March 2022 Retro

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Jason Wallace
Apr 11, 2022 · 4 min read

In last month’s retro, I reflected on building the wrong thing and tried to stay positive about what steps I could take to build the right thing (i.e. talk to more customers).

Since then, I kind of fell off the tracks. I didn’t feel confident enough to talk to people about a product I felt lukewarm about. The excitement & drive was gone. The plan was talk to more higher-end Facebook specialists, but if I went into a discovery call feeling like this, I would probably just waste their time.

⚠️ Warning: this was a sad month, so you might want to skip this retro if you don’t want to hear me whine about my self-imposed problems.

Last month’s goals

  1. Retry Jason Cohen’s customer acquisition tactic without going bankrupt.

    Final grade: F

  2. Get at least 2 verbal commitments to purchase AdSlicer once it’s ready.

    Final grade: F

  3. Get more involved with Sheena’s day-to-day ad optimizations to help inform AdSlicer features.

    Final grade: 😟

Main events

Tough account, tough results

I got really involved in my partner’s day-to-day work on her Facebook ad clients. Probably more than I should have.

One of her client accounts is quite tough. It’s a fashion brand selling products made from higher-end materials. The products are relatively expensive and the materials used aren’t commonly understood by consumers. As a result, the cost [of running ads] per purchase is high.

Of course, we’re using AdSlicer to monitor the ad account. The frustrating part is that AdSlicer feels awesome when the metrics are good (i.e. green), but it feels completely useless when everything is bad (i.e. red).

For example, on the one hand the ad performance (i.e. click-through-rate et al.) can be mostly green & look great, but on the other hand the website performance (i.e. purchase rate et al.) is mostly red & garbage. Does that mean the ads are shit? If the ads are so great, why aren’t there any sales?

Comparing the seemingly good ad performance to the seemingly bad website performance of a marketing campaign. Comparing the seemingly good ad performance to the seemingly bad website performance of a marketing campaign.

The problem is that the client doesn’t give two shits if you say “look, ads are good”. All they care about is that website sales isn’t good. That puts you, a Facebook media buyer, in a tough position.

Running Facebook ads is just half the work (i.e. targeted traffic). If your website doesn’t convert well enough, then it was all for nothing. Of course, you can make suggestions to the client (based on the data) on how to improve the website, but that usually falls on deaf ears because it just sounds like you’re shifting the blame for why the ads aren’t good.

AdSlicer didn’t save the day in this situation. It just showed us how powerless we are. It’s not as simple as “green is good and red is bad”, it’s more nuanced than that.

I found myself obsessing over the ad account. Sometimes just gazing into AdSlicer looking for insights. It did help me come up with theories on how to restructure the ad campaign (which we did implement), but even after “taking action” the graph looked the same. It takes time to see a noticeable improvement.

All this, got me down.

Pity party, table for one

I arrived back home to South Africa from a disappointing trip to Philippines. I’ve visited Philippines 4 times before and this was my worst trip by far. PH is fine, but traveling under covid restrictions is not worth it. I won’t get into it here.

I got back feeling run down. My fucking car wouldn’t even start.

It’s kind of funny though. You feel bad, and bad things seem happen. I wonder what happens when you feel good? I guess we’ll never know 😆

I know this feeling will pass and it probably has something to do with my lack of exercise over this past month. But damn, once you’re in it, it feels like a unescapable pit of despair.

As I’m writing this, I’m feeling a bit better, but this is a retro so I’m telling you how it was.

I honestly didn’t know what do next. It was easier to just haphazardly code on a feature I thought might make AdSlicer valuable (i.e. graphing daily results over time).

I got some advice from people I admire, but it’s up to me to make the final decision. I know this. This is why I’m here in the first place.

Time allocation

It was a busier month for freelancing, as I get closer to a project deadline. The rest of my time felt like a black hole, not to mention the wasted travel time that is not accounted for.

A report of the time I’ve tracked this month, using Toggl. A report of the time I’ve tracked last month, using Toggl.

I’m concerned about my overall performance as a solo founder / entrepreneur. It feels like I’ve slipped into a comfortable groove of thinking my freelancing work is my main job (in importance) and everything else is “on the side” and extra. Financially, this is true. Time-wise, this is false. Yet, I compromise on my non-freelancing time by not treating it like a real job.

This month’s goals

  1. Spend more time on marketing & selling AdSlicer than coding.

    This might include:

    • Rewriting the landing page to reflect the insights gathered from my initial round of customer interviews.
    • Convincing someone to link their ad account and use AdSlicer as a beta user.
    • Conduct another customer interview.

Thanks for making it this far. If you're interested in what happens next, I'll email it to you next month.