January 21, 2019

The Facebook ad story formula

The current formula for Facebook ads seems to be:

1. Find some photo of you on holiday somewhere. Preferably with your kids, spouse, or even some other random person. (It doesn’t matter too much, as long as the person is cool or attractive.)
2. Write out a sob story of how you were ‘down and out’, eating bread out of the gutter, sending your kids to school in rags.
3. Switch from sob story into the ‘revelation’; the moment you finally cracked the code to unlimited effort-free riches.
4. Explain how you now enjoy unlimited freedom working from anywhere in the world, earning unlimited amounts of cash.
5. Tell me that, merely in exchange for my email address, you’ll share the secrets you’ve uncovered to live your luxurious lifestyle.
6. Finally, talk down to me some more by telling me I would be ‘insane’ not to ‘change my life’ with this rare and one-time opportunity.

I understand the structure of why ads are constructed in this way. Stories do help to gain and keep attention. But the reality is that most people on Facebook don’t want to read your sob story. At least not to begin with, and not in a patronising, arrogant Facebook post.

The fundamental problem is that the story is used as a gimmick. The motivation of the advertiser isn’t to help me. The motivation of the advertiser is to manipulate me (or in my case, make me really angry), gather my email address, and make a fast buck.

You have to wonder… if they were so happy with their luxurious beach lifestyle, why would they bother?

When you tell stories in your marketing you have to examine your motivation. Are you looking to manipulate people? Or are are you genuinely trying to help, first and foremost?

I see a lot of the former, and not much of the latter.

Rob Drummond

Rob Drummond runs the Maze Marketing Podcast and Maze Mastery. Rob specialises in content production, ad creation, storytelling and CRM systems. He has two published books, Magnetic Expertise and Simple Story Selling, affordable on Amazon.