27 March 2022 |

Sharma – 03/27/2022

By Nik Sharma

Happy Sunday!

I hope you’re feeling relaxed, accomplished, and ready to dive into the Sunday email. To keep the tradition alive, I hope you’re sitting back, feet up, and you have a beverage in your hand, maybe a Monday cocktail, or a Feastables bar!?

In a few weeks, I’ll co-host a panel on inventory forecasting and planning with Cogsy, Caraway, and Three Ships. Sign up here!

From the contest a few weeks ago, we have a winner! Congrats to Cam Maple, the founder behind Wavy Blue. I’m absolutely stoked to have you in New York soon at the Sharma Brands office, and at an upcoming Sharma Brands event in NYC!

If this newsletter has been even slightly helpful to you, please take 14 seconds to send it to one person who also might find it useful.

I’ll be hosting a few upcoming events and people who are on the referral leaderboard are all getting invites 😉.

Just copy and share your unique link with others:

Ok, now, let’s get into today’s email — taking it back to the problem of “Our FB ads are getting too expensive”. The most common ask I get for Sharma Brands from brands doing under $20M in annual revenue is, “how do we make our Facebook ads work better?”

The brand most likely primarily looks at Facebook ads as their primary source of customer acquisition, and the challenges from Apple’s iOS 14.5 updates, onwards, haven’t made that any easier. So the million-dollar question is — how DO we make them more efficient? The short answer is: Sharma Brands only works with 6-7 brands at any time, which allows us to go DEEP with the brand’s entire marketing strategy, versus just paid ads. But, here’s the long answer, derived from a client we just did this with:

“Fixing Facebook ads” has everything to do with all the things outside of Facebook ads manager itself. We focused on getting better with:

  • Pixel tracking / attribution
  • Ad creative
  • Angles to test as “hooks”
  • The problem we are solving
  • Landing pages
  • PR for the brand/founders
  • Testing into new organic channels

What most people tend to think when Facebook ads aren’t working is that the ad platform is broken (which, sure, it usually always has something wrong), but that’s about 10% of the equation. 9 out of 10 times, it’s more than the brand hasn’t properly figured out all the levers are their disposal that revolves AROUND the media buy itself.

Pixel Tracking & Attribution

With iOS 14.5 and beyond, what has happened is Apple has made it significantly harder for tracking events to be sent back like they used to be. In previous years, Facebook knew, based on what exactly people did on their phones (websites they visited, time spent on a site, when they went to read product reviews, etc) when to serve an ad, with the creative/copy that had the highest probability to convert customers. Now, that’s all gone, which also means the data that you see in your ad platforms isn’t AS accurate as it can be. This, alone, is why it’s increasingly important to build your own “bank” of zero-party data with platforms like Octane. In the example above, you had a ton of “zero party data” but it was all housed within Facebook and only available to use by Facebook.

We also now add proper attribution software to each client — we use Northbeam. This allows us to understand when a Facebook campaign is showing 2 purchases, and a Google campaign shows 47 purchases, that actually 38 of those should’ve been given credit to Facebook. Understanding attribution helps us understand where to pull back spend, and where to add more, even if the ad platforms themselves don’t give us a clear answer.

Ad Creative

If you’ve opened Instagram in the last 3 years, you’ve probably realized that the UGC-style creative or influencer-style is now getting played out in the way of trying to trick consumers. It doesn’t mean that UGC creative can’t work, I still think it’s some of the most effective creative you can put live, but you have to realize people are pretty good at detecting fake BS.

This ad from Womaness is a perfect example of telling something in a raw/UGC-esque style, but not trying to hide the fact that it’s an ad at the end of the day.

When I first started running Facebook ads in 2014, you could find a winning ad creative and run it for sometimes months at a time. Today, you have to understand that ad creative maybe lasts a few weeks, and have the infrastructure to crank out new creative to test.

I attended an eCommerce dinner in LA 2 weeks ago, and when the question of “What’s absolutely necessary to win in DTC nowadays” was asked to Connor from Ridge Wallet, his answer was that you needed to have in-house content creation as a core skill. Whether that’s managing a number of external content creators, agencies, ambassadors, etc. to create content, or hiring a small team in-house, you have to do it.

New “Hooks” to Test

When a brand launches, there might be a reason that it launches, and that might be enough to get the business off the ground.

When Hint Water was put out, it was all about “Flavored drinks with no sugar.” That may have gotten it to a certain level, but then the question becomes, how else do you bring the product to new audiences.

My favorite way to go about this is to think of 25 reasons someone should buy the product, and list them out. Out of those 25, you might discover that at least 15 of those haven’t been tested as new angles of WHY someone should try/buy the product to better their own lives. The key, though, is that these reasons all help better someone’s life, not that they help YOU trick someone else into buying it.

New hooks bring you new audiences. Bake these into your ad creative, landing page hero sections, post-purchase email communication, and you’ll be able to quickly find new cohorts of customers to serve.

Reiterate the Problem

On the contrary to what I wrote above, sometimes we get so engrossed in coming up with new landing pages, new offers, and new angles that we forget that the product we’re trying to get into people’s hands is also really helpful.

On a recent client call, I heard that a product was something that our customers kept telling us, “I’ve tried so many different solutions, and this is the only one that has worked for me!” So, my response back was just literally, “We need to take the reason that our product works better, create content of that, and run it.”

No special angle or hook, just explain why this works better for the problem that we’re solving. That’s all. Sometimes it’s just about getting simple and back to the main problem.

Landing Pages

Just like how UGC creative is something that consumers are less responsive to, so are stale landing pages. You can’t just follow a playbook, even like the one we released months ago. You need to innovate on what you’re doing all the time.

The best way we do this, is by using Microsoft Clarity on top of every landing page we put out and improvise on, so we can understand what kept someone on the page, or earned a click, versus what got completely glossed over and wasn’t as important as we thought it was.

Top of Funnel

The top-of-funnel marketing gets so overlooked in our hyper-competitive world of running paid ads. That includes what creators/influencers are saying about the product, the trade press (Beauty Independent, WWD, etc), the tabloid-ish press (TMZ, People, etc), the internet publisher press (PopSugar, Bustle, etc), talk shows on TV, podcasts, and more are all saying.

This also includes paid top-of-funnel placements like billboards, TV commercials, sponsoring an event, etc.

It’s all with the goal of getting education through to consumers of who you are and what you do OR being loud/exciting enough to where consumers care to find out for themselves what you do.

Don’t sleep on any opportunity to build your top of the funnel. Focus on understanding how a potential customer should come to find out about your brand to give them the highest probability of understanding how you can help them.

Testing into Organic Channels

This is similar and related to Top of Funnel, but mainly around new channels. If you’re a brand that really wants to grow and you’re doing under $50M in revenue this year, you should be spending an insane amount of time understanding new platforms and how to take advantage of free reach.

TikTok is the easiest-to-understand example of this. You can post a video and a video that does poorly might still reach thousands of people. You don’t need to hit 1M views every single time.

On the B2B side if you’re looking to generate more inbound business from distributors or retailers, create content on LinkedIn. The reach is insane. Over 3 posts this past week, I generated 110,000 impressions — that would be $3,300 if I ran FB ads at a $30 CPM.

Everything to get “Facebook ads cheaper” is outside of the ads themselves. We didn’t even touch on the website UX and conversion optimization piece, which is also huge. I highly recommend subscribing to The Perspective for free CRO hacks from Oddit.

That’s all for today… let’s get into some fun stuff.

Vendor of the Week:

MarketerHire — The “Shoot, I need to hire a paid media manager” Platform for Fast-Growing Brands.

Ok, look, MarketerHire is a platform to hire marketers on an as-needed basis, but this is how I just took advantage of them with a portfolio company.

MarketerHire is an absolute hack if you’re looking to quickly grab a Head of Growth, Brand Manager, or Copywriter, but there’s also a really underrated way to leverage the platform too.

Let’s say you are a personal care brand looking to get into hardware. Your entire marketing team understands copywriting, creative, photography, media buying, and merchandising as it relates to personal care, but not around hardware and all the repercussions that could come back your way. Instead of going at it and testing & learning, you can literally go to MarketerHire and say “I want someone who’s a paid media expert in the high AOV hardware space.”

You can decide how to learn from them, or just have them take over and run it for you. From what I know, it’s harder to become a vetted marketer on their platform, than it is to get into Harvard.

If you’re looking to hire a marketer, take 5 minutes to fill out this form, and just see what you get back. You won’t be disappointed. If one of the largest consumer brands in the world relies on MarketerHire to execute their global marketing campaigns, they’ll deliver for you too.

Fill out this form and see what MarketerHire can do for you!

Jobs of the Week:

Brand of the Week:

Jones Road Beauty — Bobbi Brown’s new cosmetics brand

I can’t vouch for how good the products are, but almost 10,000 people have something good to say about their Miracle Balm. I can vouch for their marketing — it’s insanely innovative and forward-thinking.

JRB crushes the TikTok game, using Bobbi Brown’s owned account as a validator of angles that work, and they’re consistently upgrading their website. It’s one that I always look at for inspiration.

Try their Miracle Balm and let me know how it goes for you!

That’s all for this week!

One thing I did want to share is this newsletter I discovered on Saturday — The Trim. It’s got an entire breakdown of everything happening and it’s written in a very fun way.

Congrats to Jasmine Maietta, the founder of Round21, who was on Shark Tank and got a deal with Kevin O’Leary. Masala Capital investors will be very happy 😊.

I hope you get 9 hours of sleep tonight and you’re ready for an exciting upcoming week!