You Need a LinkedIn Strategy
Simple, because as the largest professional network on the Internet you will find anyone who matters to your business on there — from customers to prospects, from business partners to employees. The network adds two new members every second and is home to more than 250 million members worldwide. LinkedIn has become the place for professionals to gather. And, when you have so many interconnected entities gathering in one place, you need to have a plan.
LinkedIn Has Gone Beyond the Job Search
Your employees? They’re all over LinkedIn. From sales reps to the people in the back office. Most are on it weekly, many are on it a few times each day. They check it on their smartphones during breakfast and on their laptops during conference calls.
LinkedIn – Can you afford to ignore it?
Sure, some employees will be job-hunting, yet the majority are using LinkedIn in many other ways. Ways that could benefit your business. They’re getting management advice from business thought leaders. They’re keeping up with industry trends. They’re searching for prospects. They’re building relationships with business professionals who will: buy from you, sell to you,or work for you. LinkedIn is bigger than the recruiting department. It touches all aspects of your business.
The People You Want to Connect with are on LinkedIn
People don’t buy from brands. They buy from people. When a client or prospect searches for people they’ve met, their LinkedIn profiles are likely to come up first. Employees use LinkedIn to represent both themselves and indirectly your company too. From a brand perspective, those profiles should be compelling. Ask your employees and most will reply, “I should do more with LinkedIn.” Yet, most of them are doing it poorly. Their photos aren’t professional looking, their profiles undersell their experience, and their networks are not relevant. These are the people who help create your brand, and they are often part of the first impression others will form of your business.
Help Yourself and Your Employees
There isn’t a simple solution to this issue. Each person’s use of LinkedIn depends on his or her role, as well as the industry, your company go-to-market strategy, and your overall company branding and messaging. For your company to get value from LinkedIn you will need to know what you want to accomplish, how your organization will get there, and how you will measure success. In other words, you’ll need a strategy.
Like all marketing programs (and make no mistake about it, this is also a marketing program) you have to set a strategy, then work toward implementation in a clear and deliberate way. Start small, focus on bang-for-the-buck; create a consistent brand message about your organization then ask your staff to use it in their profile. Develop a company page, so that when other people run across your employees the company information is clickable and exactly how you want it. Encourage your teams to build relevant industry contacts and ensure they are connected to one another right away. These are all solid building blocks.
Also, allow time for exploration and investigation. That time your staff is using to learn a leadership skill will manifest itself positively if you let it. The industry contacts that are cultivated from posting to related groups and interacting with regularity will have long-term value. Even the job hunting activities are beneficial in some ways, as keeping employees happy is often a matter of having a realistic perspective on market conditions.
Regardless of what you do, or how you prioritize it, give LinkedIn the respect it deserves. Craft a strategy then set about making it happen.
We learned in kindergarten that honesty is the best policy but how many of us actually apply this advice on a daily basis? In a culture that’s increasingly driven by countless forms of communication resulting in 24-hour access with fewer and fewer chances to be ‘off the grid,’ has it become easier to stretch the truth, feign ignorance or simply lie? According to Jeffrey Hancock, associate professor of communication and information science at Cornell University, being perceived as deceptive can seriously harm reputations and relationships, regardless of the medium. His studies have also shown [surprisingly] that we tend to lie less online than in person or over the telephone; perhaps it’s because our online, documented posts, comments, status updates, and pictures will be around for a long time. As a business owner, the type of communication you put in front of your audience adds up – and honesty is a big part of tipping the scales in your favor.
Enter social media.
Honest and open communication is the cornerstone of social messaging.
Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn for business or Pinterest, Instgram or YouTube for pleasure, have you thought about how you are representing yourself online? The first thing to do is learn how to engage online responsibly and assume you are speaking in public at all times. We’ll say it again: the internet is not forgiving; posts, comments, status updates, and pictures will live on for the foreseeable future. Make sure your professional social presence is one you are proud of now and will be in years to come.
Also, be yourself – honest and open communication is the cornerstone of social messaging. Customers, or potential customers, will respect genuine communication that matters to them. For instance, use the 4-1-1 rule; post 4 interesting, funny or informational ideas, 1 promotional post and 1 re-post [share with a friend, answer a question, hit the ‘like’ button, etc.], all of which need to be relevant to your audience. Regardless of whether you post a few times daily or a few times per month, follow the rule above for a targeted strategy that will resonate with your audience. And as a general rule, before posting on any social medium, ask yourself if the information is honest and relevant.
The review sites.
Here’s where honesty may be most beneficial. What happens when online reviews about your business begin popping up via Yelp and Google? If they are positive, great! But what about the other side of that coin? We’d all like to think that we give 100% all day every day, but the reality is that sometimes we fall short. It’s inevitable that you’ll see a less than stellar business review at some point. When confronted with this ‘bad’ review, it’s how you handle this perceived setback that can set you apart.
Be courageous in the face of bad news, honorably standing tall despite conflict [even if you suspect the negative review is the handiwork of your competitor down the street]. If tempted to avoid the issue, or to make an excuse, think of how you’d feel if a comment you made went unaddressed or simply ignored. Not pleased, right? Human beings are deeply attracted to courageous honesty, but sometimes when we are on the other side of the complaint it’s difficult not to be defensive. It’s best to apologize and do everything we can to make things right — right away. A February 2014 study by the Social Media Marketing University found that 52% of US marketers respond to negative online comments within 24 hours. That means responding diplomatically to the comment online, calling the customer [if you can] and remedying the situation ASAP! The Retail Consumer Report found that of consumers who received a reply in response to their negative review, 33% posted a positive review and 34% deleted their original negative review. That means by handling the issue, you might even get that nasty, negative comment retracted!
It will work. Honest.
If you believe in what you are doing and are passionate about why you get up every day, this honesty task will be a piece of cake. Communicating with a broader audience is easier today than ever before, but remember, your message needs to be relevant, timely and genuine.
Once you have finally immersed yourself in the digital world with a strong web presence, the next step is to develop a strategy that will drive traffic to your website. Your website represents your practice online and the goal is to get customers from the web to your door. As with every marketing strategy – traditional or otherwise – in order to be successful, you will need to implement various tactics that will engage your target audience online.
In the past few years, the scope of social media and its evolution of tactics have grown tremendously, revolutionizing the digital landscape through the ability to connect people via online communities. If done strategically and on a frequent basis, any business – including those in the hearing healthcare arena – can take advantage of social media to increase their online presence and foster customer interaction.
Here are some tips on how to move the digital needle in the right direction.
Identify Feasible Platforms
Focus on two social media platforms at one time, determining which ones are best for your business.
The biggest challenge that many face is determining how to incorporate a social media strategy into their marketing plan. Research shows that for independent business owners it is more effective to only focus on two social media platforms at one time [e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter] in order to build a strong online reputation. The best way to determine what platforms might work well for you is to check out what others are doing in the industry. By reviewing the competitions’ activity and monitoring relevant conversations, it is easier to determine what your audience is interested in.
Develop Strong Content
Once the platforms have been established, the next big step is developing strong content on a consistent basis that people will want to read and share with others, in order to generate viral content. Getting your branding or other marketing messages out there to be shared within and among online communities is key. Although there are various types of online content, the most effective are ones with a simplistic approach. These will engage your target audience and will help you to build credibility as a knowledgeable expert in the hearing healthcare field.
Monitor Content Consistently
Having a social media strategy is imperative: know your audience, post relevant messages frequently and monitor your social sites.
It is also important to monitor the content once it is developed and posted. It is one thing to have a presence, but it is essential to be engaged. One way to achieve this is to monitor comments on your social media sites and then follow up with responses in a timely manner. Encouraging the audience to “like” or “share” the content is also a valid tactic, depending on which metrics you are measuring.
Promote Platforms Process
In order to promote these social media platforms, it is important to talk to your patients and encourage online sharing and reviewing. This process can be implemented into your process, where applicable, to encourage staff to ask patients after they had their appointment or made a purchase to submit an online review about their [positive] experience. Developing a handout with instructions on how to review via Yelp or Google+ to remind customers to go online is one idea to boost participation. Reviews help establish business credibility online.
Interested in learning about social media and other digital marketing tactics? Contact marketing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seems too simple, right?
Nearly anything you do in life is subject to the principle that you’ll get 80% of your results from 20% of your input. Often referred to as “low-hanging fruit.”
Said differently…here are five important marketing problems that can be fixed quickly and make everyone look like geniuses.
When you begin using the web to market your business, there are a few important things that most people get wrong initially. Look over this list to see if you have any offenders in your business. Then, this week, work on cleaning them up.
#1: Where is the call to action?
When you want someone in your audience to take some action (sign up for your email list, buy something, sign a petition, go for a walk, etc.), tell them what to do. Copywriters call this the call to action [CTA], and it’s the fastest way to make your copy more effective. Even huge businesses with massive marketing budgets can miss this one, so don’t feel bad.
Tell them clearly and succinctly. Please, don’t be “clever” with this element! If you want someone to click a link to sign up for your awesome email newsletter, use the words “Click here to sign up for our awesome newsletter.”
Your homework this week: Look critically at the key pages on your site. Do you have a clear call to action on each page? Are they simple and unambiguous? Could they be a little stronger?
#2: No one can figure out what you do
If you prepare taxes, the words Tax Preparation need to be right at the top of your site. Since you’re a hearing healthcare provider, those words should be hearing loss, hearing doctor, Audiology, etc. Make sure the word Hearing is front and center.
Too many businesses get into a marketing exercise of diving deep into what their customers want (which is a good thing to do), and end up with tag lines like “Enriching lives and communication through core auditory treatment strategies.” That’s fine as your personal mission for how you’ll help people. But it leaves your audience with no idea what you do. Don’t get clever about how you describe what you do. Use the language that your audience uses. (This is particularly helpful for your SEO copywriting.)
Tax preparer. Copywriter. Zumba instructor. Physical therapist… Audiologist. Hearing Doctor.
Your homework: How does a normal person describe what you do? What specific words do they use? Go to your home page and your About page right now. Are those words clearly visible?
#3: There’s no benefit in the headline
First, you need to understand that “clever” headlines don’t work nearly as well as headlines that clearly communicate a benefit. Will your audience learn to identify the early signs of hearing loss in their friends and family? That’s what should be in the headline.
There are many techniques for producing a more effective headline, and you should spend the time to learn and master them, or allow those who write yours the license to apply their skills.
Here is one method you can implement right away, and that you can mentally check every time you publish a piece of content:
Your homework: Take a look at any content you’re publishing this week. (Blog posts, email newsletter articles, videos, etc.) What benefit does the audience get from reading, watching, or listening? Make certain that benefit gets into your headline.
#4: The customer isn’t ready for you
Most businesses don’t work like lemonade stands. If you are walking down the street and see a lemonade stand, you’ll buy lemonade, assuming you’re thirsty. Very simple. But your business is more complex than that.
Because you’re using “content marketing” to build an audience, you’ll be attracting some people who aren’t thirsty just yet. Some of your audience may have plans to be thirsty at some point in the next 30 days. Some of your audience isn’t ever going to get thirsty, but they interact with a lot of thirsty people, so they may want to refer you later. You need a way to “park” your entire audience, and keep them interested and engaged until they’re ready to make a purchase.
There are a lot of ways to do this, and not all of them fall into the “quick fix” territory. But one that you can implement this week is to add “no obligation” actions to your marketing plan.
For example a sequence of messages that you’ll send to every new subscriber to your newsletter list. It’s a brilliant way to hold your audience’s interest until they’re ready for what you have to offer.
You don’t need to write an entire sequence this week. But you can get one or two messages written (say, a “Welcome” and a “Did you know?” message to start.) Then add others to the mix as you get customer feedback, until you’ve got a robust sequence that holds on to your prospect’s attention until they are ready to buy (or refer).
Your homework: If you have a newsletter list in place now, outline a sequence of messages that will keep your audience interested and connected. Then write the first message and add it to your plan. If you don’t have a newsletter list yet, get one in place. Your customer’s attention is a precious commodity. Don’t waste it — capture it so you can continue to benefit them.
#5: You’re ignoring your existing customers
Want to know the smartest, most effective, and least expensive place to find new customers? It’s your database of existing customers. Those existing customers can bring in new business in at least three different ways:
- They can buy something else you have to offer.
- They can refer their friends.
- They can pass along marketing content you create (like blog posts or email newsletters. )
Of course, that means those content items have to be great – and identify benefits clearly!
You need one important characteristic to make this work: You have to care (a lot) about your customers, and you have to let them know how much you care. Most companies, large and small, make a transaction with a new customer, and that’s the end of it. They might send additional offers at some point, but they rarely do anything to make the relationship tighter and more meaningful.
So while you might think your homework would be to craft some kind of sales pitch to go out to existing customers, you need to do something entirely different instead.
Your homework: Think of a small way to surprise and delight the customers who have already given you money.
– It might be a free Q&A.
– It might be a special piece of content, like a newsletter, article, or white paper, that you offer them for free as a thank-you for their business.
– It might be a convenience discount on a related product they’ve been thinking about picking up or adding on.
– It might be some special after-purchase information on how to get more out of what they’ve already bought from you.
So, what small “thank-you” gift could you send your customers today, to let them know you think they’re pretty awesome? Then “bake that in” to your sales timeline, so that your future customers have just as great an experience after the sale as they do before the sale.
Want more direction or help with these concepts?
Speak with your Consult YHN Associate Manager today or send an email to AssociateServices@ConsultYHN.com.