What do you do when you serve a super-specific niche and you're trying to find your ideal customers? What if not many people are actively searching for your topic but you knew that if you could just get in front of those people to say “Hey, I exist. I'm here, and I can help you!” that they will love what you have to say, and the products that you have to offer?
Well, one solution to this problem is running Facebook ads, because there are so many interesting things you can do to help you reach your ideal customer, right in the Facebook or Instagram feed. That's exactly what Brandice Lardner of Grace-Filled Plate has done and you're going to love her story!
Press play on the podcast player below to listen to the full interview.
Using Her Blog to Share Her Passion
Brandice has been a personal trainer and nutrition coach for over 10 years. She started out working for a nutrition coaching company and coaching online which she loved. Unfortunately she was not allowed to share her faith with her coaching clients so she decided to start a blog on the side. She initially had the blessing of her employer but was ultimately fired for having different values. She loved that job and never would have left on her own but now she had an opportunity if she would just take it.
Brandice had some money from her grandmother and decided to invest that into growing her blog rather than pursuing another traditional employment route. Soon Brandice hit another bump in the road – a cease-and-desist order for her original blog name. She quickly pivoted to her new name, A Grace Filled Plate, and kept going.
“I started blogging about three years ago, and the name troubles happened about six to eight months in. Since then, it's just been a very slow build and now I understand why it's so important to have something you're passionate about because you put in all of these unpaid hours in the beginning. Now I feel like it's really becoming something. It's been great and it has caused me to grow so much as a person too, not just as a businesswoman.”
Mindset Shift From Blogger to Business Owner
“I definitely started out with the blogger mindset of the more content I have, the more views I’ll get, you know, going for that advertising revenue. In the beginning – that first year – was nothing. It was basically just me spending that little bit of cash that I had and creating content and spending weeks learning the technical side of blogging. But I knew that it was something and the responses that I was getting from my audience, the people who I did actually connect with, just affirmed that this was something.
“So year two was like, okay, I could get my daughter in childcare, and then go get a part-time job, but it still wouldn't add up. With the blog I was making a little bit more than I would if I just went out and got a part-time job.
“Now it’s year three and things are coming along. I've really shifted from being a blogger, meaning the free content was what I offered, to more of a business person where people come to me for programs and my blog is just one part of my business. I think this is going to be the year where I hit the goals and I can share this as a success story instead of being like, well, I'm a blogger, and I'm trying really hard and I think someday it's gonna pay off.”
This can be a huge transition for a lot of bloggers to go from I'm creating content and figuring out what my audience loves to I would like to diversify past ad revenue and also have products to sell.
Building A Product Line
Brandice started with a $7 ebook as her first product then moved on to a healthy habit planner ebook which taught her coaching practices.
It went well, but it wasn’t really serving her audience.
“I help Christian women who have a really up and down roller coaster diet past and food issues. I help them to bring their faith into that aspect of their lives, so that they can move past this restrictive all or nothing thinking that's driving them crazy, and find that peace with food and just enjoy their bodies and live their lives and do what God has called them to do.
“The planner was great and it had the content, but my audience needs their arms lifted up. They need someone to really get in there and help them and the courses came as a desire to really give them more.”
Brandice is very thankful for her audience’s patience as she has worked through several options, trying to find the right fit.
“I'm always putting stuff out there and kind of getting a feel for it, seeing how it goes, giving a ton of value. People are seeing my face because I'm in there supporting them all the time but getting the product that worked took time. I even tried a membership for a little while which wasn't really a good fit for me- it was just too much to do all the time.
“So I've moved into a product suite and reworked my email funnel to a way that I feel helps my audience while also honoring the way that I want my lifestyle to be. I want to be available to homeschool my daughter and also be able to take a week off without feeling like everything is going to completely fall apart.
“A lot of searching for what works for my audience and what works for me and trying to find the crossroads of all that has been where I believe that success has come in.”
It's a lot of testing and tweaking to figure out what you’re digging deep on to find the unique way that you can help others. Figuring out what works for you and what works for your audience and finding that unique combination that allows you to really help them.
Brandice says that it’s important not to worry about getting it wrong because you won't know until you try something if it’s going to work for you.
“I don't think there's any failure as long as you're trying to put your customer first. If you do, then they're going to be forgiving when you change the packaging and kind of rework the entire offer five times.”
It’s about putting your customer first and focusing on serving them.
Create a Path to Success with an Email Funnel Sequence
Brandice has created what she calls a food freedom treasure map. New subscribers are met with the tripwire. Brandice initially resisted using her most popular product as a discounted tripwire but realized that she wanted to wow people right from the start.
“I give them a really high value, quick win welcome sequence. The sequence took a lot of tweaking- the emails have been switched out many times as I kept the ones that people responded to, just kind of swapping things in and out with the end goal of selling the first product that I have for them on my food freedom treasure map that they follow. I’m just gently moving people through the process I have laid out for them.”
One noticeable change since focusing on her products and funnels? Now people will ask her for which program they should follow rather than which blog post they should read.
“I positioned myself as someone who offers really valuable paid solutions instead of free information in little bits and pieces. I also think I'm finally getting the balance of giving them the small wins, while showing them the value that can be found in the full courses.
“My welcome sequence is actually about three weeks long, because it's a mini course. All of the lessons are kind of creating a bit of a need for the first product.
“The first product is about all or nothing thinking which for my reader is her biggest struggle. One bite turns into a binge. That's where she’s living right now. So it's all great wins, but it's also giving her a taste of the types of things that I would teach her in the course.
“And then my sale sequence is about five emails long. I don't have any scarcity in things, as of yet. Other than my tripwire, everything is very evergreen and always available. Scarcity may be the next step that I take but right now I'm more focused on tweaking the offering in the email to see how that changes things.”
On one hand, scarcity can be a great motivator. On the other hand, if you do a great job of showing the value of your product, the way that it helps, and the transformation it can offer, it may not really be necessary. If you've shown them the value you provide and you've already given them some wins then they're ready for your product without having to use scarcity as motivation.
Facebook Ads Can be a Game-Changer
Brandice gets about 50 organic email subscribers per day which is great but her niche of Christian nutrition coaching is not something people are searching for on Google.
“I believe Facebook ads, and probably Pinterest ads eventually, will be the game changer for me. Because I am super niched, I have SEO-ed my SEO until it can’t SEO anymore. Very few people are typing in things like ‘non-diet Christian Bible study.’ It's just not something people are looking for. I have had to compromise on some of my keywording by using the words diet and weight loss, because that's what the woman who is searching for me needs.
“But Facebook ads allows me to just target directly that person who needs to see my post. It's just amazing. I'm so excited that I can reach her with an investment that pays back rather than having to just spend more and more time.”
Learning how to successfully run Facebook ads is complex but there is a purpose behind it.
“If you take a bit of time to learn, you can outshine everybody else who is just throwing money at the Facebook machine and hoping to get something back. I’ve been able to triple my sales.”
It hasn’t been completely smooth sailing though.
“Some of my stuff got flagged, because who knows why. Then I went in and I was resubmitting the ads so many times to try different copy that I ended up with like 300 rejected ads. So I think that they were just turning me off immediately because I had so many rejected ads. Someone in the mastermind group suggested reaching out to support and they were able to clear it out for me. And so now I've been rebuilding back up. I’m currently running about a 3.5 ROAS.”
Brandice is making an upfront return of three times her ad spend but she is also making money on the backend through her email funnel that she has been building.
Another bonus – the people who are coming in through the Facebook ads are more likely to be buyers because they are coming in through an ad for a paid product.
“They know, this is an advertisement and this is a place that sells things. So they come in knowing that they're going to buy things. And even though we;re talk money money right now, it's just really awesome to help these people that need the content who otherwise would not be able to find it or even know that it existed.”
This is the power of Facebook ads especially in a super specific niche like Brandice’s. A lot of women don't realize that someone like her is out there and can help them through their food struggles with a faith based perspective. They're not necessarily searching for it because they don't know it exists. But then you're in their newsfeed or in their Instagram feeds,saying “Hey, I can help you with this. There is a different way- there's a better way and we can tackle this together.”
Brandice is matching her daily organic subscriber numbers with her Facebook ad subscribers but her sales have tripled. Sometimes people think growing your list via ads will only get you junk subscribers and ads won’t work. But yet at the same time, That’s not necessarily true because in this case Brandice matched her list size, but yet tripled her sales. She is adding high quality subscribers to her list.
Brandice says that she hears all the time from her subscribers, “I can't believe I found you – this is amazing” which has been awesome. She has been able to reach and help more people with the assistance of Facebook ads.
These results have come from her lookalike audience ads. She hasn’t had as much success with cold audiences yet but is hoping now that Facebook has more data, it can do a better job of finding the right people to show the ads.
When it comes to Facebook ads, it's all about the data. How quickly Facebook can find the right buyers depends on how long the pixel has been running on your site and how much data Facebook has been able to collect behind the scenes to then apply to your ads.
Always Focus on Serving Your Audience and Giving Them Your Best
Brandice has such a strong focus on serving her customers and taking care of them while giving them a different perspective on their struggles with food and she's crushing it in her business. She's been able to triple her sales with a super reasonable amount of ad spend. Not only is she getting a 3X return on her ads, Brandice is also getting sales through her email funnels behind the scenes. All of this without any gimmicks. No fancy evergreen webinar funnel, no timers, and no scarcity.
Because Brandice knows her customer so well and she has experienced serving them with their struggles, she's been able to tweak her products and her messaging so that it fits them and it meets them exactly where they're at. She doesn't need all of these other scarcity factors to see results and see the sales behind the scenes.
I love the other point that Brandis made, which is now she's not just a blogger putting out content for free. As she's welcoming someone into her funnel, they see a product for sale. As soon as they get on her list, they see that tripwire offer and immediately see that she has things that they can buy from her that will help them push past this issue more quickly. So they're coming on to her list fully aware that she sells things. Consequently they're not outraged that she's talking about her products.
Brandice makes it a point to give tons and tons of free value to show her audience that she is the person that can give them the transformation they're looking for while introducing them to her suite of products along the way. I love that people actually come to her and ask her, which product is the right fit for me or which thing should I buy next, because they understand she's a business with she helpful products to sell.
I want you to think about that if you're a blogger and you've been under the impression that your main mission as a blogger is to put out excellent free content to help people. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that mission. It’s a great foundation to lay for your business that you have free helpful content that can bring people to your site that can get people in the door. But eventually, you need to graduate up to being a business owner who has products for sale. And you need to make it clear to those email subscribers and those blog readers that you are more than just a content factory. You have products for them to buy and you don't need to be ashamed to sell them. You're a business owner, right?
Part of it is the positioning- you need to make sure they know you have products to sell. You want them to treat you the same way they might treat another shop. The only difference might be that you have even more helpful content in your emails and more helpful content on your blog that supports the products you sell. But that content on your blog is not the end product. You have more to offer than that.
So don't be afraid to sell. Don't be afraid to create the amazing products that you know can help your audience and of course, if you want some help finding those ideal customers, I'd love to help you get a Facebook ads strategy working for you so that you can also find your dream people that are going to join your list and buy from you not just once, but multiple times over the course of years. Click here to find out more about the Facebook Ads Intensive.