By Linda Lindsey, President, Business Marketing Association, Atlanta
Here's what you'll learn in this article:
1. New ways to use LinkedIn to grow your sales and revenue ;
2. Six specific tactics to help you get the most from LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is the “Six Degrees of Separation” for the business world. Its claim to fame is the “Triangle of Trust” networking principle: People are more likely to do business from a referral by someone they know and trust. This is powerful stuff in today’s fast, buy-on-the-fly, e-commerce driven society.
Unfortunately, LinkedIn has the “now what?” effect. Well-intentioned users sign up for an account, build their profile, network to a few people and then become lost, unsure of how to maximize the LinkedIn resources. Here are 5 things you can do today to start using LinkedIn as a way to generate revenue:
1. Be the Face of Your Brand
LinkedIn announced new functionality for companies to create a profile for their company to provide basic information including your website, company description, industry, number of employees and more. Check out your company profile or add it by visiting www.linkedin.com/companies.
There is a also great way to connect with customers and prospects through an individual in your company. If you represent a small company, start a LinkedIn account for the owner. Larger organizations should choose a representative that best represents their customer and prospect base. For example, a technology company should use their CIO, a consumer company might choose their CMO, and a manufacturer should promote the president or COO. Choose a spokesperson based on who can offer the best conversations about your brand.
Once you’ve chosen your spokesperson, build your profile with your specific company in mind, not the personal resume of your spokesperson except if your spokesperson’s professional experience is relevant in nature to their current role or gives clout to the spokesperson.
In the “Summary” section list a description of your company’s products and services and complete the “Specialties” section with keywords that encompass your company’s product, service, or value.
2. Think of LinkedIn as a part of your Loyalty Marketing Strategy
Loyalty Marketing is an approach to marketing in which a company focuses on growing and retaining existing customers through incentives. If you think of LinkedIn as a way to enhance your current customer relationships you can begin and maintain a dialog with people who are engaged in your products, services, or brand.
The first step in LinkedIn loyalty marketing is to start a Group. In the group section you can give an overview of your company, start dialogs with your customers, share news and updates and begin to build a database of brand advocates. Offer various incentives that best target your audience such as receiving first notification of any company news, new products or services, or upcoming promotions – you can even offer special deals or incentives only for LinkedIn Group members. You can use your LinkedIn Group to advertise upcoming events, collect pre-show or post-event feedback, and conduct polls of focus groups to gather customer intelligence.
3. Use Offline Marketing Tactics to Drive Your Customers and Prospects to Join Your LinkedIn Group
Update all current marketing efforts with a tagline encouraging customers and prospects to join your LinkedIn Group: direct mail, email campaigns, employee email signatures, business cards, and, of course, provide a link on your website to the LinkedIn Group. LinkedIn is a great way to generate traffic to your website and support your search engine optimization efforts. Be sure to ask your company employees to add your website to their personal LinkedIn page – this provides quality, relevant links which organically helps bump you up in search engine rankings.
4. Advertise on LinkedIn
LinkedIn also offers text-based advertising opportunities called “DirectAds” that run for 30 days a pop. You can target your ad based on two of the following seven criteria: Company Size, Job Function, Industry, Seniority, Gender, Age, or Geography. Ads start at $25 and guarantee a certain number of impressions (the number of times an ad is shown), but do not guarantee any results (or click-thrus) on your ad. LinkedIn offers a dashboard to track the ad activity including impressions, clickthrus and a calculation of your clickthru rate (CTR). Depending on your product or service, this can be a great way to reach your audience especially if you couple the offer with an incentive such as a free white paper, coupon or other value-add.
5. Get Connected to LinkedIn
LinkedIn is getting ready to launch some really cool functionality for B2B marketing. Sign up for the RSS feed on the LinkedIn blog http://blog.linkedin.com/ so you can get this news first and be first to market. This RSS feed only sends out an email if there is new content. They promise, “No new content, no email for you.”
One final note: Your company may already have a profile on LinkedIn with content generated by LinkedIn. This profile is populated by public data provided by Capital IQ, a sister company to BusinessWeek, and may include public information such as your company description, industry, type of company, headquarter address, size, founding date, and website. The differentiator for the LinkedIn company profile is that it uses its own member data to create new information about your company based on the people who have listed your company name in their profiles as current or former employees. LinkedIn uses this information to determine the average age, gender, and title of employees at your company. Of course it is skewed, but they make no apologies for the data. However, you can add or change information on these pages, but you must have a valid company email to do so. In the FAQs, do a search for “Adding or Changing Company Profile Page.” Coming soon is the functionality to post jobs, recruitment videos, information about products and services, company images and more.
Linda Lindsey has been in the marketing and advertising arena for more than 18 years, and is the President of the Business Marketing Association, Atlanta Chapter. Linda has firsthand knowledge of the "no-holds-barred" marketing advances that have driven businesses to try bolder, more profitable techniques to win new customers.