Beginner’s Guide to Running Facebook Ads for Local Businesses


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Facebook ads for local businesses is one of the best ways for brick and mortar business owners to compete with a growing number of challenges…

Big box stores can run multi-million dollar ad campaigns. Ecommerce sites have insanely low overhead that let’s them sell products for low, low prices. And, the media has changed the way we advertise.

To put it simply, it’s hard out there for a brick and mortar business.

And, if you’re a small business owner, what you can you do about it?

You can embrace one of the most effective and low cost marketing solutions – Facebook ads.

If you’re already on Facebook, you know what a powerful platform it is and this article is going to teach you why Facebook ads work for local businesses and how to create your first ad campaign for just a few dollars a day.

Okay, let’s just get to business…

Your Beginner’s Guide to Running Facebook Ads for Local Businesses

First, why Facebook Ads for local businesses work

1. Traditional advertising is, well… kind of dead

In the past decade or two media has changed drastically. Newspapers and magazines are going fully digital, and some are folding. We watch TV through services like Netflix and Hulu instead of local channels or paying for cable. And, streaming music services have replaced the radio.

As traditional forms of media have been on the decline, social media has grown, and grown, and grown. And as old media withers away, so does traditional advertising.

Spending your money on those kinds of ads just isn’t an effective use of your funds.

2. It’s like putting your storefront in front of the right customers

Say you run a doggie grooming salon. Your customers will mostly live in your area. They’re obviously dog lovers. Gen X and millennials might be more likely to take their dogs to a groomer than older or younger generations.

That’s really valuable information, and you can use it to target your audience. This means you can show your ads to the kind of people who are more likely than others to pay for your services.

Now, that’s for finding new customers, but you can take it even farther – if you have email addresses or phone numbers from past customers, you can target those people with special ad campaigns that encourage them to stop back in.

3. Facebook ads make it easy to promote offers

Let’s think about those past customers that you can target. What would entice them to come back in? What about a coupon for $5 off their next grooming service?

Facebook makes it super easy to bring those folks back in with offer ads. Here’s how it works:

  • Your targeting will show that offer to returning or potential customers.
  • They can bookmark the offer to use later.
  • Facebook reminds them about the offer when they’re near your business.
  • They can bring the ad on their phone or print it out when they’re ready to claim it.

You can even see the number of people who bookmark your offer, how many people claim it, and use that data for better offers in the future.

Offer ads is just one option for small business owners. There are a variety of campaign types, objectives, and ways to use ads. You can start with simple options like offer ads and work your way up to more complex systems as you learn more.

You can start running ads for just a few bucks a day

If you wanted, you could spend as little as $1/day on your Facebook ads. Honestly, that’s not going to do a whole lot, which is why we suggest you start your ad spend at $15/day.

When you consider that you can put your ads in front of the right people, you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck.

The other aspect here is that you’re in control of what you spend. You can set limits and adjust your budget by single dollar amounts.

Running Facebook ads for local businesses is a skill you can learn

Learning how to run Facebook ads for local businesses, whether it’s your own brick and mortar or if you’re interested in working as an ads manager, is a valuable and attainable skill. There is a lot of free information out there, but there are some incredibly comprehensive courses that make it easy to learn and start earning.

Shameless plug for our own course – Facebook Side Hustle Course.

It was created by Mike Yanda (lawyer turned digital marketer who now earns around $30,000/month from his Facebook ad agency, and he’s also a work-at-home dad) and Bobby Hoyt (the blogger behind Millennial Money Man).

These two combined their experience and knowledge and created a course that teaches future digital marketers how to run ads for small business owners, but it’s also a great way to learn how to run ads for your own business.

The Facebook Side Hustle Course goes in-depth on:

  • How to generate leads with FB ads
  • A comprehensive look at every single function of the Facebook ad platform
  • The anatomy of ads that perform well
  • How to choose the correct campaign objective
  • Installing and using the pixel
  • Scaling ads
  • Troubleshooting your ads

And more!

Click over to the Facebook Side Hustle Course to see what else the course has to offer.

How to create Facebook ads for local businesses

What you’re about to read is a simple and condensed guide to running Facebook ads for local businesses.

Before we get started, you’re going to be using Facebook Ads Manager for what you’re about to learn. You can click on that link for Ads Manager to check it out and get to know some of the functions we’ll be talking about.

Step 1: Your objective

Even though your broad objective is increasing sales, you’re going to have to focus on a more specific way of doing that. Facebook calls this your Marketing Objective, and there are three types on Facebook:

  • Awareness: You’re generating interest.
  • Consideration: You want people to start thinking about your business and becoming interested in learning more.
  • Conversion: This is nudging people towards buying your products or services.

For the sake of this guide, we’re going to pick consideration as our marketing objective. Facebook breaks that down even farther with traffic, engagement, app installs, video views, lead generation, and messaging.

We’re going with engagement. This objective means that we want the ad you create to get people to like, comment, and share it.

Those likes and comments and share will get other people to see it in a really powerful way. See, once it’s shared, your ad becomes a recommendation from someone’s friend, not an ad a business owner paid for.

Now, engagement doesn’t lead to sales at the same rate as the conversion does, but we’re staying away from conversion in the beginning because that involves some higher-level tools like the Facebook pixel.

Read more at Facebook Local Awareness Ads.

Step 2: Target your audience

Remember the example of the doggie grooming salon? We talked about how it’s better to target people who live in your area and those who like dog related things on Facebook? That’s exactly how we’re going to think about targeting your ad (even if you aren’t a dog salon owner).

Let’s start with the location: You can enter your city, area, or zip code. You can adjust it even more by selecting a radius.

As you’re working on targeting, you’ll see what the potential reach is for your audience. Try to keep that above 10,000. You also don’t want anything that’s too big, like more than 1,000,000 without detailed targeting.

Now detailed targeting: A few options here are demographics, gender, and interests. For our doggie salon, interests would be a good one to click on. Dogs or pets are going to be obvious choices.

Once that’s finished, you’re going to want to select “Automatic Placements” to make sure that the maximum number of people can see your ad. It means that you’re letting Facebook determine who the best candidates are for your ads, and Facebook does a great job at targeting.

Step 3: Create your ad

Your objective should be on your mind when creating your ad, and in case you forgot, ours is engagement. We want to create an ad that people comment on, share, and like.

I’m going to get to that in a minute, but there are a couple of key components that every ad needs, no matter what the objective is:

  • High-quality images. Using an original photo, like one that shows off your exact business, is going to be more effective than stock photos. Keep that in mind.
  • Compelling copy. Whether you write something lengthy or short and sweet, it needs to be good. And to engage your audience, ask them a question and/or tell them to do something.

Below is an ad shared by Sprout Social. It has a beautiful photo and prompts the audience to do something – share this fig tart recipe! And the audience gets something from this ad – a recipe for this gorgeous looking tart! It’s a win-win!

In this image, you also see the key components of an ad. There is your business name and info, your compelling copy, that high-quality photo, and a CTA (call-to-action) that gets people to engage with this post.

The shares would go something like, “Ohmigod drooling, I’m making this tonight!”

Step 4: Your Facebook ads for local businesses budget

Your ad spend is going to depend on what you have budgeted, so we’re not going to spend much time here. What you do need to know is that your ad spend is broken down by day. So, if you’re able to spend $500 for the month, that’s approximately $17/day.

Some businesses won’t be able to spend that much (some won’t want to until they see some results), and some will have even more to spend.

And the simple reality about your ad spend is that the more you spend, the more people will see your ads.

Here’s where we draw the line when running Facebook ads for local businesses – ideally, you don’t spend less than $15 per day. Anything less is a waste of time and money.

Read more at How to Run Facebook Ads for Clients in 5 Simple Steps. 

Step 5: Optimize your ad

Optimizing your ad means you’re going to find a way to make it better. There are in-depth ways to do this, but we’re going to keep it super simple for now.

Start by looking at your ad and finding something to change. Maybe the photo isn’t as eye-catching as you wanted. Maybe the headline isn’t right. Or, maybe you’ve got something wrong with the targeting.

Pick one thing about your ad to change. Only one! And make that change. Really, it can be as simple as switching out a photo or changing some demographic targeting. Then, run that new ad at the same time as the original. This is called A/B testing.

You’re going to split your budget between the two ads now, and see which one does better after a few days.

To see which ad is performing better:

  • Go into Ads Manager and see which one has the lower CPC (cost per click) – this measures the number of people who click on your ad. The lower the CPC, the more people have clicked.
  • You can also look at the number of people across different demographics who have interacted with your ads. Did something change?
  • Check on the number of likes, shares, comments, etc.

You can keep testing different variations until you feel like you’ve got it right. But remember, only one change at a time.

After you find something that works, keep it going. Check on it every once in a while and tweak it as needed.

The final word on running Facebook ads for local businesses

Facebook ads is probably the most effective way to spend your advertising dollars, and that’s especially true for small, local businesses. And, what you’ve just read is only a taste of what you can do with Facebook ads for local businesses.

There are so many different kinds of ads. You can put videos in yours, play with carousel ads, create sales funnels, use Facebook Messenger, and more.

It all starts with what we covered today. And when you’re ready for even more in-depth information, our Facebook Side Hustle Course is packed full.

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