Have you ever wondered about how can you use LinkedIn for better lead generation and business development? In this post, I interview Susan Tatum, Partner at The Conversion Company. I met Susan through following her writing on her blog and her work in the LinkedIn community.
Brian: What inspired you to do your work with LinkedIn?
Susan: To fully answer that question, we have to go way back to my college days where – during a miserable year of studying pre-law – I discovered a passion for using communications to get people to do things. With guidance from my counselor, I switched to the Journalism school and began studying advertising and PR. Psychology and persuasion were a significant part of the curriculum.
Then came a couple of decades of marketing positions – mostly in the technology industry. During that time, we saw massive changes in how people communicate — fax machines, email, websites, blogs, mobile devices and, of course, social media. By then I had my own marketing company and at first, I spent a lot of time explaining to my clients – who were all B2B companies – why they didn’t need to run out and get a Facebook page. I had studied it and couldn’t see a way that Facebook could contribute to a complex B2B buying decision.
But it was obvious to me that another significant change was occurring both in how we get information and how we communicate with each other. So I kept my eye on it, and several years ago I saw LinkedIn begin to morph from a job site to a true business networking site. I knew this was big, but I didn’t know how to use it until around 2010 when I found a couple of people who were successfully using LinkedIn to generate leads, but they were focused on internet marketers and solo-preneurs. I contacted them, and together we modified the process to work in more complex selling situations. Since then my team and I have continued to refine and build on the process.
What are the some of the problems you see people repeating over and over again on LinkedIn?
I see sales and marketing people trying too hard to automate and template-ize their actions, focusing on quantity and not quality. They’re approaching LinkedIn like a email blast campaign, and this is not what the network is about. As a result, we’re seeing a tremendous amount of what’s spam in inboxes, groups and connection requests. This does not make your prospects want to know more about you.
That’s the most annoying and dangerous mistake I see right now, but I also see many disjointed programs that fail to incorporate all the pieces of LinkedIn. For example, company pages that don’t reflect the brand or are just another place to post social media updates – the same as you would on Facebook. From a marketing perspective, visitors to a company page tend to be further along in the buying process, and this is your opportunity to move them to your website. Another example is personal profiles that don’t even mention what the company or product is about. Yes, these profiles are owned by the individuals; but you can bet your prospects are looking at your subject matter experts and executives, and I’ve yet to run across one who wasn’t willing to help promote the brand with a little help.
What are tips and advice do you have for people want to use LinkedIn more effectively for business development/lead generation?
It may sound boring, but a little thinking and planning goes a long way. We start all of our engagements by talking about objectives, target audiences, and metrics. Why are you running a LinkedIn program? Who do you want to reach? What do you want them to do? All the usual questions. You also want to get a clear understanding of what’s meant by “lead generation”. Are you trying to drive traffic to a landing page or do you need to develop opportunities for a business development or sales call? Just like any other marketing program, the answers to these questions have a great effect on the actions you’ll want to take on LinkedIn.
If your goal is to drive a lot of traffic somewhere and they need only be marginally qualified (i.e. right title and industry), try sponsored updates and ads. If you’re more interested in engaging and developing the right people, and quality is more important than quantity, here’s my advice: Think of LinkedIn as a one-to-one channel. Stop sending mass InMails. Do not auto-post. Take advantage of the powerful LinkedIn database to identify individual prospects, learn what drives them and select the best ones before you reach out to them. Prepare your message specifically for them. Don’t expects buyers to self-qualify. That’s your job.
Do you have any tools or template readers can use for inspiration to get things going in the right direction?
Our blog, www.theconversioncompany.com/blog, contains a wealth of information about strategy and tactics. I recommend subscribing to it. Within the next couple of weeks, we’ll be publishing a LinkedIn Profile Guide that contains some very useful questionnaires and templates. We’ll announce the availability of that guide on our blog.