I specifically wrote LinkedIn Marketing in my headline; not sales, not advertising but marketing. LinkedIn is a networking and social selling platform. We start conversations there to begin the longer road (sales funnel) to finalizing the B-2-B sales process. This is especially true for high ticket items or services with a longer funnel.
This is an abbreviated guide and a roadmap to your success. It’s logical and sequential. It’s been tested and found sound.
It is based on organic (natural) search results rather than paid advertising. I feel this is the long term road to success. So let me warn you that it does take an investment as well as a time commitment.
But the result are well worth it in the end if you keep your nose to the grindstone and focus and your goals.
The History and Groundwork (can Skip)
I must make a confession. I divorced myself from LinkedIn the first time around. I was not looking for a new job. Instead I was at the tail end of my sales and marketing career working for a large corporation. I was preparing to retire.
The LinkedIn divorce turned into a reconciliation after I launched my post retirement consulting business. I saw the emerging marketing potential that had sprung up on LinkedIn and how similar LinkedIn’s search engine was to Google. After all, LinkedIn is in essence the world’s largest data base and search engine for business people.
Believe me when I say I was ready to give up my first voyage on the Internet. Then miraculously the phone started ringing and the sales register started singing.
When I glanced at the data my eyes bulged out of my head. My strategy and tactics were indeed succeeding. Reading and implementing the bible (how to guidelines) had actually worked!
It took about two and a half years to figure out most of the details and about one more year to go back and fix the mistakes. But the formula worked.
Mirroring the Google success formula works on LinkedIn. But LinkedIn’s search engine is a lot less complex, making results easier to accomplish.
Why Smaller B2B Businesses Should Do It?
The strategy below works for smaller B2B companies that do not compete with the whales (I label us the plankton!) on the Internet. The tactics allow you to fly under the radar until you suddenly surface near the top on Google search results. It may appear to be a miracle instant success from out of nowhere, but it is actually a well conceived plan combined with proper implementation.
So here’s the bible and its 13 steps.
The Important Steps
You must do these in order. Some may already exist, but I assume nothing.
1. Who is your target market? What do they need that you can supply? How is your offer better than your competition’s (competitive advantage).
- Do you supply a service, a product or parts and pieces?
- Do you have a buyer persona (profile)?
- Can you define your target market by profession or job title? By industry or segment? (Need for advanced search on LinkedIn.)
- Are your competitors local, national or international?
- What story do you tell about your company’s strengths and benefits? Can you prove your statements?
2. Have you done your keyword research?
Make a list of what you want to get found for on LinkedIn or on Google if someone searches for your product or service. These are not individual words (i.e. insurance) which are meant for whales, but phrases. The longer the phrase, the more narrow the market or your niche – which is a good thing! Understanding what are the right keyword phrases are very important to your ultimate success.
- Rank them in order of importance. Include variations.
- Are they industry jargon? Do prospects and clients use other words to describe them?
- You MUST verify they are the correct keyword phrases. Actually Google them.
- What are the results? Check the images and videos as well!
- You might be surprised by the results! (I have several client ‘horror’ stories in that regard which I cannot put into print but will disclose.)
3. Understand how search works and results determined.
Search results work similarly on Google as on LinkedIn. Results are first based on a “match” to the words you enter into a search box. (Note: The order in which you type them also matters.) You can readily see this by noticing the search terms are bolded in the results.
They may be separated and out of order unless you do an exact match using Boolean parameters. Putting the phrase into quotation marks “” tells either LinkedIn or Google to bring back results only matching in this exact order. The search engine complies until it runs out of results for the order.
The second and most important criteria in determining search results is activity (on both LinkedIn and Google). Backlinks on Google also matter in determining your results or what we call ‘rankings’. LinkedIn tells us what activity is important by sleuthing. But you can determine your grade by investigating you own personal Social Selling Index scores.
Keyword phrases on your profile or your Website are really worthless without activity. Don’t let alleged SEOs tell you differently.
Please remember activity can come from driving visitors to your Website using a social media platform such as LinkedIn, especially for B-2-B companies. (One of my tactics below.)
4. Who are your competitors and what are they are doing (and not doing) on the Internet?
- What do you like or dislike about their efforts? Their Website?
- What can you do better?
- What are they missing? What have they overlooked?
I heard an interesting commercial on the radio recently. It touted a local remodeler’s self proclaimed differentiators in a specific target market – kitchen expansions. The commercial was rather convincing since they provided a dual service, design expertise combined with structural expertise. Together, the message was aimed at a niche market – those both expanding and redoing their kitchens. I was not in the market for the service but I did, as a matter of habit, visit their Website later that day. Although the ad was effective in my mind, there was no mention of the dual expertise on the Website nor the specific niche market. What a waste of clever advertising!
I have uncovered specific niches by taking this approach for several clients which has successfully opened target markets for them.
5. Do your selling on your Website, not on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a social selling platform meant to enable you to start a conversation just as if you were in a face-to-face networking or other type business event such as a chamber luncheon, trade show, etc. On the other hand, your Website is where you can convert a visitor to a prospect (remember we’re talking B-2-B and not a retail shopping cart).
So before I start any client on a LinkedIn campaign, I want to visit their Website and determine its friendliness to visitors and search engines. It’s what I call “Website Forensics”.
- Is it current in design and upkeep?
- Are there calls to action?
- Is there a contact page? That works? (Test it!) Did someone gets inquiries? Is there a back up data base? (Again, I will only disclose some of the horror stories of lost potential sales when asked!)
- Is basic analytics installed? I am not talking about those that almost every host provides… but at least Google analytics. Are filters (more in person) in place to get more accurate data? Are goals in place?
- Are there regular backups? Security protection against hackers, malware, etc.
- Are their 404 error codes where a link takes me to a page no longer on or off-site?
Or, does it need a revamp and relaunch?
6. Once you have your keyword phrases and a nice looking and workable Website, you must polish up your brand on company wide LinkedIn personal profiles. Your entire team should be engaged in this effort, not just sales and marketing.
Successful marketing on LinkedIn starts with your personal profile and the profiles of other company personnel. Employee profiles must convey a consistent, company wide branding message to all visitors.
Use the same background image, similar “Experience” sections for your company, identical uploaded documents and videos. Add company email addresses as well as links to your company consistently throughout.
The keyword phrases must be sprinkled in the correct, critical places visited by the LinkedIn search bot. Maximize the character limitations within those critical areas to maximize your keyword concentration.
Sections of employee profiles such as the “Summary” should reflect personal strengths and advantages rather than a typical resume or CV. They should be written in first person, not as a narrative.
The goal is to start a conversation or to send visitors to your Website (above) or Company page (below) for additional information. If the profiles or the Company page are minimal or void, a visitor won’t bother going further. If interesting, they just might.
7. Continuously expand your connections.
It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who Your Connections Know That Count Most!
LinkedIn is the world’s largest data base of business people. And the search function is one of the greatest free tools (although limited in the basic membership) you have on LinkedIn. It was designed so recruiters can seek out candidates. You can use the same tool for cultivating business.
Search is a two-way street on LinkedIn. Search enables you to get found when people search for your keyword phrases and vice versa, you can search for your target market (see #13 below) based on titles, locations, industries, relationships, etc.
So the more connections you have, the higher the possibility of either coming up in a search done by a 2nd or 3rd level connection and the greater number of targets you have available when you search.
Set some parameters for connecting. I will connect with competitors. I will not connect with anyone who includes a sales pitch in his/her request, who has a minimal profile that tells me relatively nothing about them, who has many connections (500+) with a limited profile, etc. I immediately disconnect with anyone who throws a sales pitch immediately upon connecting. But establish your own guidelines.
8. Have your key LinkedIn employees join groups where your target market spends time. Do this by industry, by segment, by job title, etc. Everyone can join up to 100 groups, not that you can handle that many!
Add to the conversation by posting articles (see #10 below) that can drive visitors to your Website or supply valuable information. Comment on discussions your prospects started or are commenting on.
9. Establish (or review and edit) your LinkedIn Company page (see #6 above). Your page must convey a consistent brand and message. Use the same images as the background images used on personal profiles. The goal here is to send visitors to your Website for additional information.
Keyword phrases should be made part of your specialties.
Request that LinkedIn purge people posing as, but are not, current or past employees. They could reflect a poor image on your company.
10. Develop a content marketing program aimed at your target market. Incorporate your keyword phrases with validation and support on your Website’s static (main) pages.
This is best down with a page dedicated to news and information – commonly called a blog.
11. Gain employee visibility on LinkedIn by sharing the content marketing information you generate as well as information from other resources.
(Details based on your strategy and target market.)
12. Repeat the process based on your successes. It’s in the numbers so analyze the data and look for home runs so you can expand the process.
Add more keyword phrases based on the results. Repeat steps above as needed.
13. Be brave enough to try alternatives.
One of these alternatives is to be more aggressive and use Boolean search parameters to reach out to your target market and contact them directly.
But before you do, make sure you have established your plan of action, including strategy and tactics.
- How will you engage them?
- What will you say or write?
- What is your follow up?
This is a list of parameters which can be used on LinkedIn. Learn how to use them effectively.
- Exact Phrase – Enclose in Quotes – i.e. “Michael Yublosky”
- Exclude a Particular Term – add NOT (in caps) – i.e. sales NOT manager
- Include one or more terms – add OR (in caps) – i.e. sales OR marketing
- Two or more terms option to use AND
- For complex searches, add parenthesis ( )
- Wildcards (*) are not allowed on LinkedIn
We can help you implement all or parts of this process, by either coaching and training you or your staff. We can even do the work for you! Contact me at 847.634.6535 to chat. The first call is always free. We must determine if there’s synergy at the onset.
Last updated: March 28, 2018