How to Run Facebook Ads to Grow Your Animal Consulting Business

Written by Ines McNeil, CPDT-KA

Facebook ads have become very popular in the animal training industry. Many animal professionals are on Facebook quite frequently, so it is natural to jump into Facebook ads without hesitation. However, without a clear plan outlined, it can quickly drain your marketing funds without a meaningful return on investment.

Common concerns animal consultants have about Facebook ads

How do I prevent Facebook from overspending?

Thankfully, Facebook offers you two options to limit your ad spending. For each campaign, you have the option to limit your spending by lifetime budget or daily budget. With the lifetime budget limitation, you’re sure to stop the spending once you’ve hit the limit, whereas a daily budget will keep spending until the end date (if you set an end date).

What should I promote with Facebook ads?

Facebook often urges you to promote your posts with a simple one-click promotion button, but this is rarely the way to get the most out of Facebook ads. Facebook makes that option easy because a lot of unknowing small business owners see it as the easiest way get started with Facebook ads. However, it is worth your time to take a step back and create a game plan for your ad campaigns, especially when money is tight.

An important part of an ad campaign is to have a measureable user action that you can track and that results in new client leads. Usually, this is an email form submission of some sort, like an email subscriber or contact form submission. If you send people to your website without capturing their email in some way, it is a lost opportunity. Capturing emails allows you to begin a two-way conversation with them. Make sure the link you’re promoting on Facebook sends people to somewhere they can submit their email address.

Which kind of ad is the best?

The kind of ad you want to run depends on your goals. Again, setting up a game plan and defining a goal for your ad campaign is important for many reasons including deciding which ad you should run. If you’re interested in growing your Facebook following, you’ll run an awareness campaign. If you want to grow your contact list to generate new clients, you’ll want to run a traffic-generation or conversion-based campaign.

Can Facebook ads really turn people and followers into customers?

The short answer is yes, but you have to run them correctly. You shouldn’t throw money at the platform with the expectation that you’ll automatically generate new clients. People on Facebook are there to socialize with their friends and engage with their community. Unlike people on Google, they are not likely actively searching for help for their dog. You have to approach advertising differently on Facebook than you would on Google.

Facebook is a great place to generate awareness of dog training in general, to generate awareness of your business and services, and to generate referrals from current customers who like you (and review you) on Facebook. Advertising on Facebook is more about the long-term plan, rather than generating clients immediately. It may take a few weeks for someone to go from being aware of your business to seeing the benefits of working with you and then deciding to spend money to hire you.

Why run Facebook ads?

When you know who you want to work with, be it families with small children and animals or people with a need for service animals, Facebook’s unique ability to target based on topics, interests, income, and so much more makes it a powerful choice for running relevant ads to your target audience.

Facebook ads allow you to introduce people to your business and your brand without necessarily leading with a product. In this day in age, people care as much about the company they’re buying from as they do the product or service they’re purchasing. Use Facebook ads to demonstrate who you are and what you’re about.

Why not to run Facebook ads

If you have a limited budget for your marketing, be very careful about how you spend that budget if you do decide to use Facebook ads. The objective of your Facebook ad campaigns should revolve around gaining new customers and growing your business rather than growing your Facebook followers.

If you’re just getting started and you don’t know who you want to work with yet, Facebook ads are not the answer. By trying to attract anyone and everyone, you won’t really connect or stand out to anyone. Spend some time brainstorming who you want to work with, who you want to serve, and how your skills and expertise are valuable to that target audience before starting ads on any platform. In the animal behavior consulting industry, there are countless ways you can help animals and people, so narrow down your audience to a group of people and animals you would enjoy working with.

Where to start

Decide on the goal of your ad. Here are a few of the options that can be accomplished through Facebook ads:

  • Increase your Facebook page likes
  • Increase engagement on your Facebook posts
  • Increase traffic to your website
  • Increase your email subscription list

A new animal consulting business with a limited advertising budget should focus on building their contact list rather than getting Facebook followers. While Facebook follower numbers can make you feel warm and fuzzy, they are commonly known as vanity metrics, because they don’t directly contribute to the growth of a business. Getting people’s contact information is better for building an ongoing relationship with potential clients. If you focus on Facebook followers, you’re going to have to keep spending ad dollars to stay in touch with them. Building an email list is free and allows you to stay in touch with potential and current clients without another dollar going towards ads.

Setting up a Facebook ad campaign to generate email subscribers

Let’s take a look at how you’d set up a Facebook ad to generate new email subscribers for your business.

Understand your audience

Don’t start your ad campaign with too many assumptions or guesses about your audience. Facebook Insights, located as a tab on your business’s Facebook page, provide you with a variety of posts by you and pages similar to yours by popularity. Take a peek and see what posts have received the most engagement and clicks.

To see pages that are similar to yours, scroll down on the “Overview” page. You can “Add Pages” to watch so you can learn from what others are doing. You can add your local competitors here.

Facebook also shows you when your audience is active online, so you’ll want to find a time period when you audience is most active. To find these insights, click the “Posts” tab.

You Facebook insights will provide you even more information such as your audience’s gender and location. To see this information, go to the “People” tab in your Facebook insights.

Knowing who your audience is, when they are active, and what they find interesting will help you craft an ad that is attractive and successful.

Your audience’s location is critical as a local small business since you have a limited service area. Be careful not to run ads on a national level, even if you have followers who are located out of state. (Of course, this doesn’t apply to people who run Skype consults.)

Crafting your Facebook ad

As a local business, you’ll want to include your location (city and state) within the text of your ad as well. Multiple states can have cities with the exact same name. This can make it very confusing when someone is trying to find out more about you, or determine if your ad or offer is relevant to them.

Additionally, people like to see imagery that reflects who they are. Group your audience by genders, ages, types of dogs, etc., and run different ads for each group. The more targeted and specific your ad is, the more that person will be likely to think, “Hey, that’s me!” Running an ad targeted towards everyone won’t appeal to anyone, so make some effort to segment your audience into a couple different targeted groups and create an ad for each of those categories.

A Facebook ad example

I recently ran a seven-day ad promoting an eBook to grow my email subscriber list. This free eBook I created, “10 Common Mistakes New Dog Trainers Make With Their Businesses”, speaks to my main audience. I created an image for the ad, had a page that was ready to collect emails exclusively for this offer, and segmented my audience by interests.

After seven days and a total cost of $33.26, I generated 54 new email subscribers that I can now email on a consistent basis to build a relationship with them. I can be confident that these 54 new email subscribers are potential customers rather than casual viewers because of their interests and the fact that they were interested in my specific eBook offer.

This simple strategy can help you get virtual “people in the door” to start the conversation and build awareness of your animal consulting business.


Ines McNeil, B.S. Biology, CPDT-KA is the founder of The Modern Dog Trainer blog, The Crossover Trainer blog, and her own local dog training business, All Positive Dog Training LLC in New York. She is a certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) and also has a background in digital marketing strategy. She is able to mix her expertise in each field to provide the most relevant and actionable tips for dog trainers and their businesses. She has been studying and working with dogs for over 10 years and enjoys helping people regain tranquility in their lives with modern dog training techniques. Now, she helps modern dog trainers establish successful businesses so that they in-turn can help more dog owners and dogs live happy, enriched lives together.