10 Ways To Save Money (And Get A Better R.O.I.) On Facebook and Instagram Ads For Your Service Based Business


In this article, we are diving into one of my FAVORITE all-time topics, and that is marketing your business. And to make it EXTRA exciting, we are talking about marketing and more specifically, advertising, in the context of one of my OTHER favorite topics- SAVING MONEY. 

If you’re a regular listener of my Profitable Play Podcast, you’ll know I am a HUGE fan of Facebook and Instagram Ads to grow and scale your indoor playground business in a cost-effective way. However, I often hear from people who are just getting started on their advertising journey that these ads can feel confusing, expensive, and like an all-around waste of time and money.

And I get that. 

It does take quite a bit of training, intention, and strategy to make these platforms work for you.  The problem with FB and IG ads is that you can technically launch an ad and have it running in less than 1 minute from your mobile device.

However, that ease is really quite deceptive. As with so many things in life, if something feels too good to be true, it likely is. And that sentiment very much holds true in this case.

Now, don’t get me wrong. If you have a massive advertising budget and you just want to throw money at ads and get some extra likes or shares from time to time, by all means– go ahead. I’m not saying boosted posts or those quick-launch type ads are completely useless. If you have a particular post or reel that’s performing really well organically and you’d like to amplify that success and engagement with some ad spend, like I said- go for it. 

In fact, I have a YouTube video that shares some tips on doing exactly that.

However, while likes and comments are cool and all- they don’t always translate into actual SALES or result in a return on your investment. Sure, more followers can lead to more reach and therefore more sales down the line–

But given how tricky the algorithms are these days and how few of your followers actually see the content you put out there- I don’t know about you, but I’d rather see a quick and direct ROI from my ads ANY day.

So if your goal with advertising is to be as strategic with your money as possible, this episode is for you.

So diving in, here are some ways to be extremely intentional with every single dollar you spend on Facebook and IG ads. And YES, some of these do require some extra time and effort– but if you’re on a budget or you’re saving up for something – trust me, even choosing a few of these steps to implement WILL be WORTH it.

1) Leverage A.I. 

Copywriting for your ads can be a daunting task, TRUST ME, I get it. And by the way, when I say COPY, I’m just referring to the words you use to talk about your business and sell your services. 

The formal definition of copy as it pertains to business refers to the written content used in advertisements, promotional materials, websites, and other marketing communications. This content is crafted to persuade, inform, or engage the target audience, with the ultimate goal of driving action, such as making a purchase, booking a service, or subscribing to an email list– to name a few. 

By now, you’re probably used to writing all sorts of copy for your business. From email blasts to social media posts to your website content– we all do it all the time. And done is USUALLY better than perfect. 

But when we amplify the reach of our words with advertising dollars, the stakes get MUCH higher.

Copy for paid advertisements, especially on platforms like Facebook and Instagram that have very specific algorithms, even for paid ads– can be both an art and a science.

And if you haven’t had success with advertising on these platforms in the past, a big issue may have been non-optimal copy. 

This leaves many people considering hiring a professional. HOWEVER– Facebook and Instagram ads experts generally fall into one of two categories.

ONE- they are highly skilled and effective, with great references and a proven track record, but are also EXTREMELY expensive– we’re talking upwards of $1,000 per month, NOT including ad spend.

And TWO– they are cheap, meaning they quoted you less than $1,000 per month, and they either are just getting started, so they have very little experience, which is going to mean your money spent on them will be flushed down the drain– OR, they are needing to take on dozens of clients due to their low prices, and they simply won’t be able to give you or your ads much attention. Think like an ad agency, for example, in this case.

And you may be thinking, well, I have NO experience– so any experience and skill must be an improvement on 0, right? Well, actually NO. I would argue that 10 out of 10 times, a deep knowledge of your BUSINESS and your CUSTOMERS wants, needs, and desires actually matters a heck of a lot more when it comes to getting a return on your advertising investment than the knowledge of a platform does.

Because remember– if you hire an ads person and then you fire them– if you have no knowledge of how to run ads yourself- all of your results will come to a screeching halt and all of that money will have been completely wasted.

It is NOT HARD to learn how to do FB and IG ads.

Does it take a little time? Yes. Is it a little tedious? Yes. But will it make you MUCH, MUCH more money in the long-run to spend that time and energy learning the ads yourself to start with? YES, absolutely. And I say this as someone who ran ads for businesses professionally for many years. 

Because if you can learn what works and what doesn’t and get some really powerful, high converting ads running, hiring someone to maintain them at some point will come at a fraction of the cost of hiring someone to start and launch your ads from scratch.

I have a "Book More Birthdays with Ads" course on FB and IG ads for indoor playground businesses or really any local service based business specifically that goes through the A-Z of every single thing you need to know to be effective, but there is also the FREE Facebook Business blueprint course you can take on Meta’s own platform, and there are also thousands of free YouTube tutorials out there. So there’s really no excuse. 

But you’re probably thinking, gosh– I have NO time to learn all of this AND write my own copy AND do my own graphic design.

Well, that’s where A.I. comes in. 

Now, I NEVER recommend using any copy or design AS IS after it’s generated. You will of course need to tweak, perfect, interject your personality– all that.

But with the combination of Chat GPT for ad copy and Canva for graphic design- you can save a TON of money by utilizing those are your “experts”.

I have an entire free workshop on leveraging ChatGPT specifically for your indoor playground business, but my favorite prompt to use for this is…

“Write me a facebook ad promoting THIS service, and highlight these 3 things. Add in X call to action.”

What I love is that your prompts can build off each other. So if you think the first result is too bland, you can say something like, “make this sound more fun” or “make this more playful”, and it will. 

When it comes to Canva– this is a NEW feature– and it’s called Magic Media. If you have a pro account, the magic media feature is on the left hand side all the way at the bottom. 

Once you hit the “magic media” button, you can enter your prompt. A fun one to get started with is, “create a kids birthday party ad with text that says book your party now”, or something like that. With a pro account, you get 500 credits per month. Every time you generate a new image using a prompt, you use up 1 credit. So while 500 is very generous, make sure you are generating these AI images intentionally and strategically.

Even if AI can get you 80% of the way there when it comes to graphic design and copywriting, that can save you thousands of dollars each month since you will NO LONGER need to rely on an expert.

Plus, AI knows what the platforms are looking for and how to format ad copy based on best practices, so not only will you be saving money, you will likely see a much bigger return on your investment as well. 

Running your own ads has NEVER been easier or more within reach – to use that to your advantage here!


2) Use Retargeting Ads

I have talked about retargeting ads several times on this podcast, but they are one of the most SLEPT on and most UNDERUTILIZED marketing strategies for indoor playground businesses, so here we are talking about them again. Plus they can be SO profitable and SO cost effective, being able to run for as little as $1 a day. It makes me sick how little these ads get used, so, here we go.

And before we get into retargeting ads, I want to differentiate retargeting ads from evergreen ads. Because while retargeting ads CAN be run “on evergreen”, so to speak, they don’t NEED to be. And evergreen ads do not necessarily need to be retargeting ads. But I hear people mix them up all the time, so let’s understand the difference first as well as the purpose of each.

I dedicated episodes 29, 30, and 31 of my Profitable Play Podcast to this topic of evergreen facebook ads but in case you missed those episodes, here’s the gist when it comes to evergreen facebook ads:

An evergreen Facebook ad refers to ads that are running in the background of your business all the time, not tied to any specific promotion or time sensitive campaign. 

They are just working behind the scenes in your business constantly bringing in new leads and customers while you do more important things– or, while you REST.

I edit my evergreen ads maybe once every 6 months to once every year. If you set them up strategically, they can be so low-maintenance, it will BLOW your mind. And that’s just one more reason why I recommend AGAINST hiring an ads manager.

Now retargeting ads are a TYPE of evergreen ads I run, but you can choose to run them however you’d like. You can run them for a week, a month, or just continuously like I do. I am super busy which is why I choose the continuous route, but it’s really up to you and what works best for YOUR business.

So now let’s define retargeting ads.

And while some think of retargeting ads as a more “advanced” strategy, I beg to differ. They are NOT hard to set up or do yourself if you spend a bit of time and energy learning– and if anyone TELLS you they are super complicated, they are LYING because they want you to hire them. BUT, I digress.

ESPECIALLY if you have a tiny budget– I would start HERE, and work your way back to implementing the OTHER types of ads I talk about here on this podcast and in my course, when you have some proven results to rely on and a bit more cash on hand for budget.

So what are retargeting ads and what do they do? Let me give you an example.

Lets say someone visits your birthday party page, or your membership page– but doesn’t book or enroll. Should we just– consider it a loss? No, we want to get back in front of them and remind them what we have to offer.

This is where retargeting ads can come in.

I’m sure you’ve visited a website like Wayfair or west elm or Ikea or something like that, and then you find that, the next time you hop on social media, ads from that exact company seem to all of a sudden be populating your news feed.

These are retargeting ads, in that they target people who have already engaged with a business in some way online. You can retarget ALL your website visitors, or people who visit specific pages. You can ALSO target people who engaged with you on instagram or facebook. You can engage with your email subscribers, or people who have filled out your waiver. There are SO many options to customize this strategy to fit exactly what you need.

Let’s go back to the birthday booking page example. When people visited initially, for whatever reason, they may not have been ready to actually BOOK. Maybe they were just browsing, maybe they were price shopping, maybe they had to check their calendar or confirm pricing with their spouse.

Retargeting ads allow you to stay top of mind in this “consideration” phase, which is crucial to capturing some of these “abandoned bookings”.

And it’s not JUST about staying top of mind. You can use really thoughtful copy and imagery, full of beautiful past parties and client testimonials and party features and highlights to further convince them that YOUR facility is where they should book their next event at.

Now, can you run ads asking for sales or bookings to a COLD audience? Sure you could. And by cold audience, I mean people who have NOT engaged with your business online at any time previously. 

But most who are listening to this podcast likely have services that are MUCH pricier and a bit harder to sell to a cold audience. 

So if you want to SAVE money and get more sales, I highly recommend educating yourself about retargeting ads and ensuring you set them up the CORRECT way– with the best objective, audience, ad creative- all that. So watch YouTube tutorials, or you can fast track your learning with my BMB with Ads course- but give these a try, you will NOT regret it.


3) Use Meta Business Manager and Ads Manager

What does this mean? Well, most people manage their business pages and ads from their personal facebook account, and this causes MANY issues- spending way too much money for much fewer results is one of them. There are others, like needing to friend your team members or give them your FB or IG password to post on your behalf, but today we are focusing JUST on the cost aspect.

So how can Business Manager and more specifically, ads manager, help?

Well, Facebook Business Manager is a comprehensive tool designed to help businesses manage their Facebook Pages, ad accounts, and other assets in one centralized location. It provides a centralized platform for businesses to oversee various aspects of their Facebook presence and advertising efforts, making it easier to collaborate, organize, and track performance.

And if you’ve ever heard of “boosting” a facebook post, or if you’ve ever gotten a prompt or notification on your facebook account asking you to increase a posts reach for a set amount of money– that is also considered “boosting” a post.

While boosting a post and launching an ad through ads manager often get mixed up, the difference is very clear. Short Answer: Boosting a post is a quick way to put money behind an existing post from your Facebook page, while a Facebook ad is a more thought-out campaign created in Facebook Ads Manager. 

I teach the full breakdown on YouTube, so I will link that in the show notes, but basically you will NOT be able to utilize all of the objective, targeting, placement, and creative strategies I teach if you simply boost posts. And it will definitely restrict your ability to retarget the audiences you want.

Boosting posts are OK if you have a random $20 you want to use to amplify a specific post, but let me be clear. Boosting posts is NOT part of an intentional and profitable facebook ad strategy. It is simply an extra. (meat and potatoes vs. dessert vs. mint at the end of the meal). It can give you a little bit of satisfaction but it won’t fill you up.

It takes just a moment to set up a facebook business manager account- and it’s free- just go to business.facebook.com and go through the prompts. Again, it really helps you dial in your advertising strategy and save money– but it also helps you in MANY other ways– like adding team members and managing your permissions– so you can delegate your social media WITHOUT exposing yourself to any risk.  So in my opinion, it’s an absolute MUST– so just take a few moments to do it. 


4) Focus on R.O.I. and C.T.A.

Now before I dive in here, by ROI I mean return on investment, so any additional money you bring in  from your advertisements ABOVE what you pay in ad spend–

And by CTA I mean call to action. 

A call to action in an advertisement is a prompt or directive that encourages the viewer or reader to take a specific action. It serves as the culmination of the ad's message, guiding the audience towards the desired outcome, such as making a purchase, signing up for an email list, visiting a website, or contacting the business.

CTAs are crucial elements of effective advertising because they provide clear instructions and motivate the audience to act. They should be concise, compelling, and easy to understand. Some common examples of CTAs include: Buy now, book now, sign up, learn more, etc.

So how can focusing on these two concepts help you save money with FB and IG ads?

SO often I get hit with ads in my newsfeed from indoor playgrounds with no specific goal in mind. It’s just, “New York’s Premier Indoor Playground!” with a few sentences about features, but there’s NO call to action. As a reader, I am thinking “ok, cool, but … what now”.

And sure some people might “like” or “comment”-- but having no clear call to action- even to just learn more by clicking on the website link is leaving CASH on the table. No doubt about it. The studies and the data prove it.

According to a study by WordStream, ads with a clear CTA have significantly higher click-through rates (CTRs) compared to those without a CTA. They found that ads with CTAs had a 285% higher CTR than ads without CTAs.

A report by HubSpot stated that emails and ads with a single call to action increased clicks by 371% and sales by 1617%. 

And Facebook's own advertising best practices consistently emphasize the importance of including a clear CTA in ads to drive desired actions from the audience. They recommend in their own training how crucial using action-oriented language and buttons to prompt users to take action is when it comes to improved ad performance.

And clear CTAs also mean an easier to measure your ROI. And measuring your ROI helps you make more clear decisions about how much to budget for ads, how many ads to run, how long to run them for, etc.

So often I will sit down with business owners to discuss their ad strategy and when I ask them what their revenue goals are for their ads– or how many sales or bookings have resulted from the ads- they give me the “deer in headlights” look.

They’re coming to be for help, yet they have NO idea how their ads are even doing. Because they have no way to measure it. And better ads reporting, by the way, is yet another reason to use facebook business manager and ads manager. The reporting is MUCH more significant than you’ll find in the app or elsewhere– and you can even set a report to be sent to you daily, weekly, etc- so save you money but also TIME.

You might feel like, right now, your ads aren’t impacting your business, so you just shut them off and shrug your shoulders. But without the right data, you can’t make that decision soundly.  So when you are planning your next ad campaign– ask yourself–

What ROI would I need to make this a success?

What CTA will this ad have, so I can be sure I reach this ROI and can actually measure it?

And by the way, YES, you can A/B test different CTAs and creatives– which I teach in my ads course. But for now, just pick ONE CTA that most closely matches the action you want your audience to take RIGHT after reading your ad.

And be mindful of your expectations based on what you’re promoting. If you’re advertising a $15 event– then sure, use “book now”, because that’s a realistic next step. $15 definitely falls into the “impulse” buy category.

If you’re advertising something higher ticket though, like parties, I’d try “learn more” first. Because, for these higher ticket items, the POINT of the ad is to actually sell the click. You want to entice someone enough to land on your booking page to read your more detailed offerings. Your booking page sells the actual sale.

And as long as you have your facebook pixel set up, you can still track sales even if they don’t happen ON the ad.

Which brings me to #5.


5) Install your Meta/ Facebook pixel. 

I dedicated episode 14 to this topic, but if you missed it–

A facebook pixel is basically a piece of code for your website that lets you measure, optimize and build audiences for your ad campaigns. 

Now a lot of people say, well, I don’t run ads right now and I am not planning on it in the near future, so I don’t need to worry about this. But I will explain why that is a huge misconception in a moment.

But, to explain a bit more about the pixel in terms you can likely relate to a little bit more, the most critical feature you are currently missing out on if you do NOT have a facebook pixel created and installed is being able to retarget your website visitors. NOT just your social media followers. 

So, in order to implement # 2 and #4 of this article, you MUST have your pixel installed. I thought about putting this one at the top of the episode, but people often tune out when they hear things like “website code”. So I wanted to first show the practical applications, BEFORE sharing the secret sauce behind them.

In addition to this retargeting capability, you will also have the capability to track metrics with a lot more accuracy when you do decide to run ad campaigns, and you know how much I love full and accurate data when it comes to decision making and resource  or budget allocation. I probably sound like a broken record right now.

I have a step by step tutorial on YouTube you can follow, but the point is we just want to get this done and installed. It can take less than 5 minutes, start to finish.

Why? Well, any traffic that is coming to these pages or your website before the pixel is installed is just… lost. When you install your pixel, it cannot retroactively track visitors. So even if you don’t plan on running ads for 3 or 4 months, if you want to see good results that end with sales when you DO decide to run ads, this is a step you need to take well in advance.

And it’s not just about creating retargeting ads. Using your pixel data, you can also create lookalike audiences to tell facebook that you want to reach NEW customer who have not yet found your website, but are very similar to those who have visited your site.

So this is really important, especially if saving money on ads is important to you.


6) Be Mindful of Your Targeting

Now I can’t tell you how many times I open my news feed and see AMAZING ads for indoor playgrounds. But, when I go to learn more, I realize they are literally across the country. And NO, these are not just awareness ads for playgrounds looking to gain more followers and they don’t really care where they live. These are ads like, “book your birthday party now”, “attend THIS event this weekend”, etc– things that are clearly only relevant to someone in the immediate area. 

Now this usually happens for one of 3 reasons

  • They just missed a step
  • They use advantage + audience
  • They chose a custom audience and forgot to add location targeting on top of that

DO NOT forget to layer your custom audience targeting with location-based targeting!


7) Test Creatives on Pinterest

Now while some of the strategies in this episode series you’ve likely heard me talk about somewhere else or in another episode, this is a BRAND new strategy I have been testing over the last several months. And to be honest, it has really blown me away and has helped me save a TON of money on my ads.
So let me walk you through it. 

Typically, when running facebook and instagram ads, it’s a best practice to split test or A/B test different images or creatives, to see which one works best. 

However, all that testing is usually pretty expensive. It takes hundreds and sometimes thousands of impressions PER image before Meta chooses a clear “winner” in terms of results. And in this context, impression means when an ad appears. So 100 impressions means an ad has appeared in 100 news feeds, instagram feeds, story feeds- whichever ad placement you’ve selected. It doesn’t necessarily mean someone clicks on or interacts with an ad, just that it appears. 

The cost of this is tracked by CPM- or cost per thousand impressions. The average CPM across industries is over $14 as of 2024. And while that may not seem like a lot, it ads up when you are needing to test multiple ads and creatives to get a campaign optimized.

Recently, I have found that a GREAT, free alternative to this testing is to instead post your creative options as Pinterest pins, instead of as facebook or instagram ads.

Of course they are different platforms and therefore have different users and metrics, but I tested the accuracy of Pinterest in terms of choosing the “winning” image for MONTHS and months– and it chose the “winner” with nearly 100% accuracy.

So instead of testing many ad creatives inside of the ads platform, post them as pins, even if you need to resize them a bit. Not only will you get a great idea of which one resonates with people more and gets them to click to learn more, you get the added benefit of reaching even MORE people with your ads message, for FREE, on this new platform. This is one of those tips I was really tempted to gatekeep but– since this has saved me so much money- i knew I had to pass it onto you.


8) Test Longer-Form Content on Reels or Tik Tok

While Pinterest is great for testing static images and very short videos or animated graphics, if you plan to have a longer video as your ad creative, this option won’t be possible. While it’s possible to post video pins up to 15 minutes long, the platform really pushes and recommends videos between 6 and 15 seconds long.

If you’re looking to test longer form content, try posting as a reel or tik tok to see what engagement you get organically, before posting it as an ad.

Not only will this result in increased reach because you’re posting it in multiple ways, reels and Tik Toks are also a really good indicator of how well a paid ad will perform. 

What I do with many of my clients is I have them post 3-6 reels or tik toks per month with the intention of testing, and then we will amplify the best performing one with ad dollars. And down the line, we may download that creative for use in a different campaign. 

But the takeaway here is to be sure you are utilizing all free or organic forms of testing your content before spending your hard earned dollars on a campaign.


9) Improve Your Post-Click Performance

This is a BIG one that people ALWAYS forget. Something I talked about in part one of this series is that for most ad campaigns, the ad is meant to sell the click, and your website or offer page sells your actual offer or service. 

This is a fundamental part of advertising you need to understand and really grasp before running ads. And even though this may seem like common sense- trust me, it’s a lot harder to remember this concept in practice.

I can’t tell you how many business owners I work with who have just thrown up their arms, exclaiming that ads don’t work for them or their business. But when I dig a little deeper- I see that their ads are doing their job. And oftentimes they’re doing it REALLY well.

For example, let’s say their ad has 1,000 clicks, at around $0.50 per click, which is pretty standard depending on what you’re promoting. Higher ticket services like parties will have a bit higher cost per click while free things or inexpensive things will have a much cheaper cost per click. But I digress.

They got these 1,000 clicks– but no sales. That means, to me, that 1,000 people saw their ad, let’s use the birthday party example, and said YES– that looks great– I want to learn more. Then, something happened. They didn’t book.

Now there are some exceptions, like for example if you’re accidentally targeting people across the country, cough cough, but for the most part– the ad did its job. It reached new potential customers, and drove traffic to your offer. 

If that didn’t result in sales- the ads are not the issue, my friend. If I found myself in that scenario, I would do a couple things.

First, I would set up a retargeting ad, to capture some of those abandoned bookings, like I discussed in part 1 of this episode series. It’s much cheaper to retarget people who have already interacted with your business than it is to reach brand new people.

Second, I would dig into the user experience of the offer page.

How easy is it to book a date and simply put down a deposit? Are there too many steps? Do I not accept many forms of payment?

Do they need to make too many decisions prior to just securing a date, making the booking process way too daunting and time consuming?

How clear are my packages to understand? Do I just have block of text after block of text, or do I have an easy chart or graphic so that someone who is brand new to my business can quickly evaluate my options and make a decision? 

These are ALL important things to consider– because if you are struggling to make sales with ads, I promise you– you are also losing out on organic bookings as well. 

On average, a MINIMUM 2.5-5% of people who visit your party page should make a booking. So, 5 out of every 100. I have seen people get much higher with that number which of course results in MUCH more revenue– but if you are on the lower side or below that number– you have some work to do.

Now some things can throw these numbers off like if you’re brand new and everyone’s just clicking around your site or if you had a video go viral and reach a lot of out of town people who are just being nosy– but those are good starting numbers to strive for.

Any effort or money you spend on bettering the user experience of your website and booking process is money you will absolutely get back in the form of a ROI. 

And don’t forget the MOBILE version of your website and booking pages. I talked all about optimizing the mobile version of your website and why it’s so important in episode 80– but to summarize- about 85% of people visiting your website, will do so from a mobile device. Even HIGHER – i’d argue close to 100%, in fact, if they are coming from a facebook or instagram ad.

So why are we spending all of our time and energy building the DESKTOP version of your site?

Make sure the page is just as clean, user-friendly, and easy to book on the mobile version as it is on the desktop version, if not WAY more so.

I really cannot tell you how many owners I work with who have ONLY ever edited or worked on the desktop version of their website.

So make your post click experience as quick, easy, and as streamlined as possible to get a much higher return on your advertising investment.


10) Consider Other Forms of Advertising

I had to throw this one in at the end. If you have REALLY tried it all, and you are still not getting sales from your ads, try other forms of advertising. 

I absolutely LOVE Google Ads for indoor playground owners, and I talk about it here in episode 90, plus a few others here and there.

And my Book More Birthdays with ads program actually has a bonus training from a google ads expert that walks you step by step through the process of launching a successful campaign for an indoor playground business.

But that’s not the only option. In episode 185 I talk about partnering with influencers. You can also form partnerships with other local businesses. 

In episode 99 I talk about renting booths and local events and community fairs. 

There are MANY options available to you in terms of getting more eyes on your business and your offers, do not be afraid to try something different and keep on testing until you find what feels right and works well for YOUR specific business.


50% Complete

Can I Send You My NEW Free 2024 "What's Working In The Indoor Play Industry" Guide?

I asked 11 Play Cafe Academy and Play Maker Society members what is working RIGHT NOW in their businesses to attract customers and grow sales. I want to send you their answers in my FREE newly updated 2024 "What's Working" Guide!