Top tips for what, and when, to post about your business on LinkedIn

Martin Kovacs /

Sharing valuable content with a niche audience on LinkedIn is a tried-and-tested way of standing out from the crowd. However there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to determining when to post.

John Nemo, LinkedIn expert and author of LinkedIn Riches, stresses the importance of creating free content via a recent blog post, describing it as “the price you must pay to get in front of your ideal audience and demonstrate your worth as opposed to those who just claim it”.

However, putting this content together is just the first step — determining an optimal time to publish content will go a long way to ensuring it receives the recognition it deserves, while helping to secure new business.

So when should you post? Nemo recommends entrepreneurs take into account a number of factors.

Analyse your audience

Nemo recommends using Google Analytics to determine your audience’s location, with his experience being that publishing LinkedIn posts during the middle of the week and in regular business hours works best.

As advised by LinkedIn via a blog post:

“Peak activity windows on LinkedIn is strongly correlated with behavioural routines throughout the day.

“Use Google Analytics to evaluate the time zone locations of your audience. Once you know where they are located, build testing strategies around publishing at times relevant to their location.”

Attention to detail

Nemo notes that attention to detail matters when creating a post.

He advises that “content should be hyper-focused on a targeted, niche audience, to the point of including their job title or industry name in the headline of your blog posts and articles”.

He also points to the value in using LinkedIn’s advanced search techniques to best effect to find and connect with your ideal audience, helping to build a network to share content with.

Headlines are critical — utilise additional social media channels

A confusing or uninspiring headline will detract from original and well-considered content.

Nemo recommends using the headline formula: Target Audience Name + Your Service + Benefit They Want.

Entrepreneurs will also do well to take advantage of all their social media channels in building an audience, he says.

“Along with responding as quickly as possible to the likes, shares and comments your articles receive, you can also use other social media channels and your email list to drive traffic to your posts,” Nemo writes.

“Using your content as the context for these conversations, you can begin to earn the trust of your connections and develop the relationships that lead to winning new business on LinkedIn.”

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Martin Kovacs

Martin Kovacs is a journalist with experience covering the IT, consumer electronics, retail, finance and energy sectors.

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The difference between sales and marketing segmentation

Sue Barrett /

To segment or not to segment, that is the question.

For too long sales has allowed marketing to dictate what a segment should be. But the simple reality is that sales segmentation and marketing segmentation are substantially different. In fact, it is these very differences that make sales strategy so different from marketing and even corporate strategies.

Marketing defines segments as: “A group of people that share one or more demographic and/or psychographic characteristics”.

However, sales people deal with people, not groups.

Traditional segmentation usually takes into account how attractive a segment is to a company, and how competitive the company is in that segment. Sales segmentation also includes a third parameter — how attractive the company is to buyers in that segment.

Buyers, even the ones with common requirements, have very unique and specific requests, and the approach taken in marketing segmentation is not set up to deal effectively with them. Traditional segmentation falls short of the individual buyer expectations, desires and needs. Moreover, clients in different segments want solutions that are similar but are not identical. So sales has to develop the ability to make changes to standard products and services to deal with individual customer’s expectations.

Sales misses the opportunity to tackle individual expectations if it doesn’t narrow down its segmentation to a micro market level. And then it misses the opportunity to develop a competitive edge.

Take the following example.

In the retail sector, Ikea, Bunnings and others are included in the “retail segment”. But each of these retailers has its own store manager and addresses a different end user segment (demographically). These two factors alone make it unwise to treat every customer in the retail sector as being essentially the same.

From a sales perspective, any sector or group of customers with a unique need, or which requires some adjustment to a product or service, or which requires a different sales activity or approach; or any group where the major competitors are different, is a unique sales segment.

Therefore, organisations have to start looking at segments from the point of view of how attractive they are as an organisation to buyers in each segment and how effectively they can compete. A key here is to stratify the markets correctly. The function of strategic sales is to define the most attractive segments. When a group of clients buy a different version of a given product, when buyers pay in different formats, and/or when buyers expect a different sales approach (for example, key accounts versus once-off purchases), each represents a different segment.

While the demographics and the psychographics may be similar enough for marketing to reach these groups, in sales they are too broad to be truly effective. Not because marketing got it wrong, but because, whereas marketing deals with groups, salespeople deal with individuals. And every individual in a segment is unique — sufficient to warrant a different definition for sales segments than what is used in marketing.

Sales is far tighter than marketing. That’s not to say that marketing segmentation is wrong or inaccurate, but only that it is too broad to enable sales to achieve the focus it needs in order to maximise opportunities and limit drainage on scarce sales resource.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Sue Barrett is the founder and chief executive of the innovative and forward thinking sales advisory and education firm, Barrett and the online sales education & resource platform www.salesessentials.com. Striving to develop and deliver better sales standards and strategies to help people and businesses sell better, Sue is a sales philosopher, strategist, speaker, trainer, writer, adviser and selling better activist.

Sue Barrett

Sue is a selling better strategist and advisor, sales philosopher and speaker, sales trainer and coach, writer and activist. Sue is chief executive of forward thinking sales advisory Barrett and online sales education and resource platform www.salesessentials.com. Barrett develops sales strategies, standards and education that help people and businesses sell better.

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Stats that should be shaping your marketing plan

Michelle Gamble /

At Marketing Angels, we regularly share compelling statistics with our social media fans and followers. We do this to help them make informed decisions and form better marketing strategies.

There are different ways to leverage statistics for a more data-driven marketing. Brands and marketers use them to identify market trends, pinpoint challenges, understand their target market and competition, or even make bold decisions to challenge a prevailing trend.

Here are the key statistics that illustrate what media Australians are consuming, how Australians are looking for products and services, what’s shaping their decisions and how your marketing strategy should be adapted.

Internet or online advertising will account for over half (51%) or $8.2bn of the total ad spend in Australia by 2019, up from 34% in 2014. (Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers for IAB: Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook)

You are on the right track if you currently have an online media strategy. As people increase the amount of time they spend online vs consuming other media, it only makes sense for brands and marketers to use this medium as a main marketing tool. Your investments should go towards mobile, search, display and video advertising, which are the four major segments consumers strongly respond to. Video ads, by the way, is the fastest growing segment of internet advertising that’s expected to triple in growth in the next five years from $176m to $608m.

What’s great about online is that it’s easier to compete with big spenders even if you’re on a smaller budget. However, be prepared. Expect tougher competition as some of you will be vying for the same group of customers. The trick is to use two or more tactics and be as creative as possible. On the other hand, if you think you can still spare some marketing dollars for a TV ad or any offline channel, for that matter, go for it! Sometimes going where only a few go can be a good strategy.

There are 18 million Australians actively online as of March 2015. Three out of the five age groups experienced growth, with those aged 25-34 experiencing the largest boost of 5.3% to 24%. (Source: Nielsen: The Australian Online Landscape Review – March 2015)

Results show the top 10 sites that experienced growth in engagement during this period are Google, Facebook, MSN/WindowsLive/Bing, Microsoft, YouTube, Wikipedia eBay, Yahoo!7, Apple, and ABC Online Network.

On further examination, you’ll see that Google, Wikipedia, and Apple have more engagement with younger groups belonging to ages 2-17, 18-24, and 25-34. Whilst ABC Online Network and Yahoo!7 had the heaviest skew towards Australians aged 50+ at 42.9% and 35-49 year olds at 33.2% respectively. These clearly highlight the big difference in how Aussies are currently accessing information, entertainment, news, etc. These sets of information are just some of the data you need to help you find, understand and target your customers better.

Only 47.1% of Australian businesses have an online presence (Source: Australian Business Statistics (ABS): IT Use and Innovation in Australian Business 2013-2014)

The number almost didn’t move from the previous 47.2% for 2012-13. In comparison, the number of businesses with social media presence is steadily growing, from 26.1% in 2012-13 to 30.8% in 2013-14. Clearly, many local businesses are prioritising social media over having a website. This is probably because it’s easier to create a social media presence than launch and maintain a website. Also, a social media strategy requires little or no cost whilst creating a website can get expensive. But is this a good strategy? I think it’s a risk. A website, to most customers, is an indication that they’re dealing with a legitimate business. Not to mention, most customers nowadays prefer e-commerce to in-store shopping because it’s fast, convenient, and secured. In fact, the value of online retail continues to grow in Australia with an estimated worth of $22.1bn last year. Keep in mind that a website is also a marketing tool. You can sell or cross-sell on your website, blog to establish your brand, and even use it in tandem with your email marketing. If your business is selling anything, having a website is non-negotiable.

Social media continues to grow as a way for businesses to engage consumers.

Meanwhile, despite strong consumer usage of social media, with 3 in 10 Australians using social media for commercial purposes, to assess brands and businesses, to research purchases and to access offers and promotions, businesses are still lagging behind in social media presence as shown in the recent Sensis report below:

Mobile advertising has continued its steady climb, with one in three general display dollars being spent on mobile display advertising. (Source: IAB/PwC Online Advertising Expenditure Report (OAER) – Quarter ended March 2015)

When 89% of the population own a smartphone and 60% have a tablet (2014 Australian Mobile Phone Lifestyle Index), mobile advertising becomes a marketing strategy that’s a must for any type of business. The wide variety of media available on mobile devices means you can show ads in many different formats like text ads, image ads, app promotion ads, video app promotion ads, and others. So jump into the mobile ad space early and ahead of competitors to experience a significant increase in your ROI.

Be sure to optimise your site for mobile. If your site is already mobile-friendly, you’re in good shape. Study after study shows how Australians are increasingly using mobile devices to search, play, work or shop online.

20% of all online sales happened in Australia between 6-9pm during the first quarter of 2015, with Tuesday proving to be the strongest day for transactions overall. (Source: eWay Q1 2015 Online Retail Report)

Online retailers should pay attention. You now know the time and day when most online transactions happen for the majority of Australians. After-work hours is the best time for you to work the hardest. Consider increasing your ad spend during this period to ensure you’re visible and available to your potential customers. Keep in mind that in the first quarter of this year alone, Australians have already spent billions of dollars, $4.37 billion to be exact, online (Forrester).

What’s happening offline

It’s clear that ad revenues in online channels are growing whilst in traditional media they are falling or remain stagnant. That being said, there’s still some merit in advertising offline. Audiences are dropping away from free-to-air TV, newspaper and consumer magazines but radio and outdoor continue to grow.

Radio and outdoor are still expected to post positive results showing consumers are still paying attention to these channels. Radio is expected to grow from $1.17bn to $1.33bn and outdoor from $746m to $856m by 2019 (The PwC Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook).

Marketing is not for the unprepared and uninformed. With the plethora of measurement tools and research available to us, we can plan the future of our business based on real facts – and not on gut feel. If you want to get the biggest bang for your marketing dollars, you’ve got to know not only how your market behaves but also how other businesses are planning their strategies. Pay attention to every compelling statistic you encounter so you can plan your strategy accordingly.

Since starting her outsourced national marketing consultancy Marketing Angels in 2000, Michelle Gamble has helped hundreds of SMEs get smarter marketing. Michelle helps businesses find more effective ways to grow their brands and businesses

Michelle Gamble

Since starting her outsourced national marketing consultancy Marketing Angels in 2000, Michelle Gamble has helped hundreds of SMEs get smarter marketing. Michelle helps businesses find more effective ways to grow their brands and businesses.

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Seven differences between sales and marketing

Sue Barrett /

If any business is going to thrive in the 21st century, it’s vital that we all have a clear understanding of how sales and marketing can work effectively together in our businesses.

For too long, there have been unfruitful turf wars between sales and marketing teams. For too long, too many people have been fooled into believing that ‘sales’ lives under marketing’s mandate. And for too long, too many people have been calling ‘selling’ marketing which it is not.

We need to redress these issues once and for all and properly define sales and marketing.  So why have these disagreements and misconceptions been allowed to fester for so long?

Firstly it’s worth reviewing some of the findings from Peter Finkelstein’s 2012 white paper, “Why marketing as we know it is dead”:

According to an article in the Harvard Business Review (August 2012), traditional marketing – i.e. advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications – has failed. And we at Barrett concur. Traditional marketing (which has become little more than an expensive, very often valueless mass communications methodology) has failed. As far as mass communications is concerned not only has it failed, the internet and social media have surpassed anything the conventional marketing professionals have to offer. Marketing has been at death’s door for well over a decade. It’s just that marketing professionals don’t want to recognise the reality! 

There are three pointers that prove this…

First, buyers are no longer paying much attention to marketing messages. Studies show that in the decision-making process traditional marketing communications techniques have very little credibility or relevance. Buyers are checking out product and service information in their own way, often through the internet, links to business associates and through direct interaction with supplier organisations – many of whom communicate using smartphone technology. And they are doing it in their own time, at little cost.

Secondly, in a devastating 2011 study* of 600 CEOs and decision-makers, around 73% (438) said that marketing officers (CMOs) lacked business credibility or the ability to generate sufficient business growth. Around 72% of respondents in the study indicated that they were tired of being asked for funds without being given any reassurance that the funds would generate incremental business. A significant group, 77% (462) are no longer interested in any talk about brand equity that can’t be directly linked to recognised financial metrics. That leaves only a handful of around 130 CEOs (21%) who are not necessarily dissatisfied, or satisfied with marketing‘s efforts.

The two key questions that need to be asked are…

  • Why has marketing taken such a credibility beating?
  • As important, why now is sales finally getting the professional recognition it really deserves?

Whilst over the decades of continually changing buying patterns and behaviours sales has made the necessary adjustments – from Snake Oil Selling in the 1890s to the sophisticated Solutions Selling of the 21st Century – marketing has continued, in the face of the increasing change, to hang on to its outdated 1948 model. And whilst the internet is turning sales and marketing on their heads and rapidly changing the playing field – one click at a time – marketing is still struggling to make the move away from the old formula of Product, Price, Place and Promotion (i.e. the 4P’s) – developed by James Culliton**. And though marketing has recognised the growing power of the internet, its practitioners have made the fatal error of trying to apply old models to new buying patterns. The result (as the Harvard article pointed out) is a disaster for marketing.

Thirdly, in today’s increasingly social media-infused environment, traditional marketing techniques not only don’t work, they make no sense. Trying to extend the 4 Ps to a world of social media simply misses the mark. Even Facebook and Google can tell you all about it. It finds itself mired in an ongoing debate about whether marketing on either Facebook or using Google Ads is as effective as it needs to be.

The reality is that the internet, smartphones and social media have changed the world of sales and marketing. The interesting thing is that both sales and marketing professionals saw the changes coming. Marketing did what it has traditionally done when under threat – resorted to a PR campaign to come up with “inspirational names” for doing the same old thing (e.g. relationship marketing, outcome focused branding, lifestyle communications and a myriad of other names used to disguise the use of the antiquated 4Ps model) in the hope that these would encourage people to believe marketing was up to the challenge.

Sales, on the other hand, has simply adapted the selling techniques to accommodate the avalanche that the internet and social media represent in the way people buy. In turn this has bolstered the credibility of sales, at the same time as marketing is struggling to regain some vestige of credibility.

From a sales perspective, professional salespeople have learned that they needed to break the umbilical cord that has given them so much comfort in the past. It’s no longer up to marketing to generate leads for sales (which salespeople tend to decry as poor quality any way); it is no longer marketing’s role to create invitation lists to networking functions (that salespeople complain is not with the right people). Nor is it necessary for marketing to invest in expensive collateral and printed brochures that sales really only use as a crutch for a lack of product knowledge. Now these activities and many more are being performed jointly by effective sales and marketing teams. Teams that work collaboratively to engage with their buyers in a more holistic manner.’

So in a 21st century world, what are some of the differences between sales and marketing?

Marketing is…

1) Marketing is one to many.

2) Marketing tells the stories (company, product, etc.) to many people.

3) Marketing looks after the brand’s reputation

4) Marketing needs to keep the stories circulating and resonating with the target markets using the company’s plumb line (the business of the business) as its central reference.

5) Marketing analyses the big data. Marketing brings you the average result not the specifics.

6) Marketing studies what experience customers expect when they buy or try a product, service or solution. That means reading their digital footprint and understanding their online chatter as much as it does focus group discussions. Marketing looks for new metrics about consumer clusters and grouping. Online groups are markets of the near future as more and more people cocoon themselves and shop less.

7) Marketing should not promote special prices and discounts, instead replace these with special offers, focusing on delivering greater value – more bang for the buck is the new mantra and greater value with fair exchange is the principle of pricing today – not cost plus as it has been in the past.

Sales is…

1) Sales is about one to one.

2) Sales is where our business becomes real for the client. It is where the stories and brand come to life.

3) Sales develops relationships. It’s relationship-driven.

4) Sales looks after individuals.

5) Sales deals with the ambiguities and the details of each person. It cannot be averaged.

6) Sales analyses the behavior of the prospects and customers whom they deal with on an individual basis. Sales professionals talk to their customers about the joys of risk free offerings that help them realise their goals and objectives. They tap into their buyers’ Facebook, LinkedIn and other digital pages to gain a deeper understanding of what experiences each individual customers want.

7) Sales moves away from discussing price and discount, instead replacing these with discussions about total cost of ownership which includes price but extends to include deliveries, warranties, support, training and the other contributing things that are delivered as part of the purchase. Sales engages with customers to understand what risks they face when making a purchase and then learns how to position their companies as risk free alternatives.

The one thing sales and marketing must share in common is the company’s ‘plumb line’ and its stories. From many people to the individual, the central plumb line – the business of the business – needs to be consistent and help each customer connect in a meaningful and specific manner that is relevant to their situation and their view of the world.

Remember, everybody lives by selling something.

*London-based Fournaise Marketing Group, 2011 – A Study of Global Marketing Effectiveness.

**“Marketing Mix” was coined in an article written by Neil Borden called “The Concept of the Marketing Mix.” He started teaching the term after he learned about it from an associate, James Culliton, who in 1948 described the role of the marketing manager as a “mixer of ingredients”.

Sue Barrett is a sales expert, business speaker, adviser, sales facilitator and entrepreneur and founded Barrett Consulting to provide expert sales consulting, sales training, sales coaching and assessments.

 

Sue Barrett

Sue is a selling better strategist and advisor, sales philosopher and speaker, sales trainer and coach, writer and activist. Sue is chief executive of forward thinking sales advisory Barrett and online sales education and resource platform www.salesessentials.com. Barrett develops sales strategies, standards and education that help people and businesses sell better.

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