Tag Archives: business

Ten Linkedin business marketing mistakes to avoid

Many millions of people using Linkedin are missing out on the fantastic brand building opportunities new Linkedin presents. I say new because after several years of under-investment, Linkedin has gone functionality crazy of late.

Give your Linkedin profile a spring clean today, avoid these ten all-to-common mistakes and start to take the most of the platform as an unbeatable research and business development tool as well as an incredible brand builder.

1. Poor or non existent profile pictures. Who wants to see a faceless profile or worse a company or brand logo. Not me. As with all social media, add a profile picture.

2. Lack of clarity in titles and descriptions. Use keywords that best represent who you are and what stand for do.  That little box that tells you how many times you’ve been looked at – its down to keywords.

3. Lack of focus on achievements and what you add. Too many people fixate on titles when they should be focusing on your impact on sales, brand launches, new initiatives, or improvements in quality, process, training or operations if you are not in a commercial role.

4. Failure to use all available opportunities to promote via the profile page. There are some great links and embed opportunities. Use them. Add your website, a blog, a Twitter account, a Slideshare account.

5. Not having a thought out contact strategy or approach. Are you connected to all the people you’ve ever worked with rather than the people you want to sell to? Time to rethink who you want to be connected to by researching people using the search function, identifying key companies and seeking opportunities to informally approach them through Groups (see below). And don’t let Linkedin send a default invitation request. Tailor it giving a reason to connect – reference to a group, common contact or other common ground.

6. Not enough or over use of the status updates feature. Linkedin status updates containing tweets is one of the most frustrating parts of logging into new Linkedin. If you’re not careful a handful of people will take over your feed – luckily they can be hidden without dis-connecting. On the other side, don’t be a Linkedin bore. Update once / twice a day with something useful.

7. Not enough or over use of testimonials. These should matter. The best testimonials come from former managers, clients or customers. Asking your peers, team or suppliers to provide references just seems lame. Go for quality over quantity on this one. .

8. Being a lurker not a contributor in Groups. I estimate 1% of a Linkedin group’s membership actively engage in discussions within the group. What a missed opportunity. Getting involved in groups of like minded people is the cornerstone of the Linkedin experience. There is a group for almost everything on Linkedin. Search and sign up for one to try it out. There will be discussions taking place that you can add value to today!

9. Not building reputation through Answers. Like groups, this is a great feature to really build your profile as an expert in your field but as it is hidden away in the ‘More’ tab it is overlooked. Browse the categories and begin to provide feedback and recommendations to questions posed by other Linkedin members, worldwide.

10. Not fully populating your Company Page. This feature has developed in recent months with opportunities to add specific products and services linked to targeted landing pages and your Linkedin member colleagues.

Q: What other mistakes do you see made on Linkedin and how can they be avoided?

Why decisive leadership matters

Following my new year theme of efficiency it was interesting to see that new Premier League football club QPR dismissed their manager Neil Warnock yesterday, as they sit in 17th place in the league. (The fact that 17th will keep them in the league for another season is perhaps incidental).

In comments to Sky Sports, QPR’s Malaysian owner and chairman Tony Fernandes said: “This decision has been made in the best interests of the club and I can assure everyone that this is not a decision that was made lightly. Sadly, our recent run of poor form has seen us slip alarmingly down the table and the board felt it was the right time to make a change.”

Sometimes, football club owners are accused of focusing on the short term. But one thing is true. They are focused on the business of results and the commercial success that results bring.

In making a bold decision at a critical time of the season and early in the new year, Fernandes has signalled intent to a number of groups. His incoming manager, in all likelihood Mark Hughes, the playing staff, club employees, fans and football community at large will all know he is a guy that means business and commands respect whether they agree or not.

So whether it is resource, budget, product portfolio, premises, export, diversification or other type of problem you held over into 2012, can you take a leaf out of Tony Fernandes’ book and make the bold changes that need to be made in your business?

For more on the QPR story and how Fernandes is engaging fans on Twitter about his decision, read this story.

How to ensure more productive meetings in 2012

Lots of companies and marketing and sales teams are busy pulling together their master plans for the coming year. Often this means lots of onsite and offsite meetings. Meetings get a bad rap in business because people use them to avoid work, avoid decisions and to look busy.

In the spirit of starting the new year with a bang and doing things differently (better even) in your workplace, try giving some thought to the meetings you host and participate in.

As a host:

1. What decisions can be made without the need for a meeting? Email, file sharing, web and video conference can all be used to bring ideas to life with micro teams managing different project elements.

2. How can you manage expectation, secure the best input and minimise conflict – all in the shortest time? By being prepared. Expansive agendas and pre-reading usually assist this, but how many meeting hosts actually take the time to do this thoughtfully with the end goal in mind?

3. How critical is it that all the people involved need to be there in the room? Consider who makes decisions, who influences them and who is a ‘nice to have’. (Every person in one of your meetings for one hour is costing you two hours of productivity).

4. What tactics can you employ to keep the meeting short and on point? Think about employing pre-reading and preparation, detailed agendas, firm timekeeping, different venues, removal of chairs, tables, laptops and screens, removal of snacks, drinks, burst brainstorms and action focused takeaways.

5. What is needed after the meeting to ensure that decisions made are actioned? As the host you need to decide, and if necessary obtain buy-in from meeting participants to support you. At the very least, they should be kept up-to-date as a courtesy.

As a participant:

6. Can you be bold in fielding meeting requests and demand more from the host? Reduce the amount of time lost to meetings by being a little stricter with your time, for example by stringently focusing on the positive/negative impact on project delivery?

7. Can you add value? Establish quickly if it is a meeting you can add value to. There is no point attending to ‘hear it first hand’. That’s dead time.

8. Do you understand what is expected of you? If not, ask. If the host can’t tell you, politely decline. If you don’t have time to prepare, politely decline.

9. What is your involvement after the meeting? If you don’t get a definitive picture on this before you commit, the chances are you’ll have a whole load of work to do afterwards.

10. What’s in it for you long term? What are you going to get out of being involved?

Summary:

Sure, face-to-face contact is critical but in 2012, more than any other recent year, time is money. How are you going to ensure you keep projects moving forward, keep teams engaged and keep clients and customers happy without spending too  much time in unproductive meetings? Share your ideas below.

More compelling reasons to use Twitter

Here’s a great little infographic for the stats fans amongst you. It chronicles some of the headline numbers in respect to Twitter use.

It is truly fascinating to see just how many users and tweets are involved now, especially as the platform has been live for barely five years. And, from a business perspective, more companies and more brands are using Twitter to develop their profile, amplify their reach, deliver their campaigns and deepen the ties with their target customers.

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Avoiding Linkedin group fatigue

Once the first destination for job seekers, Linkedin has fast developed its abilIty to cater for the needs of the modern business professional. In part a response to the phenomenal viral uptake of Facebook, the Linkedin boffins factored in a range of specific functionality to draw professionals into spending more time on the site.

More recently this has included blog plug-ins, news digests (Linkedin Today) and Status Updates, but it is the older ones that work the best.

Recent research suggests that over half of registered users now frequent one of the many thousand groups. Most lurk, watching and listening whilst a small, vocal minority set the agenda and contribute to the discussion. As you might expect, there is a group covering everything – as my current list below shows.

But there is creep. As groups are increasingly seen as the gateway to influence, more are springing up. People are starting more groups, which means more digests, more alerts, more email. Unless you opt out, you’re signing yourself up to the daily or weekly digest of activity – and if you join a discussion, you risk receiving an email every time a single subsequent response is posted thereafter.

If like me, you are a member of a large number of geographical, sector, job specific and special interest groups, your inbox can pretty quickly start to look like this. Information brings knowledge, but everyday, this can become overpowering.

When it comes to Linkedin matters, most users forget the settings they activated when they joined. For groups. it is as simple as switching the activation of daily to weekly email alerts to avoid the level of email above every day if you don’t want it.

Or not being in so many groups!

How often do you check the relevance of the groups you are a member of? Chances are you rely on only a handful.

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Do you always get out what you put in?

Is the reward always worth the effort?

There is a saying in business (and in life) that you get out what you put in. But is this really true? As the economy lurches from recession to depression and back again, businesses are working harder and harder not to achieve growth but to stand still. And marketers are having to stretch reduced budgets to achieve the same outcomes.

Techniques like Internet based content marketing assume that the creation and distribution of useful, usable information to specific audiences will over time develop their trust, reliance and eventually spend with you are in vogue.

But there are huge barriers to entry for businesses. How can you work around them?

First off, listen. Understand what is happening online, monitor the discussions, obtain insight and establish who the big voices are before doing anything.

Second, you need a fully functioning website capable of providing information quickly and channelling visitors to the lead capture devices that have built in.

Third, develop optimised material that they will be interested in and will click to obtain – accepting that by offering an email address and a phone number, they are opting in to future dialogue with your business.

Finally, promote this material widely on the Internet in order to capture the attendance of your audience where they graze. This means considering an investment in paid and earned media on media sites, industry portals, discussion forums and social networking sites to stimulate interest.

There is a clear in-cost involved in this. But there is also the ‘time’ cost which is often not calculated by businesses that are not time/service oriented.

Positioning yourself as an expert in order to drive inbound lead generation isn’t easy, quick or cheap. But by implementing a measured approach over the long term (and avoiding the distracting overtures of certain social media tools and games), you will build trust in your products and services regardless of budget or resource.

Image: Howstuffworks

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Why content marketing starts with your ‘sign up button’

Whilst much of the talk about content marketing strategy focuses on the creation, packaging and presentation of information that might encourage your target customer to interact and transact with you, the reality doesn’t need to be so complicated.

Committing to the setting up and writing of a blog, developing thought provoking white papers, producing video, webinars or hosting slides and documents is a serious undertaking and not for every business.

But what is within the reach of all businesses are a number of little fixes that can be made throughout your website, your email marketing and advertising to give your marketing the best chance of conversion.

A focus on headings, action buttons and supporting copy can make a significant impact on click-through, lead generation and conversion.

Changing an action button from ‘Register’ which may be an obstacle in the mind of prospective customer to ‘Start now’ alters the perception from being a task to becoming a desirable, benefit enabled action. In this example from a natural wellbeing site, Start Now is softer and less prescriptive.

Hubspot is a masterful example in the art of content marketing. Everything they do is aimed at developing deeper relationship, evolving to product trial. Free Demo buttons stand out on every page throughout the site, which uses its multiple daily blog posts and free webinars, white papers and ebooks to drive traffic.

Joe Browns clothing and accessories, below, help the browsing process by colouring their search button and using the words ‘make it easy – search sale by size’ to help customers get straight to what they want. Simple. Effective.

Expedia simplify site browsing, whilst personalising it, with the use of the copy ‘Find your deal’. Great copy which implies you’ll be able to locate a holiday that’s relevant for you at a price you’ll be happy with. Pretty powerful stuff when you analyse it.

Even the banks are getting creative with their action buttons as this example from First Direct illustrates. From  the core ‘Apply Today’ button to the standout buttons to the right offering online security, partner offers and free software, they are making the most of their real estate and trying to drive traffic to key transactional areas of the site.

What can you be doing better to help your visitors and customers along?

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