Facebook Ads and YouTube PreRolls

Facebook Ads and YouTube PreRolls

You may well know that my wife and I are expecting our second child anytime now, the due date was actually Saturday, which has been and gone. So I took the opportunity on Sunday to go and shoot some Ads for Facebook and do a YouTube PreRoll. I wanted to talk to you about how I’ve done that and the options you have available to you when you do so.

So, with YouTube you can put a video in front of other videos that people are watching, they get the chance to skip the Ad after about 5 seconds, so you really have to capture their interest. I took some advice from good old Gary Vaynerchuck and started my video with “Hey guys, I know you’re here to watch something else, but I hope you will just give me a minute of your time”. With Facebook I obviously didn’t do that, but I did create something very similar that goes up as a sponsored post and tells the user a little bit about me and gives them a link to the YouTube Channel. As Facebook owns Instagram, it also goes on that platform.

Once you upload the videos to these platforms, they are both incredibly good when it comes to audience targeting. With YouTube you can target by demographics – things like age and gender. Then you can also target by areas of interest, so if they are interested in Business, for example, it will show the video to people watching business based videos. With Facebook it goes a little deeper than that. Demographics again, but the interests section is a bit more interesting in my opinion, because it actually relies on what the user has typed into their profile. If for example they have said they are interested in business or digital marketing or entrepreneurship then my sponsored Ad will show.

Having created the Ads I now need to measure, evaluate, then refine them. I’m probably going to run the Facebook Ad for the next two weeks, then I’ll move onto the YouTube PreRoll for the following two weeks. I will then look at the results side by side and see which gave me the greatest return. I particularly like the fact that on both platforms I can get in front of the right people who should be interested in my content and ultimately generate more impressions, subscriptions and views on my channel, helping me to build my audience.

I’m interested to know if you are using these mediums in your business? Are you using Facebook targeting? Are you using YouTube PreRolls? If not, you might be missing out on opportunities. If you are using them then let us know if you’re having success and what tricks you’ve learnt. I’d love to know.

Managing your sales pipeline

Today has been a day of sales activity at Optix. I thought I’d share my thoughts and experience of CRM and how to setup your pipeline. I hope its useful.

Gary Vaynerchuck Likes Me! :)

Today was a busy day – a Board Meeting, a morning in the park with the parents, a Lunch and Learn and a 911 – enjoy the roar:


Content Marketing with Dan White

Today I talk Content Marketing with Dan White who heads up the service at Optix Solutions.

Giving Promotions

Today we promoted Thomas Haynes to the new Head of Digital Marketing for Optix, marking a new era for us as a company and ensuring we continue to develop, grow and improve that important area of our business. I vlogged the day.

P*** Poor Presentations

I do a lot of presentations these days. Here are a few tips…


Interview with a Millennial

Interview with a Millennial

The Millennial generation is getting serious. They are serious employees in serious positions of responsibility and serious buyers of our products and services now. At Optix Solutions I’ve been lucky enough to employ a number of this generation and I tell you what, they are different breed. If you don’t recognise the nuances of this generation and how they like to buy/be engaged with you will lose out.

In this blog I interviewed a member of the Optix team – Chris Boyd to get his take on life. I hope you get some interesting insight as I did.

[Interview Starts]

Me: So what drives you?

Chris: Career progression, responsibility and enjoyment more than anything. I think unlike in the past, Money is a secondary goal, as long as your continuously improving and widening your skill set you’ll naturally land better (and higher paid) roles.

Me: What matters to you?

Chris: That I’m ahead of the game, that I have knowledge in all areas of my field and that people see me as the ‘go-to-guy’ when they want objective and helpful advice. I also want acknowledgement of my good work. It’s happened too many times previously where my work has been passed off as someone else’s. Sometimes you just have to accept    that your not going to get recognition, but being a bit outspoken when it comes down to it does help – and if that bothers the other person: so be it. Likewise I won’t accept acknowledgement for other people’s work.

Me: What sites/apps do you and your friends interact with on a daily basis?

Chris: Facebook and Twitter is where I go to learn about current affairs. Snapchat, whatsapp and Instagram are the main channels I use to actually interact with my friends.

Me: How long do you spend online each day?

Chris: I’m online for my job and my downtime. I’m constantly connected, even down to my entertainment, it’s all streamed through Netflix, Now TV or Catch up channels. When I’m awake: I’m connected.

Me: Can you imagine a world without the internet?

Chris: I can imagine it, but it would be a struggle!

Me: Who do you look up to?

Chris: I look up to those around me that hold more knowledge and have gained success through that knowledge. I think it’s important to not overly idolise the likes of Mark Zuckerberg where luck has played a major role in their success. I have colleagues and clients close by that I look up to as successful and intelligent business people.

Me: What do you want from a job?

Chris: As cheesy as it sounds, I want to be happy. If you’re spending upwards of 9 hours a day doing something, it has to be enjoyable and worthwhile. I want to see results. I want to know that I’m making a difference. Whether that’s someone complimenting you on your service when watering in a restaurant or seeing a clients eyes light up when there’s been a major increase in traffic to their site.

Me: What do you want from an employer, any advice?

Chris: Flexibility and trust are a big driver for me; I know that I’ll always go the extra mile to ensure work is complete and in most cases I’ll try and exceed expectations. With this in mind, employers need to be flexible, if I’ve worked 2 hours overtime yesterday I don’t expect to be penalised for turning up 2 minutes late the next day – you’ll only deter me from sticking around. If you value your millennial employees – pick and choose your battles and ask yourself, “is what I’m about to say Trivial in the grand scheme.”

Me: Why is being a millennial in the workplace today different to previous generations?

Chris: I think today establishing yourself and finding a career path is much easier, you have a lot more support and resource, and university is very accessible. That being said, everything is much more competitive. In order to succeed nowadays  you need to go the extra mile and allocate some of your free time to educating yourself. When in the workplace you’re constantly playing catch up to your more experienced counterparts, so you have to be out to impress.

My personal (and perhaps slightly controversial) opinion; is that having a degree nowadays isn’t anything special. If we all drove Ferraris and Lamborghinis they wouldn’t be considered a luxury car; it’s exactly the same. Without the additional time investment, shelling out for courses, reading blogs and listening to podcasts – getting ahead will be a struggle.

Me: Where will you be in 10 years time?

Chris: No matter the industry I think it’s important to aim for the top, when I worked in hotels I worked everyday with the end goal to be general manager. Now I’m in Marketing I aim for director/CMO or agency/business owner. I’m not sure where I’ll be, but wherever it is, I’m confident I’ll be at the top!

So I started a YouTube Channel!

So I started a YouTube Channel!

My first four YouTube Videos are live and I’m loving the feedback I’ve had already – its quite humbling and suggests that its certainly worth persisting with. To bring you upto speed you can check out my channel here: https://www.youtube.com/c/alastairbanks

For ease though, here are the first four videos – please forward on to students with an interest in personal brand or development, business owners and entrepreneurial friends, I will hugely appreciate it as it’s not easy creating content for a small following – you do question if its worthwhile.

My first video was about procrastination:

My second was about the most influential business book Ive ever read:

The third was all about Goal Setting:

And the fourth was about change and how important it is if you want to grow:

Please make sure you subscribe to the channel so you don’t miss anything. I’ll do my very best to make the content as useful as possible.

Thanks again

Al – @banksy6

Eight things that changed my life in 2015

Eight things that changed my life in 2015

Yes folks, its that time of year again. The round up post you’ve all been waiting for 😉

Don’t forget that if you’re interested in my posts from the last few years, you can find them here: ’09, ’10, ’11, ’12, ’13,’14

2015 – Its been a big one! Featured here are my first child, an offline tool that’s changed my life and a diet that’s had a dramatic impact on how I’ve felt after 10 years of putting up with stomach pain. All that alongside a few less serious, but still important ones.

1). Coming in at Number 1 there is only one place to have him – it’s Oscar, my first child. There is no doubt about it, having your first child changes you. For the first time in your life someone is completely reliant on you and that re-focuses you. I’ve spent the last 15 years putting everything into my work and while I still have a passion for that, it will sit alongside the newest love of my life – Oscar. I’ve also found a new respect for my wife Lizz who is quite literally the best Mum ever…just incredible.

2). About ten years ago I started to suffer with IBS, one of those hard to diagnose problems that the doctors don’t really do much about or give you much advice on. After hospital inspections and private consultancies which showed up/gave me nothing, I just had to live with it. When Oscar was born I was in so much pain some nights that I couldn’t do his bedtime and that made me realise that something had to change. I persisted with the doctors and found a diet out of Australia called FODMAP. A university there have tested hundreds of food groups against four main triggers and rated them on an app and in a book. The diet has changed my life. After about 6 months of doing it, I’d say that I’m about 75% better than I was and I intend to continue living and coping with this using management of my diet. If you’re an IBS sufferer then you should definitely check it out. I’ve created a Pinterest board to help people find their feet with the diet as its a bit of a minefield of info out there.

3). The passion planner (I know what you’re thinking but don’t worry, I’m not going there) started off as a Kickstarter project. The ultimate organisation tool. It combines goal setting, diary management, reflection time and to-do lists all in one lovely leather bound book you’d be proud to take to any meeting. People know me as the owner of a digital agency and many are poking fun at the fact that despite the plethora of on-line tools (most of which I feel like I’ve tried) I’ve reverted to good old pen and paper. The fact is there is something very real about planning out your week and crossing things off as you complete them which you just don’t get on-line. You have to get these from America but I guarantee you its worth it.

4). Slack. Used by NASA for collaboration and teamwork we’ve rolled this out internally at Optix for our digital marketing team and a group of Sack Savvy clients. Slack’s strap line is ‘Be Less Busy’ which if anyone disagrees with then I’d suggest you’re reading the wrong blog. We share information, useful links and sometimes just shoot the breeze on this channel. Its closed unlike the big social media sites but that works well and if you want to strengthen comms in your organisation you should check out this app today.

5). Whatsapp Web. Did you know you can use WhatsApp from a browser window, opening up the use of this tool to desktop and laptops not just mobile? Well if you’re old skool like me and still use one of these antiquated computer things then maybe you should just get yourself over there to use the web interface. Simply have your phone app open and scan the QR code on the screen and it will link your computer to your phone. Game changer. Genius.

6). My Apple Watch. Ok so it’s questionable as to whether its really changed my life or not. Most days I forget to charge it but when I do remember and wear it I find myself checking my tweets, messages and email with a little smile on my face. These notifications definitely mean I check my phone less which can only be a good thing right? Would I pay the same again for it? Probably not but I’m glad I have it and its certainly a talking point.

7). My Northface Jacket. Yes its one of those weird ribbed jackets people are wearing everywhere. I saw people turning themselves into the Michelin man and couldn’t get my head round it for a year or so….until I tried one. The one I went for is a particularly fetching bright orange one. You can tell I’m an introvert right 😉 So although I might stand out like a sore thumb I’ll be a particularly warm one and I’m unlikely to get lost in the fog. My other reason for getting one was to ensure that I look as stylish as possible on the slopes this year (although my Dad and skiing partner may disagree with that statement)! If you didn’t know, I also run a skiing blog over at http://www.firstlift.co.uk

8). Insights. I’ve always said that if I wasn’t running a digital agency (and I didn’t make it as a ski instructor) that my second favourite job would be something to do with psychology and in particular psychometric profiling. I find it absolutely fascinating. This year we profiled the whole company using the Insights model. A local practitioner, Jack Russell ran a session with us after we’d been profiled and what’s happened since is quite amazing. A common language, a deeper understanding of oneself and others and better communication all round. We’ve enjoyed it so much that my wife and I are in the process of setting up a new business and partnering with Jack so we can share the excitement and success we’ve had at Optix with others. If you’re interested in learning more about what happened with the profiling at Optix, check out the post I wrote here.

So there we go, eight things that changed my life this year, its been big, its been fun and hopefully next year will be just as exciting.

How was your year? Have you taken the time to reflect on it and write down the things that mattered to you?

How to Position Yourself as a Thought Leader Using Social Media

How to Position Yourself as a Thought Leader Using Social Media

Social media used to be optional and strictly personal.  It used to even show generational preference and was something that adolescents and young adults messed around with.  Radical changes have made social media a vital factor for businesses and professionals looking to succeed.   New vocabulary has also come along with this new use of social media – and one of these is “Thought Leader.” Thought leaders are individuals who have captured the attention not only of industries at networking events and conferences, but also of social networks, leading the way in what people should read, do, think, buy, consider and talk about with their friends.  To make it as a thought leader, social media can be an excellent tool used to up your image and popularity.  Below are some tips to help you get started on the do’s and don’ts of using social media to position yourself as a successful thought leader:


Pick platforms with care – With many social media options coming out and new ones cropping up, be sure you pick ones that are popular among the audience you are looking to reach.  Remember that many social media platforms are a flash in the pan.  Before you sign up for the latest new thing, see if it will be around enough to bother with. 

Listen – Read up on others who promote similar ideas, find new important and relevant information to your industry or cause.  Then share it.  To gain credibility and interest, you must show that you know what leading experts are saying and what the studies show.

Start conversations – Begin new lines of thought for your area of interest by asking good questions and initiating new interpretations or explanations.  Ask for other’s input.

Provide useful information – Make what you post useful and relevant.   You can start by answering questions that people often ask you.  Provide links to your research and blogs that elaborate and provide longer answers to these questions.  Depending on your focus, you can also post information on how to use your product, or tell your own story of how your research has helped you. 


Abandon your blog – If you have a blog, maintain it.  Nothing shows that you’re not taking care of your audience like a blog that hasn’t been updated in months (I fall foul of this myself quite often).  Also, avoid turning your blog into an advertising platform.  People are tired of seeing ads all day long – a blog should provide useful and relevant information related to your product, but not sell it.

Advertise – Don’t use your social media accounts to post logos, ads and promotional lines.  Social media is about people, idea, even the news.  People will eventually unfriend you on Facebook and stop following you on Twitter if all they see are ads. 

Spend too much time on it – Social media is important, but you need time for other things as well.  If you think you’ll be able to keep up with numerous social media accounts, forget it.  Doing one or two platforms well is better than five with a mediocre standard.  Set time for working on it and let the rest go.

Got other ideas on positioning yourself? Please share, we’d love to hear.