Author Archives: Yafit Davis

New business sales

If you were going to prioritise one element of your new business sales, what would it be?

Often when I ask these kind of questions, people use the world’s biggest cop out and say, ‘How long is a piece of string…?’ Well, I now have a brilliant answer for this, it goes like this: A piece of string is twice as long as half its length….

Now that old chestnut is out of the way, let’s get back to my original question above. Actually, when you look at what constitutes new business sales, there are only two components:

  • Lead generation:  The effort that goes into generating new sales opportunities
  • Conversion: The effort that goes into converting these opportunities into actual sales

To avoid over simplifying the important process of new business sales, it might be helpful to break these up further to understand what does each process involves:

  • Lead generation would broadly involve the following:
    • Creating a strategy based on your target markets
    • Reviewing your touch points such as your website and sales collateral
    • Gathering data based on specific demographics
    • Running monthly activities to create and identify interest
  • Conversion would broadly involve the following:
    • Making an initial contact to understand their requirement
    • Providing them with specific information
    • Following up and building a relationship

I hope this has helped you make up your mind on your choice. If you want my opinion, focus on conversion and outsource your lead generation. In my experience, if you invest money or time into lead generation, eventually, you will get more leads. However, your conversion rate will drop the more leads you get. This is because your conversion rate is a percentage based on the number of new leads; if that number increases but your conversion stays the same, it will be a smaller percentage overall. This is why, it’s very important to work on your conversion so you don’t waste money on getting more leads that are not becoming sales.

One of the biggest elements to review is your follow up process. I am sure you may have heard that 80% of sales are made between the 5th and 12th contact yet 90% of sales people make 3 contacts or less. It is simple, if you want to improve your conversion rate, follow up more.

If like me you understand that improving this may take more resources than you care to assign to it, have a read here to see how we can support your team through strategic lead nurturing.

New Year resolutions

Why you should not ‘go gentle into that good night’?

Just before Christmas, we went on a family weekend to Kidwelly in South Wales. One of our day trips was to Laugharne which, you might know, is where Dylan Thomas lived for many years.  When visiting his house, I came across a quote which I found so compelling, I hung it in my office and made it my new year’s resolution. The quote is: ‘Do not go gentle into that good night, rage, rage against the dying of the light’.

For many reasons, I had a very challenging year in 2017. You might think it’s odd but I am looking forward to another challenging year in 2018. I believe that we do our main development and growth in the face of challenge. This is why I have found this quote so compelling.

So, how does it connect to my work and what I do for my customers? Having run my business for three years now, I am getting better at establishing who I like to work with. I think this is a really key stage in my journey as a business owner which has had a big effect on business retention and stability. For me, the key is in my clients’ confidence in their own product and belief in their own success. If you believe in your product, you know people will be interested in it and so you are prepared to go on a journey when establishing new markets. If you don’t believe in your product, you need constant reassuring and therefore find rejection very hard.  This is a problem if you are developing new business as rejection is part and parcel of it.

One thing about choosing your customers is that you need to ensure you have enough options. I specifically refer to the SME owner’s tendency to only go out hunting when the drought has reached the door. So many of us would rather deal with customers who beat us down on price and give us no commitment, rather than go and get some new ones.  If you want my top recommendation for 2018, build a lead generation system and ensure that you are constantly looking for new clients and developing more products and markets. Put a stop to the feast and famine approach this year and have a great 2018.

If you are not sure where to start, here are a few things we can do to help.

Marketing trends 2018

Main marketing trends small businesses should consider in 2018

This time of year, the whole world and his wife are talking about future trends so I thought I should jump on the bandwagon too. I have spent a few hours wading through tons of articles and have created a list of my favourite trends from top influencers. To make sure it is useful, I have added a little translation relating the trend to small businesses. I hope you find it useful

Forbes: Place your brand purpose at the heart of your business strategy. Every brand makes a promise. But in a marketplace in which consumer confidence is low and budgetary vigilance is high, it’s not just making a promise that separates one brand from another, but having a defined purpose. This is where an organization identifies an aspirational mission and ties it to its day to day offerings. This unifying theme creates experiences which are centred around making tomorrow better than today. Successful marketers in the year ahead will place brand purpose at the core of business and brand strategy and use it as a lever of growth with internal and external audiences.

What does this mean to small business: The idea of appearing helpful to clients and prospects will continue to be important to your marketing strategy. Brand purpose takes it a bit further and suggests that you relate your communications to your core business values. In other words, don’t just come up with a load of vague useful guides but make sure it is all connected to an overall theme related to how you specifically solve problems in your market place.

Marketing week: With GDPR coming into effect next May, marketers must get to grips with their data to ensure they are fully compliant. Marketers will need to take a direct interest in the makeup of their databases and what GDPR allows to be done with them, and then train their teams. This should hopefully be aided by clearer guidance from the ICO in the coming months, though that has been promised throughout 2017 and so far, little has materialised.

What does this mean to small business: Whilst we are awaiting some firmer guidelines from the ICO, make sure that you review your data and data policy, to ensure that you comply with basic requirements. As many SME’s don’t have the knowledge or resources themselves, don’t hide behind it, get some help.

Neil Patel: Changing formats mean content roles are shifting: In recent years, there’s been a consistent shift away from content churning. The brands experiencing the most success with content marketing aren’t just flooding their audience with content, they’re taking a media publishing approach. Blogging by itself doesn’t tie into all the pertinent marketing strategies of growing companies, and it doesn’t address the issue of new formats for consumption. The content team will need to grow and adapt for the next year and should include people who have a variety of talents including video production, audio editing as well as content optimisation and analytics.

What does it mean to small businesses:  I am afraid it means that creating content is going to become more complicated and cost more money. The problem is that even in a B2B environment content has become very important and you need to work at it. In my opinion, you don’t have to go the full hog as before; content needs to be a part of your strategy ensuring it’s considered and budgeted for.

Circle C Studio: `Account-based marketing and sales strategies: This is a strategic approach to business marketing based on account awareness in which an organization considers and communicates with individual prospect or customer accounts as markets of one. ABM has been a hot topic in B2B marketing for the past few years and it picked up a lot of steam in 2017. For B2B firms with long, complex sales cycles that often involve many stakeholders and transactions that are typically high-value in nature, ABM represents a more effective way to generate new business than solely relying on “inbound” approaches to lead generation.

What does it mean to small businesses:  This one is music to my ears and something that we have been working on a lot in 2017.  Many small businesses seem to approach small and big companies in a similar manner. This often means that when approaching a larger business, they tend to stop at one senior contact rather than researching and finding multiple decision makers. You can also see this as confirmation that you need to deploy a number of tactics to make a campaign strategy work.

HuffPost: Growth Hacking: Also known as growth driven tactics, these are marketing processes specifically targeted for increasing growth in revenue. SEO is the still one of the best growth hacking strategies simply because you are getting more traction from people who are already inquiring about your product or service. As technology evolves to allow additional search options, you have to adjust your strategy to meet your audience where they are looking for you.

What does this mean to small business: In 2018 the need for outbound marketing will continue to grow. With customers everywhere having less money to spend, the race to their wallet will require you to come out of your comfort zone and go after your target markets. HuffPost mention SEO but of course there are many other tactics you can use for Growth Hacking including e-mail marketing, direct mail, LinkedIn and telemarketing.

Some interesting ideas there I am sure you agree. Not very much of the thinking is new but I think that it supports the notion that difficult market conditions require a tighter strategy. Here is how we can help in case you were wondering.

Have a great Christmas and a successful 2018!

 

Lead nurturing

Why is lead nurturing not really a sales job?

If you have read any of my Blogs lately, you will have seen that I am very interested in buying and selling styles.  I have also written quite a lot about follow up and why you, or your sales team, should not have the sole responsibility for it.

Working with customers to supply them with new business leads has made me realise how important timely follow up is.  That’s still the case but recently I have come to understand the kind of follow up required in order to benefit from new business leads and I thought it would be good to share this with you.

Firstly, it’s important to understand the difference between outbound and inbound marketing:

Inbound Marketing: This term is used to describe the tools you create to help people approach your business when they are interested in your product and service. These tools include your website, referral marketing, content marketing and so on.

Outbound marketing: This term is used to describe pre-meditated activities you undertake to approach your target markets directly. These activities include tactics such as e-mail marketing, advertising and telemarketing.

Many established businesses I come across, survive almost entirely on inbound marketing and particularly referrals. This is a phenomenon I have written about before and would advise against. This Blog, however, is interested specifically in growing SMEs who utilise outbound marketing activities through their sales and business development arm. Not surprisingly, these companies generate many leads and then become a victim of their own success, struggling to keep following up with all of them.

When this happens, the business is effectively throwing away much of the budget and effort they put into their lead generation. Their problem is no longer of generating numbers but of converting them at a high enough percentage. This problem arises from two main areas:

  1. Growing businesses are very busy and as a result, non-urgent but essential activities, such as lead nurturing and systematic follow up, get put to one side.
  2. Follow up is normally an activity assigned to the sales team. However effective follow up requires listening skills and patience which is not at the forefront of every sales person’s mind.

What is the problem then?

When you are conducting a lot of lead generation activities, you will find opportunities before they find you. This means that you often speak to interested parties when they are very early on in their buying cycle and have not made up their mind on what they want and from whom.  This means you will need to conduct quite a number of conversations before you are in a position to make the sale. Hence why persistent, polite and long-term follow up communication is so key. 

So, what can you do? ·

  • Reduce your lead generation efforts·
  • Nag your sales people to follow up more·
  • Recruit a telemarketing assistant ·
  • Outsource your follow up requirement

Here is what we do:

Lead generation is key to continuous growth but your sales people’s time is better used developing hot sales opportunities. The reality is that effective follow up takes some experience, which means that outsourcing can provide a good solution for the following reasons:

  • You get access to considerable experience and skills
  • The activity must generate results to be continued
  • The contractual commitment required is considerably reduced

Click here to read more about our lead nurturing solution and get in touch if you would like to discuss this further.

Busy sales team

Your sales team is so busy-what are they all doing?

The sales trainer Grant Cardone says that to be successful in sales, you have to stick to the following steps:

  1. Show up early
  2. Stay late
  3. Have 10 deals working for every deal you want
  4. Spend zero time crying about how unfair the world is

I think this makes the job sound very busy and not much fun but I agree with the essence of it: done well, a sales job is a busy job that requires a lot of resilience, organisational skills and focus.

This is all very well but from your perspective, as a business owner or sales manager, it makes it very hard to keep track of what your sales people are actually doing. Taking into account ever growing sales targets, this situation can quickly become a real issue. This feeling of lack of control is a typical one and there are a few key contributors to it:

  • A sales job requires many interactions such as networking, seminars and customer meetings so sales people are often out of the office
  • Sales are ultimately measured by success. This gives some sales people the impression that they are able to do what they want as long as they deliver results
  • You often manage your sales team through KPIs but these are activity based, which is only a part of the picture
  • Sales data is summarised in pipelines but, as a manager, you have little knowledge of each deal other than what your sales people tell you

Solving this issue is not easy and often this escalating situation ends up in employment termination, which is both disruptive and expensive. So, what can you do to tackle this in a productive way?

  • Trust is really important. Most sales people, especially good ones, don’t like or need excessive control. If you are not able to create trust with your sales person it probably means that you should not employ them. Before you rush to conclusions, try and ask yourself whose problem it actually is, yours or theirs?
  • Make sure the team is clear on your vision for success. By that, I don’t just mean that you define and communicate it. Make sure they buy into it themselves and you are all clear on how you go about achieving it. The last thing you want are people paying lip service and then saying stuff like ‘Pie in the sky’ behind your back.
  • Set KPIs that cover the culture as well as activities. This means that the team is clear on how they are expected to behave as well as the activities they need to complete. A good way to have everyone comply is to ask the team to set the indicators themselves. Then they cannot blame you when they underperform.
  • Don’t depend solely on your team for information. This does not mean you don’t trust them, just that you understand that they sometimes get too close to a deal to admit it’s dead. Call prospects and customers yourself and go to joint meetings
  • Support and nurture your sales people. Let’s face it, you need them to grow the business. Most sales people work hard and want to do well so your support will make a difference to the bottom line. Note that your support and nurturing should come as a part of your management process and not instead of it.

One of the key ways to support your sales team and focus them is to take away some of their essential but non-urgent workload. An example of this is lead nurturing, which can take some time and patience and is better handled by specialist staff. If you lack resources, we offer an outsource service covering lead nurturing. You can read more about it here.

Get in touch if you want to speak further and share any helpful experience you have had with your sales people.

Buying styles.gif

What are the key buying patterns and why are they key for sales success?

In the world of sales and business development, people are always judged by their sales success. Their job longevity depends on developing an ever-growing pipeline with a high percentage of deals closed quickly. This has been my world for much of my professional career and whilst I got some great training along the way there was a key thing they all seemed to miss. I recently came across some research undertaken by Disc which basically states that only 35% of the population are likely to make a buying decision quickly. The remaining 65% like to take their time, which could be anything from days to months depending on the product.

This means two important things to a Sales Director who wants his team to succeed:

  • Identifying early adopters is key to getting some sales in quickly and keeping senior management happy.
  • Keeping in contact with the rest of the medium to late adopters through structured follow-up is as important.

So, how to go about doing this? Read up on buying styles. As always, there are a quite a few theories and numbers. I like the Disc approach, which identifies four styles:

  1. The Decisive: These buyers have a clear picture in their mind of what results they want. They are more often interested in “winning” or “promoting their own agenda” so they like to buy when they feel they have “gotten their way,” so to speak. They are attentive to actions or communication that will speed up those results. Discussions about details and minutiae are distracting to these individuals. They prefer to discuss top-line, big-picture concepts when considering the value of any offer.
  2. The Interactive: These buyers want to shape events and enjoy “getting their way” when it comes to negotiations or buying something. They are interested in people and like to interact with others. They are most receptive to making a buying decision when they feel a sense of connection with the person, are in a more social environment and have had the opportunity to express their emotions about the offering first. This person is also particularly inattentive to details, preferring to stick to the big-picture and emotional benefits of the solution.
  3. The Stabilizer. These buyers are more passive and introverted and interested in the how and why of a solution. Their primary interests are in maintaining stability within themselves and whatever situation they find themselves in. Messages that don’t address the specifics, or that champion radical change, are likely to alienate rather than resonate. They prefer to “take their time” more than any other dimension so any offering should give them plenty of time to decide.
  4. The Conscientious: These buyers are also more passive and introverted. They too take a much more detailed and accuracy-based approach to their buying habits. Without sufficient data to prove any statements made to them, you will fail to achieve their buy-in. They are therefore receptive to offerings that provide proof that the solution works and proposals that are meticulously detailed.

The next thing to do is to make sure that you are able to identify the type of buyer hiding in new leads coming in as quickly as possible. This will allow you to ensure that they are approached correctly for the best outcome.

Your sales team should be hot on the heels of early adopters whilst the medium to slow adopters should be followed up appropriately. This sometimes means taking it away from your eager and impatient sales people. Often, everyone in your business is very busy and as a result non-urgent, but essential, activities such as lead nurturing and systematic follow up, get put to one side.

We have recently developed a lead nurturing solution to support this situation. Click here to read more.

Colourfull plasters

What’s more important, new leads or conversion and what does it have to do with colourful plasters?

I am sure it will not surprise many if I said that both were as important because one will not work without the other. So far so good, but here are a few questions for you:

  • Why do most companies invest more time and money in new lead generation and much less in improving their conversion rate?
  • How come every time you increase your lead numbers your conversion rate actually goes down?
  • Why should you consider it?

It will be interesting to hear your thoughts on this but as it’s my Blog, I’d better give you my take on things:

  • Why do we seem to value new leads over conversion?

Simply put, because it’s easier to measure and influence. It’s not that anyone is particularly stupid but we are all very busy. So, when it comes to lead generation, as it’s a simple number, you can easily work out how many you are getting from each channel, job done. In addition, new lead numbers tend to increase if you throw time and money at them so again, job done.

Improving conversion is much less obvious, which is why we often don’t get around to doing it. To make a difference, you need to work out all or a few of the following:

  • Your target markets
  • Their problem
  • The best solution for it
  • Your sales process
  • Your follow up system
  • Why does improving lead numbers, negatively affect your conversion rate?

I am sure you worked this one out yourself. As your conversion rate is a percentage based on the number of new leads, if that number increases but your conversion stays the same, it will be a smaller percentage overall. This is particularly true If you have a problem converting new leads.

  • Why is this important?

Getting these two numbers right, is the key to the success of any lead generation strategy. There is little point in generating leads if you cannot convert them. Many companies I come across are looking for smart solutions to generating new leads and in the process, get carried away with some shiny new methods. From my perspective, it seems like many are looking for colourful plasters to patch up the real cracks. Unfortunately, this can often result in wasted budgets.

  • What can you do about it?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Review your strategy
  • Work out your actual conversion rate
  • Set monthly targets
  • Improve your follow up system
  • Put aside time and resources for lead nurturing
  • Who is affected most?

This is a universal problem but if you are a growing business and employ a sales team, this topic is absolutely key to nail. Often, everyone in your business is very busy and as a result non-urgent, but essential, activities such as lead nurturing and systematic follow up, get put to one side. This means that the money you spend on lead generation is often wasted.

We have recently developed a lead nurturing solution to support this situation. Click here to read more.

PPC marketing guide

GDPR is coming: Expert advice from Helen Moloney of All Things Web®: Pay Per Click Marketing Guide for Beginners

Pay Per Click Marketing can be a very valuable tool for businesses to gain visibility and drive traffic to their website.  Whilst many have heard the term we often find they don’t fully understand what it is, how it works and more importantly when to use it within their marketing strategy.

In this beginners guide to Pay Per Click Marketing we provide an overview of this useful digital marketing channel.

What is Pay Per Click (PPC) Marketing?

PPC is essentially a form of advertising in which the advertiser pays a fee to the advertising platform every time their Ad is “clicked”, hence the term Pay Per Click.

Advertising on the search engines is the most common form of Pay Per Click Marketing as it allows businesses to buy not only visibility (rankings) within the search results, for their targeted search terms, but also visitors or “traffic” to their website in a much quicker timeframe than would be achieved by “earning” their positions with an organic search strategy.

Google Adwords is probably the most well known PPC platform in use by businesses, and enables them to advertise their website within the sponsored links section of the search results (see below) and get a share of the traffic generated for their target search phrases.

Google ad words

How Does Google Adwords Work?

To set up a Google Adwords account is completely free.  You only pay Google when your Ad is clicked and the visitor is taken to your website.

When a search is completed on Google, the search engine trawls through the millions of advertisers it has and selects what it feels are the best Ads to place within the sponsored links section of the search results for that search query.

For Ads to be selected they need to beat the competition for that search phrase.  The decision on which win the fight is based on a combination of factors; the relevance and quality of the advertisement for the search (Quality Score) and the amount the advertiser is prepared to spend (Bid Value) to get that visitor to their site.

How to Set up A Google Adwords Campaign

When setting up a Google Adwords Campaign you first need to decide which keywords or search terms that the people you want to attract to your website are likely to use.

These Keywords will be the trigger for when your Ads are displayed.  Careful keyword research is imperative to the success of a campaign; too generic will waste your budget as whilst they may generate lots of visitors to the site the lack of clear intent will result in poor conversion rates.  Very niche and specific keywords will give you a much better potential for conversion but with much lower volume.  A combination is therefore the best option.

Keywords identified, you then need to decide how much you are prepared to spend to obtain that all important visitor to your website for that phrase or group of phrases.  How much you “bid” will be determined by a number of factors; how much your competitors are prepared to spend to “win” one of those coveted spots, the lifetime value of a client to your business and overall budget available, after all it is a numbers game to a certain extent.

Once you have your keywords and decided how much to bid, you then need to write your Ads.  Space is limited and there are some quite specific criteria to meet so you need to be creative.  Ad content not only needs to be engaging to elicit a click but you need to get a good quality score – so relevance to the search phrase being targeted, intent of visitors and also the landing page you are delivering them too need to be taken into account.  This will not only bring better click scores but will also ensure your Ad is more likely to be placed within the results, plus you will be rewarded by lower cost per click rates.

The final stage and one that many overlook, is optimising your campaign landing pages.  Are they relevant to the search phrase triggering your Ad?  Again this will result in a better Quality Score from Google as well as ensure you don’t waste the click by taking visitors to an irrelevant page which they immediately leave.

Landing pages for PPC campaigns need to be much more focused than other generic pages on your website as visitors from Adwords behave very differently to those already familiar with the brand.  They need to be clear, concise, with strong calls to action and immediately give credibility to the business.

There are a lot of other things to consider when setting up your campaign including geographical targeting, timings of when Ads are displayed, additional content to display alongside your main Ad content (Phone numbers / Ratings etc.) but the above are the basic things to get you started on setting up your first campaign.

When should you consider using Google Adwords?

Google Adwords can be a particularly effective marketing tool either as part of a wider integrated digital strategy or for some very specific situations:

Starting out on your digital journey

If you are just starting digital marketing for your business or have just launched a new website and want some immediate visibility, PPC is a good channel to select. In general Pay Per Click is a faster and lower cost option; although more competitive search phrases can be expensive. In addition to saving on costs and bringing immediate results, it can provide useful data to help inform future marketing activity as it helps to demonstrate website performance, as well as identify which keywords generate traffic and conversions.

Targeting customers in a specific location

Do you target or want to target a market, not in your local area in the UK, or even another country? To achieve 1st-page search results organically at a National level or internationally, can be difficult as well as needing a long-term approach with a higher investment. With Pay Per Click you can target potential customers in specific areas and be on the 1st page of the search results immediately.

New Products and Services

When launching a new product or service it is unlikely that you will have or be able to build immediate visibility organically.  Using PPC campaigns will enable you to launch your product and service effectively and generate sales whilst you develop your long-term and sustainable organic rankings over time.

Further Help and Advice

All Things Web® is a full-service digital marketing agency with offices in Bristol and Swindon.  They provide PPC campaign management or tailored PPC training to help businesses on their paid search journey.  Find out more about Helen or visit the website to find out more.

Donuts

GDPR is coming: Expert advice from Lisa Williams of Atom Content Marketing- six top tips to make content marketing work for your business

There’s no longer any need to make the business case for content marketing. When done well, it can be highly successful and businesses of all sizes and types now use content marketing to attract and retain customers. But that’s part of the problem – most of us are bombarded with content every minute of the day. Some of it is good – some of it isn’t. So, how do you make sure your content marketing hits the spot?

  1. Be authentic: If you copy others blindly or try to be something you’re not, your audience will see right through it. It will undermine your credibility. Think about your brand values and make sure that every item of content you put out is in tune with what your business really stands for. Be who you are.
  2. Be committed: Running a business is very demanding, but that doesn’t mean you can neglect content marketing. It shouldn’t be allowed to become low priority. Lose momentum and the value of previous content marketing can quickly diminish. Create a sound content marketing plan for the year ahead and stick to it. Regularity is crucial.
  3. Be helpful: Your content marketing should encourage people to know, like and trust your brand. Be friendly and helpful. Provide genuine value. It can help to raise your profile and attract fans, followers and customers who value the things they get from the relationship they have with your business.
  4. Be relevant: If your content isn’t relevant to those you need to reach, it won’t engage them. And if it doesn’t engage them, it won’t offer any value. To make sure your content remains relevant, always focus on your target audience’s needs. Create content that’s relevant to their lives and provides them with genuine value. Don’t just broadcast sales messages.
  5. Be original: Don’t jump on the latest bandwagon just because everyone else is doing it. Instead, find ways to set yourself apart. Be pioneering. Find new angles. Be refreshing. Find new things to talk about. Be different. Don’t be boring and predictable.
  6.  Be the best: Never underestimate the importance of quality. Set a budget, of course, but spend it wisely and make sure your content is good as you can make it. Don’t cut corners. Work with good people. Keep your content free from silly mistakes. Your content must create the right perceptions of your brand. Quality matters.

You can find out more about Lisa Williams here.  Visit Marketing Donut for more help and advice on content marketing. Marketing Donut is published by Atom Content Marketing and is one of six market-leading Donut websites helping small businesses to succeed.

5 ways to use LinkedIn to offset GDPR

GDPR is coming – Expert advice from Mark Stonham: 5 ways to get more from LinkedIn as GDPR changes the data management rules

When the law changes and the penalties increase, I don’t know about you but I become fearful of being caught. Mobile speed cameras in 20mph zones are the latest hazard for drivers around Bristol. Whatever our views about whether they actually make the roads safer it’s undeniable that they are designed to change our behaviour. They probably make us drive more slowly. They may also encourage us to consider alternatives, such as walking or public transport. Personally, I’m looking forward to self-driving cars.

I see GDPR – the General Data Protection Regulations – in a similar light. This EU legislation that is taking effect from May 25th 2018 (easy for me to remember as it’s the day before my birthday) could well have a similar effect on how businesses of all sizes handle data.

GDPR – a trigger to rethink our contact and communications strategies

You can find specifics about the GDPR rules and their interpretation in many places online. At the end of the day, most businesses will need to make changes in order to comply.

However, this legal change is also a good trigger and be viewed as an opportunity. It’s a great prompt to review our contact management and communications strategies, and in my field, the way we use LinkedIn.

As LinkedIn is a public system we as individuals can in effect let LinkedIn deal with GDPR on our behalf. Data within LinkedIn has been provided by users, they maintain it, and they specify how visible it is through profile parameters. It’s when we take information out of LinkedIn, into a CRM or Email marketing system, that we need to be careful. Here are a few strategies to consider.

  1. Get closer to 1st connections in LinkedIn: One of the biggest opportunities created by LinkedIn is to be able to view activity and interact with our 1st connections. While many will be inactive, and relationships have gone cold, that doesn’t mean we need to be passive and cold too. Identifying people who are active on LinkedIn and who we can help and who can help us is the first fundamental step to take. As with any networking and relationships, being interested is a great way to become interesting. And giving to others will lead to receiving in return, especially as our generosity is visible through this public platform.
  2. Messaging through LinkedIn: Email inboxes are often very cluttered, and deliverability rates of email can be questionable. Personalised email messages are known to be far more effective than blanket emails, but they do take more time and effort to create and send than broadcast emails. Using LinkedIn Messaging to communicate on a personal 1:1 basis with 1st connections is very powerful when done well. Developing a range of template messages to copy, paste, amend and send means messages can be sent in a productive way.
  3. Content marketing through LinkedIn: As email marketing becomes even more regulated under GDPR it’s worth reviewing and revising the balance of communications. Using Social Media to communicate with people at the top of the funnel is a very powerful strategy, in part because our message can be amplified by others in the social community. It’s a great way to demonstrate our expertise. Status updates and articles that combine text, images and video are formats to leverage in LinkedIn. Creating a mix of messages that engage, inform and educate readers is the foundation. Creating shareable content that others Like, Comment and Share is a way to capitalise on the LinkedIn publishing platform.
  4. Lead Generation through LinkedIn:  Inviting and encouraging people to declare their interest is one of the marketing metrics that are most significant in lead generation. Tracking how many people sign-up to offers of various types, such as information product downloads, webinars and email marketing nurture are the main devices used in campaigns. GDPR is making sign-up and permission even more important.There are several ways that LinkedIn can be used to invite people to visit sign-up pages. Articles with a call to action, either as text or an image is one. Status updates leading through to blog articles on our website or directly to a landing page for an ‘offer’ is another. Advertising on the LinkedIn platform is a third. Finding the right approach and tone for our target audience(s) and for the LinkedIn community is an evolving process.
  5. Collaboration through LinkedIn: Partnering with complementary people and businesses at various levels is a way to leverage the strengths of the relationships they have with their connections. This is a reward for having fewer but stronger relationships, which is one effect that GDPR may have. To work well there needs to be an understanding of the value that both parties offer and gain. This can be as easy as sharing an article by one of the influencers or established players with your LinkedIn connections and commenting on relevant articles by others. Asking one of our 1st connections for an introduction, and encouraging people to provide us with referrals takes it up a level. And then joint campaigns, co-marketing, joint ventures etc. through to full partner programs promoted through LinkedIn are top-end options.

Prepare for GDPR sooner rather than later. Viewing GDPR as an opportunity is a positive way to approach the changes. Taking time to review contact and communication strategies now, and in this context review your LinkedIn strategies will put you in a stronger position for the arrival of GDPR and all that goes with it.

If you’d like to have a chat about ideas, opportunities and options around GDPR and LinkedIn, and pro-actively approach the changes, then do contact me, Mark Stonham, or  Yafit Davis.

For more information about Mark and his company visit his website here.