This the TikTok Marketing Strategy for Customer Acquisition Evan’s Using to Stop Paying for FB Ads and Expensive Influencers

Customer acquisition is expensive. You're torn between delivering a wheelbarrow full of cash to Mark Zuckerberg's doorstep or anxiously praying that the influencers you've hired will conjure up captivating content that actually converts. 

There’s gotta be a better way.

That’s what 7-figure brand owner Evan Van Auken said. The TikTok marketing strategy he’s testing is a thing of beauty, and we can’t wait to share it with you. Here’s how he explains it. Be prepared to pick your jaw up off of the floor, because when you grasp this, that’s where it’s going. Here are the juicy bits of our conversation.

The Problem with Facebook Ads for Customer Acquisition

Evan stopped spending on Facebook. He spends zero dollars on Facebook now.

When you spend money on Facebook ads, you're paying upfront for attention, eyeballs, and hopefully a transaction. That factors into your customer acquisition costs. They go up and down, from day to day. Long story short, you’re paying upfront for potential customer acquisition.

That can be a problem. When customer acquisition costs exceed your average order value (AoV) plus your cost of goods (COGS), you can't really make money on the sale upfront. That is, unless you can make a good lifetime value (LTV) play on the back end. If your LTV is not there to support your numbers or if you're in a cash crunch… that’s a problem.

Evan decided he couldn’t just keep spending on Facebook hoping to get a return. It's sucking away cash in the long run.

Is there a way to remove that customer acquisition cost up front? 

That was the one question that spurred this whole campaign. Evan’s happy to spend on the back end, paying a commission and sharing a piece of the sales Scorch Marker makes. But how could he make that happen?

Content Is the Name of this Game

More precisely, we’re talking about earned media. Evan’s built out a whole system for this. 

Content is the play. Content gets us attention. It's content that gets us eyeballs. But it's not just quality. It's also quantity. 

Posting one video a day on social media works - but slowly. What Evan really needed was to have other people posting. Frequently. Much more frequently.

So, how could he get other people to post 30 times a month, 60 times a month, even 90 times a month for his brand?

The Problem with Influencers

As Evan explains, if you go to an influencer, they're going to want money for a post and they're not really going to want to give you the rights to it, you can get them. It's no problem. It's doable. But that's like, okay, a thousand bucks, you get one video. 

You go to a micro influencer off Twitter and say, “Hey, I want you to make me 30 videos.” You’ll pay $5K - $10K. They’ll chunk it out, creating a big batch of content that ranges from slightly disingenuous to mediocre. 

You're still paying on the front end because you don't know if the videos are going to work. Plus, you haven't found somebody who has bought into your product and that's really important when they're making content.

That's not sustainable. 

Find Creators Who Love Your Brand and Can Create in Volume

Finding buy-in and volume with people who know how to create. That's where Evan was stuck. What he pulled off is brilliant.

Instead of looking for influencers, he turned to his community and looked for people who have the ability to create. He looked for people who’d be thrilled to earn a commission on sales their content generates.

People who are like 70% there, who just need a little coaching, a little guidance. “Hey, here's the microphone you need to use. Here's how you do the lighting. Make sure the hook is in front and center. Don't waste the viewer's time.”

Evan started putting it out there and letting people know that he wanted to start a TikTok Creator Program. About a dozen of his best customers signed up. 

Why TikTok?

Well, where it used to be only the realm of funny videos of cats flying off of ceiling fans, it’s a legit marketplace now. Some stats:

  • TikTok currently boasts 1.4 billion monthly active users and will reach 1.8 billion by the end of 2023.
  • USA takes the lead with 150 million active TikTok users.
  • People aged 18 to 24 comprise almost 40% of the platform’s audience, with 419.9 million users falling within this age range.
  • 46% of TikTok users cite entertainment as their primary motivation for using the app.
  • 55.5% of brands prefer TikTok over other platforms for influencer marketing.
  • This year TikTok is the most popular social media platform, with an average daily usage of 55.8 minutes.
  • TikTok is the #1 most downloaded app globally.

Evan’s TikTok Creator Program

“We're going to pay you commission for every single sale that you make with your affiliate link. The requirements to be part of the program are that you show up to the weekly meetings. We’ll  train you and show you how to do everything. We want you to post 30, 60, 90 times a month.” 

That sounds like it's a lot, but video replies to comments count, copying the brand’s TikToks, count, and duets count. He’s looking for a low level of effort here. Low quality, high volume. They get a commission for the sales they make. Plus, they get bonuses. Post 30 videos? Get $250. Post 60 and get $500. And post 90 in a month, and get $1,000.

Evan’s goal is to focus on these creators’ results, not his own. It sounds a little counterintuitive, but when you consider why most people post on social media, it makes sense. Most often, creators who post on social media are after two things: attention and/or money.

This plan gives them both.

Evan teaches them how to do what he does on social media. (Not for nothing, but he’s achieved extraordinary results there. Not once, but twice - on two different profiles in two different niches. Scorch Marker currently has 103.7K followers; Vanader has 760.8K followers. These are both profiles well worth following.)

He shows his small army of creators what they can learn from videos with millions of views. They start creating. And as their videos start getting traction, they start getting paid. 

Troubleshooting this TikTok Marketing Strategy

Profile Problem

Imagine what would happen to your social media profile if you started posting 90 times a month about your favorite craft supplies? Not many people would be up for filling their feed with hundreds of videos demonstrating or promoting a product.  

No problem. Evan has them start a whole new TikTok profile like “Lindsay Loves Magic Modge.” They just create their own account and post as many videos as they possibly can.

New Profiles

But wait… creators with fewer than 1,000 followers can’t put links in their bio! No problem. Evan’s crew uses the Social Snowball app, which is for affiliate marketing. It gives you a code; you put a written link in the video like: Use Code 123 for 10% Off.

That's it. Super simple. 

TikTok Marketing Strategy

Where Could this TikTok Marketing Strategy Break?

Evan’s aware this TikTok marketing strategy could go off the rails if he’s not on top of it. There could be problems like:

  • Very low quality, just posting something to post it type of stuff. Like, putting text on a black background and throwing some music on it. What he really wants is human connection.
  • Lack of clarity around the brand’s standards. But he’s addressing that with a brand Bible that makes expectations clear. 
  • It could grow so quickly where it just crushes his operations. However he’s built his ops to be really nimble with A,B,C, and D backup plans in case things really need to be turned up.

By diversifying the accounts and not putting all your eggs in one TikTok account or one Instagram account, he’s building smart. He’s learned to ask himself the question, “What decision could we make that would break our business?” And then he does the opposite.

But Is There More You Can Do?

You can always squeeze more juice out of good content, right? You can repurpose it. So when a video gets more than 100,000 views, Evan’s team downloads it and drops it into the company’s Google Drive folder. They repurpose that content for paid media, post it on the company website, and send it to other creators to stitch it, share it, make it bigger, and blow it up even more. As viewers comment “Where do I get this?” “What’s it smell like?” What’s it look like?” you reply - and that’s your opportunity to sell.

Once he’s got 500 or so of these high performing content bits, he’ll create a Discord group full of reposting armies. They’ll post every day and get affiliate commissions as they make sales. 

See the potential here?

Inspired by Oliver B of Tabs Chocolate

Evan didn’t make this TikTok marketing strategy up on his own. He watched this podcast with Oliver Brocato, who founded Tabs Chocolate.

YouTube video

Oliver used that same strategy because he understood TikTok. He's a Gen Z guy. He used this strategy to grow his company from zero to $11 million in revenue in 18 months with just one product, one SKU, $29 AOV.

Wait… It Sounds Like a Lot of Work to Manage this TikTok Marketing Strategy

You’re right - and it could get out of control quickly if you don’t take it slow as you start. Evan’s starting with a small group of 10-13 creators.

He’s got a community lead who’s been with him for a few years, managing the Facebook group and posting the brand’s social media videos. Evan upped the ante for her, increasing her pay and giving her a percentage of the commission of what everyone sells. They’ll revisit the compensation package conversation quarterly as they gather more data on how it’s all working.

How’s It Going So Far?

“So far so good. It's been really cool. Really cool. Really fun. But just to have that much UGC available to repurpose, you never know what's going to work. Some of the dumbest videos go viral. Some of the dumbest videos and you're just like, how? It has to come just naturally. And so obviously it's a volume problem.”

While it’s impossible to know yet where it will lead, Evan’s excited about the exponential upside possibilities. He figures that worst case scenario, all these creators all make 90 videos and he’s out 10 grand for the month.

But to have all 9,000 videos not do well.

Well, that'd be weird. And he’d learn something.

He knows that spending $10,000 to learn a valuable lesson is not that bad of a downside. But when you look at the upside, the potential of having your product go viral on TikTok, which he’s had happen before with a couple million views and he sold out. “Everything's gone. Our store just empties. So being able to do that without having to, you know, scale slowly through something like Facebook and Google Performance.”

Would This TikTok Marketing Strategy Work for You?

If you’re just starting out, you may not have the resources to do this well. 

But resources or not, Evan recommends taking an honest look at how good your product is first. You need to get to a point where your product can stand on its own. It’s clear what the unique selling points and value propositions are. You want to know that people mostly love your product. Your product should be able to sell by word of mouth.

Evan shared a hard-hitting bit of wisdom that shook him when he first heard it:

You only sell because you can't market. 

You only market because your product is not good enough to sell with word of mouth.

He says, “When I started selling my product, I just wanted to play the game of entrepreneurship. I wasn't skilled enough to create the best product possible. Not to mention, we needed so much education to go along with it. The customer needed to become problem aware, we needed to present our solution, we needed to convince them that we had the best solution, and then that we would support them, and then we needed to coach them through the whole year. As good as I might have thought the product was, it wasn’t good enough back then because it couldn't just be handed to someone and they intuitively know how to use it.”

The product needs to be able to stand on its own. 

But also, you need to be able to support this strategy with enough cash to pay your affiliates. 

One More Perk

TikTok Marketing Strategy

Evan realizes that not only could this be an incredibly profitable way to acquire customers - but it’s also an excellent opportunity for his earned media team.

He says that developing the ability to do social media marketing and putting yourself on camera is “a legit superpower.” Every single brand is going to need people to make videos. If you can train yourself on how to become a good creator, you could make videos for all kinds of brands you love. You could travel around and make videos for Airbnb hosts and stay for free. 

It's a skill you can leverage.

He compares it to surfing.

“When you get out there and you surf, like when you first get on that board, and then there's all this whitewash coming at you, you got to get over it. You get out there. You're panting. You sit on your board and it's calm, and you're just waiting, and you just have to wait for the wave to come in.

The important thing is to be on your board ready and waiting. And I see this as a wave coming, the TikTok stuff, the live stuff, the creator program stuff, just having an army of people who love your product posting about it.

“It's a wave and we're uniquely positioned and ready to ride it because we are able to skill stack everything that we need to execute. And so we're just paddling as hard as we can. We're going to stand up. We're going to ride it. We know it's going to end one day.”

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