What would happen if you increased the efficiency of your online advertising by focusing your messages on your ideal prospects? You’d increase the clarity of your messages, and the value you’d get from them would grow 5-10 times.
What brought me to this realization was a recent conversation I had with a small business owner. My conclusion? Social media is the better, faster way to promote your small business. And for two reasons.
First, you can easily start conversations with your ideal customers. And second, you can engage them in a two-way conversation that builds value resulting in more leads and sales.
As one CEO recently told me:
“I can find exactly who I’m looking for on Linkedin.”
Frankly, I’d have to agree with them because social media is how I promote my own services. And I get great results too. Further, with so much email marketing at risk of going into the spam box, sending messages through social media like Linkedin only makes sense.
But lets not be naive.
Social media may provide advantages for marketers, but the B2B buyer’s journey is still a long one. Especially if your products are expensive, innovative or complex. Inevitably, most of your sales will come from staying in touch with the right prospects over time.
So what’s the best way to maintain contact? My approach is to continually build value. And I recommend using the 80/20 technique of marketing too. This is where 80% of your messages are relationship-building, while only 20% are promotional. Here’s an example campaign:
9 ways to build relationships and generate leads on Linkedin
The common marketing wisdom is that it takes seven touches to generate a lead. While it may take more, or possibly even less, either way you’ll need to send more than just one message. Here are nine types of messages you can send to maintain top-of-mind awareness with your prospects.
- The Connection
- The Free Gift
- The Request
- The Challenge
- The Article
- The Update
- The Content
- The Promotion
- The Conversation
1. The Connection
Let’s face it, the main reason for joining Linkedin is to grow your business network. And you do this by connecting with like-minded professionals. So why wouldn’t your ideal prospects want to connect with you?
If your Linkedin profile is aligned with theirs, odds are they will. In fact, my own connection rate is consistently over 70%. And here’s how I optimize my profile:
If you connect with enough prospects, you may be surprised at how quickly you’ll generate leads. For example, here’s a response I recently received:
“Your timing couldn’t be more on point since we’re looking at possibly working with a copywriter and some content writers for future campaigns/projects.”
2. The Free Gift
When someone connects with me, I typically send them a free gift too. This is usually a membership to one of my Linkedin brainstorming groups. These are for people who aren’t sure if their marketing is headed in the right direction, and want a sounding board for considering their options.
Further, when you join my group Linkedin automatically notifies you by email whenever I post a new brainstorming challenge. So you can easily find a discussion you’ll personally benefit from just by checking your email. And since each of my groups is industry specific, your challenges are likely to be the same as other group members.
While not everyone joins, some do. And while my own marketing team generates new connections and group members for me weekly, I prefer to limit my groups to 1,000 members. After all, who needs more than a thousand B2B customers? And exclusivity creates value too.
3. The Request
Once I’ve been connected to a person for a while, I ask them about their challenges. Of course, not everyone sends me information. But some do. Some even appreciate the chance to unload their frustrations. Meanwhile, I get valuable insights on their needs and new ideas for content.
4. The Challenge
The feedback I get on business challenges is posted in my brainstorming group. And thanks to Linkedin, I’m able to send each challenge as an announcement to the entire group at once.
While it takes a while for members to start participating in the conversation, things usually pick up as more members join. Basically, as long as you keep adding new members and challenges, people will eventually start engaging in the conversation.
5. The Article
The feedback I get from my connections is like hidden gold for developing new content. After all, people are telling me about their pains and the relief they need. Once I’ve written an article, I post it to my group as well as on my Linkedin profile.
Since people will check my profile before they connect, featured articles can create interest and attract more connections. And you’d be surprised at the response you can get from one good article. For example, on this one I got over 650 clicks.
6. The Update
Now’s a good time to tell your connections how your group is doing. And if you’re wondering why I’m so adamant about developing a group, it’s because the cost of continually sending out messages starts to add up. On the other hand, group announcements can be sent to your entire group at once.
7. The Content
If you’ve collected some good feedback, you have the raw material needed to create a juicy piece of content. For example, a piece of content I offer is my Copywriter Information Package. The inspiration for this came from having Marketing Directors constantly tell me how hard it is to find a good copywriter.
Not only does it serve as a guide for helping them pre-qualify freelancer copywriters, it promotes my services too. This saves them time because it pre-answers most of their questions. Of course, I only know what their questions are because I did the research.
8. The Promotion
If you’ve built value instead of just promoting your product, like I’ve suggested, then you’ve now earned the right to send out a promotion. Let’s review your relationship-building activities so far:
- Aligned your profile to build rapport
- Offered a free gift
- Shown interest in their needs, challenges and interests
- Created stimulating conversations on their industry challenges
- Created and sent them thought provoking content
- Kept them updated on what’s happening in your group
Yes, now is the perfect time to promote your product. For example, you could send a Case Study or a White Paper. Or you could offer a Free Trial or Free Consultation. And because you’ve built value first, they’re far more likely to seriously consider your offer.
9. The Conversation
If you’re sending out 100-150 daily connection requests, your group membership is growing daily and should be humming soon. To further stimulate conversations in my groups, I provide a free brainstorming guide too.
But as your group grows, you may not have the time to keep managing it. So at some stage you may want to appoint a Group Moderator to keep your conversations active.
Next Steps: Repeat
While there’s no limit to how big you can grow your group, you may want to keep sending individualized messages to each connection. I typically start segmenting my connections into those that provide feedback and show interest. Because I want to be sure I send my next message to them first.
As long as you’re continually building value, why would anyone disconnect from you? And if your target market is carefully chosen, any one of them could need your product at any time. So go back to step two and start all over again. Or come up with even better messaging ideas for building value.
Time to blaze a trail on Linkedin
Social media marketing is the fast track to connecting with your ideal customers. But B2B marketing is a long haul, so sending only one message to each prospect likely won’t get you too far.
Once you’re connected with a prospect, you’ll need to keep building value to stay top-of-mind. Because the bulk of your results will come from nurturing many prospects over time. But be warned. If you pitch your product too much, people will start ignoring your messages. So I recommend spending 80% of the time building value, and only 20% sending promotions.
Savvy B2B marketers are realizing that social media is the way to go. The nine steps in this article work great for me, and there’s no reason why they wouldn’t work for you too. And the best time to get started is now.