At my company, Fusion Marketing Partners, we have a policy of not spending money on marketing or sales. We are “pull” (inbound) marketers to the core and this philosophy has served us well. Of course, we do lots of “push” (outbound) marketing for clients, but we try to move them in the direction of pull marketing in order to drive awareness and leads up and drive new customer acquisition costs down.
While we don’t incur direct marketing or sales expenses, there is definitely a cost in time and effort, and this is the tradeoff you will also have to make if you decide to adopt the pull marketing approach. As a B2B marketer, one of the best social media tools you can use is LinkedIn. It has gained us awareness, leads and revenue, and it can do the same for your company (as well as you as an individual). But to be successful with LinkedIn marketing, you need to follow some important rules, like:
- Get started now. Lots of people talk about using LinkedIn effectively, but relatively few make it happen. Like most other worthwhile things in life, LinkedIn marketing becomes easier over time. The sooner you get started, the faster you get to the easy part of the deal.
- Be a combination of the hare and the tortoise. Some Linked practitioners start out slow and stay that way. Others begin with a fast pace but quickly drop off. A better approach is to build up to and maintain a moderate pace. I wrote about this in a 2011 blog post titled Is Social Media a Marathon or a Sprint?
- Offer value. Make sure your LinkedIn updates include you sharing content or ideas of value to your audience. A bit of humor and motivation are also good, but don’t overdo it.
- Don’t always be selling. Remember Alec Baldwin in the chalkboard scene from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, where his character is haranguing his sales team and shouting “ABC, Always Be Closing!” While that philosophy may work in high-pressure sales situations, it does not hold water when you are communicating on LinkedIn. Think of LinkedIn as a relationship medium first, then a selling medium.
- Don’t pitch too soon. One of my pet peeves is people who connect with me and immediately try to sell me something. I bet you feel the same way about pushy salespeople. Build a relationship first, then make the offer. It works better this way.
- Connect with people. A technology company founder told me that he rejects most connection requests because he only wanted people he knows personally. In my opinion, this is shortsighted. It’s like only talking to people you already know at a cocktail party – you miss out on a lot of interesting opportunities. This is not to say you should connect with everyone. I probably accept about 60 percent of connect requests.
- Be visible. Even when you don’t have something pithy to say, you can stay visible by liking, commenting and sharing other people’s updates. Participating in groups is another way to stay top of mind.
- Don’t put social items on LinkedIn. Treat this medium as a way to showcase your company and personal attributes, not your personal life. Some examples of things not to talk about or share on LinkedIn:
- Photos of your family life (including children, pets, etc.)
- Photos of you drinking, partying or out with a group of friends
- Your religious or political opinions
- Your sports preferences
- Keep it civil. Never gripe about your employer, employees, partners or customers. For that matter, if you feel the need to disagree or criticize someone else’s update, do so in as gentle a manner as possible.
- Assume that everyone (yes, everyone!) can see everything you do on LinkedIn. If someone likes, shares or comments on one of your updates, all their followers can see it and it can certainly be copied and/or forwarded. Remember that your current and future employer, spouse, partners and friends will be able to see that irreverent, harsh or negative update that you thought was so clever at the time you posted it.
- Post your blogs as LinkedIn articles. I leverage many of my blog posts this way and they tend to get very high readership. Articles are a great to create or extend either your business or personal brand promise.