How To Make Facebook & Instagram Ads That Drive Bookings for Your Short-Term Rental (Episode 333)

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[00:00:00] Sarah: Hello. Welcome back for another great episode. My name is Sarah Karakaian.

[00:00:02] Annette: I am Annette Grant. And together we are–

[00:00:04] Both Annette & Sarah: Thanks for Visiting. 

[00:00:06] Sarah: Let’s kick off this episode like we do every week, and that’s sharing one of you, our loyal listeners, who’s using our hashtag on Instagram, #STRShareSunday. We’ll share you here on the pod and give you some love on Instagram. Annette, who are we sharing this week?

[00:00:20] Annette: This week, we are sharing @lil, L-I-L,.desert.cabin. @lil.desert.cabin. And the first thing that I noticed, and I have not seen this before, is that they actually have multiple links in their bio, and they included Furnished Finder.

[00:00:37] Sarah: So good.

[00:00:38] Annette: So good because they’re multiplying the places that people can book. And I did a little digging, and it looks like the owner is a nurse. So she might have an affinity for allowing nurses to stay in her home, which I know Furnished Finder is a hotbed of traveling nurses. 

[00:00:56] So well done on that. And if you haven’t ever thought about putting your place on Furnished Finder, check it out. We just had someone inside our membership. They got a really hot lead for a very amazing midterm stay. But I love that they are taking that real estate to take up more digital real estate on multiple platforms to diversify the places where their bookings could come from. 

[00:01:21] So take a look at that. That’s the lead for today, is if you haven’t looked into Furnished Finder, go to Little Desert Cabin, see the way that they have displayed their links, and then also, diversify where you’re listing your property. 

[00:01:36] Sarah: All right. Speaking of diversifying.

[00:01:40] Annette: Yeah. And digital real estate and all the things. Give them the good, Sarah.

[00:01:44] Sarah: Yeah. So today, we’re going to chat with our friend, Tara Zirker, and she’s going to share how to get started with Facebook ads. And before you turn that off because you feel like this isn’t for you, even on a tiny, tiny budget, you can start with as little as $10 a day. So if you do that math, that’s what? $300 a month.

[00:02:05] What does that equate to when it comes to your nightly rate, what you’re getting from that nightly rate? And of course, with ads, if you’re doing them right, you should see an ROI, which Tara is going to show you how to do that. So this is really exciting if you, which you should be, wanting to take your business’s marketing plan into your own hands.

[00:02:23] She will share this episode the number one mistake most people make, what metrics to watch to ensure you never pay too much for a lead, and how to avoid wasting money on Facebook ads. Let’s get to it.

[00:02:36] Annette: All right, Tara. Welcome to the show. We are so excited to have you and learn more about how our industry, our owner-operator, short-term rental hosts can run their own ads on Facebook and Instagram. 

[00:02:51] Tara: Thank you, ladies. So excited to be here.

[00:02:54] Annette: Can we just start Facebook, Instagram ads 101? Let’s do a little encouragement in the beginning. If you want to just let our listeners know too how you got started in ads and Successful Ads Club, just so they can see a little bit of like why you are the expert and how you’ve helped so many people be successful running their own ads.

[00:03:15] Tara: Thank you so much. I’m so excited to be here with you and your incredible community that you guys have built. And interestingly, I started my journey in Facebook ads as a social media marketer. I had a client who hired me actually in the hospitality space. They were an OTA themselves. And what happened was they threw me in to the deep end.

[00:03:38] They said, okay, I know we hired you to run organic social media posts, but actually, we want you to figure out ads. Now, this was back when ads were relatively new. In particular, the brand new feature on Facebook advertising was apps. We had an app, and you could do app downloads, and you could run ads for this. And it was, literally, so brand new that we got a lot of support and attention from Facebook, which as we all know, is tough to come by these days.

[00:04:09] Sarah: Yes. 

[00:04:10] Tara: We had just a ton of help, a ton of resources, and we also had some really tough investors. So I was just randomly trying to create a strategy. There were not any resources for this at the time. Advertising was still so new. There weren’t a lot of resources even to learn how to do advertising, so you’re just learning by feel. 

[00:04:36] And what happened was our investors were incredibly tough, and they would ask all these hard questions, and I would be so embarrassed in these boardrooms trying to answer their questions, and I just decided to get a locked down process. I was like, okay, this is how I’m going to start testing. 

[00:04:52] And I’m going to do this so that if they asked me that, then I’ll have the answer to it. And I just basically fool proofed my system so I could get into these rooms and not be embarrassed and on the spot and not able to answer because, of course, they would say, why did you decide to do that test?

[00:05:08] Why are you saying X, Y, Z in the copy? And I was like, I have no idea. I’m just saying it because I think that might work. And so they had such amazing questions that I developed this process, and it wasn’t long before Facebook actually called me one day. I’ll never forget that, and they said, how are you doing this?

[00:05:28] Because right now you are outperforming every single one of your competitors. And of course, hospitality is extraordinarily competitive. You’ve got all the big players now at the time. You didn’t have the Airbnbs and whatnot, but you had the Expedia, and the Orbitz, and all of those.

[00:05:46] And so I said, here’s my process. This is what I’m doing. And they said, keep doing that. That is amazing. I wish more advertisers would do that. That planted a little seed in my mind. And I thought, would this work for other industries, for other niches? Could I take this beyond what I’m just doing right here?

[00:06:03] And of course, entrepreneur at heart. I just decided to start experimenting in other industries and seeing very similar results, very similar gains on people’s ads. And that’s around the time when I decided to go all in on advertising. It’s like, once you see something that you love, you can’t unsee it.

[00:06:24] And I was like, this is my career path right here, so developed a business around it, doing ads for people, developed a very strong reputation for rehabbing expensive and problematic accounts. And that’s what started bringing a lot of folks to me to learn. 

[00:06:41] And so eventually, we launched a training company, and that’s where we sat in our industry ever since, as training small business owners, especially a lot of single owner-operators, how to do their own ads, be very successful with it, and save, literally, thousands of dollars over outsourcing it every single month. I don’t know if everyone in the community knows, but hiring an ads manager these days can be very costly.

[00:07:09] Annette: Absolutely. And no results guaranteed there. 

[00:07:13] Before we dive into the question specifically about ads, Tara, can you share just some of the budgets, from the smallest to the largest also so our listeners understand that its success can be found at any level of the ads budget?

[00:07:31] Tara: Absolutely. Historically, our agency, the private services side of our business has managed about five million a year. Our clients will spend anywhere between 25,000 and 250,000 a month, I would say more on the upper end than the lower end. We really focused on serving a few clients at those higher budgets.

[00:07:50] And those are fun. That’s a fun challenge because at the higher spends, you have to really keep a lot of things going to keep your efficacy really high. So that’s always been very fun. But I will tell you that the special place in my heart is in the smaller budgets, hands down. And I believe that is where the market is so underserved, is business owners who maybe have $10 a day to spend.

[00:08:17] Annette: Wait, wait. Say it again. I want everybody to hear what Tara said. $10 a day, correct? 

[00:08:22] Tara: Yes, absolutely.

[00:08:23] Annette: And you can see extreme success. Love it. Love it. Love it. Love it.

[00:08:26] Tara: You can get a lot of incredible work done on 10, $20 a day. That’s 300 to $600 per month. I would say you definitely want that 10-dollar a day budget to start, and then you could scale from there. I wouldn’t go less than that.

[00:08:40] Annette: And I think a majority of our listeners– Sarah, what do you think this is? One night stay, two night stay? We’re asking you to take one or two days out of the month to dedicate to your marketing budget. 

[00:08:58] Sarah: Yes, but even to make that sweeter, Tara, the whole point, is to get a return on that investment. So what sort of returns on average do you think are feasible for our audience?

[00:09:10] Tara: Totally dependent, of course, on markets. Some markets, you’re going to get a higher return, some lower return. But I would say that you want to always go for a 1.5 to 2.5X return. That’s a really good starting place. Now, I’m not saying it couldn’t be much more than that, but that’s a very, very good standard and expectation, I would say in almost any market.

[00:09:36] Annette: Okay, love it. 

[00:09:37] Sarah: That’s exciting.

[00:09:37] Annette: And so I used some words there. I’m going to check myself, Sarah. I said, take one reservation. It’s just reinvest that one night stay back into the huge success of your business. Let’s talk about this though. I’m nervous. I’ve got some money to spend. I decided I’m going to take the plunge and invest in ads. I’ve allocated it. 

[00:09:58] And listeners, I’m just going to say this. We didn’t talk to Tara, but I know you need to be committed to it for a while. You just don’t want to try it for one or two days and expect that 1.5 immediately. But 

[00:10:08] what’s the most common mistake that new, solopreneurs, new hosts would make starting with setting up their first ad?

[00:10:18] Tara: I’m going to go a little bit technical on this mistake because it truly is the number one mistake. And it is boosting a post and thinking that you’re running ads. And that is simply not the case. So let me put this in really simple, grounded terms. And also, let’s clarify.

[00:10:37] When we say Facebook, we mean Facebook and Instagram and actually the whole family suite of apps. That includes Messenger. That can include WhatsApp. That might be important for certain markets. And it also includes the audience network, which is, my ad showed up on the New York Times. I’m not even running ads on the New York Times.

[00:10:56] You are when you’re running Facebook ads. Similar to all the other platforms such as Google. They all operate the same way. And you can control that, but I will tell you it’s best not to control it. About 60 to 80% of your budget usually gets spent on Instagram when you’re running Facebook ads. So just know that by running Facebook ads, and I’m doing air quotes. You probably can’t see on the podcast, but that also means that you’re running the whole family suite of apps, all Meta platforms.

[00:11:28] Annette: Love that.

[00:11:29] Tara: So the biggest mistake is Meta knows what time Sarah, what time Annette is going to log into the platform, how long they’re going to scroll at each time. They know exactly how many ads they’re going to deliver to them because they know about what percentage of ads they’re going to click on, and they happen to know how many purchases they’re going to make per month on average, how many times they’re going to opt in. 

[00:11:57] Now, some will say, this is scary. I don’t like it. And it’s true. It’s true. But as marketers, we need to understand how these things actually work. So with that in mind, we have to remember that Facebook knows exactly how we’re going to operate on the platform. Now, let me take that back to boosting a post. 

[00:12:17] When you boost a post, your ads are going to go into a stream of traffic that typically interacts with boosted posts. They rarely leave the platform. They rarely put their email in for anything. They rarely make a purchase. What they do is they heart, they like, and they interact. 

[00:12:40] And people will say, I got 20 likes from this, but nobody actually did anything. That’s because you’re not reaching a stream of traffic that actually does anything with those boosted posts. Similarly, if we want conversions, or let’s say, traffic, perhaps to our listing on an OTA or, better yet, a direct booking listing, then we’re going to push a little button. 

[00:13:07] It’s literally the push of a button where we’re going to say, actually, we prefer people that do these types of interactions. They leave the platform. They go to websites. Perhaps they enter emails. They put in their credit cards and actually make transactions. They’re very active online beyond just the social platforms.

[00:13:28] So we’re pushing a button. If you don’t mind, I’ll just illustrate that. We had a member come through in the real estate space, so adjacent space here from us, and she had paid an ads manager a full-end budget of about $900. She’s about $1,600 in, and after about, I think it was two months, she had two leads from this.

[00:13:52] And she said, Tara, I’m going to try your system and just see. I have no idea. And I said, this is both going to delight you and be a little bit of a heartbreak. And I said, we’re simply going to adjust the stream of traffic. We’re going to push a different button. We’re going to literally duplicate this exact campaign so I can show you exactly the difference. 

[00:14:10] And we’re going to push a different button. And we pushed the different button, the one that says we want people who actually do things in the online space, not just interact socially. And I said, let me know. Like a doctor, I said, call me in a week and tell me how it’s going. 72 hours later, she said, Tara, I spent $60. I have 40 leads.

[00:14:33] Sarah: Oh my gosh.

[00:14:34] Annette: Love it.

[00:14:35] Tara: So that is the difference of just telling Facebook exactly what you want.

[00:14:39] Sarah: So I have a question. She was working, you said, with another ad professional before she came to you.

[00:14:45] Tara: She had hired an agency. Yes.

[00:14:47] Sarah: Why didn’t they know about that button or encourage her to press that button?

[00:14:50] Tara: Facebook, honestly, doesn’t even know its own capabilities. Sometimes Facebook will always tell you to run traffic ads, these visibility ads, as if we care about visibility. You don’t really care if everybody in your market knows the business name ofyo ur particular entity. That’s not what we’re after. We’re not Nike. We’re not Starbucks. We don’t care about this branding, just blasting our ads out there and trying to get name recognition. What do we care about, ladies? People putting their emails.

[00:15:31] Annette: Profit.

[00:15:31] Sarah: Conversions.

[00:15:32] Annette: Yeah.

[00:15:32] Tara: Conversions, bookings. Yes. 

[00:15:35] Annette: Visibility is vanity. That’s a vanity metric, and I know that’s difficult thing. So visibility is vanity. Profit is sanity. I’m stealing from another quote that I know.

[00:15:47] Tara: I might steal that from your stealing of another quote. 

[00:15:51] Annette: So going back to the number one mistake, though, because I know we see it, it’s like you get excited. They’re like, hey, your post is doing better than a percentage other– do you want to spend $10 to boost your post? So you are saying, resist the temptation to boost a post. Never do it. 

[00:16:09] Tara: Or do it smart. Okay, so we can do this smartly. So if we know that people who typically get boosted posts in their newsfeed are people who typically interact with boosted posts, now we can just switch. We can switch our marketing brain on here. We can pull a different lever. And we can say, okay, the chances of me getting them to my direct booking site are slim to none. What else can I do? What if the call to action is, send me a DM?

[00:16:42] Annette: Okay.

[00:16:42] Tara: And I’ll you more information about the property.

[00:16:46] Annette: Okay. Okay. 

[00:16:48] Tara: You could be really cute with that. Send me a DM. I’ll send you a secret link to learn more. You can get really fun with that, whatever is on brand for you as an individual, but you can be really fun with that. And you keep people on platform. And then from there, we build that trust factor in the DM. So that’s one way that you can utilize boosted posts.

[00:17:14] Now, another way that we can do it is we do boost those posts. And by the way, I recommend spending not more that 10 to 20% of your advertising budget on boosting or other visibility opportunities. Now, I think boosting is your least effective opportunity. I think you actually have a massive opportunity in video views, particularly in this space.

[00:17:37] Imagine a video view ad featuring your property or properties, and with some really great copy on it. You could be spending a dollar, $2 a day on that. And now you’ve got this audience of people that are actually interested. They’re interacting with this video or boosted post, however we want to do that, and then the backend strategy is you retarget those folks with those ads that actually get them to convert. 

[00:18:06] Sarah: What does retarget mean? Can you share?

[00:18:09] Tara: What was that?

[00:18:09] Sarah: What does retarget mean?

[00:18:12] Tara: Retarget. So good. All right. Remarketing, retargeting. You’ll hear different terms for this. So 

[00:18:18] retargeting is, when somebody interacts with you once, we know that– every single study research in the world is going to tell you this. People need seven to 12 touch points before they convert. They do. 

[00:18:33] And so somebody seeing your property once, unless they are in desperate need, it suits their exact circumstance, exactly what they need in that exact moment, they’re not going to book. They need to see that a few times. Now, if they’re on one of the OTAs and they’re searching for something, that could be a little bit different because there’s a direct need.

[00:18:55] But we have to remember, if we’re advertising to them, that we’re most likely hitting them in a time where they’re thinking about a vacation, two to three months out. They’re very unlikely to need something in that exact moment. They’re more in probably concepting their next vacation. We’re all doing that all the time. 

[00:19:15] I always have two or three vacations in the future that I’m planning for and starting to dream about. And I think that is such a beautiful moment in travel right now, because, especially coming out of the last few years like we have, I think people always have a trip on their brain. They’re always planning some great adventures.

[00:19:34] So they’re going to need to see that ad a few times. Now, let me also ask.This is just a question for everyone to ask themselves. How often have we clicked on an ad, open it in a new tab and said, oh, I’ll get back to that later?

[00:19:51] Sarah: I’m raising my hand.

[00:19:51] Annette: And if you look at my computer right now, I have 75 tabs open.

[00:19:54] Sarah: In my Instagram, I actually have a saved folder of saved things I want to either buy or– so yes.

[00:20:01] Tara: Yes. You’re looking at an ad, maybe you’re in the pickup line for school, maybe you’re whatever, whatever, and you click on it, and you say, I’ll get back to that later. And of course, what does our human brain do? It has a million things going on, and it forgets. So retargeting is going back to those folks and saying, hey, don’t forget about this.

[00:20:23] Hey, remember you were interested. And you will see these ads following you all over on the Internet. I was just on Saks last night. And of course, this morning, I’m seeing the ads, the pictures of the things that I was clicking on. So this is how that works. And every big company does it. So you get to do it with your company as well and see incredible results from it.

[00:20:49] Sarah: That’s powerful. And so is that something that automatically happens when I run an ad, Tara, or is retargeting a whole separate step that I have to be familiar with? 

[00:21:00] Tara: It’s a separate, simple step. So you can be very successful without it, but it’s a wonderful, extraordinary tool. Will take you about 20 minutes all in to set it up. So that would include, let’s say, if you were learning how to do it on your own and you needed to write the ad copy real quick.

[00:21:20] This would be everything. So it’d take you about 20 minutes to do– all you’re going to do is tell Facebook, hey, I want to reach everybody who visited my website, clicked on or interacted in any way, shape, or form with my Instagram or Facebook, and/or looked at any of my videos. So those are some categories. There’s many, many more, but those would be the ones that most directly relate to what we’re trying to accomplish with direct bookings.

[00:21:50] Annette: Boom. Love it. Easy. You said 20 minutes. I’m hearing $10. I’m hearing 20 minutes. This is–

[00:21:56] Sarah: I’m hearing, I can do this. 

[00:21:57] Annette: Yeah, super simple. 

[00:21:58] I want to go back to how much money we do need, though. How much money do we need to commit in the beginning? Let’s talk about a baseline financial commitment and a time commitment as far as how long should we be testing things? When is it a runaway train and you’re not doing it properly?

[00:22:18] I know you can set some parameters inside Meta, like, hey, don’t spend more than this. So listeners, I want to let you know you can put those levels in, like, I don’t want to spend more than $10 a day. I want to spend more than $300 a month. You need to block me. So can you walk us through some of the minimums we need to anticipate when we start our ads adventure?

[00:22:38] Tara: Yes. Okay. So first of all, time commitment, because everybody will always ask that. And the fortunate thing is if you’re spending under 5,000 a month, it’s always my threshold where things start to get to the next level of complicated, which almost everybody listening here is probably spending a couple hundred to a few hundred per month.

[00:22:57] So you probably don’t ever even need to worry about the next level of complication, but you should be spending between one to three hours per month on your ads. And if you’re getting up closer to a couple of thousand, maybe you do have 40, 50 properties, and you’re trying to maintain something bigger.

[00:23:17] Let’s just say you’re still spending around 5,000 a month. That might be three to four hours per month. So you’re looking at a very low time commitment. Now, if you’re learning how to do it, you might want to add on an extra three to five hours in the first month, just so you can learn all of the process and whatnot.

[00:23:34] And you might plan on a couple additional hours for two to three months after that, just because you’re going to need a little bit of help understanding your particular account. Every account is so different. I have two accounts that I use actively for my own company, and they both have very different behaviors.

[00:23:53] I know each of them very well, how much I can spend on each per day, and it really gets that optimal result, but I’m advertising the same thing. So it’s just like one account is a little more seasoned. One account is a little less seasoned, and the algorithm interacts differently with them. So you’re going to learn your particular account.

[00:24:10] And then from there, really, this should be pretty hands off and very low maintenance. I would say, if you’re spending a couple hundred bucks a month, something that would be a very reasonable cadence is you check in on your ads, maybe five to 10 minutes per week, and you might get a little bit of optimization assistance 30 minutes a month, something like that, just to make sure that you’re not overspending, and for some, actually, underspending.

[00:24:38] Sometimes we’re leaving a lot of money on the table because we’re just not maximizing our budget fully to what the potential could be. So a lot of that’s going to depend too on your capacity. How much additional capacity do you have to fill? Are you just trying to finish– your properties are full 80% of the time. 

[00:25:04] So then we’re just looking at a little bit of additional capacity, and that’s going to calculate into your budget calculus as well. But I would say, again, $10 per day is a very good starting place. That’s 300 per month. And if that is in your marketing budget, I think that is an excellent place to start. And then depending on the capacity that you’re trying to fill for your property, you could increase that. You could potentially even decrease that a little bit strategically, but Facebook really responds well at that starting budget.

[00:25:39] Annette: Love that. But really quick, again, 101, what do I need? How do I know I’m ready to run an ad? Do I need to have a Facebook business page for my property? I know that a pixel needs to be installed. 

[00:25:51] Sarah: What’s a pixel?

[00:25:51] Annette: Because everyone’s excited right now. But what are some of those, like, hey, you’ve got to at least get these things dialed in first before you can even run that ad? What do they need? 

[00:26:01] Tara: To have a Facebook page. Ideally, you also have an Instagram page, but you don’t have to have one. Facebook can still run ads on Instagram as your Facebook page. I know that sounds confusing, but it happens all the time. So ideally, you have to have Facebook page. Ideally, an Instagram page as well.

[00:26:20] I would say you definitely want to have a direct booking site available. Now, you could run ads to your listing on the OTAs. You absolutely could. And you could see if there’s lift there. People will do this all the time. To give you an additional example, people will do this all the time to their Amazon stores.

[00:26:44] So an Amazon store would be a perfect example of another industry that does this very well. So people run Facebook ads, YouTube ads, all these ads to their Amazon stores. You can’t pixel an Amazon store. You can’t track, but they will see the lift, so what we might call the increase over what is our normal baseline. You could do that. I lost my train of thought. So those are the basics of what you need. And there was a second question in that that you asked

[00:27:19] Annette: The pixel. I know that people get tripped up on the pixel, but it’s also super, super easy to install. But can you talk about what the pixel is, what the pixel does, and why it’s so important?

[00:27:30] Tara: The pixel is a tiny bit of code. It’s about a paragraph long, and you will put that on your website. And many direct booking software are integrated with these platforms. Some are not. So then that just requires a little bit of a workaround. You’re going to place that on your website. And what that is is a little tracker.

[00:27:51] So Facebook can say, hey, we got a conversion. Hey, we got a person who visited. So it sends information back to Facebook. Now, this is very simple terminology, and for those of you that may know something about Facebook, you may know that a couple of years ago, things got more complicated with the tracking.

[00:28:11] But actually, Facebook just made some very recent changes to simplify the tracking again. Things got complicated. Now they’re simple. So Facebook’s always trying to make things as simple as possible to run advertising. But that’s just going to be a little bit of code, and it simply sends back to Facebook saying, hey, we just got a conversion.

[00:28:32] This is working. And it sends more than just the conversion. It says, this was the person that converted. And so Facebook can now look at that person. Ah, okay. They were recently, looking at these websites about travel blogs. Let’s go find more people that look like this person, who have more behaviors that look like that.

[00:28:54] Annette: Awesome. That is beginner 101. You want to make sure that you have that installed before you start running ads so you can see the success of them, correct?

[00:29:02] Tara: Yes.

[00:29:02] Annette: Okay. Awesome. If they wanted to just start running the ads and starting to look at the analytics, what’s the basic– I know you said 1.5, but where can they find this? Where are they going to be able to– if they see they ran the $300 in ads and they think they’re getting some bookings for it, where are they actually going to be able to read the data, Tara, to see if the ads are getting them that 1.5 or higher?

[00:29:33] Tara: This is all going to depend on your particular software and how well it integrates with Facebook. Now, I will tell you, having seen so many booking software across almost all industries, some are better than others when it comes to integrating with Google ads, Facebook ads, all the different platforms.

[00:29:53] Sometimes you’ll see very clear data, and it says three bookings, spent X, Y, Z. Facebook, with as much data as they’re able to draw from your software, they will actually do the conversion for you. So they will say that was a 1.5, a 2.5, a 4.0 return on ad spend. ROAS is what that particular metric is called.

[00:30:21] Facebook is so simple once you know how to read the dashboard. If anybody is in their Facebook account and they click on their reports, and they go about halfway down, there is a performance and clicks report. That’s my favorite one to pull. I do a lot of custom reports, but just for something that’s already in Facebook that will give you all the data that you need, that one’s a fabulous one. 

[00:30:48] And there’s about two or three metrics in there that you can judge the full success of your campaign from. But of course, number one metric is how many bookings? But there’s a couple of other supportive metrics you can look at to see, in particular, how well does the algorithm like your ads?

[00:31:06] So is there something you can change about your ad that will make it more algorithm-friendly and thus cheaper? And also, how well does the audience like the ad? So there’s a specific metric there that will tell you, is the audience actually resonating with this particular ad? And oftentimes, people get really down on themselves and say, gosh, this audience just doesn’t like it. And will just simply change the headline, and all of a sudden, it will perform much better. So a couple of little simple metrics there to look at.

[00:31:42] Sarah: Can we dive in a little bit into creative, Tara? So obviously, the return on your ad spend and the success of these ads are dependent on, like you just said, our audience responding well to our ads. What if I’m really good at cleaning rentals, and making beds, and making guests happy, but creative and copywriting is not my jam? What do you suggest for business owners who are in that position?

[00:32:09] Tara: We’ve got some incredible tools with AI that can make your job so much easier, but here’s what I will tell you. I always like to test a short, a medium, and a long version of the ads. So let me tell you what goes into each of those. So short is going to be a simple benefit statement, and you would include a geography anchor. So let’s just say my property’s on the great lakes. So I might say, perfect property for hosting family reunions right here on the great lakes.

[00:32:45] Sarah: Hmm.

[00:32:47] Tara: You heard my benefit in there. Maybe I know my property tends to hold a lot of big groups. Families love to go there. And I mentioned where it’s located because nobody’s going to know unless you specifically tell them. I know that seems so simple, but I can’t tell you– for anything that’s local, that has an actual place where people go, people forget that in their ads all the time.

[00:33:13] You’re going to always make sure that you add that call to action. So call to action. Click here to learn more. So simple. You must always tell people what you want them to do. If that is all that you learn in marketing– maybe you’re thinking, I’m not a marketer. I have no idea. If all you do is tell people what to do next, your marketing will become 10 times more effective. And that’s it. That can be a short version of the ad. 

[00:33:41] So let’s go medium. Maybe medium you add in a few features. You say, seven bedrooms, pool. You just add in a few of those features. And there you go. A couple of sentences there. Nestled in the beautiful forest of blah, blah, blah. So there’s your medium version. 

[00:34:04] Now let’s go long version. Take that same ad, and now we add in a testimonial, one of those five-star reviews of somebody talking about how much they love the property. There’s long. So that’s so simple. But now let’s take it to AI. Now let’s say, okay, ChatGPT. Here’s my customer avatar. This is the person who primarily gets my place, and I want you to create 10 versions of this ad in a fun and playful tone. 

[00:34:39] Okay, now you just let AI do all your copywriting for you, but those are some simple ways, very simple models that can be extraordinarily effective. And you don’t have to do the ChatGPT, but for a lot of people who feel intimidated about copy, that can make it very, very, very easy. If you give chat GPT a version of your copy and say, make it fun, make it sophisticated, make it playful, you can tell what you want the tone to be. Give me 10 versions. You’re going to be shocked at what it comes up with in about 20 seconds.

[00:35:17] Annette: I love that tip.

[00:35:18] Sarah: Yeah, really quick for anyone. It’s okay if you don’t yet know what ChatGPT is. Maybe you heard it in a random news article or something like that. But it is all the talk right now on any marketing podcasts that I’m listening to. And I’m using it, Tara, all the time. And I’m not a terrible writer.

[00:35:35] I don’t love writing, which is why I’m leveraging ChatGPT. And so listeners, it’s a website. It is actually free right now. You can upgrade, but it’s free right now. You sign up, and you literally, like Tara said, write into– it looks like a, messaging software almost, and you put in that copy that– just do what Tara did, but make it work for your property. Put it in there. And like Tara said, if you teach it how you want it to sound, the tone– our videographer, Kirk, he’s like, write this as if this is– did he say you Ryan Reynolds?

[00:36:08] Annette: Ryan Reynolds? Yeah.

[00:36:09] Sarah: In Ryan Reynolds voice. Which it spit out something that absolutely Ryan Reynolds would say, which is something funny. Or maybe you have a more luxurious property, so you want to have a Four Seasons tone to it. It is powerful, and you should be playing with it all the time as business owners. It helps you with your email, but I just want to–

[00:36:30] Annette: Yeah, we can do a whole episode on that.

[00:36:32] Sarah: I know. I know. But Tara, that is powerful. I can do that right today, even for our own rentals, so thank you for that simple explanation. And listeners, what’s so nice about Tara and this whole episode is I feel like every time you start talking to her, you’re like, oh yeah, it’s so simple. You just X, Y, Z. But the thing is Tara has a reputation that it can be simple if you just come at it with the mindset that you can do this as an owner-operator, and that it can be very powerful for your business.

[00:37:06] Annette: Let’s share, though. What is the biggest frustration, though, that you see with everyone in your community because you are making it so simple? What do you see, though, is the biggest frustration or the roadblock that comes up again and again and again? Just to warn our listeners. It can’t all be sunshine and rainbows.

[00:37:26] Tara: It’s the one-hour learning curve of where everything is. And I really mean that. So something that is cool about our community– I’ve devoted my whole career in business to making this as simple as humanly possible. My entire livelihood relies on these things being incredibly simple.

[00:37:50] But something that we have an interesting reputation in is that I’ve taught more people in their 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, how to run Facebook and Instagram ads. You have these amazing retirees with just deep, deep experience in their careers. Maybe they had an amazing corporate career, and they’re starting these businesses.

[00:38:10] Some of them e-commerce. Some of them little brick and mortars. Some of them coaching or consulting. Maybe they want to become a career coach themselves, and they have no interest in making– they’ve already done their career. This is just what they’re doing to fill their time.

[00:38:28] And so we’ve had this incredible community of retirees who come through the club, learned how to do their ads. They are so good that you would hire them if you could. They are that good. They want nothing to do with a stressful marketing career, but they are that good. And they just spend 10, 20, $30 a day.

[00:38:48] They get their little customers in. They’re very happy. And some of them do a lot more than that. But I will tell you, if they can learn it, anyone can learn it. And I will also say, the truth in advertising here is there’s about a one-hour curve of learning a new platform. That’s always so frustrating, I think, for any of us. 

[00:39:07] Where are the buttons? How does this work? Where is that report? And I think that is the hardest piece that people, if they’ll give me an hour of that frustration, I will turn them into experts on their account. But they have to go through that process of, where’s everything located, and how does this platform work?

[00:39:27] I think that Facebook has done a great job making everything relatively intuitive. I’d much rather be in Facebook than Google ads any day. But what I will say is that it is an advertising platform. There’s a lot of numbers, and it can be intimidating when you first look at it if you’re just looking at it without guidance. It can look overwhelming. 

[00:39:51] Once you understand what all the numbers mean, it’s so fun. I’ve had so many people say I was terrified, and now it’s like the piece of my business I’ll never give up because it’s so fun because you can really– it’s cool to be able to control the levers on your traffic. You’re in full control of how many people visit your website.

[00:40:16] You can’t control how many bookings you’re going to get from those people, but you’re in full control of maximizing the possibility of getting bookings. And if you say to yourself, I noticed that on my direct booking site, I get one booking for every, let’s call it, 300 visitors.

[00:40:34] Ding, ding, ding. Now you can start to control the lever that. You’re not just reliant on something lucky happening or magic happening to get those visitors. It’s like, no, I can actually control how much I spend to how many visitors I get.

[00:40:49] Annette: Oh, I love that. And listeners, I know that you’ve all spent more than an hour putting together some furniture that probably didn’t get put together right. I know you took more than an hour, actually, when you first put your first listing up. That’s frustrating. You figure out what you need to write and how the OTAs work. So make the investment of that frustrating hour to break through.

[00:41:10] Sarah: Well, Yeah, and that OTA, you don’t own that land listeners. I know you hear us harp about it, and they are absolutely a partner in our marketing tool belt, but running these ads with your copy, your photos, and you behind the scenes pulling the levers, there’s nothing more powerful than that.

[00:41:28] And Tara, you’re telling me hospitality is a competitive industry, but you full heartedly believe that our listeners can experience success and increase their direct booking average if they stick with it and read those reports once they know where they’re at and how to read them. They can have success building their direct booking campaigns.

[00:41:46] Tara: Absolutely. Oh, 1000%. We have seen ads work, not only in hospitality, but you just imagine every niche crazy space that you would imagine. Manufacturers have come to us and had success with doing ad. You just think of every random thing you can possibly imagine.

[00:42:09] And we’ve been lucky to see about 5,000 ad accounts since we started successful ads club. We’ve been behind the scenes with these business owners and seeing all of this data, but the nichest, craziest things you would never imagine can be very successful with that. So that can be something that’s actually in demand, that people are looking for 1000%.

[00:42:35] Annette: Sounds to me like there’s no reason not to run the ads. This has been really an amazing episode, Tara, because I think everyone hopefully is excited to get after it and mark off their calendar. Just put it on your calendar, that time to set up the account, start working on it, and start running those ads.

[00:42:57] Sarah: And listen, as I want you to know too, we are working closely with Tara and her team to bring you ad content that speaks to our industry and not just the short-term rental industry. We know so many of you out there are property owners, you are managing your own properties, and you wear so many hats.

[00:43:16] I know it because I feel it right along side you, and you can do this, and we’re going to continue working with Tara and her team to bring you this content, help us to be successful for you. Tara, what haven’t we asked you that you think our listeners need to take away from this first step, which is consuming today’s episode?

[00:43:36] Tara: I think just the mindset of advertising. And something that you just said is getting that listing up or assembling furniture. Listen, I know if you’ve developed those technical abilities– and those are technical abilities. A lot of people stay away from owning their own properties because that is so overwhelming to them.

[00:43:59] So if you are the type of person that figured all of that out, and feels like you really want to maximize the potential of your investments, then you’re probably already looking at your marketing budget. You’re probably already figuring out the drivers and the channels where you can get your listings visible and start to see that capacity feel. 

[00:44:27] So if you’re already doing that, then I feel like you have the perfect mindset to explore these channels. Now, not everybody wants to do advertising needs to do advertising, and that’s totally great. If that’s the space you’re in, then that’s wonderful.

[00:44:43] But if it ever circles back to you, gosh, I would really love to see if I could get three more bookings, four more bookings each month, and that would just fill my capacity, maximize my investment, then I would just encourage explore these marketing channels that are so powerful. Social media is wonderful.

[00:45:00] I love the power of social media. And I say pairing that with paid advertising can be even more powerful. So whether it be Google, whether it be Meta, there’s so many different platforms that you can utilize, but I would say, Meta is probably the most cost-effective. And then you take those best ads, and you take them to Google, and you take them to whatever other platforms you want to experiment with.

[00:45:24] Annette: All right, let’s go get it. Let’s get the ads. Thank you so much, Tara. This will not be the last time that our audience hears from you, so thank you so much for your time today.

[00:45:33] Sarah: Yes, we’re going to put all of the information about Tara and what she can help us do. But Tara, if people have more questions, where would you like them to reach out to you? 

[00:45:43] Tara: I’m on Instagram at @tarazirker, always answering questions there. And our website is

[00:45:51] Sarah: Amazing. All right. So like Annette said, this will not be the last time, but for now, I am Sarah Karakaian.

[00:45:56] Annette: I am Annette Grant. And together we are–

[00:45:58] Both Annette & Sarah: Thanks for Visiting. 

[00:45:59] Sarah: We’ll talk to you next time.