A review of 7 areas to help focus your LinkedIn strategy for B2B Marketing
If your business has been using LinkedIn for a while now, it useful to review how it's supporting your marketing strategy. Perhaps it has not really done anything for you and you're thinking 'this ship has sailed, it's time for me to consider other options?' Well think again, you might be like many of other LinkedIn users, who have held accounts for several years, who, only now, are discovering how to achieve real and measurable business benefits from this platform
When I first discuss LinkedIn with new clients, it quickly becomes apparent that many of them are missing the boat when it comes to really engaging with this site. I hear comments such as 'It's just a job seeking tool for recruiters isn't it?' or 'it's for networking with people I know, you wouldn't use it as a sales process to connect with people you don't know, would you?' Yes you would and in fact, an increasing number of business professionals are doing just that and here are 7 ways that you can emulate their successes.
Here are seven ways B2B organisations can use LinkedIn to support their marketing strategy:
1. Locate hundreds of new business opportunities
Just because you might not accept a connection request from a stranger on LinkedIn, don't assume that others won't. Business Development Teams use LinkedIn's Advanced search function to connect and engage with hundreds of new B2B prospects. However, to achieve success with cold contacts on LinkedIn, your invitation to connect must provide a valid reason for connecting in the first place. A tried and tested one that I use to great effect is
"Hi John, I'm looking to connect with forward thinking leaders in the XYZ sector, in the Leeds area and I came across your profile. Would you like to connect?"
If you read the above introduction carefully, you'll recognise that I'm not attempting to sell but I have provided a reason for wanting to connect - I've even attempted to flatter the recipient by suggesting they are a forward thinking leader - who would fail to feel important after receiving such a message?! This type of introduction should see you achieving anywhere between a 60-80% success rate, in terms of successful connections.
2. Raise the firm's brand awareness
Does your business have good news to share, interesting industry analysis and other content, such as a number of strong case studies? In fact, any content that helps your clients solve or manage better their business challenges? You can share this type of content directly with important 1st degree connections or maybe post updates on your Home page news feed so your network can view or comment on the points you raise. LinkedIn groups, where your target audience hang out, is also another great environment to share your content and raise your company's profile.
And don't forget the power of the viral effect - just imagine, if one carefully crafted piece of content (a case study perhaps), is shared in your business from several of your employee's LinkedIn profiles and networks - your brand reach is potentially enormous.
3. Build collaborative relationships
Who are the professional door openers for you? Who do you currently have business relationships with that would be prepared to refer you to new clients and how do you locate such contacts at the moment? LinkedIn has 300 million+ professional members in 200 different countries and territories globally, some of which could be your next invaluable new business door opener. Connect with useful people, not just potential clients. Nurture these connections by keeping them in your content strategy loop - direct message them occasionally or comment on their content posts - keep on their radar.
4. Promote thought leadership
Are you the firm's expert - do you hold a senior position and write papers or blog articles that are well respected and read by many of your peers, clients and other business contacts? LinkedIn's new publishing platform now enables any user who creates great content to publish this alongside the likes of Richard Branson and other eminent business leaders. Good content is also readily accepted in LinkedIn groups and by sharing this with targeted connections, this is another excellent way of raising your's and the firm's profile and expertise.
5. Enhance client relationship management
'When we send the invoice!' That was the slightly tongue in cheek response I received from a legal partner, when I asked how frequently individuals within his law firm engage with their clients. Most businesses are notoriously poor at keeping in touch with their clients, except when it comes to more formal or scheduled company communications. Imagine if one of your suppliers periodically sent you a personal message on LinkedIn, asking how you are and if you were happy with the service being provided. What a great way to keep in touch with your most valued clients, those who are 60-70% more likely to purchase from you again, compared with a new prospect.
6. Keep informed about industry trends
Do you read LinkedIn's Pulse application? If not, then you're missing out on a wealth of professionally created news content from experts around the world and from many varied industry sectors. This news, which is accessible from your LinkedIn profile 'Interests' menu, can be specifically tailored to your requirements, so you receive the information most relevant to your business. With many hard copy publications struggling to survive, professionals are increasingly turning to Pulse and other similar sources to keep up to date with the latest trends in their industry.
7. Network with hundreds of known and unknown professionals
Finally, in this time-constrained world in which we operate today, LinkedIn enables you to maintain contact with those you meet at networking and other professional events. There often isn't time to pick up the phone or write a letter and it could be months before you attend the same event with someone you met at that international convention. Keep in touch - share some useful content, simply say hello, how's things? And most importantly ask them when it would be good to meet.
It's worth keeping in mind that sometimes it's not a case that you're on the wrong ship, sailing you off to some remote and deserted island, it's simply that you haven't taken the time to master the skills required to sail your vessel on the right course. With 213,000 members joining joining LinkedIn every day why paddle in another direction.