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#004: Don't Fall Into These Advertising Traps

Jan 28, 2023

Read Time: 5 minutes



Advertising your books is riddled with traps.

I'm not talking about traps that are a result of malicious behaviour by others, but purely through knowledge gaps; in other words, you don't know what you don't know.

In today's edition of The Saturday Self-Published Author, we're going to use a process known as inverted thinking to improve your chances of success.

Inverted thinking is simply thinking about the things that we could actively do to wreck our chances of success; by doing the opposite of these things, we drastically improve our chances of success. 

It’s much easier to think of how to do things WELL when you're thinking of doing things badly, rather than trying to think of the things that will work WELL from scratch.

I'm not saying that failure is a bad thing, quite the contrary, in fact; it's part of the journey to success.

But if I can help you avoid some common traps I see many authors (including myself) fall into, then that can only be a good thing.


"One who fears failure limits his activities." - Henry Ford


The traps I'm about to share with you apply to all forms of advertising. At the end of this newsletter, I'll use inverted thinking to give you some clear, actionable steps you can implement immediately.

So, if you're ready, let's dive head-first into the traps!

Trap #1: Change Ad Platforms All The Time

Bouncing from platform to platform is a sure way to fail. Falling for the next shiny object.

2 weeks here, 2 weeks there, never sticking it out long enough to actually see results.

Consistency is how you win. Not by flitting around here and there.

"I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times." - Bruce Lee

In the above quote, Bruce Lee advocates that the mastery of a single skill comes through countless repetition; putting in the reps.

Trap #2:
Regularly Changing Ads Strategy

Similar to Trap #1, this second trap relates to strategy.

You find a strategy, test it out for a few weeks, don't see results within a month, declare it doesn't work and find another strategy to test.

And so, the cycle repeats.

I've been here myself, plenty of times. Trying strategy after strategy, looking for something that sticks.

And you know which strategy stuck?

The one that I persisted with for 6 months. NOT, the one I dabbled with for 2 weeks.

Trap #3: Launching With The Minimum You Can Get Away With

Running Facebook Ads with 1 Campaign, 1 Ad Set and 1 Ad.

Running Amazon Ads with 1 Campaign.

You're just not going to get great results by limiting the number of variables you're testing.

Advertising is all about testing; targeting, headlines, images, etc.

Most of what you test won't work, and that's ok; it's perfectly normal.

It all helps you figure out what works and what doesn't work, that much faster.

Trap #4: Start With A Budget You Can't Afford To Lose

If you're desperate and "need" money right this instant, you're going to make bad decisions. That applies to anything in life, not just advertising.

You're going to do things wit the goal of attaining a short-term win, a short-term return. These are almost always BAD ideas.

When it comes to advertising, you know how easy it is to increase budgets on your campaigns. Why not just double that budget? Triple that budget?

It's somehow easier to spend money when there's so physical cash being handed to someone. "Digital money" so to speak, is much easier to spend!

Trap #5: Expect Profitability From Day 1

Expecting to see a positive return on your advertising spend from the beginning is certainly possible, but it's not commonplace.

It's unrealistic to go into advertising expecting to make a profit from Day 1.

These expectations just set you up for failure, because when profitability doesn't happen immediately, you quit, leave the platform and jump onto the next shiny object, declaring that "Ads don't work".

Trap #6: Set It And Forget It

A good way to fail with Ads is going into them thinking that you can set it up once and they'll run like clockwork on autopilot. If only!

Here's how NOT to run Ads:

- Launch it

- Never check it

- Never adjust it

- Never change anything

- Never analyse results

- Never test new ideas - Ad Creative/Targeting

Advertising is something that will need your on-going attention; don't let it consume you, but you can't just launch your Ads and never look at them again.

Trap #7: Do It All Yourself

I'm not saying that you should hire someone to run your Ads for you (although that is an option).

I’m saying never seeking advice, taking courses on the Ad platforms you're learning, asking questions of fellow authors, reading blog posts, watching YouTube Videos, hiring a consultant, is a bad idea. 

Keeping yourself in your own little bubble, never seeking answers, coming up with all the ideas yourself, isn't a good move.

Trap #8: Scaling Too Fast

It's incredibly tempting to start ramping up your Ad Spend when you see a Campaign that's delivering great results for you.

It's giving you a 5:1 return on your investment... why wouldn't you want to put every dollar you have into that campaign?!??

Scaling as fast and aggressively as you possible can will almost certainly destroy your results.

When you scale Ads, performance tends to dwindle a little. Sure, you'll reach more people, but the quality of those people isn't always as good as when you were running on a smaller scale.

Trap #9: "Optimizing" Too Frequently

I've been so guilty of this! I just love Ads and would spend hours each day "tinkering" with them, thinking I was "optimizing", when in fact, all I was doing was sabotaging our results.

I would "mess" with images, Ad copy, headlines, targeting, budgets, etc. Not good.

The algorithms on these advertising platforms take time to get moving, to understand who resonates most with your Ads, what time of day your Ads perform best. Let the algorithms do their thing.

Trap #10: Forgetting About Your Book Product Page

As you've heard me say before, your book sells your book.

No amount of traffic, no matter how creative or clever your Ads are, will sell books if your book product page isn't up to scratch.

Your book product page is what will sell your book:

- Book Cover

- Subtitle

- Book Description

- Pricing

- Reviews and Ratings

- A+ Content

Before you run any form of advertising, your book needs to be the best salesperson for your book.

The Inverted Thinking Exercise

When you run through these traps and then flip them, which we’re about to do, you basically succeed by accident because you’re avoiding the pitfalls, the big “mistakes”. and it’s so much easier to succeed when you’re not making massive errors!

In short, if we do the opposite of these traps, we massively increase our chances of success.

Here’s the escape route from the traps we've been just been through (i.e. opposite - inverted thinking): 

1. Pick 1 or 2 platforms and stick to them

2. Commit to 1 strategy for at least 6-12 months

3. Test new ideas each week and keep your Campaign Structure simple and targeted

4. Start with a budget you can afford to lose - and stick to it

5. Expect it to take 1-3 months (at least) to see profitability

6. Check campaigns daily, optimize once per week and analyze the important metrics

7. Learn the platform by taking courses, hiring a consultant, researching blogs, videos, etc.

8. Scale slowly and sustainably

9. Give adjustments time to have their intended effect

10. Analyze your book product page; is it selling your book for you? Or is it hampering your chances of success?

That's it for this week; thanks for reading. See you next Saturday!

To Your Success
– Matt



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