Designing Strategies: The Blog
LinkedIn is the most well known and used professional social media platform on the Internet today. With more than 175 million members, they claim that works out to just about 2 new members per second. It has become the ‘go to’ site for anyone wishing to promote their business, look for new customers, look for a job or for qualified employees. LinkedIn members span the globe, so building an international network of business contacts is ridiculously simple. With both paid and free membership levels, it is short sighted to not take full advantage of it’s many features to leverage the time and effort you spend there. Below are five easily actionable tips about how you can get more from your LinkedIn membership.
1) Get your image posted
If you don’t have your image on your Profile page, stop reading right now and go do it. Nothing makes you less interesting than using those awful default ‘egg-head’ icons. People do business with people, not egg-head icons. Don’t use your logo, or your latest family picture, you as a cute toddler or your dog. People what to know what you look like. LinkedIn is the professional social media platform, so present yourself as a professional business person.
2) Fill out that Profile page
If you want people to connect with you, give them some reasons. Fill out your business experience history, education, links to your website(s) or blog(s). Write your Summary from the point of view of a potential customer or employer. Why should they connect with you, much less hire you or buy from you? Make a compelling argument on why you are the best person to meet their needs or solve their problems and challenges. Convince them you are someone worth connecting with and knowing. Do you have any Publications you want people to know about? Even if you haven’t written a book, perhaps you’ve contributed to a magazine or newspaper column, write and publish your own newsletter or blog.
3) Add some specialized applications
There are a number of applications that can enhance your Profile page to make you even more interesting. Connect your blog to your Profile page to get it in front of more people. Let people know what books you are reading and recommend using the Amazon.com application. Use the Slideshare application to present your message in a PowerPoint format.
4) Get some recommendations
Nothing sells you better than testimonials and recommendations from satisfied employers or customers. Select those who can best exemplify the message you are trying to spread about your qualifications, expertise and ability to be the perfect fit for anyone looking at your profile. Don’t be afraid to offer suggested content that will best present you. If you are looking for a job selling widgets, get a satisfied customer write something to tell others how much attention you paid to their needs when you sold them golf carts or some other product. Tell them what specific points you’d like them to highlight… if they are willing to write a recommendation.
5) Skills and Expertise
One of the newer features of LinkedIn allows users to be more specific about their skills and expertise. It’s a simple to use feature, just point and click on the appropriate skill categories and they will be listed on your Profile page. The newest addition to this feature is the ability of other LinkedIn members to ‘endorse’ your skills… all of them or just one or two that they have experienced in working with you. This is a good back up when someone isn’t comfortable writing a Recommendation, but still wants to add to your credibility in certain areas of the work you do.
6) Edit Your Website Links
Those three links that are provided to your ‘websites’ can be better used as SEO tools. They are editable, so don’t just leave them as the default ‘website link’. Change them to direct visitors to your website, your blog and any other locations on the Internet that will help build your credibility. Mine are set to link to my website, my blog and the archive of my e-newsletter.
Treat your LinkedIn profile as you would your website, paying close attention to SEO and keywords. LinkedIn is one huge database you can exploit to your advantage through the ‘search’ and ‘advanced search’ features. Use the same keywords in each section of your profile that you would expect visitors to use when looking for your web site. Take the time to insert these actions into your marketing strategy today.
How about you, what tips can you add for leveraging LinkedIn? Share your ideas below.
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So many web sites for both small and larger companies are just too generic and downright boring. Nothing is there to make the company stand out. Nothing is there to encourage visitors who found the site to look around or buy, or ever come back again. In many cases, these web sites are the only on-line marketing being done by a firm. It’s hard to believe their only marketing effort of the many Internet marketing channels available, presents their company, products or services as so, vanilla. Instead of presenting themselves as Rocky Road or Toasted Almond Fudge or Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, they chose vanilla to represent their their public flavor. No excitement.
Their very vanilla Home page includes vague, not very interesting information about the company, it’s products and services. Nothing to urge visitors to take any action or take the next step in developing a business relationship. You could look at half a dozen other web sites in their industry and they’d all be similar. A lot of web site traffic will enter and bounce from these types of Home pages; nothing of interest. No stickiness.
Let’s say you arrive at one of these web sites and in spite of the lackluster Home page, you decide to stick around and dig a bit deeper. You might move on to their ‘About’ page. Same company image is found there, generic, unexciting nothingness. Maybe they posted something about the industry as a whole, and a bit of the history of the company. But, little more of interest to keep visitors on the site or encourage them to move forward toward an actual sale. No calls to action.
You’ve seen the type: XYZ Inc was started in 1919 in Limboland selling rug beaters door-to-door. Five years later the firm moved to a bigger building in Nowheresville and began beating customers rugs for them. Over the years, the company continued to grow, added some carpet stain removal products, and now has three locations to serve our customers. Ho-hum. Big deal. Who cares? This approach is stale, sterile and not the least bit inviting to visitors. No compelling story about the company.
Absolutely no mention is made of the founders, who is running the company today or ran the company to grow it to its current position as an industry leader. No pictures of these industry titans, or their facilities. There is no mention of the founders or leaders, or images to bring them to life. Nothing more is provided than a vague notion that someone must have done something in the background to keep the firm in business and growing. No living, breathing people who brought the company to life.
The company certainly didn’t materialize from nowhere. Someone or some group started the company, put in the effort and sweat equity to grow and expand it. Who were they? Why weren’t they important enough to the company to be mentioned? Who works at the company today? What are their names? What do they look like? Exactly who will answer the phone or help me if I contact the company? Who is going to sell me their product? No reference to people customers can know, like and trust.
Customers do business with people they know, like and trust; not non-descript businesses or web sites. The first step toward the know-like-trust level is to include images of your staff, their position or a brief job description. Even better, add a short paragraph about each one that makes them real, live people customers will want to get to know.
Think about how to make your web site bring your company to life. Humanity can make a major difference in the relationship side of doing business.
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Anyone who watches late night TV is the recipient of numerous marketing messages from non-profits trying to raise money to save children or victims of natural disasters Only the most hard-hearted can turn away from the captivating stories being told of the pain and destitution these people face. Those of us in other businesses can learn valuable lessons from those commercials aimed at raising funds to support their efforts.
Think about it. What do all of these fundraising advertisements have in common? They tell stories, usually very sad stories, that tug at our hearts. They show dismal living conditions. They talk about lack of food and care. They cite statistics about how many children or adults or families need our help. They tell of dire situations that we can help change with a small monthly donation to their charity.
These commercials are unforgettable for the average person. They introduce us to people in need of help - our help. They are all about people – the victims and us. In marketing vernacular, they use personalized case studies. Marketing and sales are all about people too – customers, manufacturers, product developers, service providers — they are all people interacting in business relationships.
Those on the seller side of the transaction hope to influence someone on the buyer side with their product or service to help them, to ease their pain or solve their problem. Buyers are searching for the idal someone or something to do just those things for them. Customers and prospects are all individuals, not just abstract numbers in your accounting software and marketing metrics.
Review your marketing pieces and messages. Decide if they speak to people, about people with similar problems and situations. Tell customers how your product or service helped someone, their family or groups with similar needs. The adage goes: ‘People do business with people they know, like and trust.’ Do your messages help customers – people – know, like and trust you, your product and your company? If not, it’s time to make some changes to your strategic marketing plan.
In most cases, our stories won’t be anywhere near as heartbreaking as those shared by charitable organizations. So, while they’re on your mind, take a few minutes to visit the Save the Children web site Gift Catalog and consider buying a goat, a soccer ball or some books, or donate to feed or educate a child. All of us are in a position to make the world a little bit better for children and families in need. I know where my next meal is coming from, and so do you. Please help someone who doesn’t.
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One of the best ways to successfully market yourself, your product or your company is to tell your target audience a story. Admit it, as a child, your fondest memories are of being curled up on Mom or Dad’s, or Grandma’s lap while they read you stories. As they say, those were the best of times. Times of closeness and relaxation. The older you got, the more adventure those books contained. As they read your favorite story – or a brand new story – the inflection of their voices made your mind go in new, exciting directions as your imagination took you to faraway places you had never been before.
Nothing gets a prospect’s attention faster than listening to a story. Stories are far easier to absorb than a bullet list of product features or company experiences. Stories grab readers and drag them in, gaining their interest and holding their attention. Isn’t that exactly what you want to do in your marketing? Tell people something they want to hear, how they want to hear it? Take away the boring angle found in so much of today’s marketing. Make readers resist the urge to ‘delete’ or just move on to something more interesting.
One of the best examples of how this works in reality is the DirectTV ads running on television the past couple of months. To convince customers they shouldn’t make the mistake of subscribing to cable TV instead of DirectTV, they have created and aired a series of ‘what will happen if you do…’ commercials. Each one ends with the premise of ‘don’t let this happen to you.’ “Don’t have a grandson with a dog collar….”, “Don’t be left in a roadside ditch…”, “Don’t have to sell your hair to a wig shop…” Each is funnier than the last one, but you can’t stop watching them and following their logical path from making the wrong choice to what will happen if you do. They may be a bit bizarre, but step-by-step, viewers are drawn into the logic that it could happen… maybe.
What stories can you tell about yourself and your company? How about the one about struggling for years and then that one perfect client came along and opened new doors to you? Or, how the one about how you finally found your niche, miles from where you started… accidentally? You can make the stories as creative as you care to get…. how many people do you know who ordered cable TV and ended up with a grandson wearing a dog collar? Hey, it could happen.
Care to share your story here? We’d love to hear it. Share it in the Comments section below. Once upon a time….
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You have probably discovered by now that taking the old school shot-gun approach to marketing is a huge waste of your resources. To make the best investment of time and resources in both traditional and social media marketing — including your blog — you need to know who your target audience is. Just compiling names and e-mail addresses really doesn’t tell you much. For your content to be of value to your customers, you need to know who they are, what demographics they fit into and what characteristics and traits they share with others. From this data, you can develop your customer personas — clear targets at which to aim your marketing efforts.
Knowing only the most basic information like how many males vs. females are following you and reading your content does not provide a clear enough picture of who your ideal customers are. What you don’t know about them can mean the difference between the success and failure of your traditional and social media marketing efforts. So, dig out your Sherlock Holmes style deerstalker hat, curved pipe and magnifying glass, it’s time to become an Internet super sleuth.
Using other online sources to fill in the blanks of the demographics of your target audience — your prospective customers — will take both time and effort. But rest assured, ROI will be well worth it. Just a typical Internet search using Google, MSN, Bing or other search engines can turn up a lot of information on most anyone these days. You can take a low budget approach by having a young, computer and Internet savvy intern become your on-line sleuth. If your client base is made up of larger firms, you might want to pay the subscription fee for a business search site like Hoovers.
Here are some additional tips for information gathering to fine tune your customer personas:
- Start with their website to see what it reveals about them and their business. ‘About’ and ‘Services’ pages often provide quite a bit of personal information and company history.
- There are nearly 850 million people on FaceBook, so odds of finding those who are following your blog, e-articles, newsletters and other content there are pretty good. Those who openly share their lives and businesses provide a lot of information you can use in developing your customer personas. Sometimes birthdates are included, but graduation dates can also give you a rough idea of age. Where they live, what they drive and other information can be telling in regard to their income level. Hobbies and interests are general topics freely shared on most social media sites.
- Search for on-line articles or blogs they authored. Both provide information on their areas of expertise and view points on topics of interest — who are they writing for? Blogs often include ‘About’ pages that are often more casual and personalized than might be found on a more formal business web site.
- LinkedIN is the place to look for business background, education and skills information on individuals. Companies post a lot of very useful information on LinkedIN company pages: who their employees are and were, company mission and/or vision, size of company, products and services, growth rates and more.
Search, search, search. Internet search engines and those within social media sites can be a treasure trove of information. Use keywords that relate to who your best customers are and pull up names and information on other potentially profitable clients. The more information you can gather to help clearly define who your fans and friends are, the easier it will be to create quality content that will appeal to them. Write and talk about what they want to hear, not what you think they should hear. When your customer personas and your marketing content match, you will be right on target for success.