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Advertising vs Word of Mouth

Why advertising is not helping female founders and we need to start a revolution

High Achieving Women Over 40

This was the title of an advert on Facebook this morning. 

I will admit it caught my eye to see what utter shite this was about. When I opened it, I did however do a bit of a double take. I read it, and I know what happened, the dude who wrote it has had some advice from an SEO agency or “professional”.


Facebook Advert 1

This gets my goat on a rather epic scale, for two reasons:

  1. SEO agencies will give you advice to optimise for search engines, which is contrary to what Google tells you to do – aka design it for humans to read and they’ll index it.
  2. If you rely solely on SEO Keyword research to write your content & marketing you’ll end up with something that looks like keyword soup and lacks an understanding of the people who are trying to buy your stuff.

In otherwords it’s just random words thrown on a page that make me want to commit sepuku.

The problem is, this dude is just “playing the game” and probably advised by one of the white tech bros.  You know the ones, they shout at you whilst walking on a tread mill sipping designer water handed to them by a booth babe in a bikini about how you’re doing it all wrong. 

This led me onto something else that annoyed me, and has done for a few months.  For small businesses, especially ones run by women like you and I, to get visibility we have to do advertising. Which means handing over money to companies like Facebook in two ways:

  1. In cold hard cash, and
  2. By the money they make tracking you & your customers.

Neither of these sit well with me ethically. I don’t like giving money to a company that has actively meddled in democracy.

A 30 Minute Moment

Don’t worry, the rant stops there.  Simply because I thought, if this isn’t working is there another way?  I then had my insightful morning shower moment. So you know, I have my best ideas when I’m in the shower (now there’s an image you can’t unsee, sorry).

I don’t want to give your money Facebook to advertise, but I need to let people know about the products & services I’m selling. So how do I do it. This has been bothering me for months.

This drew me back to the quote “nobody has 30 seconds for a brand, but everyone has 30 minutes for a good story”.

I stopped to think about the products that I’ve bought, ones that I ended up using and really liking. I’ve found them in one of three ways

  1. Email testimonials – I found out about Marie Forleo’s BSchool from an email I got from the Astro Twins. I signed up via them, got free reading, and I ended up doing some work for them.
  2. Word of Mouth – those 30 minute moments where you extol the virtues of how amazing a brand is are more likely to make me want to buy something from them. More so if it wasn’t #gifted or an #ad. (hands up who’s unfollowed an account for it being one long stream of #gifted or #ad? ✋🏻)
  3. Personal research – the old supply & demand option – opening up Google & doing a search – incidentally, I rarely click on the sponsored ads at the top of the search results.

Sure, I’ve bought things from ads on platforms like Facebook & Instagram – and in many cases I’ve regretted it.

If we look at those three ways I’ve found things to buy, two of them are variants on word of mouth. All of them rely on a trust based relationship rather than a monetary one.  A brand hasn’t given them something, they just really enjoy using a product.  I know, amazing huh?

We, as humans are cynical.

The Value of Word of Mouth

Some of the most valuable professional relationships I’ve been building recently have started with me following Found & Flourish. I don’t remember what made me follow them, or sign-up for their email newsletter. I do know it wasn’t because of an advert.

From their newsletter I heard about the PR Event they ran. Where I found out about The Wern, who I followed and bought 52 PR Tips card set. From there I heard about Sara Dalrymple who has just done my headshots.

Through all of that – neither I, nor the brands in question, have had to spend a penny in advertising for me to have spent money with all three of them. Which means the cost per acquisition is significantly lower.

Also, I’m sticking to my ethics – aka giving my money to small businesses owned and run by women.

I loved finding out about these women, but also more importantly I really enjoyed seeing the shared love for them. The community of women who have each other’s backs.

A Mini Meltdown

Last week, I had a meltdown, the course I’d built wasn’t (and still isn’t) selling. I’m frustrated, I know it’s down to two things – lack of advertising and landing page content / funnel. I’m just too exhausted to fix it at the moment.

Here’s the thing – when I’m talking to another person about what I do, I can really sell my services and I get work. When I’m relying on advertising, I’m not getting any attention. I think this is in part to me not liking advertising or what it represents and because it’s REALLY hard to get someone’s attention in a really short space of time.

Maybe my mini meltdown was my intuition’s way of saying – the things you’re supposed to do to get this going aren’t right for you, you need to find another way. A better way.

An idea, or maybe the start of a revolution...

This week, a post I made about FaceApp got attention, then a few of you shared my post. Something I’m so incredibly grateful for. My reasoning for posting it wasn’t to achieve that, it was from the perspective of I knew it was happening but unless you are in a community where you hear about it, how will others know? I used my platform to share that with you in hopes you’d see it and would avoid the problem (I did with some of you – thank you).

Several of you said you’d like to hear more about things like this, and trust me, I have a TON of things I can, and want to share. They’re the unsexy, boring tech things, but some of them can be life saving (can you say identity theft?).

One of my goals, when I started Angels Playing Skittles, was to create a little black book of all the tech things that I know. Ideally with the goal of creating an ethical framework of recommendations. You know, things like “they don’t provide tech to build concentration camps in the US” or “their CEO is a woman and doesn’t have a rep for sexual assault” or “they really care about your privacy” as these things are REALLY important to me. More on that in a mo.

The thing is, what if we all sat down and came up with a list of 5 brands we’ve found ourselves, that we work with or have used, and who are FREAKIN’ AMAZING. Then, what if we shared them with a bigger community?

Yeah, I know, like advertising, but not.

I would love to hear stories about what someone does, and why they’re amazing – told by someone other than them. Real, live testimonials.

Which made me think of creating something called the Word of Mouth Movement. With the goal of creating an ethical framework for sharing the love, and sharing the love. At the moment, and this is just literally off the top of my head, I’m thinking:

  1. Word of Mouth stories by people who use a brand or service
  2. No Facebook or Instagram or Google advertising or tracking – aka we aren’t funding attempts to destabilise democracies.
  3. Sharing the love about great work small businesses & female founders are doing

This is naturally slightly off the wall (tbh most of my ideas generally are – I’m a creative problem solver).  I have a couple of ideas on how to do this, which I think I’ll start padding out.

What are your thoughts? (Comment below!)

My Little Black Book

I am going to take a sec to promote a product I’m about to launch, because it directly relates to what I’ve said above. It’s going to use all my 22 years experience in tech to help women who don’t have that experience with tech.

It’s working title is Technology Stylist Service. Think of it as a personal shopping service for women who need tech.

There are two services:

  1. The first is for women who need a bit of tech for use at home – software or devices, and don’t want to have to learn the jargon or deal with the “salesmen”.
  2. The Second is for female founders who need tech to run their business but are utterly bamboozled by differnt products and costs.

In both instances you’d get a 1:1 Style Session where I get to know you more, and then create a personalised recommendation for you to buy. Very much like going to a fashion personal stylist.

I’m not being paid by any tech manufacuturers or getting any freebies from them, so any recommendations I’m making are going to be based upon your needs.  I’m also going to develop an ethical framework so you’d be getting recommendations that aren’t funding concentration camps or (wherever possible) the patryarchy.

I’m going to be launching this product next week – sign-up to my newsletter below to find out when I launch.


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