Why This Is The Most Important Business Book You’ll Read This Year
This graphic says it all:
Image 1.1: 2021's Internet Traffic Rankings (Data - CloudFlare)
TikTok's leap from #7 to #1 is astounding. (Jumping from #7 to #3 would be impressive!) Yet while most people will frame this as a business success story, or a “power of social media” story, or a “some folks didn’t have anything better to do during a pandemic than binge-watching 30-second cat videos” story... the real story is:
YOU will possess an incomparable advantage when you’re among the first to master a new advertising medium.
As the author of the world’s most popular books on Google and Facebook ads, I have lived this not once but twice - not only for myself but for some 500,000 small businesses that have directly benefited from my books and courses.
I have consulted in over 300 industries and worked personally with thousands of entrepreneurs. The surest way to gain a toehold, then foothold, then stranglehold in ANY market is having a NEW advertising medium create a NEW market.
The hardest way to get ANY business off the ground is to saunter into an existing market and pit yourself against existing players who were already dominating existing media before you came in.
If you own a microbrew, what are your chances of getting traction on network television... against Coors and Budweiser? What are your odds of getting new customers in Super Bowl commercials?
Your odds are not merely small. Your odds are zero.
What are your odds on TikTok? On TikTok, you have a fighting chance. In fact, you have an advantage over big players because TikTok’s users are likely to be much more interested in microbrews than the “King of Beers.”
Between 2002 and 2007, Google Ads was the hottest new medium. Back then, the average guy on the street didn’t even realize Google had ads in the first place.
Google opened its advertising system for business in February 2002 and I opened my first account two months later. The foothold I gained in those early days gave me a sustainable advantage for years. Exposure on Google was much less expensive and more effective than most other places you could advertise; I and thousands of others figured out how to “work the system” and once we were established, it was remarkably difficult for rivals to displace us.
Facebook hit the mainstream around 2011. The magic carpet ride began anew - with different rules.
For the first two years or so, Facebook ads were a dodgy wild west, working far better for some than for others. Slowly Facebook got their act together... Then once again for 4-5 years, Facebook traffic was cheap and plentiful for people who knew how to work the system.
Today, hundreds of thousands of companies owe their very existence to these platforms
because of their commitment to adapt their advertising, their marketing, their messaging, and their business models to the idiosyncrasies of their systems.
You can predict with absolute certainty what will happen in the next 3-5 years with TikTok:
● Right now, in 2022, TikTok is very “wild west” as the world has not yet figured it out. It’s unfamiliar to most advertisers, and legions of people only think of it as “free social media.” Recall that it took a few years for the world to even figure out what you’re supposed to do with social media platforms like Twitter. Today, it’s entirely clear what you do with them. The same will happen with TikTok.
● During this wild west period, it will seem difficult, but most people will find that with persistent and consistent effort, it only takes a few weeks to get the hang of it.
● You will gain a lead over competitors, and while they are still content to wrangle with Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube, the secrets of TikTok begin to reveal themselves to you. As you participate with other members of our community, you’ll experience esprit de corps as you discover things that literally nobody else in the world knows.
● You’ll develop an almost preternatural sense of how the platforms work and what your audiences respond to.
● Your business will grow supremely adapted to TikTok and its idiosyncrasies and you’ll grow to love the platform. Over time you’ll accumulate an audience and fan base - yes, even as an advertiser and not an “organic” player - your position will solidify and you’ll become an established player.
● During the next several years you will co-evolve with the platform. As you are able to invest more and more profits back into the business, it will become nearly impossible for rivals to compete with you.
“But I don’t even like TikTok”
Some people adore TikTok and spend all day there. Other people wish it would go away. Same with Facebook and Google and everybody else. All of us have feelings about the various platforms.
“TikTok is an emotional firehose.”
“TikTok is too irrational.”
“It’s so politically correct.”
“It’s just singing, dancing, silly stuff, and entertainment.” “I see videos then I never find them again.”
“People randomly hate stuff for no reason.”
Guess what... I don’t “like” Facebook. I don’t enjoy spending time there and I log in to look at my news feed maybe once a month. But that hasn’t kept me from giving Facebook lots of money and getting lots of clients from them.
You don’t have to like the New York Times - or even be a reader - to advertise in the New York Times. The question is simple: Will the platform give you more customers? If the answer is yes, spend the money and pick up new clients.
“But the only people on TikTok are kids and 20-somethings.”
Not true. My wife is 52 and she’s a TikTok fanatic. For Halloween, she dressed up as her favorite TikTokker, “V” of Under The Desk News. Don’t forget - people were saying the exact thing about Facebook 10 years ago.
Fact is, people of all ages are on TikTok. If you’re selling industrial presses to 55-year-old men, TikTok is probably not your best source of traffic - but yes, millions of 55-year-old men are on TikTok. Please remember that everyone has a different feed that is immediately and eerily customized by the world's most addictive algorithm. The older half of the population will be the fastest-growing segment of new TikTok users for the next few years.
You'll recall that the "only 20-somethings" argument was true when Facebook first came out too.
Here's what's important to understand: we're not teaching you to "go viral." We're not teen influencers trying to become social media stars. What we can do is drive great business results without needing to go viral, just like we do with Facebook and Google ads. We don't need to act like celebrities!
40+ is the fastest-growing segment. And we are already seeing the singing and dancing giving way to more educational videos. Ironically, it's less about TikTok becoming more like Facebook, but Facebook needing to become like TikTok. In the latest earnings call, Zuckerberg noted that Reels would have to compete.
Facebook (now Meta) conducted a nine-day diary study on teens and adults in the US on their session-level experiences using TikTok and Instagram Reels.
This extract from the summary highlights this point:
"Most participants preferred TikTok compared to Reels at the end of the study, even if they started out as Reels users."
"Is TikTok good or bad?"
I do not believe it is a good thing that a billion people are spending this much time on TikTok or Facebook or Instagram. I didn’t think it was a good thing when the same number of people were watching TV for five hours a day, either.
But nobody asked me. And they didn’t ask you. That’s just what people do.
If you’re going to be successful as a marketer or entrepreneur, you must live in the “is” world—not the “should be” world. In the “is” world, 95 percent of people float around in a miasma of mild hypnosis, looking forward to their next hit of “like” and “share” happy juice, or to extract their “pound of flesh” out of some stranger who disagrees with them about politics.
1 You can see the full PDF report here: https://tinyurl.com/metaig 7
This book is all about how you get inside the minds of TikTok users and get them to do what you want them to do. Whether you’re doing business as a church, a school, a winery, a life coach, a car manufacturer, or a seller of aluminum siding, you’ve got a job to do.
There is a difference between using TikTok as a business to fulfill business objectives and using it as a consumer for entertainment. As business owners, we need to go where people congregate en masse, and right now, TikTok is the place to be.
People are going to spend their time and money somewhere. If they spend their time and money with you, you succeed. If they spend it with someone else, you fail. The fact that people are in a state of partial hypnosis provides a platform where you can sell them your product or service.
In this book, you’ll learn how to harness that power.
The “Free Model” vs. “Make $1 Model”
The rise of YouTube Celebs (especially with them getting a share of ad revenue) has created a hysteria around social media influencers that have inspired thousands of aspiring stars and starlets to try as hard as humanly possible to “go viral.”
They desire to become the next Gary Vaynerchuk / Hank Green / Laura Izumikawa / Joe Rogan / Addison Rae / Jordan Peterson / Tess Holiday / Vsauce / Vitus “V” Spehar / Emma Chamberlain / Abigail Behar / Humans Of New York. They post, comment, like, tweet, blog, V-blog 24/7 hoping that the algorithmic gods will smile upon them.
They record videos everywhere they walk and drive. They opine about everything under the sun, hoping that just one of those videos will get a million views.
This method works for a vanishingly small number of the people who try it. I believe it requires a certain indefinable “magic” or “star power” to work. I do not think it is at all honest to advertise this as a system that works reliably for anybody and everybody.
The greatest deception of the Free Model is the notion that it’s “free.” It’s only free if you consider weeks, months, and years of your blood, sweat, and life (and your absence from the lives of your friends and family members) to be “free.”
Oh yeah... and just because they’re internet famous doesn’t guarantee they're rolling in dough. Very few internet celebs are actually “rich.”
There is another method that is much more reliable, often overlooked, and far more formulaic and predictable. I call it the “Make $1 Model.” It’s where 80% of the wealth resides. And it’s far more consistent and reliable than the free model.
The Make $1 Model says:
● Landing Pages ● Offers
With small advertising dollars and small quantities of time until you make one dollar. What does “make one dollar” mean?
Spend $10 and make $11.
Spend $100 and make $101. Spend $1000 and make $1001.
In other words, just run the machine and tinker with it until it’s in the black. You don’t worry about your labor. You can fix that later... for now you just need to generate media exposure without losing money. Once you solve that problem the rest is pretty straightforward. The hard part is over and you can scale up.
How do you run the machine?
You test ads until you get a good Click Thru Rate.
You test videos until you get a high completion rate. You test landing pages until you get a good signup rate. You test offers until you find one that sells well.
This is incomparably easier than trying to become the next Joe Rogan. And you can literally do this with lunch money if you don’t have a lot of cash.
Most entrepreneurs that I know - thousands of people who make six and seven-figure incomes, and many companies that have been sold for millions and tens of millions of dollars - built their businesses THIS way.
Software companies, manufacturing firms, subscription services, consultants and coaches, dentists and cosmetic surgeons, delivery services, real estate investors, sellers of nutritional supplements, and household goods.
“Make $1” is the 21st-century version of what Claude Hopkins was teaching in his classic book “Scientific Advertising” written in 1918. This is eminently reliable.
It’s almost inevitable that by the time you’ve tested 30 ads, 10 landing pages, and 5 offers that you’ll have a sales machine that nets you a positive return.
This book shows you how to do that.
How much should you spend to acquire a customer?
There’s a really simple way to answer this question, which is great for beginners... then, once you have your sea legs, the answer changes a bit.
The simple answer is: If you can invest $100 in advertising and product costs and sell your product for $101 and literally “make one dollar,” then you are over the hump.
If you’re new, then hang on to this and run with it until you make one dollar.
If you can acquire a customer at break-even or better, then as soon as you sell them anything else, you’re profitable. This invokes...
The Magic Gumball Machine Question:
If you had a magic gumball machine, so that when you put money in, out comes a new customer, what’s the most you’d be willing to put in?
This is an incredibly powerful question. First, most people don’t know the answer. Second, it reduces customer acquisition to dollars and cents, which is the goal of all advertising. Third, it naturally invites you to consider the Lifetime Value of a customer, instead of only the first sale.
For a brand new advertising medium with cheap click prices, early in the game advertisers will be able to make a profit acquiring a new customer the very first time. But that doesn’t last very long. Soon the world figures it out and prices go up.
So again, for beginning advertisers, your goal is to “make one dollar.”
For more advanced advertisers, the real question is: How far negative are you willing to go to acquire your customer? If your margin on a product is $30, can you afford to spend $35? $40? 50?
The thing that makes you able to “go deep” is your ability to generate repeat sales. If your first sale is $50 and you’re able to spend $100 to acquire that $50 customer, because you know that in 3-6 months you’ll get all that money back and more, you become a formidable player in the ad marketplace.
I’ve got a story for ya...
A few weeks ago there was a knock on the door. My 11-year-old daughter answered. It was the dad of two of her friends. They lived across the street from our house for several years. She still sees them from time to time.
The dad asked for me but I wasn’t available. The next day he texted.
“I’ve got a good friend who follows your work. She runs a nonprofit. Could we stop by and ask you a few questions?”
Since our kids are friends, I said yes. Turns out his friend performs a very particular kind of therapy. She gets exceptional results for her clients. She began peppering me with questions, which were all over the place and vibed mostly with the “Free Model.”
After digging for a while, I discovered that she had at one time successfully sold an expensive “48-hour immersion experience” where clients make great progress in a very short period of time.
I told her:
Just sell THAT. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, do not blink or even think until you have figured out how to run an ad, build a list and sell seats to your workshop. Don’t worry about whether you make a profit on the first workshop. Just make ONE dollar.
A week later she sent a thank you note solemnly pledging to do precisely that. Thus her journey began.