Tweaking Your Social Media Marketing and Advertising Pandemic Strategy with Andrea Vahl

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If you want to master social media marketing, particularly on Facebook and Instagram, then you should spend a little time learning from Andrea Vahl. She’s the co-author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies, a speaker and a consultant, and an expert on ad management.

Since a lot of the Agency Ahead audience provides social media advertising services for their clients, Garrett caught up with her to get her take on advertising during the last several months.

The highlights:

  • (1:40) Advertising in the current economic environment.
  • (3:04) Strategies for ensuring messaging stays on-point.
  • (4:38) Easing back into the selling process.
  • (5:52) Getting the right mindset about advertising in an economic downturn. 
  • (6:46) How to counsel clients right now.
  • (8:19) Where agency owners and consultants can go to start looking for new clients. 
  • (10:02) Finding the right course if you want to update your skills. 
  • (13:08) Strategies for pitching clients.
  • (14:25) Delivering as a Facebook advertiser. 
  • (17:43) Advice for video and Facebook Live productions.
  • (19:47) Why it’s important to develop a strong referral network.
  • (22:26) Andrea’s causes.

Here are the key takeaways:

Advertising in the current economic climate

Knowing how to advertise in the current climate is a challenge. It can even feel a little bit weird, both when we’re doing it on our own behalf and on our client’s behalf. Should you be updating your advertising pandemic strategy?

Here’s what Andrea has to say about it.

“With everyone being at home and working from home a lot more, what I’m seeing is people are online, a lot of ad costs are down.”

There’s an opportunity to continue to advertise in the less competitive market, but what do you need to be aware of when crafting your ads?

“Focus on the messaging to make sure it’s sensitive in this environment. To appeal to the person who is maybe struggling, maybe having a hard time, but also realizing that business is still being done. People are still buying. People are still opting into things. Leads are still happening.”

In short, she says it’s a great time to advertise, as long as you’re sensitive about it.

Advertising pandemic strategies for ensuring messaging stays on-point

Andrea stresses a watchful approach to messaging since there are a lot of change happening at the moment.

“In some cases, the messaging doesn’t have to pivot that much, or even sometimes at all. It could still be a perfectly fine ad to have out there. You wanna just dive in and watch for any changes.”

She says she’s really been stressing this point.

“Anything that’s taken a sudden nosedive, watch those weekly or daily changes and see, hey, it’s time to rotate this ad out. [Ask] should we stop this completely or just start fresh with some new messaging?”

She also says it pays to do a little research about what’s out there. 

“Facebook has an ads library where you can go in and search for other things in your niche to see, hey, what are other people doing?”

patagonia facebook ads

She notes you don’t have to give a lot of stuff away for free. She applauds the impulse to help but cautions against continuing with the same strategy for much longer. 

“Free is kind of so March,” she says. “It’s time to move out of that. We’re never going to get back to normal, it’s all going to be changed, we still have to be sensitive to some of that, but it’s okay to sell.”

Arguably, the economy can’t begin to start recovering until we do. Of course, you don’t have to race to charge top dollar prices either.

“What I’m seeing, is a little bit more lower-priced offers are selling a little bit more. People are a little more cautious. It doesn’t have to be free but it could be: let’s kind of focus on things that are a little more affordable or things that can have an immediate impact for people.”

Yet it’s important to make sure you’re not afraid of advertising.

“People still need to move. They still need a car. They still need some of that stuff. But it may not be the splurge they had in mind before.”

How to counsel clients right now

Your approach to your advertising consulting will depend because not all industries have been impacted negatively. Some companies are thriving. 

“Some of my clients are pivoting offers to something a little bit more immediately consumable.” 

She says she’s seeing less-impacted industries are basically getting leads for half-price, which just means more visibility and more growth for them in the future.

“I think it’s a smart time for agencies to really coach their clients to spend now.”

Where agency owners and consultants can go to start looking for new clients

If your agency is having significant client churn or services reduction, investigate prospects in the industries that are doing well and might have the budget to invest in your services. 

“I’m seeing a lot more growth in the online courses space, coaches, consultants. People are looking for a different source of income. So they may be looking to ramp up to something new.” 

She also notes that many of her eCommerce clients are doing well. 

“There’s a lot more online shopping since stores are closed. A lot of shopping direct, because Amazon’s having different delivery issues that they’re dealing with as well. Places having online boutiques or online eCommerce shops can be a really good market to go after.”

Finding the right course if you want to update your skills

If you haven’t offered Facebook advertising or some other marketing skill, this is the ideal time to find a course. Naturally, Andrea herself has one available (you can find it at FBAdvertisingSecrets.com).

Her course focuses on different strategies for different types of businesses. 

“That’s a thing I found when I created this course years ago,” she says. “Some courses are just focused on one type of business. Mine offers different strategies for local, for online, for eCommerce, for authors.”

andrea vahl fb advertising course

She says if you serve a wide range of clients, “You want to have a course or learning that has a wide range of strategies.”

If you’re looking for other courses, she recommends finding something attached to a support group where you can ask questions. 

“Sometimes you need help with strategy, or figuring out why an add got disapproved, or how to pivot to something new. Having a group where you can go and ask questions is really valuable.”

And yes, FB Advertising Secrets has a group!

Strategies for pitching social media management clients

Finding clients and building your business is always a challenge, and it’s particularly challenging right now. Boutique agencies and solopreneurs are especially in need of some guidance.

Andrea’s got it.

“I think the softer sell is really better now,” she says. “I really do. I think coming from a place of service and really saying, hey, you know, I just want you to know that ad costs are really low right now.

How are you?

Are you taking advantage of this?

Do you need help with taking advantage of this?

Here’s what we’ve done for other types of businesses like yours.

When you’re really painting the picture of what’s going to be the end result for them, how that’s going to help them grow and get through this time, that’s really attractive to a potential customer, rather than just: me, me, me, me.”

Delivering as a Facebook advertiser

Educate clients on how Facebook Ads really work best. 

“A lot of clients just know, I want more sales. Of course, they want more sales. So you say, here’s how we approach that with Facebook.

First, there is some nurture, we want to get people into your lead funnel, get them connected to you, get them off Facebook and onto a property you own such as your email list, your website, all that kind of stuff, so that you’re taking advantage of the ad dollars, not just dumping ad dollars for video views or likes.”

She stresses that one has to be smart about boosting, optimizing ads in different ways, and that those strategies are a little more complicated. 

“The client just knows boost. So when you say, we were able to change them from getting a couple of sales a week to getting consistent, forty, fifty sales for them per week on their eCommerce store through this new strategy, and not even spending that much money, and can show them actual results, that’s huge.”

She notes different tweaks can make a really big difference with Facebook ads. 

“They may have tried it in the past, but you’ve got a better strategy. Learning the best strategies is a big thing too. Because you come across with confidence that you can really make a difference for them.”

Advice for video and Facebook Live productions

Facebook Live is getting bigger than ever as people lock into ways to stay connected. Here’s Andrea’s advice for putting on a great Facebook Live production.

“Get confidence in what you’re going to say. Come up with a plan for cutting it off, knowing how to end this. Have an outline. It could be a question someone else asked.

Okay, I’ve had a couple of people asking this question, I’m going to answer it in Live and get a little more use out of the fact that I’ve answered this question.”

After having the bullet points down?

“Good lighting and a good microphone. You can do it with your phone. In fact, a lot of people with ads have tested and found that more gritty, unpolished video does a little bit better because it looks more natural.

It kind of feels like people are just off-the-cuff talking. You don’t have to have this really huge production, which is good news for people.”

Why it's important to develop a strong referral network

Sometimes clients need services you just can’t provide. When that happens, a referral network can be extremely helpful. 

“Sometimes I’ve had things where it’s going to be a really big project so I’ve just brought a contractor on my team to have it all in-house, essentially for that period of time. If it’s something where I think I might continue, I might broadcast the fact that hey, I now do YouTube ads or whatever.”

She is still working to build a trustworthy referral network. 

“Build a really trustworthy network, because when you refer, you’re also that brand. I’ve made the mistake early on where I referred someone out who just did a horrible job for my client. They came back to me and it was a disaster.”

She was left having to apologize, a lot, and thus is very careful about vetting her referrals even now. 

What’s your right now cause?

Right now, Andrea is really encouraging people to donate to their local food banks. 

“Food banks are places that do support families in need and I think that is huge. Support them either with monetary donations or actual food.” 

She suspects this economic downturn will make them more necessary than ever and wants to give them the resources to keep operating.

Connect with Andrea Vahl

Get in touch with Andrea:

Garrett Sussman

Garrett Sussman

Garrett is the head of content at Traject , a suite of digital marketing tools, and host of the Agency Ahead podcast. When he's not crafting content, he's scouting the perfect ice coffee, devouring the newest graphic novels, and concocting a new recipe in the kitchen.

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