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How to Build Facebook Fans to Drive Sales Why collecting 'likes' is a potent and inexpensive way to promote your business.

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Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising: How to Access 600 Million Customers in 10 MinutesIn their book, Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising: How to Access 600 Million Customers in 10 Minutes, authors Perry Marshall and Thomas Meloche lay out the fundamentals of advertising your goods and services to users of the hugely popular social network. In this edited excerpt, the authors detail how "likes" translate into a cost-effective way to add and retain customers and drive sales.

Getting "likes" on your Facebook page -- which translates into getting "fans" -- is one of the simplest and most powerful methods to gently nudge your customers toward additional sales.

Facebook has become one of the world's most powerful tools to announce special offers and events. You can remind your customers of your brand, presence and offerings without offending or spamming them.

If you visit a web page for a new product, do you think it helps if you notice that five of your friends "liked" that product? You bet it does. Do you think it helps if you visit a web page and see the names and pictures of 10,000 other people who like that product? Yep. It's called social credibility, and it's the new order of marketing on the web.

People look to outside sources to validate their purchase decisions. Facebook gives you social validation in the form of likes. Every product should have a page so you can know precisely who likes or recommends that product.

Being "liked" is central to a well-executed Facebook advertising strategy. It provides social credibility, validation and very reasonably priced follow-up advertising opportunities.

You can send Facebook ads to any landing page that meets Facebook's guidelines. But you should send your leads to a Facebook page and not your own website. If you send your clicks to a Facebook page, then the visitors remain in known and comfortable surroundings. Their defenses are much lower than when they are taken to a new website for the first time.

Related: 3 Ways to Supercharge Fan Engagement on Facebook

If you send your clicks to a Facebook page, visitors don't have to worry that you're about to install a virus on their computer, post offensive material or assault them with pop-ups and ads. So they relax. Maybe even enough to look at your landing page, see your offer and like your page.

The Facebook "like" is the ultimate soft opt-in. Facebook users are very comfortable with, and have very little resistance to, the thought of liking your page. If you get the visitor to like your page, Facebook provides you with stunningly powerful methods to reach out to these fans again -- both free and paid.

In test after test, driving a Facebook click to a Facebook page converts better than driving the click to a landing page on your website. Users know they can easily navigate away from a Facebook page, and they don't fear spending more time on your page reading, listening to and watching your offers.

Related: How to Build a Fan-Worthy Facebook Page

Don't be surprised if you see your opt-in rates jump 20% or more if you move your landing page to Facebook, especially after you've acquired a few thousand fans.

Here's a typical Facebook opt-in scenario: Users click on your ad and go to a Facebook page landing page, usually a welcome tab. You make an offer on this page that entices readers to "like" the page to receive more free content.

After users like the page, you present them with an opportunity to opt in to an email list that will provide them with a free product or service, or enter them into a competition or drawing.

After they opt in to your email list, they see a different landing page with additional information, resources and offers. This is the first step where they might be taken to a page outside Facebook. The first three steps all occur within the warm cocoon of Facebook.

Related: What Facebook's Page Post Targeting Means to Your Business

Although opt-in customers frequently appreciate well-crafted emails, even the best-written emails sometimes feel like a nuisance. Facebook is a unique and friendly means of getting your brand message in front of your prospects and loyal customers. It can give them a nudge to provide a special offer, invite them to an event or simply share timely news.

If you own a local coffee shop and you get 3,500 regular customers to like your Facebook page, you can place an ad in front of those customers on Facebook at will, at any time, for a few pennies per customer. You can offer specials, invite them to events and remind them of your brand in just a few minutes and for a few bucks. Got a special event this weekend? Most of them will know.

Your first goal is simply getting your leads and customers to like your Facebook page. Once your customers have liked you, Facebook makes it simple to reach them again quickly, inoffensively and affordably.

Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising:This article is an excerpt from the book Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising: How to Access 600 Million Customers in 10 Minutes available from Entrepreneur Press.

Ultimate Guide to Facebook AdvertisingPerry Marshall is the founder of Perry S. Marshall & Associates, a Chicago-based company that consults with online and brick-and-mortar companies on generating sales leads, web traffic, and maximizing advertising results. Thomas Meloche is the president of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Procuit Inc, a maker of educational software using the Facebook platform. Marshall and Meloche are co-authors of Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising: How to Access 600 Million Customers in 10 Minutes from Entrepreneur Press.

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