If you’re not doing Facebook advertising, you’re missing out on some easy money...

01 August 2016, at 1:00am

Paul Green looks at a cost-effective and simple to use avenue of advertising which practices can utilise to increase awareness with little real effort.

TWENTY YEARS AGO, IF YOUR PRACTICE was around it probably advertised in the local newspaper. That’s just what vets did back then, because in the mid-1990s it was one of the most effective ways to reach local people. The newspaper had the distribution network, and you paid to get your message distributed. 

The old-fashioned methods like newspapers and Yellow Pages are still hanging on, but they are dramatically less effective today than they were in the mid-1990s because today the primary distribution method for reaching the right people is of course the internet.

Adverts in local newspapers might still produce some results, but they’re nowhere near as cost-effective as Google and Facebook.

A part of our brain called the Reticular Advertising System (RAS) filters out sensory information it considers to be irrelevant to our conscious mind.

Unless someone is looking for a vet right now, their RAS won’t see the adverts when they interrupt them reading the paper or listening to the radio.

The internet is different. When someone Googles for “vets, your town” they are very open to the commercial messages that are about to be put in front of them. Thousands of times a second, Google matches people who are looking to buy something with advertisers who are willing to pay to put their message in front of those people.

So what about Facebook advertising then? Surely that’s interrupting people when it places adverts into people’s news feeds. Technically, yes. But Facebook advertising is a unique and delightfully powerful tool to use because it allows you to target very specific people, in ways that you could only dream about a few years ago.

You see, the marketing fundamentals haven’t changed in 20, 30 – even 100 years. Getting success from advertising still comes from putting the right message in front of the right people at the right time.

Newspaper adverts worked all those years ago because the distribution figures were so high, and there were few alternative outlets to reach local people. They were blunt tools, but they worked. Facebook advertising is a sharp and highly cost-effective tool, but this party won’t last more than a few more years. What do I mean by that?

In the early part of the century you could advertise on Google for pence. It was possible to spend a few pence per click to reach huge numbers of people. As Google has got bigger, the prices have gone up. Today you can pay a couple of pounds for a click.

Facebook advertising is only a few years old. Facebook has an enormous audience (on a typical day, one in seven people on the planet use it). And it’s possible to generate hundreds – if not thousands – of pounds of work from a spend of just £10 a day. Yes, really.

That will not be the case forever. Basic economics says that as demand goes up and the supply stays the same, the price must rise.

It’s already generating more than $12 billion a year for Facebook – up from $1 billion in 2010 – and they will want to double that within a few years, no doubt.

So make 2016 the year that Facebook advertising really works for your practice. The beautiful thing is, the system is so easy to use that anyone can just have a go at it. And I do mean anyone. Unlike Google advertising which is complicated and difficult to use, Facebook advertising is simple yet powerful.

It’s the kind of thing you can get set up in an evening with the TV on in the background, and then spend 10 minutes a day tweaking because you’ll know within a few days if it’s generating business or not.

Some basics

To do Facebook advertising effectively, you must have an active page for the practice. Log into your practice account and go to www.

Facebook’s own user guide is a great introduction. Just remember that a great Facebook advert has three components: 

  • Targets the right audience
  • Great design (especially the image, which catches their attention)
  • Crystal clear next step (call to action)

You want your adverts to send people to your website, and there are three groups of people you should target.

New clients

Select people who live within a certain geographical location (such as 2km of your practice). You can pick men or women (they respond to different messages). Age range. Primary language spoken. Employment or relationship status. Interests. Pets owned. The number of choices is endless. This is where you can play with Facebook advertising to endlessly tweak your campaigns.

Existing clients or prospects

You can upload a database of e-mail addresses you already hold. This is called a custom audience. Facebook will match your e-mail addresses to its users. Then show them a speci c message. This can be a great way to target your health plan at speci c existing clients, for example.

People who have visited your website 

There’s something called a Facebook pixel. This is a bit of code you embed into selected pages in your website. You can then show specific messages to anyone who visits that page. This is called re-marketing. If you’ve ever experienced an advert seeming to follow you around the web, this is how it’s done.

There’s so much more that I could write about Facebook advertising, that I could fill dozens of articles about it. Rather than read more about it, the best thing you can do is just jump in and have a go. Trust me, it’s very simple to use, but very effective.