Post-Lockdown Advertising: How to Get Back in the Game on Facebook

Picture of Colm O'Reilly with podcast title text.

Mike (00:02):

Are you looking for a magic advertising bullet right now? Sorry. It does not exist. The marketing world is still adjusting to the COVID crisis, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit on your hands. Today, ad expert Colm O’Reilly will update you on the current situation and explain how the smart kids are proceeding in a turbulent time. Does your gym management software suck or do you love it and want to see how it stacks up against the rest of the industry? Two-Brain recently published the definitive guide to gym management software in 2020. And you can find the link to the article in the show notes. Click it to find out which of the seven platforms we evaluated finished on top. This is Two-Brain Radio. I’m Mike Warkentin here with Colm O’Reilly. Colm is the owner of CrossFit Ireland, the founder of the Mental Health Plan and a certified Two-Brain mentor with a specialty in marketing. He’s actually the team lead. Today, we’re going to talk about the ever changing world of Facebook ads in particular. What, if anything is working right now as the COVID crisis continues. Colm, welcome, all the way to Ireland. How are you?

Colm (00:56):

I’m great, Mike. So happy to be here. Thank you.

Mike (00:59):

Yeah. What time is it there and where exactly are you located in Ireland?

Colm (01:03):

I’m located in sunny Dublin, and it’s not often I get to say sunny Dublin and it’s 4:00 PM in the afternoon here.

Mike (01:09):

Excellent. I’m in Winnipeg, Canada, but I’ll tell you I’ve got a good Irish, half my family is from Ireland, so we’re all on the same page here. Although my accent can’t match yours. It’s nice to hear.

Colm (01:19):

The accent carries me quite far when I’m doing stuff for Two-Brain, that’s for sure.

Mike (01:24):

That’s good. Give me a quick update. What’s the situation like in Ireland with the COVID crisis? We’re recording this on May 28th. Are you guys locked down? When did you lock down? What’s the situation like there?

Colm (01:35):

Yes. So Ireland is pretty conservative and very much ruled by medical advice rather than economists. So they shut schools on the 12th. Then everybody went out to the pub that weekend being Irish and that very quickly changed public opinion. So then Ireland shut down its bars ahead of St. Patrick’s day. That’s how serious we took it. Yes. Ireland shut down as far as ahead of St. Patrick’s Day. We voluntarily moved to an online class system and personalized programming ahead of time. And we’re still in that, was initially a couple of weeks and extended to more and extended to more. And just before our May bank holiday, the government laid out a five stage Growth ToolKit. Now, here’s where it got fun for people in our industry is that stage one allowed outdoor fitness activities, stage three allowed indoor sports and stage five was gyms. So somewhere between May 18th and August 10th gyms are due to open.

Mike (02:31):

  1. I’ve seen some crazy stuff like that in other places too, where they have these weird stages where in some places it’s like business as usual as some minor restrictions, like some parts of the States and you see other places where I literally just saw before this interview, a picture of police officers standing in front of a CrossFit gym and not allowing patrons to come in.

Colm (02:48):

We had a gym close to us try the outdoor thing. Now the outdoor thing was really, you could meet up with friends and go for a cycle or go play in the park. It was very much not a commercial activity. You kind of just stroll into the park and run your commercial venture, but he was doing it in his car park, or parking lot for those in the States who don’t know what a car park is. His parking lot was right across the road from one of our private hospitals. And they got in touch with the police force and the police force came along and said, stop that right now. The indoor sport thing seems to be more where we fall in line and some gyms have got approval by their local government and others have got their local government going, Hey, we’re not touching this.

Colm (03:29):

And I get that. This is like incomplete information. Everybody’s trying to balance the risk of economic depression versus the risk of life. And like, I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes and to take that heat either. So it looks like Ireland will restart, but in the same way that around mid-March the court of public opinion, very much turned to shut it down right now because caseload is reducing so much. And we’ve already started to slowly reopen the country that people are like, OK, let’s speed it up. Let’s speed it up. The rest of Europe is reopening and they’re not experiencing a spike. So why is Ireland being so conservative?

Mike (04:08):

No, that’s fascinating. And it’s happening all over the world in various stages, it kind of shows that we don’t really know exactly what the ideal plan is yet. So at the end of this, it’ll be interesting to see what that was. But you mentioned the economy. Let’s solve some economic problems for gym owners right here. So, you know, in the past, I know we’ve talked a lot on the show and we we’ve done a ton of testing in the Two-Brain group and the marketing group to try and figure out what works. And so eventually we always have a really good idea of this ad, this copy, this procedure, this works, right now our sure things all went away because the COVID crisis hit and everything changed. People are looking for the magic bullet. Have you found one? And if you haven’t, why not? What’s going on right now?

Colm (04:46):

Well, we absolutely have the magic bullet, but you can only get it if you’re a Two-Brain client and you signed up for marketing. No, there’s no one magic bullet that ever worked in the pre-COVID world now, which is an expression we are going to use more and more, in the pre-COVID and the post-COVID. There was, we used to know to like 80% accuracy that this type of ad image and this type of copy will get you this type of leads at this type of price. But there was always variance. There’s a difference between Florida and New York and Colorado and California, about what worked precisely and what you could expect on a more flooded markets versus other flooded markets. And that seems to be saying when we come back as well. Now, the first thing is we’ve noticed an early testing and I do want to stress that it’s early testing is that the typical quote unquote advertisements that involve a very eye catching image and very short, punchy text to get people to pass on their details still works in getting you leads. Now, like the aim of marketing is to make people burn as few calories as possible to get into your door, which is ironic considering the ones that get to us, we’re trying to make them burn as many calories as possible, which means that we want to make it super simple for them to understand what the offer is, super simple for them to sign up and super simple for us to either get on the phone with us or come in and see us. And they’re still the base principles that we’re going to rely on whenever we’re building any campaign.

Mike (06:15):

  1. So we’re still compiling data right now. And I’m curious, so what opportunities are there? I mean, people are probably, I would guess that some of the advertisers are saying, man, the stuff that was working before you said 80% certainty, we’re still kind of confused. The kind of the rug has been pulled out. What opportunities are there for creative people right now to learn and then figure out how to manage the situation.

Colm (06:38):

  1. Well, before we go there, I want to caution people that you don’t want to try and make a quick grab at any point, because it will backfire. Like you don’t want to reopen your gym with social distancing and you used to have classes of 20, and now you have classes of six and then you’re trying to get 50 people into your gym first and foremost. So when we talked to people who’ve reopened the gyms, the first thing we’re doing is asking them, have they re-attracted members who put on pause, who didn’t want the online world and wanted just to get back and touch a barbell and swing from the rig? Have they had to put on extra classes to accommodate capacity and then also mentally, are they ready to start taking intros and talk to people who may or may not be wearing a face mask? You know, which regardless of your feelings on face masks or their effectiveness, it still changes how you read someone because now you can’t see half their face. So you can’t read their facial expressions. Luckily we’ve lived in the Zoom world for the last couple of months. So you should be getting pretty good at reading facial expressions. So that would be the first thing is that don’t jump back into market. Don’t jump back into marketing the second your doors open.

Mike (07:42):

One of the things that we talked about, and I’ll just jump in is we talked about on previous shows and that really kind of falls back in with Two-Brain principles anyways, where if you have clients who are on hold or clients who have canceled, they’re your warmest market, and you don’t have to spend any money to contact these guys, you already have the contact information. You can just speak to these people and say, Hey, here’s our reopening plan. Are you interested? Here’s what else we’re doing. Are you interested? Would you like to reactivate? And do you have any friends and family we can help at this time as well? I know people are stressed and so forth, so that that’s called affinity marketing. And that’s working from your warmest leads outward. And it’s always going to be the first step because it’s the cheapest. And it’s the most effective with the warmest lead. Sorry to interrupt now, fire onto the next part.

Colm (08:22):

No. And I’m agreeing with you and I’m some guy who helps people set up their paid advertising. The second thing we want to look at is that just because the big box gyms are closed, OK, and please don’t use the term globo gym if you’re explaining it to someone outside of CrossFit, they won’t know what you mean. So you could say a access facility, which is just a big, big commercial facility where you scan, go in and wander around and do your own thing versus what we have is a service and appointment facility. That’s good for explaining the between people. So just because they’re not open yet, doesn’t mean we want to grab all their clients straight away. What we want to do is be very, very conscious that we are looking for the long play.

Colm (09:06):

Now, I get that it’s super easy to say, when I’m on a podcast and I’m not suffering from the economic strain, you’re suffering from. You want cash and need cash. Now, maybe your government systems or your savings or your bank loans are running out, but you do not want to go for the quick cash grab because it will backfire for you. And this is something that John and Mateo talked about in the summit last year, which I called the Netflix problem. Netflix, you know, you pay $12 a month, but it costs them a hundred dollars to acquire you. So they don’t make money on you until you’re a year or two in. Now in the pre-COVID world when we set people up with Two-Brain marketing and they got used to, and they follow the steps, we could say with a reasonable degree of confidence, you’re going to earn back what you spent what you give to Mark Zuckerberg. You’re going to make back in month one and some more. So it’s cost neutral. Right now, it’s going to be a case of how valuable is my client? If my client gives 150 bucks by 12 months, that’s close to two grand. I can afford to spend $200 to get them in in month one.

Mike (10:11):

You would want to acquire the right people right now, right? So you don’t want to just cast this huge net, draw in as many people as possible, which is probably going to flood your intake systems. You probably can’t integrate them properly. It’s it’s going to have an effect on your culture and you might acquire what I like to call the fitness tourists who are just going to jump in and try it for a couple of weeks and say, ah, I want to try to spin classes, or I want to try something else. And you’re stuck with potentially an advertising bill for the wrong people.

Colm (10:37):

Absolutely, absolutely. Now, ultimately you do want to start advertising again and you do want to recoup people and you’re going to have people that decide that your gym, for whatever reason, isn’t for them, or maybe they’re in the hospitality business and their income isn’t coming back for a number of months and possibly not till 2021. So we do ultimately want to advertise to them as well. When we start advertising to them, the first step we do is relaunch our old successful campaigns. But with about half the spend. And the reason why I say half the spend is that we’re not sure how your individual market will react. And also you don’t want to be flooded with 50 leads in day one.

Mike (11:19):

So you’re just cautiously putting a foot back in the water to see how things are going. If the sharks are there.

Colm (11:23):

Absolutely. I’ve reviewed the steps. I’ve opened the gym. I’ve got my members who, you know, supported me and paid and valued the service all the way through the online at home period, whatever you want to call it. I never liked the idea of the virtual world because virtual means not real. You’re still giving them real fitness. Yeah. Like everybody should be better at push-ups and air squats and everything body-weight related after all this.

Mike (11:47):

I don’t know what’s wrong with my program. I’m getting worse at them. But that’s another story.

Colm (11:51):

Well CrossFit Ireland has a great personalized programming option for you, Mike.

Mike (11:56):

Sold! I think I’m on your mailing list already.

Colm (11:59):

Brilliant. So we want to get that. When we start advertising, yes, we don’t want to invest too much cash straight away because we want to see how our market reacts. So if normally we were spending $20 a day, we’d recommend starting at $10 a day for the first week or two.

Colm (12:16):

First of all, to see if you’re getting leads, secondly, to see what quality are. And then thirdly, to see is can your coaches handle increased on-ramps? And so on. Remember if you’re running extra classes and you’re dealing with people that were coming back, and there’s probably a whole bunch of emotional strain on why do I have to stand here? How come there’s no kids area open? What do you mean? I can’t, you know, whip people in the tails in the showers anymore or whatever your gym’s rules were prior to this. No, no sweaty hugs, no partner wall ball sit-ups, where we breathe on the wall ball, you’re changing all of this. So your coaches may not have the capacity to deliver a good service to the on-ramps that they do have.

Mike (12:53):

Yeah. There’s definitely a labor issue that comes up here and a spacing and even a capacity issue. So in a lot of places, what you’re seeing is 50% capacity, something like that. You’re seeing spacing guidelines with large blocks of boxes on the floor with tape and so forth. And so you’re seeing members come in and there’s also sometimes mandated cleaning. So all of a sudden you have all these different things where you can’t run the same amount of people through. You have to take screening procedures, which takes more time. You have to clean things which takes more time. All of a sudden your staffing costs are completely changed. In some cases, your members, some of them might want online options, so you’re still doing online coaching and running a physical location, the labor, and you might have lost staff members who you couldn’t pay enough. So there’s a whole crazy issue going on there. So you’re exactly right. I think if you flooded—if you turned on an ad and got flooded, I think you could have a major problem right off the bat.

Colm (13:40):

Yeah. So that’s why we don’t want to take it. Now, I do, like we want to grow and we want to bounce back. This was in nobody’s 2020 plans to lose possibly three, four month’s worth of revenue. And that you do want to get it back. What I’m saying is do it in the way that’s the most sustainable for you.

Mike (13:56):

Exactly. So that’s the third step, correct? Is you’re going to slowly start to increase first. You’re gonna start with like a half ad spend. See what happens and see if it stresses your intake systems or if there’s even a response in the market.

Colm (14:07):

Absolutely. Absolutely. And then we can start looking at, OK, now we can use more catchy, more COVID specific phrases in our advertising. And these can be as simple as, you know, Hey, we’ve got a brand new program to coincide with our reopening offer. Or we can also turn up the scarcity element, which is a great driver of human emotion. So previously we used to say, we’re looking for 10 women in the area. We can say, we’re looking for five and we can even, right, depending on your gym and your local government’s restrictions, like spaces are limited due to social distancing. We can put that in our advertising.

Mike (14:45):

That’s absolutely true.

Colm (14:46):

And this is the crazy thing, spaces were always limited, right? We couldn’t take an infinite number of people, even if you even have your capacity, I don’t know who has a gym has a capacity for a million members, but even at that, you always do have a limited amount.

Colm (15:03):

And this is a perfect amount for your gym. So pre-COVID I could take on four to six new clients a week. Well, when I say I, I mean, I wasn’t doing the OnRamp side, great on-ramp coaches that were doing it. But if I give my evening on-ramp coach eight people to get through in a week, they’re useless to me the following week. They’re just brain dead from that amount of interaction. And I’ve got to see when they come back what’s the optimal number to integrate them and then integrate them into class because once they finish on-ramp, they might not be perfectly ready for class. And then it means they might continue PT.

Mike (15:35):

So a little bit of scarcity right now can work in ads as you start to get further along in the process.

Colm (15:40):

Absolutely, absolutely. Now, again, it’s important to remember and reiterate that the ad’s job is to get you a phone number and a contact, right?

Colm (15:49):

I absolutely love when people book all the way through to an intro and I don’t have to do any work and convince them to come in for a no sweat intro, but not everybody’s like that. The way I see it is, people are scared. OK. They might even be more scared now to reenter a gym, even though—and they might be embarrassed that they’ve put on, you know, 15, 20 pounds during the at home period. So they feel scared and they’re coming into a gym. It’s summer time. People are in booty shorts. I’ve seen the pictures of you in booty shorts, Mike.

Mike (16:17):

They’re on the internet. You can find them on Instagram, CrossFit 204.

Colm (16:20):

So they’re going to be less likely to commit. And this is where we need to be able to help them get out of their own way, get out of their own fear.

Colm (16:31):

And that could be in terms of, Hey, we can do this over the phone, or you can come in, you know, give them the option. Best to always present the option that works well for them.

Mike (16:40):

So when you get this contact info, obviously and people aren’t booking all the way through, and there’s much more hesitation. You need to make sure that you’re following up and that you have a lead nurture process in place. Correct?

Colm (16:51):

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Mike (16:52):

Is that more important now than it was before?

Colm (16:54):

Oh, absolutely because not everybody like out of the millions that have lost their jobs during all this, or were put on furlough. Like they didn’t magically with click with the fingers, get them back as well. And even if they did get them back, you know, they might have new costs, I’ve got to get rid of and debt.

Colm (17:09):

I’ve got to get rid of before I can start thinking of committing to myself. Now, you and I both know and all our listeners know the best thing you can do is take care of your body and have space for yourself so you could be at your most productive, that’s easier said than done. So absolutely getting them on the phone as quick as you can, you know, helping reassure them and not being afraid to call them the number of times. This is still the thing that, you know, as marketing mentors, we have to remind people is that you’re not badgering them. I had a great, great story about a girl named Marta who booked and canceled an intro in September, 2018. And then July, 2019, she comes back on my call sheet. And for whatever reason, I didn’t stop calling her every single day for seven days. And eventually she picks up the phone and she goes, thank you for not giving up on me.

Mike (17:57):

Oh, wow.

Colm (17:58):

Yeah. And you know what? She started with us, signed us up. And then she got her company to do corporate fitness classes with us for a while as well.

Mike (18:06):

Wow. So that one paid off. So, you know, relentless calling, which some people would say, Oh, you’re badgerin this person, annoying them. You actually, that not paid off very well. And she was more than happy that you finally contacted her because she needed something from you.

Colm (18:19):

Absolutely. Absolutely. And like, this is where you’ve got to tell yourself is like, I know if someone gets in my gym with my coaches, they’re going to have a fantastic experience. They’re going to change how they see themselves, their physical health, their mental health and everything. So I’m denying them that gift just because you’re scared, just because you have filled this in in your queue in Starbucks and then said, Oh no, I’m not ready. I’ll do it at home tonight. You’ve been doing it at home for years and it hasn’t worked out for you. Let’s try doing it with a professional. So that’s hugely important.

Mike (18:50):

  1. So that’s the next step is you’re acquiring these leads. Very few are probably going to go all the way through and buy right away. So then you’re warming these leads through calls right away, text messages potentially. You might even have, if you are hooked up with the right people, a lead nurturing sequence of emails and texts that goes out automatically. What’s next in this process and the post-COVID world?

Colm (19:13):

So just cause you mentioned that the automation lead nurtures, that’s like the base level to just get into the game as well. Nothing is going to replace a phone call cause what a phone call does and what a voice does is it changes it from something on the internet, which could be on anything, to oh, there’s a human there.

Mike (19:31):

A real person. It’s much easier to delete an email and it’s much harder to hang up on a person.

Colm (19:38):

Absolutely. Absolutely. And I know people and people generally don’t like talking on the phone, but if they see your number ring and then a text message following up like, Hey, it’s Colm from CrossFit Ireland, saw you were interested. Hoping we can help; hoping we’re a right fit for you.

Mike (19:53):

That doesn’t sound pushy to me. It sounds helpful.

Colm (19:56):

Yeah. And that’s one thing I always like to say is, you know, people are naturally suspicious of salespeople. So like early on in the intro, like pretty much the first thing I’ll say is we’re going to try and find if we’re a right fit. I like saying that because it’s a good pun, but also I’ll tell them that if we are, great, we have something that can help you, great. And if not, I’ll be able to point in the right direction. So now it’s no longer you’re on one side of the table and I’m on the other, trying to sell you. It’s together, we’re looking at your problem and what you’re looking for and we’re looking for a solution together.

Mike (20:27):

And you would legitimately, if you couldn’t help this person and someone else could, you’d legitimately point that person in that direction? Correct?

Colm (20:33):

Yeah, absolutely. Not everybody is for our gym and not everybody is your type of person. And I know it’s very tempting to think if I lose them, I don’t hit my sales target this week, but yeah, you don’t want to bring the wrong person into your gym.

Mike (20:47):

And we don’t, honestly, we don’t take everyone in Two-Brain Business as mentorship clients do we.

Colm (20:52):

Well. No, and it was funny. I was talking to my mentee just before this call as well. And I was saying that like, you know, someone saying that fitness isn’t for them or CrossFit isn’t for them is right. And it’s the same with Two-Brain. It’s like, we’re not for everybody. We possibly potentially have something that could help you, but we’re not for you. We can’t like, again, the big box gym who’s selling $9 a month memberships, I don’t think they’re going to start using the prescriptive model.

Mike (21:20):

No. So that’s, so we’ve got a system here of how we’re going to start moving people back into our sales funnels and delicately putting feet back in the water and so forth. What do you expect? I’m gonna ask you to pull your crystal ball out. What do you expect is going to happen? And again, we’re talking weird timelines all over the world, but just think of the next three to four months. What do you think is going to happen in Facebook advertising? How are things going to change?

Colm (21:41):

OK, well, I’m going to say that’s like a deaf dog. It’s hard to call. So, I mean, you’ve got to start off with, we never know what the future can tell. And I think this has brought it closer to home than ever. What we can tell from early stages. And again, I want to stress that it’s early data. And that’s the thing, we love data, we love using it to drive our decisions, but we never have the full picture. We, you know, we never do have the full picture and it’s always a different learning environment. It’s not like playing chess where it’s always the same pieces and the same rules. It’s, you know, it’s like a football game or a hockey game where the team is going to be different on every different night. And that’s what we’re going to be dealing with in Facebook is that the mood is going to change, but people definitely do want to get back to fitness.

Colm (22:31):

Like people will still want to value their health. And now if there was ever a time where we can send the message of health ed, it’s now, secondly is people have been isolated and they’ve a strong need for human connection. And that’s not what we’re selling. Like we’re not selling thrusters and pull-ups, we’re selling health and connection. So when you’re in a group class, you’re getting a sense of connection and a sense of belonging, which is a deep human need and craving. So that’s what they’re going to be looking for, you know, and if they want help, we’ve got that as well. Facebook is rejecting some ads, some landing pages. And again, I want to say super early. So, my early reports is that lose the quarantine 15 has got about a 50/50 chance of getting approved by Facebook. While I think it’s great and it rhymes and it gives a strong message, Facebook doesn’t like when you deliberately mention someone’s attributes or give specific promises, like you can absolutely lose 15 pounds or 15 kilos as well. So, and also it’s going to flag anything that mentions COVID or coronavirus as well. So we won’t mention that. Now, get back your pre-lockdown fitness is getting through and approved.

Mike (23:44):

So you have to use some euphemisms and other phrases that relate maybe one step away from actually using the names of the disease.

Colm (23:52):

Yes. Yes. So lockdown seems to be fine. Quarantine seems to be fine, you know, post-quarantine fitness offer. That seems to be fine as well. Facebook is also get a little bit more like overzealous with blocking landing pages, particularly click funnels. If you get on a chat though, you can get this reversed or we have been able to, with anyone I’ve had, who’s had their landing page rejected.

Mike (24:15):

Why do you think that is?

Colm (24:17):

Well, everybody is, you know, everybody moved online or moved to an online offer as well. So I’d say a lot more landing pages came up, so they installed just more rules to check it. And it’s just a false positive coming through.

Mike (24:30):

  1. Cause, when you speak to them, like, is there anything fundamentally wrong with using landing pages that they’re saying, this is a bad thing we don’t want? Or what’s the rationale here?

Colm (24:41):

No, they’re all like, Oh, we’ve had some complaints and you know, we’re just being over protective and the boss is over-protective, but once a human sees it, they’re like, no, that’s fine. That’s been approved.

Mike (24:51):

And they’re essentially looking just to see that the landing page reflects their advertising policies and so forth. Correct?

Colm (24:56):

Absolutely. Absolutely. Like Facebook doesn’t want anything that targets people on personal attributes and you know, or makes specific claims. So the things, you know, so Hey Toby, you’re going to lose 10 kilos is not going to get approved.

Mike (25:10):

  1. So that’s interesting. Cause I have seen some of these are older pages, saying, you know, six week challenge, lose 10 pounds in six weeks. Is that kind of phrasing completely done?

Colm (25:20):

That would be hard to get across. Now in previous times we’ve given like shoutouts for engagement campaigns with members and said like, well done to Rory for losing 30 kilos. And Facebook has rejected that because it thought we were promising everybody. And when we got on with Facebook and chatted to them and said, we’re not saying you can lose 30 kilos. We’re saying this gentleman did lose 30 kilos. It gets approved for an engagement campaign.

Mike (25:44):

  1. So that’s interesting. So Facebook is ever changing, but if things are rejected off the bat, definitely contact them and do some negotiating. You might be able to get some things through or at least find out what the problem is.

Colm (25:56):

Yes. You can hit review or you can go into it, now like Facebook also has a whole bunch of versions out of that as well. So like you’ve got—and they don’t make it like super easy to talk to someone. You know, it’s not like a big, giant chat button cause they’ve obviously to pay for these people. So you’ve got to like go into settings and scroll down and you see the tiny little text in the bottom right hand corner. It says help center and click about 20 times though. It’s the exact opposite of what we want our ads to be. We want our ads to be as few clicks as possible. Whereas Facebook help wanted to make it as many clicks as possible. So you go, ah, forget it.

Mike (26:27):

  1. So what are the signs that you should start maybe wrapping your ad spend back up from that half price intro when you’re just checking things out to maybe normal levels, what would give you the confidence to start doing that and scrolling things up a little bit?

Colm (26:44):

So my general rule for change of any advertising is don’t make any reactions within two weeks because you’re going to have a natural cycle throughout the week of like, so we’ll always see a bump in new inquiries Sunday, Monday that’s obviously when people are I’m presuming that’s when people are hung over, they’ve had the takeaway, they’re like, I desperately need to get fit, the phone hears them say I need to get fit and goes, well, here’s an ad for that. And then they do like, you’ll get a drop off throughout the week and then it spikes back up as well. So don’t ever panic if you like, you get leads for a couple of days and then they dip and then they grow again, that as completely normal. So give yourself at least two weeks of low ad spend also then check if, you know, are you getting people in for intros?

Colm (27:24):

And are you getting them started with their on-ramps for personal training and check with your coaches. Do they have the capacity or do you have the capacity to gather more people? Then if it’s working, then we turn up our ad spend. If it’s not, then we tweak, give it two weeks and then turn it up. And I say this all knowing like from the comfort sitting out here at home right now that you might desperately need to replace 10 members. And I know it’s super easy to say, but dumping a whole bunch of cash into Mark Zuckerberg’s pocket without knowing you’re going to get cash back is not the way to go.

Mike (27:56):

  1. So as you are ramping up this ad spend and you talked about starting with your most effective ads from the pre-COVID days, let’s talk about some tips for people that maybe after they do that they want to start creating some ads. And again, we’re in the early stages, we’re trying to figure things out, but like what kind of photos and images and copy would you start using right now, if you were looking at trying to run some new campaigns that maybe not stuff you tested before, but some newer stuff.

Colm (28:23):

So any of the ad campaigns that I’ve started with with clients of gyms have opened is have taken elements of the existing campaigns that we know have worked. So the copy huge opportunity always tends to work quite well for people. People love opportunities. They love the word challenge and they love fixed term challenges. So Delores on the couch on her third Domino’s pizza of the week, she doesn’t want to have to like exercise for the rest of her life, but she could do three weeks, six weeks or 90 days that makes it palatable for her as well. Images should be bright and they should be eye catching. So if you scroll through Facebook, the predominant color scheme on Facebook is blue and white. So anything that breaks that color is very, very good. You know, I was literally about to use like the big orange square that the fire festival did years and years ago. It worked, it built hype because like, what’s this orange square man. I mean, if you had like someone doing, you know, back squat or someone on an exercise bike with a big orange background that is going to be enough of an eye catcher to stop people. And you always want to—

Mike (29:33):

No, but that’s interesting. I mean, if you just think about how you scroll, you’re scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, and it’s kind of a natural movement. And then all of a sudden you kind of stop and tap when something really breaks some sort of pattern. So if you can do it with an ad or a photo or an image or video, you’re going to have a better chance of people taking a look at what you’re seeing, what you’re going to say and maybe click on that button.

Colm (29:52):

Yeah. And then when we want to do is we want to make the copy super simple, super easy to understand. Generally the shorter copy, the better. This is funny because I’m someone who like researches in depth before I even consider adding something to my cart. And then I leave it for a day and then I go back. So I’m not the best guy to talk to, but like a simple one that says, Hey, we’ll help you regain your lost fitness, apply below, is way better than we’re going to bring you through 50 million steps. And this is how it’s going to work. And we’re going to work on your cardiovascular system and your strength system and your endurance system, like, Mmm, that’s the genius of Glassman, but we don’t want to like copy fitness in a hundred words and Glassman’s what is fitness complete article to the ad because I’ll turn it off.

Mike (30:37):

So let me ask you this. Would you, with that one simple message help you regain your pre-COVID fitness, would you use that and experiment with some longer form versions that again, very clear the same point over and over again, would you experiment with some long form copy now or would you just stay very short with that one message?

Colm (30:56):

My take is very short, but the beautiful thing with Facebook is that if you set up a dynamic creative, you don’t need to do as many experiments as possible. And what a dynamic creative is, is in the ad set. I know we’re talking very specifics right now, in the ad set there’s a button that says dynamic creative. And basically you give Facebook a bunch of options, like five to 10 photos, five ad copies and five headlines. And instead of you creating five by five by five is 125. You, instead of you creating 125 individual ads, running them for a week and then going, which ones are the best? You just give Facebook all of this and it recombines it.

Mike (31:33):

Yeah. And we’ve talked about this a little bit with Mateo in a previous show. It’s an amazing system. I can tell you I’ve used it. It lets the robots do the work. You don’t have to analyze the data because Facebook ultimately wants you to make sales because they want your money. They’re going to figure it out for you. And they’re going to start finding the combinations that are the big winners. And so it’s an amazing system. The downside for the person who’s using it is that you have to have different pieces of creative to input for Facebook to use. If you’re very good at creating that, you’re all good. If you’re not, there’s going to be some trouble. And that’s where guys like Colm come in and Two-Brain marketing, where they have things that they can then help you input because not everyone is a creative writer. Not everyone is a great photographer. Not everyone knows how to pick the right stock images and do all this stuff. So we can teach you how to do this stuff. Have you had a lot of success with helping people that, Colm? Getting people to use the dynamic system through the techniques and copy and swipe files that we have?

Colm (32:25):

Yeah. The dynamic creative is brilliant. I like telling people is that this is one of the few instances where Facebook and our interests are perfectly aligned. They want others to make sales. So we get money in. So we keep advertising with them. And it’s win for everybody as well. And it’s a win for our clients because again, we’re not selling snake oil, we’re not selling, you know, stuff they don’t need. I almost swore there, so that was the pause.

Mike (32:50):

We can bleep it out and we’ve got an editor who can bleep it out for us if we ever need.

Colm (32:56):

So yeah, the dynamic creative work, the drawback is then that we won’t really know which is the perfect winning combination, but we can always then do experiments as well with this. For most of the gym owners I talked to is they don’t want to become Facebook experts. They want Facebook to work for them as well. And that’s what we do when we bring people through the course. It’s like, you know, on the second call, when we’re reviewing their ads, if you see your numbers are good, you don’t need to dig any deeper. But we teach them how to dig deeper. So they know what to fix even when your Facebook ads campaign start stalling out.

Mike (33:29):

Before I ask you the next question, you mentioned the course, how can people learn more about this with you guys?

Colm (33:35):

Oh, it’s all part of when you sign up with Two-Brain, you bring through your initial ramp up phase, and then when your mentor checks in the Growth ToolKit and sees you’re ready for digital marketing and Facebook marketing, they refer you on to a digital marketing expert.

Mike (33:49):

And that would be someone like you or someone on your team, correct?

Colm (33:52):

Yes. Yeah. And again, I know I’m going to beat the dead horse with this as well, but like marketing mightn’t be the thing that fixes all your problems. If you’ve broken systems and bad attitudes and your gym, that needs to be fixed first. And I know and I’ve been there and I’ve been there when like, you know, expenses were hired and revenue coming in. And I felt like all I needed to do was just bring in more clients, but I still have to go through the seed client exercise, make sure I have the right client to make sure I told my gym what our values are what our mission was, what our vision was, because getting that right meant that when people came in, we could filter them and then also other members could reinforce the message.

Mike (34:31):

So if you ever want to talk about this and find out if a mentorship is right for you, go to Two-Brain, you can book a free call there. And what we’ll do is we’ll find out if it’s a good fit and then get you hooked up and a mentor will tell you when it’s right to start working on the marketing end of it. It’s a great system and I have used it for many years at our gym. I can tell you that already. OK. Going on. So you’ve got talking about the stuff that you could put in the creative, you’re going to use probably dynamic creative. That’s a good way to cast a very wide net. And you’re going to try and break the eye. You know, the patterns that people are seeing on Facebook. Is there any other tips, like, are we still talking like our attractive males and females are attractive people and smiling people and that’s still a thing. Or what else would we put in there?

Colm (35:11):

So as a general rule, more aspirational images work better.

Mike (35:17):

I want to be like that.

Colm (35:17):

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Generally. Yeah. The more aspirational and there’s nothing wrong with stock images. I’ve never had someone come into my gym and say, Hey, where’s that girl from the ad? Now having said that I’ve used a combination of stock images and girls or guys from my gym. And this is the thing with advertising is that it is a constant process of tests, tweak, test, and tweak, you know, nothing ever ends. It’s like programming. It’s like refining your playbook. It’s like coaching. Everything is test and tweak and test and tweak and test and tweak. But nothing wrong with stock images. The aim is we have something good. We have a good product, a good service. We have a place or a service where people are going to enrich their lives. And if a stock image is the thing that gets them out of their self doubt and gets them out of, Oh, OK, well, I could polish off this bag of Doritos or I could, you know, sign up for this service and see what this guy or girl has to talk to me. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that as well.

Colm (36:19):

And I’ve had images where it’s like one or two people laughing, hugging. I was like, this image is great. I’ll throw it out. And it’s been [squelch sound], which is the technical term. And then I’ve had images where like, well, I’m not sure if this will work and it’s crushed for a couple of weeks and then come back to normal. So it is a process of test and tweak and test and tweak.

Mike (36:39):

Always track your data. Mateo Lopez, our other marketing expert has said that forever. You need to do it.

Colm (36:45):

I wonder why he keeps repeating that?

Mike (36:47):

I don’t know. It must be because he’s tracking and testing his data and seeing results. Are you seeing any trends with regards to things like lead magnets or things like that? Like what are the compelling offers that are like, you’re saying it’s going to be tough to sell things maybe directly right away what you’re really trying to get, you’re trying to acquire that email address, that contact info, permission to speak to a person, are lead magnets working at all right now?

Colm (37:12):

When we initially went into COVID we tried like, here’s our at home workout PDF, download that as well. And we did get leads. So for those who don’t know what a lead magnet is, it’s basically, it’s also known as an ethical bribe, which is a hilarious term, but that’s what it’s known as, it’s basically you give me your email and I’ll give you something of value in return. So in this case, that something of value could be like, here’s our healthy eating guide or here’s some at home workouts or here’s the five things you need to know of joining a gym. And it’s providing information in the form of value. And you’re giving me your email back in the form of value as well. They will generally get you lower cost leads, but because we’re not asking for a sale, then it’s a much longer sales process.

Colm (37:55):

That’s where you need the likes of your automated emails that go out once a week and say, Hey, here’s what problems we see in the fitness industry. Hey, here’s what happens when people try and lose weight and fail. Here’s what happens when people try to build muscle and fail as well. So lead magnets will generally get you lower price leads, but the sales cycle becomes much longer. The other option then is the direct call to action, which is like, Hey, we’re looking for five or 10 people to join our revamped post lockdown, post quarantine program apply below. Now people know going in when they’re giving their information it’s these people want me to join the gym. So that cost you a little bit more. But the flip side is they understand that you’re trying to start the sales conversation with them.

Mike (38:41):

So they’re pre-qualified essentially, where they know that this their basically whatever you call it, no sweat intro, orientation. You’re basically coming for a sales meeting more or less. They know that. So yes, exactly. In this situation, if you can’t afford to play the long game and nurture things over a period of six or seven months, a lead magnet might not be the thing at this exact moment in time if you need to have some financial recovery. But if you’re in this for the next five years and you want to you know, stick around and you have the systems in place to nurture some stuff, you can then use a lead magnet, potentially if you want it to acquire some leads that you’re going to warm up over time.

Colm (39:19):

Absolutely. Absolutely. And like all the leads I’ve gotten that haven’t converted throughout COVID, whether they got through a lead magnet or whether they applied for the 21 day challenge as well, they’re still in there. So when we reopen, they’re going to be emailed again, saying, Hey, we’re opened. And then if you’re you’re doing your job right, when you’ve called them up, you’ve left a little note or maybe create a little file on your computer going. These people just want in person training. And these are the first people I’ll call.

Mike (39:45):

All right, as we close this out, we’ve always said people should track their data. So if you’re not a data tracking person, Colm, tell me exactly what people should be looking at right now so that they can make smart decisions on advertising going forward.

Colm (39:58):

  1. So the number one metric they should look at, and again, we hate to reduce to just one metric because it’s not just one, it’s the top priority is your ROI, your return on investment. So if it costs me $150 to get a client and the client comes in and pays me $151 in month one, bingo, I’m $1 up, it’s cost neutral. Even if it costs me $150 to acquire a client in June and July, and the client only pays me $75 per month, I’m still good because I know they’re going to stick with me for on average six to 12 months, and they’re going to pay on average 150, 200 books per month. So the first thing is your ROI. If you are cost neutral in month one from Facebook advertising, you are winning, then it’s all down to how you’re delivering your service and extracting the most value and the most lifetime value out of the client. That’s the number one metric you want to look at.

Mike (40:57):

And so that’s supported the numbers that you essentially need to make confident decisions, and Two-Brain recommends that you always track this stuff. You need to know average revenue per member, and you need to know length of engagement so that you can start looking at if a person joins, how likely is that person going to stay for X months? And what kind of price am I going to expect; that allows you to make really easy decisions, because again, if you know that that person, if it costs you $150 to get that person, but he’s probably going to stay for seven months at $150 a month, you’re probably winning right away with that lead cost. Would you take that, spending 150 bucks to get someone for seven months with $150 a month of income?

Colm (41:34):

Yeah, I’d take that all day, all day. I do get that. That can cause a, you know, cash flow strain when you’re starting off as well. If you’re just in Facebook, looking at numbers, the two big numbers we want to look at are your cost per click and your cost per lead. And if your cost per click is below $2, you know, with reasonable certainty that your ad is good enough at catching people’s eye. Your cost per lead is more an indication of your ad and your landing page or your ad plus your offer combined. Previously, we would have seen that the cost per lead would be about 10 times your cost per click, right now it’s about 20 times your cost per click. So just bear that in mind as well, people are less likely to get going, but that’s normal. And again, as the months go on and as social distancing becomes the norm or gets retracted, people are going to want to get back into fitness.

Mike (42:28):

As we get further along and more places open, will you come back and talk to us more about what you’re seeing?

Colm (42:33):

Absolutely. Yeah.

Mike (42:33):

All right. Thank you so much for being here and thank all of you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. I’m Mike Warkentin, I’m here with a digital marketing expert Colm O’Reilly. If you want more actionable advice based on data, you need to check out Gym Uwners United on Facebook. It’s a private group, which you can get in by answering the intake questions. In it, you’ll find daily tactics from Chris Cooper, as well as the support of a host of business owners from all over the world. That group again is Gym Owners United, it’s on Facebook, join today. Thank you so much for tuning into Two-Brain Radio. Please subscribe for more episodes, wherever you get your podcasts.

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