have the names of the individuals capable of giving you the job.
I hope you find a practical and profitable use for this strategy. Good luck and talk to you soon.Last modified on
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