Using LinkedIn Groups to generate business

LinkedIn Groups to generate business

LinkedIn groups could be hugely beneficial for your business. The key is using them in the right way.

LinkedIn Groups basics

There are a huge number of groups on LinkedIn. Some only have a handful of members. Others have 10s or even 100s of thousands of members. Some are very active whilst others are pretty much dormant.

You can be a member of up to 100 groups but I would suggest that a smaller number would be more appropriate if you are going to get any value from them. Why is that? Because the value comes from engagement and that requires focussed effort.

There are groups covering pretty much every profession, industry sector and area of interest.

Why are groups so beneficial?

The effective use of LinkedIn is all about engaging with your network of contacts. There are a number of ways you can engage with your network. You can message your first tier connections privately through LinkedIn. You can also engage with anyone who comments on your status updates or posts, but these are all public conversations. That’s a pretty limited number of people. You could buy a premium subscription and get a monthly allowance of InMails which can be sent to ANY LinkedIn member, but that can be expensive and most people look on InMails as sales messages.

That’s where groups come in. You can send up to 15 messages a month to fellow group members. It used to be unlimited but there were concerns about the number of sales and spam messages being sent so a restriction has been introduced. Replies and responses don’t count towards the limit – only the original message.

Connecting to group members

If the 15 messages per month limit is constraining, why not connect with the group member and then you can message any time. Normally you can only connect with someone on LinkedIn if they are a 2nd tier connection (i.e. connected to one of your 1st tier connections) or they are an open 3rd tier connection. You’ll know because you can see the connect button.

Fellow group members are considered to be part of your close network so LinkedIn allows you to send them connection requests.

Which LinkedIn groups should you join?

Many business owners get this wrong. They join LinkedIn groups related to their type of business. These are great for keeping up to date with what’s going on in your sector and for demonstrating your expertise within your sector. But your clients are unlikely to be members.

Instead, you need to join groups that your prospects and clients are members of. Now since groups are run by individual LinkedIn members, you will have to request to join and get the owner or moderator’s approval. Some have strict entry criteria to stop people pitching to group members. Others are more open. Sometimes a recommendation from an existing member can get you in.

How do you decide which LinkedIn groups to try and join? If you have a clear understanding of who your target client is (your customer avatar in marketing speak) then the groups they are likely to be a member of should be part of that customer description.

The best place to start is your existing customers. You should be connecting with all your best customers (and getting recommendations from them, but that’s another topic). See which groups they are members of, then try and join the ones relevant to your business. They should be full of members just like your existing customers. Our existing customers may be able to get you membership by recommendation of some of the more closed LinkedIn groups.

What to post in LinkedIn groups

The two biggest mistakes people make when they join a group are:

  • Blowing their own trumpet
  • Making a sales offer

People do business with people they know, like and trust. If you join a group and immediately start sounding off about what you do and your latest offers you’ll get ignored or banned. And if you get banned, it can impact your use of LinkedIn on a much wider basis.

When you first join a group spend a while watching how the group operates. You may be invited to introduce yourself and if you do, keep it short, factual and low key. Say you are looking forward to contributing to the group and gleaning insights from other members. Don’t make it a sales pitch.

Then start contributing to discussions. Offer thoughts and advice, but again, don’t be pushy or salesy. After a while ask your own questions. Share your relevant content and that of others from outside the group. Once you are established in the group, and if it is permitted in the group rules, it may be appropriate to share the occasional offer. That doesn’t mean every week!

The key is to offer valuable content and insights without selling. Get it right and group members will be coming to you asking for your products or services.

 

Of course, joining the right LinkedIn groups and saying the right things in them will be wasted if you don’t have a hugely powerful personal profile that demonstrates just what you can do for your clients. Helping clients create that profile and then become members of the right groups and get their content and engagement strategies right are some of the key aspects of my LinkedIn mastery programmes. If you would like to find out more, book a discovery call with me. Here’s a link to my online calendar:  https://calendly.com/allen-ruddock/30-minute-1-2-1

Book a discovery call with Allen

The gift that keeps on giving

We’d all like to receive the gift that keeps on giving. One that delivers something for your business every single day.

Something you can turn to any time you want some business growth and know that it will deliver.

Something akin to having your own personal cash machine that dispenses cash whenever you want, but not from your bank account, but instead straight out of the bank accounts of your clients.

No, I’m not suggesting you hack your client’s bank accounts. Used wisely, this gift that keeps on giving will have your clients willingly opening up there bank accounts to pay you for your products and services.

 

So what is this magical gift that keeps on giving?

 

Why your clients give you their money

To understand this gift, you need to understand the psychology behind why customers do business with you.

People like to do business with people.

More specifically, they like to do business with people they know, like and trust. So to get them to open up their bank account to you and buy your products and services, you have to get to know them.

You have to build that trust.

 

How to build trust

Build trust through your actions

Be personable and get to know your prospects. Prospects become much more engaged when you talk about them rather than yourself.

So find some common interests, ask questions, be engaging.

Don’t splurge out your company history and all your latest offers.

Don’t go on about how awesome your business is. They mostly don’t care.

It’s there problem they want solved. So give them some free help or information. Stuff that is really valuable to them.

Show them just how great you are, without the merest hint of bragging or bravado.

 

Credibility

What your clients say about you speaks volumesYour prospects will be much more impressed with what others say about you than anything you say about yourself.

So lead them to where those glowing testimonials can be found, without ramming them down their throat.

Demonstrate your credibility by publishing articles demonstrating your knowledge and getting them read and commented on.

With credibility comes trust.

 

What is the gift?

What is the gift?

So is trust the gift? No.

 

Is credibility the gift? No.

 

Is the gift is a system and/or a process? No.

 

It is based on a system and a process. A system you almost certainly have, but don’t use properly. A process you probably don’t use or follow properly.

 

Have you guessed it yet?

 

Its…..

LinkedIn

 

But not LinkedIn as most people know or use it.

 

The gift of LinkedIn is:

  • A powerful personal profile that delivers real value to your prospects and clients.
  • A powerful personal profile that demonstrates your expert knowledge.
  • A powerful personal profile packed with glowing recommendations’.
  • A powerful personal profile that builds TRUST.

 

And the process? The process is what you do to make use of that powerful personal profile.

  • A process of drip feeding valuable content to your connections and followers.
  • A process that gets you seen by your ideal prospects because of where you post and comment.
  • A process that finds your ideal prospects.
  • A process that allows you to connect and engage without selling.
  • A process that induces your prospects to ask to be your client.
  • A process that you can repeat, over and over again.

 

A powerful personal profile and a process that means LinkedIn is the gift that keeps on giving.

 

One great gift deserves another. Learn how to give the gift of LinkedIn to your business with the LinkedIn Business Advantage Programme – at better than half price – that’s £100 off! Just enter the code GIVING at the checkout.

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Do what you competitors are too lazy to do. Get the advantage today and give your business its best ever present.

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There is no Status Quo in business

There is no such thing as the status Quo in business. Your revenue/profits/costs will not continue at the same level if you continue to do what you have always done. You know:

  • The same old marketing
  • The same old prices
  • The same old competition
  • The same old… you get the picture don’t you?

Except that it probably isn’t the same old competition. Your competition has moved on. They’re looking for new ways to attract your customers. They’re under-cutting your prices, offering tempting bonuses and creating new products or services. And there could be new competitors too.

Your customers will have moved on to. They could be looking for something new, something different.

Even if you’ve kept you prices the same, your costs will have changed so your profits will have changed too.

It’s a bit like a tug of war – you trying to pull revenue and profits one way and your suppliers and the market pulling against you.

It feels like a huge battle just to stand still, just to achieve the status quo in business.

 

But I want to grow

But what if you want to grow your business, to really take it to the next level? The ‘same old, same old’ just isn’t going to hack it. To overcome that inertia you need to make a step change. You need to think different, think ‘outside the box’ (I normally hate clichés and business speak, but this one is on the money), because the same old marketing will bring the same old results – declining revenue and declining profits.

 

1-4-15-60-20

These are the five key numbers in any market, segment or area. So in your business, in your area:

  • 1% are super successful. They are the Richard Bransons or Apples for that business/area.
  • 4% are doing really well and aspiring to join the 1%.
  • 15% doing OK. There’s room for improvement, but they are winning more than they are losing.
  • 60% are getting by. They are the businesses I described above. The one’s struggling to achieve the status quo in business.
  • 20% are really struggling or even failing.

That means at least 80% of the business like you, in your area are GETTING IT WRONG! They are stagnating or declining. They are trying to maintain the status quo in business and it just isn’t working. Do yourself a a favour – don’t copy the 80%.

 

What can I do Allen?

If you look at your market you’ll realise that most of your competitors are doing the same sorts of things. Similar marketing, similar prices, similar offers, similar services. But the standout leaders – the 1%, 4% or 15% will be different. It may not be immediately obvious how they are different, but they will be different. They probably charge higher prices and you’ve never quite worked out how they get away with it. They achieve customer loyalty you can only dream of.

How do they do it? It boils down to two core things.

Positioning

The best businesses position themselves as just that – the best at what they do. Through a combination of innovative marketing, excellent service and being well, just different. Look at Apple. Their core markets are computers and phones – two very crowed markets. Yet Apple created the Mac and split the market into two. The Mac market that it owns and the PC market where every other company fights it out.

Likewise with smartphones. They created the iPhone – a market they own, and everyone else fights it out on android/Windows/Blackberry etc.

So how can you make your business the best at what it does in your area or segment? How can you position your business in the eyes of your market? The first part is about you and your business. What is your unique selling point – your USP?

Systems

To be the best in what you do it means you have to deliver to the highest standards day in, day out and in a way that is consistent with your business’ brand and image. That requires systems. Good systems allow you to run your business efficiently and with the knowledge that what is delivered will almost always be of the right quality. And on the odd occasion when something goes wrong, you’ll have your best system there ready to deal with the problem and wow the customer with how much trouble you have taken to put things right.

It’s these systems that are often hidden from what you see in successful businesses.  You will have seen the positioning, but it’s the systems that give the substance to that positioning.

 

How can a small business achieve all this?

Let’s tackle the two areas in reverse order. Putting in place great systems is neither hard nor expensive. The hard part is deciding what the system needs to do. In other words, what are the detailed elements of the product or service that you deliver. Once you have that you can create systems and processes to help you and your team deliver to the desired quality. It might be as simple as a set of paper based checklists. It could be barcoded stock and handheld barcode reader.

Whatever system you design needs to simple enough for you and your team to implement and work with consistently. It’s then down to training people how to use the system. Don’t forget to explain why the system is important and what it is trying to achieve. The more context you provide, the more accepted and adopted the system will become.

Getting your positioning right can be a little trickier. Many businesses try to position themselves by talking about themselves and their products:

  • We are the leading company in…..
  •  We have been serving this market for over 20 years….
  • Our range of products is second to none…..

And so on. But this is all about them and not about their customers. The latest ads for Microsoft Windows 10 and the related Surface Book and PCs have been all about what the end users can do with the products and not about the products themselves. Your positioning needs to be about what your business does for its customers. Show you understand their needs, their problems, their desires. Then show them how you can meet those needs, ease or remove that pain or satisfy that desire. That is great positioning.

 

How can you do all this on a small business budget?

Social media.

Social media has been the great leveller for businesses of all sizes. For little or no money you can position your business for what it does for its customers and get that message in front of those customers. And LinkedIn should be at the core of what you do on social media.

Whatever business you are in you, the business owner, should use LinkedIn to position yourself and your business. It is the first place anyone doing business with you is going to look to check you out. If they find a rubbish profile that looks like a stale cv you’ve already missed a trick.

Instead, you need a profile that screams the values of your business. One that is packed with value-added information that delivers useful information to the customer. One that has videos and articles about what you do for your customers. One that is packed with glowing recommendations from existing clients.

Whether you are business-to-business or business-to-consumer, a powerful LinkedIn profile is the number one way to position you and your business. Now you can use the appropriate social media channels to get in front of your target market and guide them to your profile to show them why they should do business with you.

If you are selling business-to-business then LinkedIn is almost certainly the best social media channel to find and get in front of your ideal customers. With over 450m profiles worldwide and over 20m in the UK along, your target market is on there. Their profiles are packed with the keywords you need to search for and find them and with the right non-salesy approach, you can develop strong business relationships that ensure they come to you to meet their business needs.

 

Get free advice on positioning your business with LinkedIn

If you would like to find out more about using LinkedIn to

  • position your business and
  • find and engage with your ideal prospects

book a free business review call with Allen today. Just click on the button below

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Is your business ‘self-harming’

Let’s be clear from the start – business ‘self-harming’ is about the stuff going on in and around your business and NOT your staff doing things to themselves. Fail to address the areas I am going to talk about and it could have a harmful effect on you, your staff and your customers because your business will under-perform and could even fail.

I have seen many instances of business ‘self-harming’ and heard of even more. I’ve even experienced it myself. Twice!

My first business ‘self-harming’ experience

The first time was with my first consultancy business. I was fresh out of the corporate world and with a former colleague we set up a fledgling project management consultancy. We knew our stuff and had great experience so thought clients would come knocking on our door.

They didn’t.

Do you feel like your hitting yourself with a mallet trying to move your business forward?So we threw ourselves into networking and got a few assignments. But that only brought in an intermittent flow of work. We never learned how to market ourselves and our company properly. It was as if we kept hitting ourselves over the head. Eventually, my business partner threw in the towel and returned to corporate life.

That lack of understanding how to market the business was a classic example of business ‘self-harming’. It’s one that many business owners fall into. After all, you probably started your business because you are good at what you do and you’re really passionate about it. But being good and passionate won’t get the business in front of your target market. So when I started my next business, the first commitment I made was to learn all I could about marketing.

That’s me safe and avoiding future business ‘self-harming’ right? Wrong!

My second business ‘self-harming’ experience

So I learned how to market my business and I had a steady stream of consulting roles with the occasional trading client thrown in for good measure. One of my key marketing pillars was LinkedIn, supported by my website, blog and Twitter. So around the middle of 2015 I decided to add LinkedIn coaching and training to my business offerings. I still spent the majority of my time on client site as a programme management consultant so I decided to outsource some of the marketing for the LinkedIn business. This seemed to be working fine but in reality I was unwittingly committing business ‘self-harming’.

As a business owner, you have to take full responsibility for everything that happens in your business. Outsourcing doesn’t take away that responsibility. When I decided to focus more on the LinkedIn and social media side of my business I brought the outsourced marketing back in-house. That’s when I discovered the business ‘self-harming’ I had inflicted on my business.

That’s right – I had inflicted it. The outsourcing firm had done nothing wrong. I hadn’t specified my requirements clearly enough. In fact, I had been busy, so I hadn’t thought carefully enough about what my requirements were before I dumped on the outsourcer. As a result, when it came back in-house I suddenly found a load of broken links because the place lead magnets were previously stored wass no longer accessible to my systems. I found that promo codes and pricing were a bit of a mess – because I hadn’t specified how codes were to be expired and when prices should change. I’m still sorting out the self-made mess so if you spot a broken link to a download or page please do let me know.

Your business – your responsibility

OARBoth of my business ‘self-harming’ experiences are really examples of me, the owner, not taking full responsibility for my business. For not getting myself educated enough in how to run and market a business. Being great at what you do and/or having a great product is nowhere near enough to create a successful business. That’s why so many businesses fail. That’s why more business owners should get a coach or mentor. Someone who can step back and see the wood for the trees or take that helicopter ride over your business and help you see it from a different perspective.

Outsourcing safely

Taking responsibility doesn’t mean you have to do everything. In fact, trying to do everything as you start to grow your business is another form of business ‘self-harming’. It keeps you from doing more of the most valuable stuff in your business. Few, if any, business owners are good at every aspect of running their business. And even if you are good at doing some things, they are probably not a good use of your time.

When I outsourced my LinkedIn marketing I did it badly. Because I had learned a good bit about marketing and could talk the same language as the outsource company I allowed complacency to creep in and didn’t clearly defined the requirements, objectives and checks. I should have known better. You can learn from my mistake.

Bookkeeping is the classic example of something to outsource. Knowing your numbers is vitally important – and we’ll talk more on that later – but preparing them is probably not the best use of your time. With the right accountant and bookkeeper you can devise a sound process with all the right checks and balances so that you can outsource your bookkeeping without any fears. You need to be absolutely clear on responsibilities, service levels and what the outsourcer needs from you to be able to complete their side of the bargain.

Properly defined and managed, outsourcing is a great way to grow your business without the need to take on more staff

Complacency

Don't let compacency leed you to business 'self-harming'I’ve already alluded that complacency was a key factor in my outsourcing problems. Complacency can be very dangerous. It usually sets in well things are going well and your business becomes comfortable. A steady stream of leads, new customers and revenues just where you want them. Then BAM! Something changes out of the blue and the business is knocked sideways.

How is this business ‘self-harming’? You can’t second guess every eventuality or potential even that could affect your business. In fact, I always encourage people to deal with what is in front of them and not try and second guess the market, the government or the weather!

But if you allow your business to become too dependent on one marketing pillar, on one customer, on one member of staff, that is business ‘self-harming’ waiting to bite. I have heard of one business that was doing very, very well thank you very much. But it was totally dependent on certain features of Facebook, and when Facebook changed the rules, their business died overnight. Literally – revenues instantly went to zero.

All of the social media and internet platforms are constantly changing. Google AdWords were, for a number of years, highly profitable for many businesses. However, increased competition and changes to algorithms have meant that for lower value products or services, AdWords are a now lot less profitable.

So don’t be complacent in your business. Have multiple viable marketing pillars. Create solid, repeatable processes to remove key-person risk in your operations and keep fully abreast of what is happening in your market.

Your team

If you have people working for you in your business there is the potential for further business ‘self-harming’. This isn’t in anyway saying your staff are out to damage your business. It provides their livelihood so they are unlikely to do anything to deliberately damage the business. But it can still happen.

We’ve already touched on key-person risk. This is where key parts of what happens in your business become reliant on the ability or skill of a particular member of the team to perform them. What if they decide to leave? They are probably moving to better themselves rather than damage your business, but it has the same effect. What if they fall ill or can’t work for other reasons. You need to have in pace robust processes, fully documented so that the key person can be replaced, either temporarily or permanently. Things might not run quite as smoothly or efficiently at first, but they will still run.

Good processes are important right across the business. And you have to test that the process is working as expected with the intended results. I have seen many instances where a business owner or manager has communicated what they want to happen but not followed up on the implementation. As a result the actual impact can be very different to the desired impact. That can lead to dissatisfied customers, unhappy staff and potentially lost revenue.

Processes need to be regularly tested and updated. Otherwise bad habits can creep in and good habits get forgotten. Do you have an upsell process that staff should follow when dealing with clients? Are they following it – all the time? So much business can be missed – and therefore lost – because people forget to follow the basic processes laid down. Sometimes they just become a little lazy and need reminding. Is your business missing out?

The tell-tale signs

Numbers that dont add upHow can you tell if there is business ‘self-harming’ going on in your business? Knowing your numbers is key. If you have well defined processes they should produce metrics to tell you how the business is performing. Whether it is the number of leads being generated, where those leads are coming from, the number of conversions, the number of customers, the average value of a transactions, monitoring the trends of these numbers can tell you how things are changing in your business. Coupled with the knowledge of what marketing activity you are undertaking and what is happening in the market in general, you can assess how your business is performing and spot the areas where revenue and profit are leaking away.

Add in regular process reviews and improvements and you have an effective health check system for your business

You don’t know what you don’t know

The toughest form of business ‘self-harming’ to spot is that caused by not doing something you should be doing. There’s an old saying that looks a little odd at first:

You know what you know

You know what you don’t know

But you don’t know what you don’t know

At first the second and third lines seem to contradict each other. “You know what you know” is pretty obvious. But then there are some things you know of but don’t know the answer to. You know what marketing pillars you are using but you don’t know how the market will react to each of them. Over time that becomes more of a known.

But then there is the stuff you don’t know anything about – even perhaps its existence or, more often, it’s potential value to your business.

LinkedIn often falls into the “you don’t know what you don’t know” category for many businesses. They know it exists but have preconceived ideas about it and don’t think it can work for their business. After all, it’s just a CV library for recruiters right? Or a contact book for old colleagues perhaps? Those are the very reason it is hidden goldmine for business to business customers.

It’s that closed mind “I know, but it won’t work for me….” attitude that is the business ‘self-harming’ here.

Stop your business ‘self-harming’

If you’d like to address the business ‘self-harming’ taking place in and around your business, especially with regards to LinkedIn, book a free, no obligation review call with me by clicking on the link below. Speak to you soon.

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