I Spent $10,000 on a Social Media Marketing Course So You Don't Have To

The surprising lesson learned from the absolute failure that was spending $10,000 on a social media marketing course.

·4 min readTravis Beck
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The $10,000 Mistake: My Experience with a Social Media Marketing Guru

Have you ever stumbled upon those charismatic marketing gurus on your TikTok or Instagram feed? The ones who promise you the world if you just buy their course or join their mentorship? Well, I did. And I fell for it. I spent a whopping $10,000 on a social media marketing course when I was resetting the business for Paracable and working on growing the advertising side. And guess what? It was a complete waste of money. But not in the way you might think.

The Allure of the Guru

Now, I'll admit, their marketing is top-notch. They know exactly how to get you to buy, and they constantly release free valuable information to reel you in. When I first expressed interest, there was no mention of the price. But I had my assumptions going in that it wasn't going to be cheap, especially if they're promising the types of returns they keep flaunting in their social media videos.

The sales pitch was smooth. I was promised access to a comprehensive course on Facebook and TikTok marketing, a detailed guide to setting up my accounts correctly, a dedicated account manager, and weekly group calls with the course creator himself to get personalized feedback. Sounds great, right? Well, it was. But not for the reasons you might think.

The Course: Helpful Setup, Lackluster Strategies

I'll give credit where it's due. The course guide was indeed very helpful in getting my Facebook and TikTok ad accounts set up properly. The account manager was also knowledgeable and always available to answer questions.

But here's where things fell short. The main strategy? "Just keep testing." And while I understand that testing is a crucial part of marketing, I was hoping for more. I wanted that secret sauce that would make my cost per acquisition (CPA) plummet and my return on investment (ROI) soar. Instead, I got a lot of testing and a lot of money spent on ads that didn't convert.

Their testing method goes like this: Create ad groups based on potential customer interests (figuring that out is on you), make 5 different ads for each group, kill the losers, promote the winners, find new interest groups, rinse and repeat. That's it. That's the "secret" sauce. Except it's not a secret at all. And guess what? It doesn't work.

The Truth About Ad Targeting

Here's the thing. There are a finite number of interests on Facebook. Their method will have you burn through every single one in no time, leaving you with nothing more to test. Except... basic auto-targeting via Facebook and TikTok smart campaigns.

That's right. The algorithms are so advanced now that these platforms are better at placing your ads than you or any marketing guru could ever be. If your ad isn't working, it's likely an issue with your creative, product, offer, or landing page. Not the targeting.

The Importance of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

During the weekly calls with other business owners in the program, I noticed a common thread. Most had mediocre websites. And when they asked the course creator for advice on improving them, his response was always the same: "Looks fine."

But as someone who had invested in learning about CRO and even paid for expensive consultations, I knew better. Simple changes like improving reviews, streamlining descriptions, making the add-to-cart button more prominent, and optimizing the logo size can make a world of difference in conversions.

Yet, these business owners were being led astray by their $10k guru who told them their subpar sites were "fine." It was a stark realization of how inaccessible quality CRO advice can be for small businesses.

Democratizing CRO with AI: The Birth of SiteMechanic

This experience sparked an idea. What if I could make CRO more affordable and accessible for even the smallest businesses? I started experimenting with AI prompts to see if I could get meaningful insights from a landing page.

It wasn't until models like GPT-4 with "vision" capabilities came out that this really became possible. I spent the next month consolidating everything I and my mentors knew about CRO into a single AI model that could provide actionable insights to improve landing pages. And thus, SiteMechanic was born.

Challenging the SaaS Pricing Status Quo

Too many SaaS tools aimed at helping small businesses price their services as if they're shareholders, expecting a percentage of profits regardless of the actual cost of providing the service. Like a Shopify app that charges you more based on your store's revenue, despite no change in costs for the service provider. It's a common and frustrating practice.

That's why I wanted SiteMechanic to be different. A flat fee, where you pay for the service, not the value you get from it. This way, businesses of all sizes can afford to use it and reap the same benefits.

My mission now is to democratize, with the help of AI, the tools and services that help businesses grow. No more $10,000 mistakes or inaccessible expertise. Just powerful, affordable solutions for all.