Developing a strategic approach to LinkedIn Marketing for B2B companies – advice from Steve Phillip of Linked2Success
In this interview, Steve Phillip, a leading Coach and Expert on using LinkedIn shares his approaches and explains how his clients are using LinkedIn. The interview covers the basic such as overcoming barriers to entry, avoiding the common mistakes, strategy planning for first time adopters, plus more advanced tips and hints on how to use this successfully as well as his views on the hot issues in 2013. You can get more advice from Steve at Linked2Success.
Barriers and solutions to using LinkedIn to generate B2B business
Q. From your personal experience of working with companies who are new adopters to LinkedIn , what would you say have been the main barriers for companies and how should they overcome them?
I’d say there are the 2 main issues here:
- 1. Limited knowledge base of staff meaning they are not fully comprehending the full range of functions LinkedIn provides the business user.
- 2. Sustained time and focus. We have trained many hundreds of individuals during the past 3 years, most of which were genuinely excited and initially determined to use LinkedIn for their business. In a number of cases, weeks or months on, they had not moved any further forward, due mainly to the demands of other more familiar aspects of their working day.
Q. How have you worked toward helping clients overcome these barriers?
Firstly, our training programmes are always linked to the client’s measurable objectives.
Where the client sees a direct link between using LinkedIn and business outcomes then they become more motivated to use it.
Secondly, our training programmes provide continuity support and follow up to review progress made by our clients and providing additional coaching.
We find that training and a well planned, focused social media strategy will help clients increase their sales, create new opportunities and gain increased ROI through this social media platform. For example, working with EnviroVent’s sales teams, he overcame their barrier to adoption by providing easy to follow steps and giving them the confidence to join in discussion groups. As a result they received an order that represented 33% of their sales territory annual target.
Mistakes to avoid with LinkedIn
Q. What have been the common mistakes which companies are making which we can all avoid?
It’s simple. Lack of a clear strategy is the biggest mistake. Users sign up to LinkedIn but then have no clear plan in mind how they will use it.
Q4. What advice would you give to a company with planning their LinkedIn strategy, if they have little resource?
They should be clear about who they need to be building relationships with and be specific – Industry sector, company, job title of relevant decision maker, geographic location and then share information; news updates; web resources; own blog content etc that will be of value to their network.
Also make a decision to focus on one or two aspects of LinkedIn, such as networking and engaging in discussions in 3-5 LinkedIn groups maximum.
With limited resource, it will become extremely time consuming to attempt to work in more than 3 groups really, whilst searching for new prospects – using Advanced search, checking who’s viewed your profile and posting status updates.
Also decide, which aspects of LinkedIn will help you to engage with the right business connections and focus on these only.
LinkedIn features for lead generation and brand awareness
Q5. Can you name your top x features in LinkedIn which companies can use to create leads or brand awareness?
Almost every aspect of LinkedIn will have an impact on generating leads and raising brand awareness, but here are my top 5 tips of practical actions you can take to support business goals:
- 1. Brand awareness – Post useful updates once a day from your personal LinkedIn profile and if you have one, your LinkedIn Company page (see more advice from Annmarie Hanlon) – this activity has had a significant impact on brand awareness for our business and others we work with.
- 2 Brand awareness – Be active in 3-5 LinkedIn groups consistently – share good content, discussions and other interactions – be a Thought Leader.
- 3. Lead generation – Use LinkedIn’s advanced search facility to locate useful business connections by name, company, university, job title, geographic location.
- 4. Lead generation – Don’t just connect with other LinkedIn users – always send a thank you response message, particularly to relevant contacts, then share useful content monthly that directs them to your website or email database sign up.
- 5 Lead generation – Check who’s viewed your profile daily – this is a great source of hot leads – after all, they’ve looked at your profile for a reason.
Benefits for Non corporate LinkedIn members
Q6. From your experience of working with non corporate LinkedIn members (individual profiles), what benefits have you seen them realise?
Benefits have been varied, from saving time, to generating new sales and raising brand awareness and increased website traffic. Many are finding the quality of resource information available on LinkedIn incredibly beneficial, probably one of the reasons that LinkedIn is placing considerable emphasis on content sharing going forward.
Hot 2013 LinkedIn topics
Q7. Do you have any thoughts to how LinkedIn will grow in 2013, any hot topics?
Content is becoming increasingly important to LinkedIn. The recent introduction of ‘Influencer posts’ where Leaders such as Richard Branson share their wisdom and thought leadership is evidence of LinkedIn’s desire to make the site increasingly content rich, rather than the slightly dull platform it has been perceived as in previous years.
I think we’ll also see considerable developments in the use of LinkedIn company pages (LinkedIn announcement) which until mid 2012 were fairly static domains. The ability for companies to promote and share their news is attracting a lot of interest currently.