How online advertising is leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs

The past year has been a challenge for all of us, but for many business owners it has been harder than ever to stay afloat.

From the Covid-19 pandemic to the resulting recession, small businesses have faced many challenges as they try to grow and reach new customers, while competing against larger companies with larger budgets.

But now entrepreneurs from across the UK have revealed how Facebook’s digital tools like personalized advertising have transformed their businesses, helping them create and connect with a community; the kinds of capabilities that only the giants of the industry had.

And in an effort to support small businesses, Facebook has launched its #DeserveToBeFound campaign in which businesses can earn an invaluable shout from serial entrepreneur and TV star Steven Bartlett.

Read on to find out how to get involved, but first meet the business owners who already do personalized advertising for them …


Self-confessed rebel Colin Melville of Devon says personalized advertising should be one of the tools “any business” needs to thrive today

Bored with the sickly cliché art, avowed rebel Colin Melville, from Devon, has decided to give up his media career and launch his own online store, Famous Rebel, which features unusual wall art, cards and gifts.

The entrepreneur took a huge risk by starting the business on Black Friday.

He explained: “In my last media job, I managed advertising budgets of £ 100,000.

“But that day it was just me, 50 prints and a £ 20 Facebook ad budget.”

Colin’s Best Advice for Other Small Businesses

Start small and learn, learn, learn. Tell your own story because people want to read and hear about you, not just your products.

Don’t just do ads that just sell things with a price and no fuss. You wouldn’t do this in a real store, you would chat with your customers and explain why you started and why your products are awesome.

And Colin quickly realized that he didn’t need huge budgets to build a community and a clientele.

So he continued to invest in personalized ads, which he knew would appeal to other rebels.

In fact, in February 2020, the entrepreneur found that spending £ 100 on targeted advertising to promote a one-day sale led to 700 purchases from customers.

Personalized advertising is now a key part of its business model.

“I spend between £ 150-400 a week and the return is around 1.5-2 times the investment,” he says. “But it’s not always about the immediate return.

“For us, it’s about getting our name known and telling our story so that people remember us and when they want something unique in the future, they come to us.

Personalized advertising like Custom Audiences and Facebook Like, for example, allows us to target a niche audience and build community, encouraging people to engage with the brand for long-term growth. ‘

Less than two years later he has even opened a physical store in Totnes. But 95 percent of Famous Rebel’s sales still come from online customers.

“We know our products sell well in our retail store in Totnes, but it’s a limited audience,” he says. “Facebook ads allow us to present these products to millions of potential customers, we can also specifically target people who have tastes like us and who will eventually buy the products.

“Most importantly, the platform allowed us to tell our story to loads of people who would never hear it.”

Colin confessed: “Without personalized advertising, we would go out of business.


James Martin, from Harrogate, started Glawning in 2013 as a side business, but personalized advertising has helped him and his wife Sarah turn it into a full-time job.

James Martin, from Harrogate, started Glawning in 2013 as a side business, but personalized advertising has helped him and his wife Sarah turn it into a full-time job.

How a simple hashtag could help YOUR business …

Inspirational entrepreneur Steven Bartlett could congratulate YOUR business!

Inspirational entrepreneur Steven Bartlett could congratulate YOUR business!

Facebook believes businesses deserve to be found online, regardless of their size.

That’s why the social media platform has started a movement to celebrate small businesses and the brilliant ideas behind them.

Facebook #DeserveToBeFound campaign aims to support and showcase entrepreneurs like Colin, James, Sarah and YOU!

Just share the hashtag #DeserveToBeFound on Facebook or Instagram and your business could appear on Steven Bartlett’s Facebook channels in the coming weeks. This is a fantastic opportunity for your idea to be seen by thousands of new potential customers.

Show off your products, tell your story or say thank you to your customers, as you market your business and why you #DeserveToBeFound

In the meantime, you can also download the free Facebook posters to share with your community. Click here to find out more.

What have you got to lose

James and Sarah Martin of Harrogate were camping in their van when their “nasty nylon awning” exploded in the middle of the night.

It was then that they decided there had to be a better product – and they were the ones who launched it.

Drawing on the trendy and glamorous camper market, James and Sarah started Glawning in 2013 as a side business.

The couple started selling bell tent awnings for motorhomes and glamping accessories for the inside of awnings.

High quality 100% cotton canvas camper awnings are a luxury item, fashionable and allow campers to have a fire inside – just what glampers want.

And because their product is relatively specialized, James and Sarah use personalized online ads to target customers based on their behaviors, interests, and van model.

They can even trigger promotional campaigns to activate when they need to increase sales.

When spending £ 500 on a personalized ad, the couple know they can make over £ 10,000 from their personalized marketing.

James explained, “Personalized advertising has a direct impact on our sales.

“If there’s a month where we’re not hitting sales targets, we can just put an ad and be pretty sure what we’re going to get out of it.”

And after the success of their side business, they developed a cult and gave up their job to sell awnings full time.

Do you want to learn more about personalized advertising and how the tools could help you grow your business?

Visit Facebook to learn more about digital tools and free resources available to support your business.

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