3 Tips to Make Facebook Ads Work For You

Social media offers fantastic opportunities to increase your brand visibility, drive sales and build an audience. For those who do it well, you can get away with using the platforms for free and accomplishing all your goals.

There are lots of experts who can help you do this well, such as Lilach Bullock, Jay Baer, and Amy Porterfield. But they will also educate you that investing some money into the process through ads or promotions can exponentially increase your reach and grow your audience.

In the past few years, I’ve experimented with Facebook ads to boost my brand and increase sales. While I would never claim to be a Facebook expert, I’ve learned three incredibly important lessons about how to make Facebook ads work for you.

3 Tips I’ve Learned Firsthand About Making Facebook Ads Work

  1. Use Facebook Ads to Build Your List, Not Just Sell: Nordstrom can get away with simply offering a cute pair of red stilettos in their ad and having people click “Buy!” (ahem…guilty) That’s because it’s a product and I know their brand well. Initially, my old school advertising background kicked in and I mistakenly thought that I, too, could just promote a paid program in my ads and it would work. No. Even if you think your product is competitively priced, people may not know you yet…and you’re invading their personal News Feed with your ads. So, yeah, you’ve got to build trust. Duh. Using Facebook ads to promote a free offering FIRST (a cheat sheet, webinar or the like) works much better to pull people into your orbit and onto your list. You can then nurture them and create warm leads for when you’re ready to make the ask. Drive folks to a specific blog post (and offer a free download they can sign up for when they get there), offer a free guide or access to training videos. Anything they can easily sign up for with no risk.
  2. Create a Marketing Funnel for Your Campaign: Social media does not work, as mentioned, for most unknown brands as AD = SALE. Plan the journey you want prospects to take. Perhaps you build a campaign to launch a new coaching program that includes: A) Free guide, B) Free webinar or Facebook Live event and C) Free consult. Think through the steps and plan ahead.
  3. Leverage Lookalikes and Retargeting: Facebook has such cool features that enable you to laser-focus on your ideal client or customer. Mapping out who they are in crisp detail will make your ad efforts (in any medium, I might add) way more effective, trust me! Facebook allows you to create lookalike audiences of your existing email list and also retarget in many ways, including: website visitors, people who downloaded your previous offer or those who attended your last Facebook Live.

Once I learned these lessons, my Facebook ad results matched up to my expectations and I’ve gotten much savvier about how to effectively use them.

Now, I have no idea how to voodoo behind Facebook ads work–and I’m not the gal who wants to DIY this type of thing as I have no interest in being a Facebook Ads expert. That’s why I turned to experts to help me, including most recently the FABULOUS Devani Freeman and in the past, Tammy Martin and Gavin Bell. Seriously worth the investment.

With these tips, you can hopefully skip some of the learning curve I had to climb and get to success faster!

How To Be Seen as an Expert…Or Increase Your Influence If You Already Are One

There are two common challenges people claim when trying to build an expert, influential brand. Do either of these sound familiar?

People don’t listen to my ideas or see me an expert even though I know my stuff really well because I lack credentials/the right degree/level of experience.


Everyone says they’re “experts” these days, but I really am one! I’ve earned it. But I can’t break through with all these upstarts and savvy social media players out there claiming to be experts.

It can be hard to rise above the “expert pollution” out there. It seems like any young upstart with an Instagram account, an IPhone and YouTube can come along and claim their “expert status” in an instant, while your years of hard-won experience or valuable content fall on deaf ears.

Conversely, there are many people without fancy degrees, huge followings or gray hair who really know their stuff. They have valuable insights and advice to share but are dismissed because they are not “well known.”

In both cases, it’s just downright frustrating when your authentic expertise and true talents are not recognized by others. That’s why it’s so important to intentionally cultivate an “expert brand” in order to grow your business.

Branding expert and author Dorie Clark states:

“In a world where too many people claim to be experts, it becomes even more important to be one, and ensure the right people know it.” (TWEET THIS!)

She wrote two wonderful topics on this subject that I think you’ll enjoy:

As Dorie says, “When you’re just starting out in a field, or lack blue-chip affiliations, it may be hard to persuade others to listen to your ideas, even if they’re groundbreaking and valuable.” She offers four strategies to help you get people to listen and make an impact.

  • If you’re already an expert but want to expand your influence even further, please check out her article, “3 Rules for Experts Who Want More Influence.” Chris Brogan weighs in to this article on the vital importance of your email list in increasing your ”recognized expert” status!


Photo credit: Jason Rosewell, Unsplash

Do you face challenges in not having your expertise recognized by others, or do you have questions on how to cultivate your expertise to grow your business? Would love to hear what you think!

The Lost Art of Empathy: A Customer Email Makeover

You know what’s missing in today’s customer service landscape? The secret sauce to delighting your buyers–even unhappy ones–that so many businesses, regardless of size, get wrong over and over again?

Showing authentic empathy.

Sadly, many small businesses, are their own worst enemies when it comes to sabotaging their sales. They focus solely on running the business and not on relating to their customers as people: Rude staff. Inflexible policies. Canned responses.

Recently, I made my first purchase on Blue Mercury, an online boutique of makeup, skincare and spa accessories. A perfect gift site.

I purchased an adorable scented candle for a client. When asked, I dutifully filled out her shipping information. Then I filled out my own billing information with my credit card info, as instructed.

The order processed and the confirmation screen pops up….listing my client as both the recipient AND the buyer. And since I was never given the chance to write a gift card, upon getting the gift, it was going to look like she sent it to herself!

I shipped off a “Help Me!” email to customer service.  They needed to know if their system was not working properly, as I had very carefully entered all of my info as the buyer – and yet it did not correctly transfer through. I also pressed upon them that this was kind of embarrassing for my brand, as I was sending this to a client.

This reply came one day later:

Hello Maria,

I am so sorry for the inconvenience. The order is already shipping and we are unable to change the information. I understand your frustration and I apologize. What we can do is offer you a gift card. Let us know if you have any other questions and if you would like to receive the gift card. 



Bluemercury, Inc.

Customer Support

What’s wrong with this email – and 4 make-over ideas to turn an unhappy customer into a raving fan:

  1. Completely canned apology: “I am sorry for the inconvenience.” Sounds like a robot or a form letter. She did not address the larger issues, which was that the system was not working properly.

INSTEAD: Show some humanity! The company rep could have been more conversational to show she really understood and empathized with my specific situation, based on my initial email: “Oh my goodness! We are so sorry about this glitch in sending a gift to your client! We never want that to be a customer’s first experience on our site.”

  1. Lack of Solutions: There was no attempt to correct the situation AT ALL. Simply, “Sorry, it’s already shipping, Nothing we can do.”

INSTEAD: Get creative! What if the company rep offered to send an email or hand-written note to my client to explain who the gift was from? Wow, that would have gone a long way…that’s showing your customer empathy, versus just saying you “understand.”. They could have further boosted their brand by making a note to my recipient really fun and cheeky: “Wow, we goofed! But someone named Maria Ross loves you and has sent you a fabulous gift from us. We just forgot to put their name on it. Our bad!We would have been talking about that for days!

  1. Asking Permission to Make Things Right: Really? You’re asking me if I want a gift card from you? That made me feel so petty, like I was trying to get something for free from them.

INSTEAD: Just make it right!  Don’t ask for permission to do something nice for an unhappy customer. You never want to put a customer in a position of feeling like they are trying to scam free stuff. Just do it and delight them!

The kicker came in the next email thread. Here was the correspondence, in which I told her this was my first shopping experience on the site:

You have not addressed what went wrong in your system to make this happen. I very clearly remember typing in all my information in under the Billing Name + Address. Your system has a problem and should be checked.

That is nice of you. Yes, I would like one if I decide to shop on the site again.

Can you at least change the buyer account so it’s not reflected as my name being XXX or as my address being her address? My address is XXXX.

This is the first time I’ve used your site. Not a good experience at all. 


Maria Ross

The response, one day later:

Hello Maria,

I am sorry about our system. It could have just been an issue with technology. I understand how frustrating it must be. I put in your request for your gift card. Let us know if there is anything else we can do for you.

4, 5, 6: Unwillingness to Follow Up on Issue, No Thank You for Pointing It Out, Canned Apology and Lack of Warmth Again: This canned response hit the trifecta for me: “I understand how frustrating it must be” is not empathy…it’s what I say to my toddler when he’s overreacting to nothing.   And this still makes me feel like you are not taking my issue seriously. “It could’ve been an issue with the technology but we don’t really believe you. You probably did it wrong.” Further, “Your gift card is coming, now shut up.” was how I felt by the tone of this email.  Probably not what she meant at all, but remember, unhappy customers are seeing things through a certain lens, especially when they don’t feel like you are listening to them. You have to be very thoughtful in your response.

INSTEAD: Validate your customer’s unhappiness – and be grateful that they are pointing out an issue that could be costing you other sales. Offer to escalate the issue internally and reference the person’s specific issue: “I’m so sorry I didn’t address that issue in my email response. Yes, I will certainly contact Product Management and see if there is something wrong with our order processing. Thank you so much for pointing it out to us, and again, we’re so sorry this happened on your first shopping experience with us, especially for your client. Your gift card is on its way so we hope you will give us another chance to delight you!

When you show warmth, creativity and true empathy, you can turn unhappy customers into raving fans. (TWEET THIS!)

What brands have delighted you when things went wrong? When have you turned an unhappy client or customer into a raving fan? Please share below!

Image credit via Flickr

4 Warm Ways to Welcome New Email Subscribers

4 Ways to Welcome Folks to Your Email Party

Last year, we threw a holiday party at our house. As with all my entertaining escapades, I bought too much food and stressed out right until the first guests arrived – and I had a drink in my hand.

While I’m no Martha Stewart, I wanted to delight my guests with a signature cocktail. My husband played around and came up with a gin gimlet with lime cordial, creating a lovely green concoction.

Being…well, me, I had to brand the evening’s special: We called it The Merry Grinch. **BONUS: Recipe below!

Our guests clapped with glee when they walked in and saw the drink “advertised” at the bar. They lit up. My husband spent most of the night filling orders.

Unexpected touches can delight and welcome your guests. Same holds true for your email list.

Your email subscribers have signed up for your party. Now it’s time to be a good host. (TWEET THIS!)

Right now, what do your subscribers get as soon as they sign up? A robotic auto-responder? Nothing? Yawn.

Just as a good host, you need to welcome people into your tribe. Delight them. Show them around. Tempt them with treats. Make them excited that they came and leave them wanting more.

Here are four ways to warmly welcome your email guests–and get them talking about you:

  1. Give them a gift: Offer a useful and entertaining free gift just for signing up, such as a tip sheet, eBook, video series, or worksheet. Or something “on brand” for your personality. A fitness trainer offers the ultimate workout playlist. A coffee shop offers a free scone with purchase. An online store offers free shipping and a perfume gift sample on your first order. A leadership coach offers a video on how to be a more commanding speaker.
  2. Personalize your auto-responder: These folks have raised their hands to hear from you and allowed you into your inbox. Don’t waste that mindshare! Personalize your auto-responder to further welcome them, or show off your brand personality. Act like you’re welcoming a friend over for dinner and remind then of what’s on the menu that they will love.
  3. Give them a short tour: A few days after they first sign up, schedule a follow-up message to welcome them (again) and show them around. Point them to three of your most popular blog posts, link them to your core offering, remind them to follow you on social media. They’re new around there, so don’t assume they know how to navigate your wonderful world.
  4. Ask them a question! Derek Halpern of Social Triggers shared this tip and I LOVE IT! You can engage a new subscriber and get valuable intel at the same time by asking one or two questions What would they like to see? What are they struggling with? If you’re a trainer, ask them if they have a big fitness goal or what they hate the most about exercising. If you’re a life coach, ask them what coaching style they prefer or if they’ve ever worked with one before.

When people subscribe to my list, they get an auto-responder with a free guide and are then invited to hit REPLY to answer two questions: What is your business and what one brand-building wish would you ask your Fairy Godmother to grant?

Of course not everyone responds, but those who do are super engaged and also give me great information that can add more value. Some folks have even tweeted about my auto-responders because they stand out.

Your email subscribers have signed up to come to your party. Pour the champagne, set out the chocolate-covered strawberries, and welcome them warmly so that you get not just new subscribers but engaged fans who will remember you and spread the word.

Oh, and enjoy the cocktail…..!

The Merry Grinch

2 shots gin

2 shots lime cordial

Couple of splashes of celery bitters

Shake over ice in cocktail shaker

Serve ii a martini glass

Optional: Add a cherry!

Image Credit via Flickr

Good touching, bad touching

Today’s guest post is from the irrepressible Elizabeth Case, a favorite marketing colleague and friend of mine and Principal at Yellow Dog Consulting, a sales and marketing firm in Issaquah, WA. She’s hilarious, knows marketing and loves dogs –  all reasons why I adore her. Follow her on Twitter.

I had two client meetings the other day and BOTH mentioned “it takes 7 touches for someone to buy.” So I had a couple of great discussions about touch points with prospective clients – good touching and bad touching.

Remember, not all marketing touches are equal. Are you guilty of good or bad marketing touching? (Tweet this!)

Good Touches:

  • Your Newsletter: it pops into their inbox monthly (hopefully not much more than that) and reminds them that you know what you’re talking about without nagging them to hire you (hopefully!)
  • Social Media: Follow them/friend them/Link In with them and pay attention to what they’re saying. Don’t be creepy and like EVERYTHING they post, but keep an eye on them, and hopefully they do the same with you
  • Email follow-up: if you met them at an event or workshop and you said you’d send them something, DO IT. Always follow up. “great to see you yesterday at the luncheon,” “here’s the link to that doggy daycare I mentioned,” it doesn’t have to be about work, and often times that’s better – be a resource to them, a.k.a, their new go-to person.
  • Networking: Get out to the networking events where your clients and target market are gathering. Just the reminder that you’re alive and kicking is good for a lot of people. I need to see your face to be reminded you’re around. When I don’t see you, I can make assumptions you’re too busy for new clients. When you’re out and about, it’s good to know you may have time for new clients.

Bad Touches:

  • Phone Calls after business hours: We all know this is my biggest pet peeve. If you’re having a busy day and need to call them, leave a voicemail! And I always suggest sending a follow up note. They may prefer one to the other, and you need to figure that out. I have many an un-returned phone call because I can’t call back when I hear the voicemail, but didn’t get an email reminder to say “hey call me friday at 2.” Their loss.
  • Sales pitch emails: “Hey you should hire me, hey I’m really good at what I do, hey buy this.” No one likes that, you don’t like that, so don’t do it.
  • Creepy Social Media: Don’t like EVERY POST or comment on everything, but if it genuinely is of interest to you, like it. Can’t wait to see how many of you now freak out on whether to comment on this post or are afraid I’ll think you’re creepy (I won’t this time!).
  • The obvious sales pitch “coffee meeting:” Let’s be honest, you don’t want to learn about my business, you want to sell me on yours. Watch yourself when you call for the coffee meeting. That’s a BIG ask to leave your office- offer to be convenient to them if you want the business. I live in Issaquah about 15 miles east of Seattle. I don’t expect people to schlep out to the suburbs for me. So, I’m in Seattle a couple days a week and schedule all my meetings together. Make it convenient for THEM, not you.

Photo credit: Licked Lens Photography

Thanks Elizabeth! What “Good Touching” has worked for you? And what “Bad Touching” have you seen (or done in the past) that didn’t work or soured you to a person?

Sales page and email copy that works – minus the sleaze. A chat with Felicia Spahr

“How do I sell my stuff without sounding sleazy?’

This seems to be the question du jour. But c’mon everyone: relax. Before you think you need to turn to a life of ill repute with clients who go by number instead of by name, get schooled by Felicia Spahr.  In another joyous perk due to both the work I do now and social media, Fel and I crossed paths and I’m mesmerized by her writing prowess. Felicia is a pro copywriter, teacher, and lover of people. Dedicated to discovery and the power of words, she is on a mission to shake the world with tectonic-plate-shifting communication.

We sat down to talk about killer messaging, sales page copy magic and how to write emails that get noticed.

RS: You’re kind of a sales page genius. What are 3 tips readers can implement right now to improve messaging on their sales pages?

FS: Tip #1: For the love of god, stay away from trying to sound clever. Why? Clever is confusing. Simple language that your right people can understand and grasp onto is what sells.

Tip #2: As my boy Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” What does that translate to for you? Spend most of your time understanding the needs, wants, and problems of your customers before you go writing a sales page. Once you have enough information and can sense patterns and recurring problems (related to your service or product), the sales page will pretty much write itself.

Tip #3: You are a HUMAN, not a selling machine, right? J A big part of why we feel kooky and weird about selling ourselves (let alone writing sales pages) is because we associate selling with car salesman, in-your-face headlines, B.S., and cheap promises.

Selling is one of the most beautiful things you can do. When you’re writing your sales page, let your people know that you truly understand them—which translates to your ‘why’. Your why has gotta be in there or you’ve just got bullet points of deliverables and a lackadaisical emotional connection. Simon Sinek’s TED talk, ‘Start With Why’, is a great way to spend 18 minutes of your time drilling that idea into your beautiful head and adopting that mindset for life.

RS: What is your best tip for sending email to a busy big shot you don’t know – if you would like a book testimonial, interview or simply to say “You are my hero”? 

FS: The very simple trick is this: Make it 99% about them—mention only a VERY small-sized lick about who you are. The biggest mistake I see people making is: “Hi, I’m Joe, and I’ve been featured here, here, and here and I’ve worked with x, x, and x, and you should be impressed! Read on to find out more about what I want from you.” 

Instead, here are some examples of questions (that work) to use that are customizable, riff-able, and personality-injectable:

For an interview: The information about [topic they love] you talk about would be an invaluable resource for my readers because [specific reason—what might your readers need help with?]. Would you mind if I interviewed you and asked you [#] questions on [very specific topic]? 

For a book testimonial: After reading [x, x, and x—show that you care about them and their work] about you, it seems like this topic is one you enjoy immensely. Do you think reading my book would be useful for you, and if it is, would you mind endorsing it? 

For ‘You’re my hero’: Be extremely specific about what resonates with you about them, and then you can swoop in with your question with something like this:

I thought I might ask you a question that you could provide a unique perspective on [Insert why you’re thinking about this—and why them.]

The question I wanted to ask is: Your delight-inducing question here.

RS: What brand messaging mistakes on small business websites drive you up a wall? How can we avoid them?

FS: Copying other people’s words. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at sites and have seen the exact same, inexplicable wording (especially in the life coach space: create the life of your dreams!) that really doesn’t mean anything. Same goes for ‘creative business’. What. Does. That. MEAN.

Think about your differentiating value factor—your unique perspective. You have one! Let’s be honest—the concepts of our ideas are not original. It’s how you spin it, position it, and package it. And you don’t have to be a sharp, clever, or witty wordsmith to express it—just very specific. Remember, you’re a person. Talk to me like I’m your really good friend or mentor whose opinion you take seriously.

And remember: No one can mess with your messaging if no one else can say it like you. (Tweet this!)

2017 UPDATE: Unfortunately, Fel is no longer doing copywriting projects but this advice is still golden! You can find out about what she’s up to now here

Got a burning copywriting or promo plan messaging question? Please share it in the Comments below and Felicia and I will gladly answer!

Best sales email letter ever

A while back, I downloaded an informative white paper from Argyle Social, a provider of social media marketing software and consulting. Within a week, I received the following email (reprinted with their permission):

Hey Maria, 

I saw that you downloaded one of our whitepapers and thus, I have a question. 

Which one of these categories do you fit into? 

A. You’re just perusing and don’t want to talk to me.

B. You’re interested and may want to talk b/c you have questions.

C. You’re dying to talk to me and couldn’t wait a second longer for this email to arrive in your inbox.. 

D. These options suck and I’m too good to fit into a category. 

Let me know which and I’ll act accordingly!

Danny (contact information followed)

In the sea of crap that invades my inbox every day (some by choice, some not). I promptly wrote Danny back that I was not interested (it’s only fair to not waste a good salesperson’s time leading them on. Don’t be a tease. Let them moe on to other, more interested, prospects) but asked a favor. I told him that in all my years supporting sales teams in Silicon Valey, this was the best sales email followup I had ever seen. He told me one of the sales guy’s created it, and various people had tweaked it for their own purposes.

Why is this so great and what can you learn from it?

  • Human connection: This is a real person, talking like real people talk. I hate B2B advertising that speaks in a language no one uses in life. To boot, it’s got humor and charm. A natural magnet for my time and attention.
  • Respectful of my time: It’s brief and to the point. A sales rep I knew once had a saying posted on his cubicle wall: Be Bold, Be Brief, Be Gone. Words to live by.
  • Filters the leads: From a sales perspective, a good sales rep works what is known as a sales funnel. Lookey-loos or tire kickers are at the top, those with actual projects, budgets and decision-making power filter down a level and then those who also have an impending timeline or compelling event  forcing them to make a buying decision pass through to possible closed sales. A good sales rep needs to assess what kind of prospect you are quickly and this email does that in a humorous and casual way. I don’t feel like he’s being creepy, and he knows he can put me in a separate “nurture file” for either himself or Marketing to continually follow up.

What kind of follow up are you doing with your leads? Are you able to segment the tirekickers from the serious buyers who will purchase this month or quarter? Pls share some of your best sales emails (good or bad) in the Comments!

How to write an email that gets ripped open like a 5 year-old’s birthday present

Do you get frustrated sending emails to potential clients or partners that never get opened or fall into the ether? I sure do…

We’ve all been there: we spend hours poring over every word and line of a carefully crafted email only to click Send and wait like a lovelorn teenager by the phone. Cue crickets chirping.

Wouldn’t it be great if your emails were received like candy on Halloween, and recipients couldn’t wait to get their greedy little hands on the content? Hells yeah.

Well, Mike at Toilet Paper Entrepreneur just shared how to make it happen.

I’m loving this amazingly generous video gift he recently shared about how to use behavioral influence techniques in your email writing. The video walks you through an actual email he created for a  client. I learned so much from the video about little tips and tricks to engage readers, cut through the clutter and genuinely build rapport. If any of you are doing emails for business development, partnerships – or even for your loyal community – this is really Must See TV.

Some tips he shares (there are many more):

  • starting your email subject line with a lower case letter increases opens and builds familiarity
  • The technique is based on how we want to be communicated to as humans. You want to Identify, Involve and Include.
  • The sole purpose of the subject line is to arouse curiosity so they open the email
  • In the first paragraph, position the problem you want to solve. In the 2nd, build a relatable story. In the 3rd, tie into the emotion. In the 4th, evoke a positive response by offering a “pain escape”.” And then lay out the solutions you offer.
  • Repeat a key phrase throughout to make it stick and drive home a benefit

Enjoy and please share.