Do you use LinkedIn?
Sometimes LinkedIn is a total time suck, and sometimes it’s an amazing way to connect.
Other times, it’s where some other points of view and opinions congregate. Like this exchange:
Small Management Consulting Firms
Mike Allton • Hello! I work specifically with B2B Consultants to help them with their internet marketing and social media. I regularly write articles on blogging and social media and technology, and would like to post them here to help you, and hopefully spark some discussions. If you don’t think that would be helpful or appropriate, please let me know. Thanks!
Darren Vianueva • Social Media and marketing is something we have struggled with as a small consulting firm in healthcare. Most of our engagements are through the executive group (COO, CFO, CEO) which are not big subscribers to social media. How do you make the connection / media work?
Mike Allton • Hello Darren!
That’s a great question, and there are two main aspects of social media marketing to consider.
First, with Facebook hitting 1 billion users and Google+ approaching half a billion, there is virtually no one is not on some social network. The question is, which network are your target customers on, and when/how much are they there? LinkedIn is still widely used by C-levels.
Second, creating and sharing content to social media provides social signals for Social SEO. This improves your website and brand’s visibility in searches.
It’s possible that when it comes to social media, you may need to target influencers rather than the decision makers initially. If a CEO isn’t utilizing any social media, maybe one of his advisors is and you can make an impression there.
Have you been creating much in the way of content? If so, what have you been working on?
Darren Vianueva • No real content as far as social media is concerned. Mostly articles in healthcare mainstream publications. Our web page reads like a brochure mainly due to the fact the only time we have hits fall into the following categories:
1. Job seekers
2. In the midst of a contract negotiation and the customer is doing their due diligence
3. A much smaller subset that review 2-3 pages with no follow up or contact ( could be job seekers discovering we are not a match for their qualification and or google searches that are picking up on key words.
I think the biggest challenge is we are a boutique / niche firm with a high level of specialization. We are knowledge based consulting that provide a unique services to clients that are never the same. Each solution is customized to dove tail into their existing operations. Our primary sales generation comes in two forms, one – existing relationships, two- referrals from past clients to new potential clients. We do not advertise as we have never found any evidence to support small consulting firms and advertising ( e.g. ads in mainstream publications that lead to engagements)
I am open to any and all criticism as well as suggestions.
Mike Allton • Thanks Darren!
That makes perfect sense. Social Media will never work for you with that model of advertising. For Business Consultants, your website must be the hub of your marketing strategy. Anything that you do outside of your website should be designed to funnel visitors to your website where you can then funnel through your sales process.
For example, an article that you’ve written for a trade magazine could just as easily have been a blog post or white paper on your website. When you create an article on your website, you can share *that* to social networks, particularly LinkedIn, and communities like this one where your target clients might have a presence.
As you develop your content marketing, you can then implement lead capture methods so that you can generate leads from the visitors to your blog. Initially this can be a simple newsletter subscription, but when you’re ready, you can offer a more extensive document (like a White Paper) for download in exchange for someone’s name and information. This is the step that will really turn your website into a lead generation machine. If you can create a document that potential clients will find really helpful – that won’t necessarily solve all their problems but will definitely help them *understand* their issues – not only will they be interested in downloading it, but each time someone signs up to download that document, you will have someone that you know needs help dealing with the issues you describe in your doc.
You are absolutely right that traditional advertising methods are not cost-efficient for B2B consultants like us. Referrals work great, which is another reason you need to leverage LinkedIn. A potential client who sees an article you post to LinkedIn might read the article, and then go back and check out your profile (that happens to me daily). If your profile is filled with great information and recommendations from people just like that client, they’ll be more inclined to talk to you.
What questions have I created?
Greg Chambers • Interesting discussion.
My input isn’t social media specific but relates to Mike’s point that the website should be used as the interface for all business development activities. It’s no longer about online/offline strategy – all business development can be directed to one point for processing to take advantage of automation/tracking/segmenting technologies. Even if your main marketing activities are 100% referral and client driven, directing those activities through the “website” is effective because over time it gives insight into your client’s decision making process.
If you ever add “outbound” business development or use “inbound” strategies like Mike does, having a central point for tracking, tied to a process is a competitive advantage.
One point where I’ll disagree is that traditional advertising isn’t cost effective for B2B. If traditional ads like industry publications don’t work, that has more to do with us not having a business development process in place than the ad vehicle itself. An example is using industry pubs to advertise Mike’s white paper/case study download, capturing the lead, processing it and then tying that new customer back to our targeted cost per acquisition that came from measuring our client lifetime value. The tracking isn’t foolproof but it’s effective.
In the end, the decision making process that our clients go through is the same as it has been. That said, how they interact with us in that process is changing.
Adapt, migrate or perish, right? Good stuff.
Mike Allton • You know you’re right, Greg, targeted traditional advertising can probably be an effective tool for businesses. You need to identify a publication that your prospects are reading, and then offer them the same kind of incentive that we would through a blog or PPC ad to capture that information and insert them into the same online sales funnel.
Why do I say this exchange was worthwhile?
Well, for starters, I contributed. . . (self-serving but true), but it strikes me as a safe way for people to learn. My contention that the decision making process our prospects use has not changed over time still drives my behavior. Darren asking questions of a “sales person” on LinkedIn is probably infinitely more convenient than the traditional ways of finding information about a problem that may or may not need to be solved. Right? Just because we have an issue doesn’t mean we’re going to take care of it right now. . .but it does mean that we’re considering options.
If you haven’t connected with me via LinkedIn, give it a try with the little LinkedIn button above. If you are a connection, then hello to you.