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The Gen Z Guide to Online Advertising on a Budget

Exclusive Interview with Ad Expert Jo Francis

We are thrilled to bring you this insightful and informative interview with Jo Francis - the budget-savvy online advertising guru who's here to spill her secrets to Gen Z entrepreneurs ready to make serious waves with minimal spends.

Jo cut her teeth in the world of digital marketing over 12 years ago and has since crafted killer Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns for brands across the globe. She lives and breathes sales funnels, and swears by email as the key to converting leads into paying customers.

In this exclusive interview, Jo dishes out game-changing tactics to amplify your reach online, common mistakes that will make you want to toss your laptop, and key trends to test if you want to stay ahead of the curve. Consider this your crash course in crafting online ads and email sequences that magnetize your dream audience. Let's dive in!

What first motivated you to start your own business and become an entrepreneur?

Jo: What first motivated me to start my own business was being made redundant in early 2012. I was super fortunate to quickly be offered a more senior role with higher pay and prestige. However, the environment was incredibly toxic and misogynistic. I lasted just eight weeks at that football club.

The upside was realizing that my ideas were having an impact. It made me see that I did have the skills and knowledge to succeed on my own. I knew for sure I did not want to go back to another office setting.

I knew for sure I did NOT want to go back into another office environment.

She was convinced ads were a scam, but equally knew that my whole business could not be based on a scam!

We all love a good success story. What's been your proudest "Aha!" moment with a client so far?

Jo: My proudest "Aha!" moment so far has been convincing my best friend to try Facebook ads for her business. She was certain ads were a scam. But as a successful entrepreneur herself, she knew my business wasn't built on scams!

She's battled multiple brain tumors, so her resilience astounds me. Although her coaching business thrives, the ongoing marketing was tiring. I felt digital products could ease that pressure and ensure consistent sales, giving her downtime.

Seeing the campaigns I built kick in has been deeply satisfying. I've proved myself right, which is nice! But being able to implement this for someone I care about, despite her initial skepticism, has been a true proud moment.

What should young female entrepreneurs know about online paid advertising - especially when starting a business on a limited budget?

Okay let's break it down:

  • Know Your Audience: Targeting the right audience is crucial. Define your ideal customer – their interests, habits, and pain points. This way, you're not stumbling around in the dark and can clearly define who you’re talking to.
  • Small Budget, Big Strategy: With limited funds, it's all about strategy! Start small and focus on one platform at first. Meta (Facebook) is a good starting ground. Test, tweak, and optimise until your ads hit the bullseye.
  • Creativity is Queen: Your ads need to stand out from the crowd! Get creative with your ad visuals and copy. Tell a story, share a pain-point-solving tip, or sprinkle some humour. People connect with realness, don’t be afraid to show the personality behind the brand/business.
  • Befriend Analytics: Monitor your ad performance. Analyse which ads are performing best and which need some tweaking. Adjust your strategy accordingly.
  • Landing Page Love: Sending your ad clickers to a confusing or cluttered page is a no-go. Create a simple, clear, and conversion-focused landing page that guides visitors seamlessly to take action.
  • Budget Balancing: Set a daily or lifetime budget and stick to it. Test different budget allocations to see what gives you the best results. It's all about finding that sweet spot.
  • Test, Rinse, Repeat: Experiment with different ad formats, headlines, and calls-to-action. A/B testing is your secret sauce to discover what converts best.

Remember, Rome (or a thriving business) wasn't built in a day. Progress takes time and consistent effort. Apply a bit of dedication to your ads, and soon enough, you'll see the return in the form of leads, sales, and success. Keep your entrepreneurial spirit high and don't be afraid to pivot your strategy if something's not working.

What are some common mistakes you see people making when first starting to advertise their business online?

Jo: In a way I don't want to highlight them as mistakes. Just making the move and getting going with ads is a great step forward. Everyone has to start somewhere - so hats off to anyone who just gets on and does it!

Having said that, there are definitely some things I would advise based on what I have seen.

One of the first things is to stop boosting posts. So many business owners think they are "doing Facebook advertising" because they are clicking the "boost this post for £5" button, with no real understanding of what it's for or why they're doing it.

It’s really important to think about your objective first, before you commit any budget. What do you want to get out of this ad? More traffic to your website? More engagement on a post (this is highly unlikely)? More leads? More sales? And the answer to that question will dictate the type of ad you run.

Another mistake I see people make is not creating a clear and concise message. Your message should be simple, easy to understand, and should clearly communicate what your business is all about. If your message is too complicated or confusing, people may not understand what your business does or how it can benefit them. And whilst I don't think everyone should "niche" - there is a danger in trying to be too many things, to too many people.

Your message should be simple, easy to understand, and should clearly communicate what your business is all about.

Influencer marketing is moving away from celebrities and towards micro-influencers.

How does advertising on the different social media platforms compare, and what are some current / future trends to keep an eye on, in your view?

Jo: I really believe that social media advertising is now an essential part of the marketing strategy for all businesses but each platform has its strengths and weaknesses, and it's vital to understand them to make the most of your advertising budget.

Facebook remains the most popular social media platform, has a wide range of targeting options and is an excellent choice for businesses looking to reach a broad audience and it works hand in hand with Instagram, which is also a popular choice, particularly for businesses that want to reach a slightly younger demographic. However both of these platforms do lend themselves more to B2C businesses.

TikTok is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with in the ads space, and is great for products and for those targeting late millennials and Gen-Z.

X (Twitter as it was) is ideal for businesses that want to promote their brand in real-time, while LinkedIn is the go-to platform for B2B businesses.

Ideally, scope out your ideal audience and find out where they hang out! For me, whilst I specialise in Facebook ads, I know that my target audience (business owners) are more likely to be on LinkedIn, so that’s where I spend my "social media time".

As for trends, short form video content remains popular. Short videos that tell a story or showcase a product are a great way to capture the attention of users and increase engagement. Funny, trendy, and relatable content will be what stands out. UGC (user generated content) is leading the way at the moment, across all platforms.

And influencer marketing is still going strong, where businesses are partnering with social media influencers to promote their products and services to their followers, however there is a definite move away from celebrities and towards micro-influencers.

The best choice for your business will depend on your target audience and marketing goals.

How important is email marketing nowadays?

Jo: This is my pet subject! For me, email marketing is what turns your sales sieve into a sales funnel!

So many business owners focus on trying to get leads for their business, building their audience, raising awareness, and then they forget to "do" anything with those people. There's no more touch points, no nurturing... Opportunities are leaking out all over the place. Whereas effective email marketing can help you to actually push people through a sales funnel, where they go from stranger to customer.

Email marketing is a powerful tool for direct communication, personalization, and building relationships with your audience. It's a cost-effective strategy with extensive analytics that can boost sales and allow you to reach your target audience effectively and repeatedly.

If someone has trusted you enough to hand over their email address, then that's the first step in them expressing an interest in who you are and what you do, so you need to maximise on that. Email gives you a direct channel to their in-box, bypassing the algorithms and filters that affect social media reach.

Effective email marketing is key - it's what helps you turn strangers into customers.

If you could go back and give your younger self one piece of advice when you were starting your business, what would it be?

Jo: Every journey is unique, and there's no one-size-fits-all advice, so I don’t have one single piece of advice but I guess these nuggets of wisdom might have made my entrepreneurial path a tad smoother:

  • Don't fear failure: This is your business and you make the rules - don't be afraid to take risks and learn from your missteps.
  • Spread your risk: Never let one client take up all your time or become the source of the majority of your income. Whilst that can be "comfortable" you will literally be an employee without the employment perks, so make sure you work with a variety of people, and then if you lose a client, it’s not a big hit. Plus it’s more fun!
  • Adaptability is key: The business world is ever-changing. Stay flexible and adapt to changing circumstances. What works today might not work tomorrow. And if you choose to “pivot” or adjust your business, that’s your right!
  • Time management matters: Efficient time management can make or break your business journey but be kind to yourself and build your business to suit yourself - it took me a LONG time to realise I didn't have to be sat at my desk 9-5! And even longer to stop feeling guilty if I did something non-work related in "work time". Just remember that overworking can harm your business and well-being. Find that work-life balance.
  • Invest in learning: Just as you invest in equipment, invest in learning. Keep honing your skills and stay updated with industry trends. This changed the face of my business and led me to where I am now.

Who do you look up to, are inspired by, or admire in the business world and why?

Jo: This is a super simple one for me and I take you back to Question 2. I am fortunate enough to have the most phenomenal business woman for a best friend, who has built an amazing business whilst battling numerous brain tumours and she astounds me every day. To have turned an hourly paid career (as a VA) into a multi 6 figure mentoring business, which also allows her not to have to work anything even close to a full-time week, has taken some serious skill and planning, and she has just powered through it.

Aside from her though, I think James Smith is brilliant. He has turned his business from being a jobbing PT into a world-class speaker, online trainer and influencer, just by being very committed and authentic.

Get 5 FREE tools, hand picked by Jo Francis, to help you create online ads that convert!

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Jo Francis is a seasoned expert in online advertising and email marketing. With 12 years of experience running her own successful company, she knows the ins and outs of maintaining a reliable sales funnel within a business. Jo is dedicated to helping businesses of all sizes navigate the challenges of consistent growth, even when marketing budgets are tight.

Jo's expertise lies in crafting highly effective sales funnels. She collaborates with businesses and brands not only in the UK and USA but also as far afield as New Zealand. Her mission? To assist them in creating impactful Meta and TikTok ad campaigns, alongside email marketing campaigns, that not only expand their online audiences but also generate enquiries and, ultimately, make them more money! Jo's track record speaks for itself, making her a go-to professional in the world of digital marketing.

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