If you are the owner or founder of an SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) or are the person responsible for sales or business development in any size organization then your reputation – your personal brand is paramount in your personal success and the success of your organization.
‘Brands are like people’ is an analogy often used to describe the companies they represent.
Virgin is the brand built by Richard Branson and the two are hard to separate. Consumers buy into the personality of the founder and what it represents and promises.
In many cases however ‘brands are people’ – every celebrity is a brand, from Oprah to Dr.Phil, to rock stars and actors to sports people like Beckham.
Business brands take on or communicate the values of their founders. This is especially true for start-ups and new businesses, professional services firms where the names of the founding partners make up the brand names. Although this is not the best way to brand your services business this is still the dominant reality for many.
So the brands are designed and communicated by people. People, especially in services industry is who we all buy from! So it makes sense that ‘these people’ have an optimal representation of who they are and what makes them special in the place where it matters most, the place where positive perceptions are formed – online!
Your online identity and representation is made of your online assets:
- Blog / Website
- YouTube Channel, etc
The most important of these in the SME (B2B & Professional Services) is LinkedIn, and we’ll cover this next.
For a Free and No Obligation Discussion about your specific needs contact us today.
From a Marketing Consultant’s Perspective…
Yesterday I read possibly the best and worst article about LinkedIn.
Here is the article that made me so happy and then half way through as frustrated as I ever get. So in today’s world where Content Marketing is king, and Inbound Marketing rules, what’s one to do but take to the keyboard and vent one’s disappointment? Well that’s only a part of it, as a marketing consultant and one that also provides LinkedIn training to clients, I know that I have to deliver some solutions to our valued clients, prospects and colleagues.
In summary, the first half of the article promotes all of the amazing benefits that can be gained by correctly using LinkedIn. However the reasons given by the author as to the prospective “decline” of the medium are more of an indication to the author’s own lack of strategy to deal with the so called “information overload”.
On the other hand, assuming that there is a slight possibility that the author’s predictions turn out to be correct and people begin to leave LinkedIn for greener social media pastures, this will actually mean that those that are left and are truly using this social medium correctly to their own advantage, will have an easier time of it!
Here are the 9 problems mentioned in the article and my recommendations on how to best overcome them, after all problems are just challenges that have not been solved satisfactorily!
Problem 1: The dinosaurs have arrived in droves
• Late adopters are joining
• They won’t last as they have no idea of what to do
How exactly does this pose a problem I am not sure!
• There are plenty of users who value LinkedIn and use it correctly
• Dinosaurs who use faxes and rely on their PA’s will as dinosaurs tend to do, die out. They are probably not the type of people YOU should be targeting or networking with anyway.
Problem 2: Information Overload
• Too much going on, profile changes, updates, group notifications, etc
• There are simple technical things you can do to control what you see on your Home page
• There is a way to control how often you get your Group Digest if at all!
• Most importantly you need a strategy as well as discipline that will provide focus of what you should pay attention to and what to ignore. It is no different to managing your email, which by the way most of us could improve tenfold!
Problem 3: Quality of information in many areas is poor and incorrect
• user generated content is LinkedIn’s best friend and enemy
• That can be said about Social Media in general
• Again becoming more astute about what to read and how to do your ‘due diligence’ on the validity of content is something that I have no doubt will be a growing area of education for marketers, journalists, students and consumers in general! Welcome to the new world!
Problem 4: Groups are poor
• Self-promotion, useless posts, and ‘quick hit’ requests are common, ie: “I’m selling this – want one?”
• the author even suggests turning off group notifications
• True, many groups can be poor, some are not with very strict posting guidelines that are policed
• Don’t join 50 groups as the author rightly observes some tend to do
• Take the online etiquette / law into your own hands and “flag” discussions as inappropriate and they will be removed!
• As the author suggested ‘one’ solution himself, I don’t know why this was raised as a problem in the first place. My feeling is that “negative controversial headlines like “LinkedIn is becoming LinkedOut” was an exercise in PR and why not! It was successful!
Problem 5: News Updates
• The news feed is clogged up with 95% of jargon, irrelevant rants, promotional messages, rehashed articles, and recruiters posting the same jobs day in day out!
• There’s a lack of original thought or opinion
• Again I see no problem but a massive opportunity for those that have something to say that is worthwhile and can deliver their opinion in an engaging way! By being original and adding value to your network it will be easier to stand out in the “sea of sameness”!
• Firstly there’s a technical solution to decreasing the type of information you deem to be of no value
• You can also remove the offenders – that is dis-connect from them! and if you want to stay connected but don’t want to see their updates on your home page, you can click Hide when you move your cursor over the update.
Problem 6: User profiles BEWARE!
• “There’s an ex-employee who has a warrant outstanding for his arrest and yet he has a glowing profile”.
• Recommendations are biased.
• Genuine people remain without a competitive advantage. The liars look just as good.
• Actually quiet to the contrary I have read somewhere, I’m sure that someone in the recruitment industry who is a true professional will find this, that people in general tend to NOT “fib” on their LinkedIn profile as they would on their resume! After all the chance of “getting found out is a lot higher on social media”. Just a few weeks ago I met someone who was silly enough to make themselves out to be so much more important than they were! When I examined their LinkedIn profile I realised that they straight out lied about their level of seniority at a major corporate entity!
• Additionally the ability to see who this person in question has a ‘connection in common’ with me, allowed me to get feedback about them that I would have otherwise never received as I wouldn’t have even known who we have in common in the first place!
• LinkedIn RECOMMENDATIONS CAN BE BIASED but you also have to know HOW to read between the lines. It is only human to give a recommendation back when the person asks, and other times you have to do it for political reasons. This is the process I follow:
1) I refuse to give recommendations to people who’s work I have not experienced or am not sure about.
2) If I really have to recommend them I will never recommend their technical skills but talk about attitude and make the recommendation very general – nice guy! Like I said read between the lines! Good recruiters do!
• Finally, “genuine people”, by which I hope the author means people who have the best skills, will always have a competitive advantage if they firstly know themselves well enough to know what makes them unique (Branding 101) and can then eloquently communicate their point of difference! “Genuine people” who are talented, hard working and positive will always have more Recommendations than those trying to cover up with “smoke and mirrors”. An incompetent idiot is unlikely to get 20+ people recommending them! Keep in mind that Recommendations are like Testimonials, no-one ever puts a bad one on their website, however we all know that Testimonials still work and it is better to have more than less, when it comes to building credibility!
Problem 7: People shared in common aren’t so common and I am losing faith
• People don’t help random people just because you’re a LinkedIn connection.
• Yes they do!!! And if you want to know why, please connect to me! I know, blatant self promotion, but as all good content marketers know I needed an “in text call to action”!
• Ok, although I was serious, when I said connect to me, I will give away some more free advice! make sure that when you connect to someone you can actually become memorable by adding value to them right there and then! I have done it 3 times this week. Yes it can be labour intensive, but ask yourself why you are here on LinkedIn – to connect or network and networking is all about building relationships.
• Here’s a major clue about what I mean; make sure you ask for and accept introductions in a way that will add value and leave a positive perception with your new connection!
Problem 8: Diminishing value of connections
• It’s simply too easy to connect and this damages the value for everyone.
• LinkedIn should cap the number of connections and charge to connect. All of a sudden, users would think twice before connecting.
• I just don’t see it…maybe the author can explain to me, I will invite him to comment on this! 🙂
Problem 9: Recruiters will lose their competitive edge as more sign up for LinkedIn Recruiter
• Being on LinkedIn was more of an advantage a few years ago than now!
• We should all know that technology in today’s day and age is unlikely to provide you with a sustainable competitive advantage. Relationships with customers and prospects will!
• Technology will not make you a better listener or problem solver.
• Technology will not assist you in communicating with prospects so as to change what they think and feel about you and your organisation! That’s up to you and your marketing consultant, unfortunately if you can not afford one, one will not be appointed to you, although I am sure that most marketing consultants would love this idea in our common battle to eradicate bad business communication!
• There are so many problems (let’s be positive, I should say opportunities) most recruiters face when it comes to developing their brand and marketing in general, let alone using LinkedIn in a way that is optimal, I don’t even know where to start, but here is a link to a very detailed blog I wrote on the topic.
For a Free and No Obligation Discussion about your specific needs contact us today.
What are you going to do differently in 2013?
Checklist for New Year
The Mayans were wrong, we are all still here, your clients and prospects still need you, but
they are increasingly harder to communicate with; grabbing attention is more difficult and
keeping it is even harder.
Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is not only the definition of insanity but
it also means that today you will NOT get the same result, but one that is substantially worse
– you will be going backwards.
For your convenience we have prepared a summary of Hubspot’s 27-page Marketing Trends and Predictions for 2013 and one we have turned into a simple Marketing Action Plan Checklist.
1. Inbound Marketing (Get Found*, Convert, Analyse) will become more important and both
small and large enterprises are dedicating more of their budget to online / digital and away
from Outbound / Traditional Marketing.
*Get Found = Social Media+SEO+Blogs+PPC
- Do you have a costed Marketing Strategy Plan for the year?
- Have you established your KPI’s, e.g.: Cost Per Lead, Cost Per Sale
- Are you being found by enough new prospects?
- Are you getting enough referrals?
- Do you have a Referral Strategy?
2. Marketing Communication is moving away from Campaigns to Real Time Communication thanks to Social Media and immediacy of client expectations. Prospects are increasingly contacting / finding (Inbound Marketing) prospective suppliers / sellers and they want answers NOW! Technology will keep driving these changes with new widgets, gadgets, readers and scanners, RFID tags, and of course apps! Gamification will also grow as a marketing tool beyond product placement to improve the delivery of content in a more enjoyable way.
- Do you have all of your Social Media profiles set up correctly; do they reflect your
company and personal brand?
- Do you know which Social Media channels to focus on?
- Are you interacting with prospects and customers via Social Media?
- Do you have a Content Marketing Plan so that you can be “active and successful” on Social Media?
- Have you personally or your company carved out a niche that you are known for?
- See how we deliver Content Marketing for our clients
3. CRM and Unified View of the customer will become more and more important, and some
of the new systems are now integrating Social Media information for their client records.
- If you are thinking about these issues please give us a call. Choosing the CRM system
(or getting the most out of your existing one) is a minefield and we have access to a number
of world-class experts at qubePartners as well as our own team that can assist you.
4. Mobile Optimisation of Websites will keep growing and become a must have channel for
- Pretty easy to do depending on what your current website has been built in. Give us a
call and we can provide answers very quickly.
5. Social Media, Content Marketing and Off Page SEO will keep overlapping and merging
and On-Page SEO “tricks of the trade” will play a less important role. Social Search and User
Generated Content with Facebook’s and Google’s focus in this area will undoubtedly
make a big impact!
- Start treating these practices not as separate channels, but as one part of holistic
- Have a Content Marketing Plan for each of the channels and work out how they
should be integrated amongst each other and your website.
- Check out our website dedicated to LinkedIn Training and Consulting
6. Smart or Dynamic Content (ala Amazon Recommended for You) will enable you and your
competitors to serve up highly personalised messages to the right audience at the right time.
- Can you easily segment your database and get insights into the behavior of your
- Can your CRM, ERP, Email Marketing technology / software act on the insights?
7. Story telling will become even more important as companies scramble to be seen more
human (than their competitors) and develop a trustworthy, approachable and caring brand
- Do you have a powerful, unique brand with an interesting story to tell clients and
- Are all your staff singing from the same hymnbook?
- Download our Brand Design Questionnaire from our Free Marketing Resources
Section (it’s the 4th document down the page) – knowing and acting on the answers in
this document should be the cornerstone of your marketing communications.
“The advent of social media has meant that the world of separate internal and external
messaging has disappeared. If a customer talks to your Customer Service department, they
expect the same response they’d get if they talk to marketing, or sales, or engineering.
Creating a unified external face is critical. If you want to build long-term relationships,
you’ve got to have a consistent, human voice – coming from all levels of your organization.” –
NICK JOHNSON founder useful Social Media
8. Email will not die but become more personalised, relevant and targeted based on real time
- Are you communicating regularly with your database and is the marketing
communication tailored to different segments?
- Are they engaging with your content and offers?
9. Content will remain King and more marketing teams and departments; small and large
businesses will invest into more quality content and attempt to make it go viral or at least
improve the chances of it being passed onto to a secondary audience. With falling production
prices and better and simpler technologies, we see Online Video as the ‘biggest and most
effective mover and shaker’ in Content Marketing. Most small businesses do not have a great
website, let alone reasonable video content, so this area will keep booming.
- Do you have great content?
- Is it promoted sufficiently? No point creating more content if not enough people are
engaging with what you have!
- Check out our great Fixed Fee Marketing with Online Video Marketing Packages
10. “Sites like Pinterest and Instagram prove that visual content is really worth 1,000 words
(or in instagram’s case, $1 billion). Infographics, photos, picture boards, video, and other forms of rich-media will increase over the coming years as humans look to digest more information faster than ever before.” – Hubspot Marketing Trends and Predictions for 2013, p.23.
- Does your brand have a well developed visual palette?
- Do you have a suitable image library? Make sure this is part of your Content
Wishing you a healthy and productive 2013. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need any assistance in improving your marketing results.
95% of the professionals on Linkedin are not realizing anywhere near it’s potential. Potential that allows you to:
- Promote your personal brand
- Be a Proactive Networker
- Check References and Backgrounds
- Look for a Job, Seek and Hire Candidates and be better prepared for interviews
- Generate Leads and Accelerate Sales
- Ask for Advice from your own network as well as “Crowdsource”
- Find Experts and Partners
- Improve your Personal Productivity with all of the different LinkedIn tools, Widgets, and Apps.
- Research trends and industries, gather opinions by running polls as well as track company news.
- Finally and most importantly, LinkedIn can provide you with the perfect and simple platform for a Referral System, which we all know, is critical to success in business.
You can read more here about WHY LinkedIn is the Greatest Personal Branding, Publicity and Sales Tool for B2B Markets here.
If you want to be a ‘power user’ and maximize your time investment into the most useful B2B Social Medium, then you’ll need to get the basics right:
1. Develop a unique profile; if your profile reads like everyone else’s then it will be much harder to stand out! Be creative, controversial, funny, but most importantly be yourself. Make sure that your profile is still considered ‘professional’ by your intended target audience; prospective employers, recruiters, prospective clients. What works in the advertising industry maybe simply too much for the banking industry.
2. Make sure you complete your profile; it’s likely to be your most public face to the world. People spend so much effort on their resume that they use intermittently yet their LinkedIn profile contains barely any information. If anything, your LinkedIn Profile should be more detailed than your resume. Today it’s absolutely fine to be an accountant by day and a fashion blogger by night. Your LinkedIn profile can easily and professionally reflect your many pursuits and passions.
3. Optimise your profile. From the way you personalize your Public Profile and Website links to optimizing your keywords to make sure you appear in searches that matter when prospects look for professionals that have your skills.
4. Develop a Company Profile and make sure your entire team connect to it. Due to the simple and free nature of LinkedIn with all of its benefits we now recommend that start ups, from consultants to trade professionals, develop a great personal and company profile, especially until such time that they can afford a website that is professional. The result is a very basic but powerful online presence, while the website is being developed.
5. Connect with clients, suppliers and prospects. Make sure you personalize the invitation and provide a reason to connect when you invite people you know or just met. Make sure you have a policy on who you connect with, your network is a reflection on you.
6. Use the LinkedIn Productivity tools: Web Browser Toolbar, Outlook Widget, Events, Polls, etc.
7. Ask for Recommendations, they are your testimonials and are vital in developing trust and credibility.
8. Participate in Groups, make sure to listen first, and add value rather than sell! Social Media is about communication and education not promotion! Success comes from helping people achieve their goals.
9. Answer questions in Answers section.
10. Build relationships, try to meet people over a coffee, pick up the phone if you are in the same geographical location.
11. Social Media is about developing unique content and then promoting it. Make sure you do both. There are multiple ways to promote your content on LinkedIn, which is why it is an amazing online PR tool!
12. Get in front of the people you need to get in front of, through correctly using the search function and then leveraging your existing relationships to make the appointment by asking for Introductions or asking the connector to forward your message to the intended recipient.
13. Test LinkedIn Mail as well as LinkedIn Advertising.
If you don’t use it, you lose it! Start with 10 minutes a day, track your progress and get LinkedIn or become Locked Out!
If you need assistance with your LinkedIn Profile, or are looking for LinkedIn Training or LinkedIn Coaching then check out http://www.influenceyournetwork.com/linkedin-training