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?

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?


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.

Problem solving vs. market creation

Interesting and very readable slide set looking at how some of the biggest companies, trailblazing brands and cutting edge products and services didn’t actually set out to solve an existing problem.

They were the result of incredible gambles on future trends that for the most part paid off.

Like this blog? Share it, tweet it, comment on it. 


Riot brands: The dangers of chasing the lifetime customer

Brand reputation has never been more firmly in the spotlight thanks to the recent riots that took place across England. A systematic breakdown in law and order for just a few days ensured that many of the country’s leading brands had their high street stores looted by a demographic they have spent years seducing.

It is no surprise that the very brands that have actively solicited the youth pound, whether they were JD Sports, T-Mobile, Foot Locker, Miss Selfridge and gadgets purveyors Dixons Stores Group, were the ones that were dealt the most savage treatment at the hands of rioters.

In an age where the disparity between the have’s and the have not’s has perhaps never been greater, it was inevitable that so many youngsters decided to take a chance to secure something for free, when Londoners were allowed to do so just a few nights previously.

RIM’s Blackberry together with its Messenger platform, which allows people to communicate instantly without trace or record, has been singled out by the authorities for criticism.  Blackberry remains the dominant smart phone of choice amongst the young because of the expense and contractual arrangements required to secure an Apple iPhone. Messenger is a powerful and cost-free communication platform. A great position to be in, but left unchecked, it becomes a dangerous tool that criminals can take full advantage of.

So, where does this leave brand strategy?

Attracting the young is an important strategy in many markets because it presents the opportunity to nurture the mythical ‘life time customer’. I say mythical because on one hand, in the age of unrivalled choice, improving own brand quality, and a decline in real-term disposable income, I doubt they exist. But from another they clearly do. Clothing brands like G-Star-Raw, for example, represent a specific gangster lifestyle. There is a swagger about the models, an attitude, an arrogance.

Clothing giant Burberry had a huge problem a few years back, ironically caused by its main USP it’s check design. The market was flooded with cheap copies and Burberry became the clothing of the class termed ‘chavs’. Burberry has steered a steady path to return to its premium positioning and the company recently reported incredible profits.

The lesson for brands? I think as a responsible brand owner, be careful what you wish for. Assess the long term viability of a target cluster of customers and think carefully about how to service their evolving needs.

Images: Newquaysurfer and Gadgethelpline

Like this blog? Share it. Retweet it. Add a comment. Support your favourite bloggers!


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


Elevator pitches and the point of your marketing

There is a lot of talk about elevator pitches in marketing.

But the rules have changed. On one hand everyone is talking and nobody is listening. Everyone is hustling. Everyone is taking but not giving.

On the other hand, the pitch opportunity has been stunted. You no longer get the time it takes to travel twenty floors, you have the time it takes to travel two floors. The battle for attention is fierce. Competition is a click, swipe, text or call away.

So before you invest another penny in your website, send another email newsletter, attend your next networking event or connect with another ‘prospect’ online come up with some responses to these questions and then get them trimmed down to 10-15 seconds. Fifteen seconds is all you have.

Q1: What needs are you trying to meet or what pain are you trying to eradicate? (Establishes your reason for being and your core strengths)

Q2: Who do you do this for? (Establishes your audience)

Q3: Why should they listen to you? (Provides the evidence of your strengths)

Businesses and business owners that have a clear, unequivocal response to these questions market better, more efficiently and more effectively.

Image: Your Content Notes


Making a dent

Why are we here? How can we add value? How can we make a difference? How can we inspire and be inspiring? How can we leave a legacy? And who are the people to drive us to achieve?

This will help. I particularly get the message on slide 34 about making best use of time! The takeaway messages are below the slides.

Six takeaways:

1. Goals: Know where you are going.

2. Love: Do something you are passionate about.

3. Work: Doing something worthwhile and well takes time.

4. Time: Stop wasting it and procrastinating.

5. Real: Use your own voice and tell your own story.

6. Rock: Be remarkable. Don’t be functional, be amazing.

Note to email/RSS subscribers: Slides only visible at the blog.


Taking the reins off your star performers

There is tendency for recruiters to bring new talent into a business but then attempt to restrict that talent rather than embrace what was attractive about it in the first place.

It sounds ridiculous, but how often do businesses lose good people over job satisfaction, motivation and development issues? The company, its customers and colleagues are the least frequently cited reasons for leaving.

Conformity is easy.

Better, then to encourage team members that want to be encouraged, that want to push the envelope, that want to raise the bar. Creativity, thinking creatively, innovation and dynamism are the lifeblood of most organisations but company culture too often sucks this from people and leaves them ambivalent because they haven’t received positive feedback on ideas and input previously.

An extreme example above. Love him or hate him, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has created incredible revenues for his company and his shareholders. To such an extent that even customers that would prefer not to fly Ryanair still do because of the way he has managed to keep ticket costs low.

Do you have star performers that you are reining in? Perhaps its time to take the shackles off and see how your business might flourish. Brave companies lead. Conservative ones follow.

Image: FastCompany


Is the role of sales and marketing director dead?

Is it a sign of the times, and the broad acceptance of marketing as a standalone discipline, that the role of the sales and marketing director is becoming less common? Can you really focus effectively when you are doing two jobs?

Make no mistake they are two very different jobs. In a recent Marketing Week feature, Pitney Bowes marketing director Phil Hutchinson commented:

   “Marketers are thinkers and strategists, they are more creative, whereas sales    is a very hard-hitting, fast moving and fairly aggressive environment. Within      marketing, you need to think more long term. In the sales arena, you’re                  always dealing pretty much in the short term.”

Differing disciplines

Sales and marketing are two diametrically opposed roles with different focus, different methodologies and different outcomes. They exist at different stages of the buying process. Though bound by the need to sell products, they go about it in very contrasting ways.

If you are operating in a sales role, you are focused on selling, period. You want to shift as much as you can as quickly as you can. Discounting, bundling and price promotion are the tools to use. They are not the same tools that the marketing-focused use to build durable brand equity for the longer term.

Anecdote time

In an early post-university position, I worked with a boorish sales director who ruled the sales and marketing roost. For a time he dominated the negotiation and running of key account relationships. He went awol for days on end, conducting his business on Europe’s finest golf courses, running up huge expenses as he went. And, of course, giving away product at significantly reduced prices.

After a while, a southern based director of market development moved north. They didn’t seem eye-to-eye. But surprisingly, it was the sales director that made way. He was a relic. His perspective and his blinkered view of the world had become outdated and dangerous to the business.

Overnight, the company moved from being a sales led to a marketing led business. That isn’t to say that sales targets weren’t set and worked towards, but that the profitable meeting of segmented and definable customer needs became the mantra. It remains the case today, and many companies the world over are now doing the same thing. Channelling their efforts into designing and supplying products and services that meet the exacting requirements of niche segments. Marketing is the future of selling.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to this. If marketing and sales were the same, there wouldn’t have been the need to differentiate between the two. Marketing would never have happened, the fact it did – 90 years before the concept of ‘spin’ – speaks volumes.

What has your experience been? Have you conducted a sales and marketing role and if so, did you honestly focus 50:50? Do you think a sales and marketing role is achievable in the modern business age? Might it just be worth thinking about that next sales and marketing vacancy you need to fill?

Image: Corp Intel


Nurturing hidden talent

In most companies and most teams there are inevitably people from a range of backgrounds, possessing a range of skills, attributes and experiences.

Often it can be the noisest, most confident or senior people that determine direction and agenda. Sadly, the quietest, most recent team members contribute the least, despite having great ideas.

So isn’t one of the urgent business challenges encouraging hidden talent to shine? And isn’t there a responsibility on managers to foster an open, collaborative working environment where ideas are valued, input solicited and feedback acted on?

In creative marketing teams this can be achieved using a number of techniques:

1. Regular team meetings where team members are encouraged to own their projects and report back their status.

2. Support this with frequent one-to-one meetings to ensure that any problems or issues are efficiently and effectively managed and opportunities to tap into latent knowledge and experience are maximised.

3. Involvement in company initiatives by opening up the opportunity for team members to participate in activities that empower them. It might be writing web news or blogs, managing certain elements of the marketing and business development plan, running training programmes or giving public speeches.

4. Maximising opportunities to ‘show and tell’ and share successful (and unsuccessful) projects with key learnings.

5. Development projects where the individual (and the business) benefit from recommendations made to improve process and procedure or in the development of new products and services.

6. Above all, ask. Keep up to date with your new staff and understand how all team members are motivated. Understand what they are good at, what they like doing and what challenges them. Understand where they want to go and how they want to be managed.

Are you making the most of all your people or have some of your employees left part of their experience at the front door? If they have, you can be sure you are missing out.

Image: EngageSciences