If you are a business to business (B2B), that wants to increase the visibility of you and your team, position your team as experts and build your business connections beyond your immediate network, then I think you should listen to what Lucy Bingle has to say in this episode of The How To Do Marketing Show.
Lucy explains why LinkedIn is sooo much more than a visible display of your resume. Instead, it is a marketing solutions platform that small business owners can use to tell their businesses story.
Lucy shares how you should use your business page on LinkedIn and then how you can really leverage your personal profile. She lists out the must-have elements of a truly, best-practice LinkedIn marketing post.
And I ask her how do we avoid those painful salespeople that plague our LinkedIn inboxes!
Listen to the episode to find out.
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Before you started your business, Lucy Bingle LinkedIn Marketing, you were Marketing Manager at an executive search firm. Why the move to specialising solely in LinkedIn marketing?
The simple answer is that I have always worn a marketing hat. When I worked with that executive search firm, I rolled out traditional and digital marketing strategies. And one of the jobs that fell into my bucket was training sixty plus consultants on how to use LinkedIn.
They were using it to find C-Suite executives and to place those guys in roles. However, I knew as a marketer that the first thing that they would when they were placed into a new C-suite position is to go build a team and they would then go back out to market looking for a service provider to help them do this.
So I used to think to myself, well, shouldn’t we be marketing to these C suite executives prior to them even landing these roles so that when they go to make those commercial decisions, they would actually use us or hire our business. So as a result of that thought process, we actually started doing exactly this. I put into place some marketing strategies on LinkedIn. These involved demonstrating our firms expertise, our area of specialisation and talking about our corporate culture and our people.
Sure enough we started to A, build brand awareness, and B, we actually picked up lots of mandates from this. People started to get to know more about us and feel more aligned to our core values, etc.
So then I started thinking, well, why would this be constrained to recruitment only? Why aren’t all businesses actually developing and implementing LinkedIn strategies where they’re showcasing their talent and their expertise and really building brand awareness on this platform, which has over 665 million members. And so then I saw an opportunity and I put my own exit strategy into play.
There are a lot of people who perceive LinkedIn as a recruitment only tool. What other opportunities lie on the LinkedIn platform for small business owners?
Where I want people to change their mindset around LinkedIn is rather than thinking of it as a place to put your CV, think of it as a capability statement that is current and evolving for you on your profile page as it reflects the trajectory of your career.
Think of it as a live document that highlights everything that you’re doing today and changes with where you’re at and where your business is at and what role you may have within that business.
For small business owners, who think of LinkedIn as a recruitment or sourcing platform, I encourage you to think of it as a marketing solutions platform. And as such, your people need to have their profiles (or as I call them, their capability statements) all singing, all dancing and looking best in class because they are representing your brand and your business.
And then you also have the opportunity to have a vibrant and dynamic company page, which is effectively a micro site of your website, and this is where you should be sharing stories about your people. Here you can also share business announcements, demonstrate your expertise, your area of specialisation. This can be done by case studies, white papers or insights. This is where you demonstrate the values of your business. Show your corporate social responsibility or community activity or even celebrate the successes of your people.
Can you explain the differences between the personal profile and the business page and provide your opinion as to whether a small business owner should focus on building their personal profile, and their personal connections, OR if they should focus on building their company page. Or do they do both?
Yes building these profiles can take a lot of effort, however, like with anything, if you put a strategy in play and you put some rhythm in your marketing and know each week what you’re going to do, that will also make it more manageable.
If you are a standalone consultant, I would recommend focusing your activity on your personal profile page. Still have a company page for your business as this can act as a landing page that can drive traffic to the website, but don’t put your energy there.
If you are a small business of say up to 10 people, I would recommend having a vibrant and dynamic company page as well. If you are already sharing content elsewhere, for example other social channels or on your blog, you can re-purpose this for your LinkedIn company page and just tweak the commentary according to that audience.
It’s important to remember that LinkedIn is like any other social media platform. It is social. So you need give some love to get some love. So if you want to build brand awareness about around your own personal professional profile, you need to be active on the platform.
So I encourage people to engage within their newsfeed. And I don’t mean just liking posts because that simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Find your voice and actually comment, share insights, celebrate the success of other people within your network. If you are clever, that could be celebrating the successes of your clients or your prospects by engaging with their content.
If you are active within your feed, people will start to engage with your content as well. And this will bring eyeballs across your professional brand and in most cases will start to generate leads.
So do you recommend that business leaders socially engage from their business profile or their personal profile or both?
Both. So foremost, you need to designate a resource to look after your company. Your company page needs to be communicating two to three times a week. Then all of the individuals within your business need to at minimum be engaging with the business page content. This is a demonstration of your people’s validation of what you guys do.
If your company page posts are around events or projects or successes and wins, don’t just like them, comment on them.
If you are the business owner, you have to start finding your voice and commenting and celebrating the wins of your staff. They will love you for it. They will also be more likely to engage with your company, page posts which is then visible to their network. So all of a sudden this amplifier effect happens just by starting a conversation via a post from your company page
Then, if you can do this, this will really set you apart. Once a week, I encourage individuals and especially business leaders to share a status update or start a post and share a high quality piece of content, which is wrapped in smart commentary, tagging authors, individuals and organisations.
If you share something insightful that resonates with your network and you tag the right people and include a couple of hashtags (which help make that post find-able by others outside of your network), you have a really great opportunity to amplify your brand beyond your immediate connections.
So how can people leverage this platform effectively and in the best possible way without it becoming cumbersome?
I suggest for all individuals that three times a week you spend 15 to 20 minutes on LinkedIn and you do three things.
If you implemented that today and you did that for eight weeks and you wrote down how many people you’re connected to and you looked at it again in eight weeks, you would be blown away by the difference in your brand awareness for both your corporate brand but also your own personal professional brand.
Do you think LinkedIn is more suited to businesses who are in the business to business space (B2B) or do you think it’s worthwhile for any small businessperson to use LinkedIn as part of their marketing mix and why?
I think that success is probably more apparent for B2B based businesses. The majority of professionals or businesses present on LinkedIn would be in the B2B space. However, I am seeing a rise B2C businesses being present on LinkedIn.
It’s important to reference the buyer’s journey here. If you met me three or four weeks ago to have a coffee and we may have exchanged business cards and you might have or might not have lost my business card. And the first thing you would then go and do is go back to your desk and think, you know, I might just look that Lucy Bingle up and do a bit of proofing on whether she actually does do what she said she did in the meeting.
You would then enter into Google ‘Lucy Bingle’. And even though my website is LucyBingle.com the first thing that appears in Google for me and for every person that listens to this podcast is your LinkedIn profile page. So this is the reason why everybody needs to have a best in class LinkedIn profile page because that is your first port of call or your first proof point on somebody and somebody’s business.
So it’s important that everybody has a best in class profile page and a holding page for their company, whether they are B2B or B2C because you just don’t know how your customer is going to find you.
What are some of the biggest mistakes that you see people making on LinkedIn?
It’s important to remember that this is effectively your professional footprint and therefore you need to manage it and respect it and make sure that you’re putting your best brand forward so be professional.
So you should be making sure that your profile page is a stand out. You need to look great so that this profile represents you in the best possible way. So include a professional headshot make sure you have a good background image, be clear about what you do and articulate your expertise, track record and skillset. When you share content, do it intelligently. Make sure it’s in line with what you know, make sure that you’ve actually read it and you’ve proofread your content to ensure there are no grammatical or spelling mistakes because this is your own personal reputation you are managing here.
If LinkedIn is like an online networking tool – how do you recommend that people reach out to connect with people that they don’t personally know, but could be a useful business contact.
And what’s the difference between doing that respectably and professionally and being one of those pain in arse pesterers who pitch you with stuff you don’t need?
I think the first thing that needs to be mentioned here is that we don’t sell on LinkedIn. If you are hitting people up with stuff as soon as you have sent you a connection request it’s a complete turnoff. The best way to avoid these pesterers to just ignore them. Don’t accept their connection request and don’t respond to them.
In terms of how do you then put into play a decent connection strategy that isn’t going to annoy everybody? I always talk about three words; optimize, personalized and socialize.
So first and foremost we have to optimise our LinkedIn profile pages and our set up on LinkedIn. And then you need to personalise. So you need to develop a connection strategy, know who your customer avatar is or who your audiences, and then you need to personalise that strategy. And what I mean by that is I want you to be sending out a personalised connection request to Joe Bloggs who you aren’t connected to saying, ‘Hi Joe Bloggs (be sure to call him by his name) and then be upfront and authentic with why you’re actually connecting him with him. For eg. “I do X, Y Z, these are the types of services we provide. I really welcome the opportunity to connect with you.
Joe Bloggs is delighted that you call him by his name. You’ve been really authentic and genuine with why you’re actually reaching out. And that’s it.
You’re not trying to sell to him. You’re just literally reaching out and explaining why you’re connecting. Once you build that body of people out, you then need to put into play the socialise, where you are actually engaging on the platform.
Do you recommend that you then reach out to them again via message or only if there’s a specific need?
My suggestion is to leave it for 10 days, to provide a bit of breathing space. Then look at all the recent people that have connected in with you.
Have a long form message saved somewhere on your desktop that says something like
‘Dear Joe Bloggs, I just wanted to take time to say thanks for connecting on LinkedIn. I thought I would also educate you further about our business. If you ever need anything, please get in touch.’
You don’t hit them up for anything, you’re just educating them. Joe Bloggs therefore has been touched a couple of times. He’s had the short form message where you’ve sent that personalised connection request. Then 10 days later, you’ve sent him a long form message.
So by the time you are at an event or if you’ve got an opportunity to pick up the phone and talk to Joe Bloggs, he actually feels like he knows you and he knows something about you.
Lucy do you recommend that people use any of the paid functions of LinkedIn such as LinkedIn Premium or Sales Navigator?
I don’t use them and my team don’t use them, we are just using the free version of LinkedIn I’m a firm believer that if you learn to drive around LinkedIn well, you don’t need the upgraded accounts.
There’s already so much functionality available in the free version.
If you’re a recruiter or a salesperson or business development manager, there may be reasons why you might, use these tools. Honestly though, if you learn how to ride drive this thing like a Ferrari, there is so much you can actually be doing for free. I have built a whole business around LinkedIn and I’m on the free version.
Can you share a case study or story about how a business has had a significant positive impact by introducing LinkedIn into their marketing and business development efforts?
A great example is a small fit out business that we worked with in Sydney. By implementing our LinkedIn strategies they have basically tripled in size in eight months.
We got them sharing project case studies of their office fit-outs via their LinkedIn profiles and page.. They would tag their clients that they were completing the fitting project for and they would include these beautiful visuals of the completed project. They would also tag the interior designers that they worked and other partners and suppliers. The amplification of that project then goes out to all these different feeds who all have different clients and prospects. These posts were building brand trust because they would could clearly demonstrate the quality of work they were doing with people that prospects knew.
Another piece of content that they shared was case studies on the people within their organisation. This showed that they looked after their staff and that they had top quality talent working in their business. It would help position them as an employer of choice, that they’ve got great people that work in their organisation, they’ve got previous experience and a track record.
Another advantage of these posts was that in terms of attracting talent to a business, these posts were leading to enquiries from people asking to come and work for them. They could see that they were working on really cool projects and that they looked after their staff.
What are some of the ways that small business can measure the value of their LinkedIn efforts on their bottom line? Are their specific metrics and insights that you can measure on the platform that can show that a person is making some progress?
From an individual perspective, every two to three months we run what we call LinkedIn marketing analytics report and we look at growth of individuals from their connection basis. That growth is very easy for people to measure. So you have 400 connections today and then after implementing a LinkedIn strategy, how many additional connections do you have 12 weeks time.
We can then look at those connections to see what industry they’re from and what their key roles are, so we make sure that we’re hitting the right target.
From a company perspective, we can run a report on the company page using the insights tool on the LinkedIn platform to look at content analytics. This looks at impression rates, click thru rates, how many comments.
Then you can start looking at who is commenting, which industry are they from – are they right contact? Also look at your follower analytics. How many followers are you gaining and what is the quality of those followers. What companies are they from. If you’re starting to see a pattern with companies engaging with your content, you may want to start to talk to the sales or the business development team of these companies.
So look at your company page posts, compare them, see which ones are the highest performing ones and which ones are low and take the learning from what’s working and what’s not working and why or why it isn’t working.
Do you have some recommendations that you can provide for business leaders to inspire their team to share out the businesses content?
It’s all about educating the team about the strategy. Your LinkedIn strategy will fall flat if you just implement the strategy and there’s a company page owner and they’re putting up content every week and that’s it. That is not the strategy.
The strategy is getting buy in from the entire company. I suggest running a training session to help your team understand the strategies so that they realize, actually this isn’t just about the corporate brand, this is about me being set up as a subject matter expert. The moment they realise that it’s as much about them as it is about the brand they buy in.
The most important person to buy in is the business owner or the CEO because they have to lead from the front. This gives permission to everybody else in the business that the business leader is engaged in the strategy and she’s celebrating our successes and she’s sitting on LinkedIn going and commenting on her teams post and announcing new team members etc. This makes everyone feel loved.