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Are your Lead Generation campaigns LinkedIn?

You may be aware that we regularly discuss the importance of social media for a business, providing you with insights into the latest social media trends and top tips about how to engage effectively with your consumers within the variety of social media platforms available.
From our experience of working with SMEs, the same questions pop up time and time again, ‘How can social media fit with my industry’? ‘How is social media going to generate sales for my business?’

Not all social media sites are relevant for every business, for example, product based B2C businesses are more likely to engage with consumers on platforms, such as Facebook and Pinterest, where a business can take advantage of the visual functions available. If you want to communicate to a B2B audience and business professionals, then LinkedIn with its 150 million members is a good place to start.

LinkedIn enables members and businesses to create profiles, connect with like-minded individuals, share blogs and news items. However, more and more businesses are now discovering the hidden powers of LinkedIn, not only as a social networking site, but also as a platform that can be the foundation for marketing campaigns and a vital component in a company’s lead generation efforts.

So how can your business use LinkedIn for lead generation? Think of LinkedIn as a treasure trove with over 150 million contacts that can be used to support your business activities. LinkedIn is rich with information you can use to help qualify prospects, target businesses and research competitors.

Below are some examples of how your business can use LinkedIn effectively:

  • Do you have a list of potential companies that you wish to target? Are there contact names missing or is the list simply out of date? If so, LinkedIn is a great tool for identifying key decision-makers working in the organisations you are keen to engage with.  This helps eliminate the dreaded entry phrase ‘I can’t put you through; we work on a no name basis’.
  • Is your business launching a new product or service and you are keen to research your target audience? We use LinkedIn as a valuable market research tool. It gives you access to a range of groups and contacts, many of which are keen to share their opinion. Post a question on a relevant group and engage with your target audience to get their thoughts and ideas, there’s nothing better than a service or product that really addresses the challenges and problems customers face.
  • Join groups and develop yourself as an expert in your field. LinkedIn enables you to join and set up industry and career specific groups. Groups of like-minded professionals are excellent for gaining knowledge, sharing news and conveying your expertise. LinkedIn groups allow you to see the issues that your target audience are facing, providing you with an opportunity to share your knowledge and build relationships with potential customers.

A great example of a business getting to grips with the power of LinkedIn is Cathay Pacific. Cathay Pacific Airways is an international airline based in Hong Kong, offering scheduled cargo and passenger services to over 140 destinations around the world. Cathay Pacific faced the same challenges that most businesses face, how to crawl through the jungle that is an overcrowded marketplace and reach their target audience with a message that is compelling. In order to achieve this, Cathay Pacific turned to LinkedIn to help target people who would fly business class between the United States and Asia. The aim was to identify members who belong to LinkedIn groups related to business travel in Asia, such as Global Workers, China Networking Group and Hong Kong Connection, in order to engage with time-strapped business travellers in an environment where they were already comfortable, engaged and spending time.

Cathay Pacific established a company page in LinkedIn and started to engage with the groups and individual members, providing regular status updates. As well as increasing the brand awareness, Cathay Pacific’s LinkedIn activity generated a total of 1,324 responses from business travellers, produced 97 LinkedIn page recommendations and increased the clickthrough rate on to their main website.

With the ever increasing array of social networking sites available to businesses, large and small, and the constantly evolving digital world, a business must establish the platforms that offer their business most value. Social media is free but your time is not. You need to use it wisely. We believe that increasingly, if you operate in the B2B sphere, LinkedIn represents an effective investment of your time. It is now so much more than just an online CV; it unlocks the doors to millions of opportunities for your business.

Growing your greens

Strategies to help your green marketing flourish:

When it comes to corporate responsibility and green marketing, an increasing number of companies are recognising the importance of including environmental sustainability amongst their goals….TLC Business are one of them.

Green marketing definitions can be a little confusing, since green marketing can refer to anything from promoting the environmental benefits of a product, advertising a company’s sustainability initiatives, to simply channelling your marketing message in a more eco-friendly method.

When many people think of SMEs going green, methods such as recycling paper and conducting more meetings over the phone spring to mind. However ‘green’ strategies can incorporate even more day-to-day business activities, from using social media more effectively, to the tools you use to market your product or service.
Green marketing can take many forms, below are some of the systems and tools you can adopt in your business:

  • Green digital media
    Green marketing has gone digital with the help of social media and technology. Utilising Facebook or Twitter instead of print advertisements and providing digital versions of press packs are all steps businesses can take to more effective green marketing. Below are examples of how global companies are using social media within their green marketing mix:General Electric has introduced the Ecomagination Challenge, which challenges people all over the world, from businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators to students, to generate ideas how to improve the planet’s energy future. This project is promoted through the company’s website, blog and Twitter.IBM has created a Smarter Planet blog and encourages visitors to participate in conversations about creating a more sustainable planet. IBM also uses Facebook pages and Twitter accounts to keep the conversations alive.
  • Re-design your materials with green in mind.
    One of the most effective ways to go green is to consider the potential environmental impact of your printed material at the design stage. That means taking into account factors like paper weight, item size, and mailing format at the beginning. This may seem extreme but a smaller, lighter piece will not only reduce the amount of paper you ultimately use, but also the emissions of the trucks delivering your pieces.Puma is a great example of a company planning ahead. The major sports brand is reducing its carbon footprint by redesigning the packaging for its shoes. Instead of packaging the shoes in a traditional cardboard box, which then necessitates a plastic carrier bag, Puma has designed a new product, dubbed “The Clever Little Bag”. Puma’s new packaging is made of a reusable shoe bag with a built in handle, thus eliminating the need for both a cardboard box and a carrier bag at the end of a sale. Puma’s green effort alone is projected to reduce the company’s paper consumption by over 65 percent, as well as cutting down on annual carbon emissions by 10,000 tons.
  •  Clean up your database:
    An up-to-date database can also play a key part in your green marketing strategies. Whether you are sending a direct mail campaign using your new eco friendly marketing collateral or you are sending regular e-marketing campaigns. You can save money, reduce paper use and delivery impact, simply by cleaning up and reducing the size of your database. Regularly updating mailing lists and removing undeliverable addresses, duplicates and bounced email addresses, will play a part in saving resources.
  • Adopting a lifecycle approach:
    Selecting green materials and products for marketing materials and adopting a lifecycle approach that looks at the whole campaign, thereby foreseeing areas of potential waste. More and more companies similar to Recycle Match are evolving. Recycle Match operates on the philosophy that one company’s trash is another company’s treasure and matches businesses who have waste products, such as used billboards, textile waste, and salvaged building materials, with businesses who need them.
  • The Green Community:
    Finally, community is another component to successful green marketing. The green revolution has caused the growth of thousands of organisations and causes, each championing their own method of fighting for the environment. Find the businesses that fight for green living in the area, which relates to your product or service and contact them for support.

With the current emphasis on going green, recycling, and saving the planet, it would be foolish not to engage with the green consumer. However, it is important that your actions are credible and sincere. It is all too easy to employ ‘green wash’ when communicating your ‘green’ policies. Organisations that do this run the risk of attracting negative feedback and potentially damaging their reputation. A business doesn’t have to implement all of the suggestions above, simply adopting one or two can be a step in the right direction. Like any marketing or business activity, having a plan is essential.  Your green plan doesn’t need to be complicated or lengthy, but you should outline the steps you need to take to ensure effective execution and alignment with your overall marketing strategy.

March Top Marketing Tips

  1. Not long now until March 30th when Facebook roll out the timeline update to the business pages. The Timeline is a cosmetic change to the format for displaying content on Facebook profiles. The Timeline format makes Facebook content more engaging and highlights the history associated with the page in a chronological order that makes it easier to navigate to older material. Take a look at the TLC Business Facebook page.
  2. TouchRetouch HD is an app that lets you remove unwanted content or objects from your photos, using just your finger and iPad. This is a great app for editing shadows, wires, blemishes, or even a person that you want to remove from your photograph.
  3. Pixable is a new app which sorts images from your Facebook and Twitter feeds into piles such as “Top of the Day,” “New on Twitter” and “New Profile Pics,” making them easy to view and interact with. The app is accessible via the web and can be downloaded from the iTunes store for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.

Top Marketing Tips April 2012

  1. Total Send is the latest email marketing web service that is easy to use and represents a viable alternative to established platforms, Campaign Monitor and Mail Chimp. It manages subscribers, sends campaigns and tracks results. Total Send includes all the features you need for running a successful email marketing campaign for your business and is extremely cost effective. Click here for more information.
  2. If you find yourself taking a long time converting your meeting notes into a digital format, take a look at Dragon Naturally Speaking. After initial scepticism, we have found it incredibly effective at reducing the time we spend typing up our notes. For more information click here.
  3. Keen to monitor your social media activity’s effectiveness? TwentyFeet is tool that pulls in data from Facebook and Twitter and presents it in graph form. TwentyFeet’s stats include friends and followers, retweets, mentions and Facebook status comments. To find out more click here.

Safety First

You may be aware that earlier this week the BBC launched their Share Take Care’ campaign, encouraging everybody to actively protect their online activity. As a society, we are concerned about the photographs, status updates and information we share with fellow family members, co-workers and friends, taking time to monitor our own security settings. However, how many of us apply the same effort and methods to protecting our business accounts online?
Social media presents businesses with many opportunities, including customer support and the ability to communicate quickly with customers and suppliers. The communications giant NETGEAR recently commissioned a piece of research looking at how important social media has become for businesses. NETGEAR asked 300 small business owners and IT managers how they were using social media in their company. Nearly half of those polled said they were using social media to stay in touch with their customers and nearly 60% said they were using social networking for internal communications. But only 29% said that had made moves to educate their staff about the risks social media may present to their business and what they should be doing to monitor their brand awareness online.

The reputational risks of social media can easily equal or exceed the reputational benefits. The reason is simple; the vast reach of social media platforms enable brands to communicate every second, globally, providing both opportunities and risks. You may remember last year, TLC Business highlighted key areas to help protect your business online.  We thought now would be the prime time to inform you again of the simply steps you can perform, in order to secure your business and its reputation on social networking sites.

Educating employees:

The developments in social media are here to stay, so empower your employees with best practices and guidelines.

  • Create, update, communicate and enforce a company policy that specifies social media do’s and don’ts, including how employees may interact with visitors and use visitors’ information.
  • Identify the key players who will be responsible for developing, executing, and monitoring your social media strategy. Assign at least two administrators for your account. The admins should monitor and promptly respond to new Facebook and Twitter policy changes and features, always considering the impact on the business
  • Sit down with your team and explore the topics and voice you would like to channel to your target audience; create a content plan that employees can follow and use as a guideline throughout the year.

Monitoring conversation online:

Here at TLC Business we recommend Google Alerts as a vital tool to monitor what is being said about your brand. Google Alerts is about understanding what type of information is out there that’s tied to your name, and most importantly your business.

Google Alerts are email updates that are sent to you for whatever keyword or phrase you decide to set the alert. As soon as your name is mentioned anywhere on the Internet, you are sent an alert immediately.

There are other tools out there that do a similar thing but be aware that the results are not definitive, the web is a massive place.

There are only 5 pieces of information that you need to provide to start using Google Alerts:

  1. The word or phrase you want to be alerted about: company name, your name, your products, etc
  2. The type of search: news, blogs, video, discussions, or everything
  3. How often: as it happens, once a day, or once a week
  4. Volume: only the best results or all results
  5. Where the alert should be delivered: email address or feed

One of the latest social media activities to come under fire is a campaign ran by McDonalds. The fast food chain started a campaign on Twitter promoting #MeetTheFarmers, to show how good McDonalds is, but suddenly they changed gears to #McDstories; which unfortunately backfired when people shared their horrifying stories.  See below for some of the tweets circulated worldwide:

  • #McDStories Take a McDonalds fry, let it sit for 6 months. It will not deteriorate or spoil like a normal potato. It will remain how it was
  • ‘These #McDStories never get old, kinda like a box of McDonald’s 10 piece’

Like any business feature or marketing activity, creating and communicating a clear plan is crucial to avoid mistakes. If you are worried how your brand is going to be perceived online, spend time evaluating the right message you want to send out to your target market, what information they will find useful and more importantly what messages can be monitored and dealt with by your team.