We’re in the middle of Q4 right now, and we’re going through a season.

Ad costs are high. Ads are getting rejected left and right. The holidays are just around the corner.

It’s challenging in the digital marketing sphere right now.

But that does NOT mean it’s time to shut them off, give up and just say “see you next year!”

Your audience still needs you.

I guarantee that the people who choose to keep their ads on for the rest of Q4 and learn how to pivot and adapt will be the ones who experience growth over the next 60 days.

Those who choose to give up and pause their ads are still going to be in the exact same place 60 days from now, or worse, they’ll go backwards.

In today’s episode, I’m walking you through EVERYTHING you need to know about running ads in Q4, including:

  • The impacts of Q4 on your ads + your costs
  • Leveraging the power of your warm audience for the holidays
  • How to pivot your strategy to still show up for your audience when you feel like giving up

Be sure to tune in and share any takeaways you have from today’s episode with me over on Instagram (@emilyhirsh)!

If you need agency level support to really drive home your marketing for the remainder of Q4 and set you up for success come 2021, apply to work with Team Hirsh today at helpmystrategy.com.


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Emily Hirsh:

Hello everybody, happy Thursday. I hope you guys are enjoying some fall weather. That’s what I hope for you. Well, I guess if you’re in Australia, it’s like the opposite. So I don’t hope that for you then, but I know I am excited. It’s a little cold here. A little colder than I love, but I’ll take that over a hundred degrees. It was 37 degrees high here in Austin, yesterday, which is kind of unusual. We don’t, it doesn’t usually get that cold as the high. So I didn’t actually look at the temperature and I just got up and I went for my walk, like I normally do. I knew it was cold, so I wore a jacket and a hat, but I didn’t bring gloves and I didn’t bring a scarf. I didn’t know it was that cold. And I’m doing this challenge called 75 hard. So I have to do two 45 minute workouts a day, and one of them I do a walk, 45 minute walk. So instead of my regular walk, I do this long walk. So I went for this long walk. It’s literally so cold. I couldn’t even talk like, by the end of it, my face was so cold. Like I couldn’t move my face. It was numb. And my hands, I put them in my pockets. Anyways, that night I look at the thermometer and I was like, it was 37. Or I look at my phone. I’m like the high was 37 today, no wonder I was so cold. I’m like the crazy neighbor who unless it’s literally pouring down rain or like weather that I, you know, thunder and lightning. I still go for my walk. I was the only person out on the road that I normally see, like all my, you know, people who walk at the same time and we like see each other, nobody was there, but me. I am that crazy person.

So anyways, I am enjoying the fall weather though with my warm socks and my sweaters. I love it so much. And I hope you guys are getting some of that. I know I’ve seen a lot of people getting some snow and stuff. Anyways, I have so much amazing content for you guys planned. I have like the next month of podcasts almost planned out because coming off of my launch and just everything that’s happening, I got so much inspiration from it. And I also right now have like brain space. Again, my launch definitely took a lot out of me and I am managing a lot of our marketing right now. We have somebody stepping into marketing manager soon, but right now I’m managing it. So I’ve been like feeling a lot more bogged down with stuff to do than I normally am. I like to have a lot of free creative space and I finally have that again and it feels incredible. So I am just so excited. 

And today though, what we’re going to talk about, I think is a much needed topic, is running your ads in quarter four and the elections are soon. Crazy. The world might go crazy, crazier than it already is. And so what does it mean for running your ads right now with elections? Which they’ll be over soon, hopefully, and that will go back to normal, but I want to talk about what it has been doing with the ads. And quarter four is always a little bit more challenging and expensive to run ads in terms of the actual cost on Facebook, because other companies are doing holiday promotions and black Friday and the holidays, and it’s just a different time. Here’s what I did. I actually pulled up the last two years of our Hirsh Marketing Report from December, which is actually amazing that we have that I cannot believe how long we’ve been doing the Hirsh Marketing Report. And I wanted to see how things looked in December so I could talk to it. 

Before I dive into that. I want to talk overall, like what you’re going to be dealing with running ads in quarter four. Now I might be biased because obviously I run ads. I have an agency and I think Facebook and Instagram ads are, you should be running them pretty much all the time because it’s the best and cheapest way to grow your audience, to grow your reach, to get more people and eyes on your brand. So I might be biased, but a lot of people are kind of in this place where they’re considering like, oh, do I not run ads? Do I pause ads? What do I do? Because of that fear of the cost might be going up. I might not get as many sales. 

And I want to speak to that because I don’t think the right move is to say oh, because maybe the cost is going up and people are talking to this kind of fear base, like Facebook ads and this is what’s happening. This fear-based mentality that you should just be like, oh, okay. I’ll just wait until January. That’s an excuse to me. That’s an excuse to not get your marketing where it needs to be, to not grow your business, to not commit to that. And so I want to reframe that. And so a couple of weeks ago, I sent out an email to our clients maybe like three weeks ago because the elections are coming, and so we wanted to address that and what that meant. One thing I said in that email is it’s a fact that costs are actually going up a little bit. So CPMs on Facebook, which is your cost per thousand impressions, that’s Facebook charging you to show your ad. Yes, you’re copying your ad and your audience does play into that charge, but also if advertising gets more expensive, you’re going to see that cost go up and everything else might stay the same.

But if you see just that metric go up, it means that Facebook has gotten a little bit more expensive to market your ads. So when COVID hit and all of these people pulled ad spend, and then there was way more people on social media so there was more marketing space, the CPMs dropped and they got really cheap for like two or three weeks and ad cost dropped. So that directly affected the cost of ads because of what was happening in the world and on Facebook. And the actual cost to advertise right now, we are seeing CPMs go up and the reason, big reason, and this will be over soon, hopefully, but is the election. So obviously the political campaigns are dumping millions and millions of dollars into their ad spend. And Facebook is trying to manage, not having something put out there that shouldn’t be so a lot of things are getting triggered. 

We’ve actually seen literally this week, like three or four accounts get shut down. That was a mistake. We got them back on, but we had to like go talk to Facebook. They were newer accounts. They just initially got triggered and got shut down. So we had like a 30 minute discussion this week on our huddle about what to do, and a couple of things that have come out of that are just one, be hypersensitive right now around shutdowns and disapprovals, allow for extra time for your ads. So if you know, your ads have to go live on a Tuesday, just allow yourself a couple of extra days to actually schedule them and get them approved because we’re seeing, it’s taking about 24 hours for an ad to actually get approved. Facebook is just slower at doing it because they’re massively monitoring all of these political ads and campaigns, and language, and their bots don’t always get it right and they flag things that are a mistake. And you have to go talk to Facebook. And obviously that’s the benefit of having an agency because they can manage that for you, and it can be a complete headache, but it’s still possible to advertise and still worth it, which I’m going to get into. 

But what I said in this email to clients looping back to that is one, costs are going to be higher. We know that, we’re expecting that, we’re putting that into projections, we are taking that into consideration when we consider, you know, overall ROI and how much we’re going to spend and how many sales we’re going to get. Number two, instead of freak out about that, which my clients aren’t because they just look to us to guide them. But for you guys, instead of seeing that as something where you’re like, oh my gosh, I’m just not going to run ads. I’m just going to not run ads for two months because the cost is too high and I can’t deal with it. I think that it’s an opportunity to really challenge yourself, to improve your sales conversion so that you can make up for the more expensive ad costs, slightly expensive, more expensive. And in some cases it’s actually not, there are industries where it’s not more expensive and we’re not seeing an increase, but let’s say you are, how do you increase your sales conversion even by half of a percent to actually still get the same ROI and continue running ads? 

I am a big believer when you’re faced with a challenge or a roadblock, as a business owner, as a leader, instead of throwing your hands up and being like, oh, well that means I can’t run ads or I’m just going to have to wait until January, to me, that’s an excuse. If I was to do that, I’d be like, wait a minute. Why don’t, you know, I would check myself there because that just means I don’t do anything for two months. Like that doesn’t feel right. You’re going to lose more money and time and potential completely not running ads than if you were to instead flip it and say, okay, I’m can still run ads, but I’m gonna take this into consideration. And maybe instead of a $6 cost per lead for my webinar registration, I’m paying eight right now. So what does that mean for my sales? What do I have to do to still be profitable and look at it as that opportunity. This is an opportunity that I still want to grow my business. I still want to make sales. I still want to have positive ROI. And so if I’m planning on paying $8 cost per lead when I normally pay, what do I need to do?

And so that’s what we’ve been doing for a lot of our clients. Obviously we’re always looking to improve sales conversion, but even looking a little bit further because even if you’re paying eight to $10 to $12 cost per lead, which we are seeing sometimes for a webinar, that’s not the only metric that matters. Of course, that impacts everything, but then what if those leads are super good quality, or they’ve been nurtured properly, or you do something amazing, you add some form of urgency or a bonus, or you increase your webinar show up rate, or you improve your emails? All of those action items that you can do and you’re able to actually improve your sales conversion by half a percent. So even though you’re paying a little bit more cost for your ads, you’re still profitable. 

And I think we forget that in marketing, sometimes even myself, I was guilty of this. I was hanging out with a friend a couple of weeks ago, and I was talking to her about our Ignite launch. And it was like, yeah, it’s going really well, but you know, ad costs are more expensive and so I’m paying more, I’m not really getting as many leads as I wanted to. And she’s like, well, does that matter? What’s your cost per acquisition that you’re going to pay? And actually to be totally honest, I was like, I don’t actually know, like I need to go look and we have it. There was factors of like, we haven’t sold it at this price without a sales call and all of those things, but I realized, well, I’m actually willing to pay a thousand dollars to acquire a $2,500 sale. Like I’ll still be profitable because I know my business numbers, I know what I’m willing to pay.

And I realized, you know, I’m the numbers person, and at that moment I was like, oh my gosh, I forgot how important it is to make sure I consider that. And you know, it was originally Dan Kennedy who said this, and Russell says this all the time, but it’s the person who can pay the most to acquire a lead. So you can spend the most to acquire that lead and still be profitable will win because you can front load your marketing, pay more cost per lead as you scale if you have to, and still be profitable. And I was like, oh. Like, it clicked that I was kind of forgetting that. And so, like I said, I feel like sometimes we get so hyper-focused on one metric that we forget to look at the big picture and look at like, are we still profitable? What is it costing us to acquire a customer? And is that a sustainable metric still? 

So keeping that in mind, and of course all of those metrics. Cost per lead and your sales conversion drive your cost per purchase, but if we have to balance it and plan for paying a little bit more for our ads, how do we increase our sales conversion, even half a percentage? And this is where setting yourself up so you know what you’re getting into and you have those realistic expectations is so critical. So if you do projections, if you project your ads, let’s say you’re running ads in November, you project your ads and you’re planning for that more expensive cost per lead. And then you’re planning for your, either your sales conversion or an improved sales conversion. You have action items that are going to help with that. Then you’re not going to be frustrated and feeling like you’re failing halfway through November when you’re paying a higher cost per lead. Let’s just plan for it. Let’s plan for like a 10% maybe increase in our cost per lead. So let’s say you go that route, you run the ads, you plan for it, you know you’re going to pay a little bit more, but here’s what you’re going to do to still make the sales, are still going to be profitable. Then you’re going to grow so much more and make so much more progress than somebody else who was like, well, I’m just not going to run ads for quarter four. I’m just going to throw in the towel and just wait until January, because there’s always going to be something there’s always going to be an excuse. So I guess like summary of what I just said is in quarter four ads are generally more expensive. That does not mean you can’t still make money and have a very successful few months running ads. 

So with the elections, I wanted to specifically highlight, you know, if this continues to go on, what we’re seeing is higher cost per lead because of the elections, but also like the bigger thing is the disapprovals and the ad accounts getting flagged. So with that just means just allow yourself time. One thing we said to clients was if you’re launching, or if you have something new you want to launch, we just need a couple extra days to allow for disapprovals because sometimes we have to go back and forth with Facebook. So that’s the same for you, and then plan for that more expensive costs. So my whole team knows we’re being realistic with our projections. We’re being realistic with what we think we can get cost per lead, and we’re going to make up for it with the quality of leads and the sales conversions and suggestions for how to improve those sales conversions. And that’s the way you should be looking at it. 

Now, quarter four can also be extremely profitable if you’re strategic about it. So of course, whenever it’s a time period in the year or something going on in the world, you can accommodate and pivot to leverage that. So here’s an example. I pulled up our December, 2019 Hirsh Marketing Report. One of our top converting ads in case study was somebody who specifically leveraged the time and did a fitness challenge before the new year, but getting people signed up and actually thinking about their health beforehand. And so leveraging that messaging allowed them to make a lot of ROI. And so thinking about what does your audience need right now? They’re not, they don’t need nothing. They still have problems. And I said this all throughout COVID right. Even though costs are maybe going up, even though the world is changing, even though people are in chaos or stress, you know, the holidays people might be stressed, they might be distracted, they might be confused. They, you know, who knows with what’s going on with the election. Your audience still needs you. And that’s the important thing for you to remember. 

So you have to think, is there a live training I could do that’s relevant to what they are going through right now, or what they need to set themselves up for 2021? Is there a way to spin my product to talk about gifts for people in the holiday season? And how do you make sure you’re still relevant even when the world changes around you? And at the end of the day, like that’s a massive part of business, right? We can’t just sit every day, day after day and do the same exact thing and expect to continue to grow and get sales like that. It just doesn’t work that way. Myself included. We’re constantly like adapting to what’s happening in the world, and quarter four is no different. You have the holidays, so people need to buy gifts. You have people who are thinking about the new year, they’re going to be planning. They’re going to be planning their marketing, their business, their health, their family, they’re setting goals. There is so much potential capitalize on that in so many different niches and industries. That’s what you should be thinking about, not, oh man costs are expensive and people aren’t going to buy my stuff right now. Like that’s a limiting belief. I’m sorry, but it is because I have proof that you can still make a lot of money in quarter four. 

So I pulled up our Hirsh Marketing Report, and in December 2019, we had a total average ROI across all of our clients at 366%. So almost a 4X return on investment was the average of our clients. In December 2019, the total revenue was over 1.5 million made for our clients in December. So you absolutely can make money in December. When it’s the holidays, do not pause ads. If you made the decision to pause ads, it would only be because your numbers are saying that because you’ve tried and you know you’re not making sales and you know it’s for this specific reason. That’s a very slim chance that that’s actually the reality. And if it is, it’d be like a week, maybe between Christmas and new year’s, but still people make these decisions without actually considering their business, their audience, and their own numbers for proof. So do not pause ads, do not think about not running ads until you have serious proof that you tried. You tried to adapt and pivot messaging. If you needed, you set up projections that were realistic and you still were not successful.

I think you can be wildly successful during this time, because anytime there is something that the world is going through, even if it’s a season, right? The holidays is a season. I’m not even talking about the election and everything, you know, COVID. I’m talking about the holidays is a season. And so how do we, like I said, adapt so that our content and our offers and our support for our audience actually supports them during the season, instead of just saying, we’ll see you guys next year, you know, I’m not relevant right now. That is absolutely not true. 

Last thing I’ll say about quarter four, and this might be relevant for you next year, but most people actually make a lot of money in quarter four by really leveraging their warm audience. So especially with like Black Friday sales, and I’m actually going to do a separate podcast on just Black Friday sales, but I want to mention this because a lot of people, you have this audience that you’ve hopefully been building throughout the year. Video viewers, podcasts listeners, email list subscribers, create something for them specifically that’s either a sale or an experience or both that supports them with where they’re at, because they already have trust for you. And so they’re obviously more likely to actually buy from you. So to capitalize and gain that return on your investment and make sure you’re profitable right now, leveraging your existing audience is always a good idea. You know, during COVID a lot of our clients did the same thing. Like how do we serve? How do we first serve our customers? And then second, our audience, and then continue to get cold traffic in that order of priority. 

And so same during November and December, it’s like, what is your audience need? Because they’re more likely to come and buy that or sign up for that than cold traffic is. You can absolutely still get cold traffic, but make sure you are capitalizing on any audience that you’ve built. And this is also why it’s so critical to spend, you know, 5% of your budget consistently every month, building that warm audience so that when you go into time periods like this, and you can actually leverage it for your own business and make more money in those months, you have an audience to do that with, like I said, you can bring in cold traffic, but Black Friday sales for example are really for your warm audience. I mean, unless you’re e-commerce, you can definitely open it up to cold, but for the most part, when you are selling a digital product or a digital service and you want to run a Black Friday special it’s to your audience, because they have that trust with you. They might be bombarded with ads and things and offers, but they have that trust with you and maybe there’s something they’ve been waiting months to buy and they haven’t, and then you put that offer out there. And so this is a reason why it’s so important to always be building that warm audience so that when you go into a time period like this, you actually can leverage it for the better, then go backwards and not make as much money. 

So that is everything I have to say on running ads in quarter four. In summary, do it. Run ads in quarter four. Everything always comes down to the foundational stuff, right guys? Cause I always say, think about your audience, put yourself in the shoes of your audience. How do you serve them? How do you provide value? That’s all you’re doing in quarter four is, even if ad costs go up, okay. Do you need to change any messaging? And how do you actually turn this? Like I also said at the beginning, instead of seeing this as a negative thing, if your costs are going up, see it as an opportunity to still grow, because I can guarantee you that all the people who keep their ads on and see that opportunity and pivot where needed and adapt, they’re the ones who are going to be growing for the next 60 days. And then the ones who don’t are going to be in the same place or backwards come January one. 

So it’s your choice where you want to be, and I really believe that. And I, you know, we’re running ads. I’m doing a surprise, I can’t say it yet, event in December that’s going to be specifically around the new years for our audience. I’m running ads all throughout November. I have no reason not to. We’re just accommodating as I need. People still need ads. People still need marketing support. People still need to plan their marketing for the new year. So I walk that talk as well. Thanks so much for listening today guys, and I’ll talk to you next week.