I ruined my entire marketing operation with one decision. With just one wrong choice – I lost one of the biggest lead generation sources for my business. I also lost $23,340.
I went into the garage and kicked the garbage cans around for fifteen minutes. Then I sat down with a beer and asked myself: How the heck did that happen?
In the summer of 2014, I roughly spent $3,000 on Facebook ads and they worked ok. Every day, 5 new leads, one, two, three, four, five, and ten on the weekends when people spent more time on social media. These were small successes and they were building up. However, it was taking too much time.
I thought, “At this pace, it will be a full year before I reach my revenue goals from Facebook ads.” What could I do to speed it up? Could I shortcut the path to success? Well, of course I could. I could hire an expert, someone who had proven experience with Facebook ads. Delegation! Not just a buzzword – but a proven strategy for success in business.
The Facebook consultant had excellent references. I didn’t talk to any current customers, however industry leaders recommended the firm. The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of a $50 million ecommerce company said, there is no one better.
I sent $15,000 to get started and $5,000 more to run the first batch of ads on Facebook, and then … Nothing. (Cricket) (Cricket). The consultant … disappeared.
I couldn’t get a call back or an update about my campaign. For two weeks, I tried to get an update. A small voice in the back of my mind said: This consultant is taking on a ton of new clients. You should back out of this.
However, the front of my brain said: That’s embarrassing. You didn’t even give this a chance to work. So … I kept calling. Finally, in a rush of work over a weekend, when I backed him into a corner, the consultant started running the ads.
One lead. In a week. One sale. Two weeks later. The consultant called me for our “weekly update”: We need to spend more money on ads. I said I would think about it over the weekend.
Over the Weekend
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That Saturday morning, Facebook sent me the following email: We have deactivated your Facebook advertiser account. Please consider this decision final. Well, at least I had my answer: We wouldn’t be spending more money on ads.
- Consultant: $15,000
- Facebook: $5,000
- Rob’s Business: $0
What I Learned about Self-Sabotage
I’m calling this experience “self sabotage” for one important reason. I was experiencing slow, steady growth. And then, despite the small voice of warning, I tried to take a short cut.
I define “Self Sabotage” as the following:
- Wrecking success
- With a few decisions
- Despite internal or external warnings
How to Prevent It
I made a list of ways that I could prevent self-sabotage in the future. I hope some of these help.
- The answer isn’t usually to spend a lot of money
- If you hear a small voice of warning inside, set a 48-hour timer and make no further moves
- Set a 7-day decision timer on any major business move. During this time, consult trusted advisors and perform due diligence (like interviewing customers). Take plenty of quiet time to consider the question, “what if it goes wrong?”
- Do not compare small success now (that is real) with huge success later (which is fantasy). In other words, don’t let what you don’t have spoil what you do have
- Major success is the consistent application of force on a routine that is working, plus time.
- Dissatisfaction can be useful but it can also lead to the search for shortcuts.
Wow, This Seems Horrible
The ideas above sound terrible. It sounds like there is no quick fix. No easy path to success, no shortcut, no overnight million-dollar idea. And the reality is that overnight success happens to me (and you) when we are doing the right things. Over and over.
The End of the Consultant (and the Story)
I never got my Facebook account turned back on. I never talked to the consultant again. He did agree to return $7,500 of his fee. I thought that was classy. I forgave him with no hesitation because the responsibility was truly mine.
In January of 2015, I got back to business as usual. Running ads in other places. Reaching out to competitors and asking to do joint marketing together. Connecting with my subscribers by email, day after day. And one day, while I was just doing my job, I had an idea and that idea turned into a product.
That product sold $175,000 on the first Monday it was available and $400,000 in the first month. It was the biggest success I’d ever had in business. A friend told me, “Dang, that came out of nowhere!” But really. It didn’t. You know where it came from.