In the spring of 2009, I attended a Facebook marketing conference in New York City. Even with the economy in the tank and most of those attending unsure if they would have a job tomorrow or the next day, the conference was packed.
Why? Because at that time Facebook was relatively new, and its marketing potential seemed unlimited.
I left that conference as high as a kite, wanting to tell my clients — mostly manufacturers in the B2B (business to business) market serving the professional carpet cleaning and cleaning industries — Facebook was the new rising sun, and we must get on board as quickly as possible. Virtually all of them agreed with me, followed my suggestion and had their own Facebook pages within months.
Realizing, as we all know, just because you build it does not mean visitors will come, we worked with those Facebook sites, posting new information and new content almost daily. We advertised on Facebook, boosted posts, conducted contests and took other steps, waiting with high expectations for the marketing benefits of Facebook to bear fruit.
We worked and waited for about three years, but by 2013, it was becoming fairly clear all our hopes and high expectations were simply not materializing.
Soon I realized this same scenario was being played out with other B2B marketers. While Facebook has proven effective in the B2C (business to consumer) market, it simply has had limited positive impact in the B2B world.
Does this mean that carpet cleaning technicians that focus on the B2B world — looking for carpet cleaning clients that own or manage restaurants, office building, schools and other facilities — must return to the old marketing strategies used for the past century: Telephone cold calling, flyers and literally knocking on business doors? Not necessarily.
While I am reluctant to jump on a new marketing bandwagon, it does appear LinkedIn, which is directed toward businesses and business professionals, may be an answer for techs focusing their marketing efforts on the B2B market.
What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn was launched in May 2003. It is a social media site used primarily by business professionals looking to network or reach out to others.
“LinkedIn is like one big cocktail party where everyone is passing out business cards,” writes Shawn Busse, with a B2B marketing agency in Portland, OR. Currently LinkedIn has about 93 million users in the United States and about nine million more in Canada.
Carpet cleaning technicians can use LinkedIn to create personal profiles, discuss themselves and their businesses, receive endorsements and write about their work history, education and other relevant topics. They can also create business pages for their companies.
Both of these can be powerful venues for technicians and others marketing themselves in the B2B marketplace.
The power of LinkedIn
But where does LinkedIn get its power? Possibly the following analogy will answer this question.
The head of the human resources (HR) department for one of my clients told me that the first thing he does when considering a new applicant for a job is to search for the applicant’s LinkedIn profile. He puts more emphasis on the person’s profile than the his or her resume, looking to see, among other things, who has endorsed this job applicant, whom the applicant has endorsed, where he or she has worked and whether he knows any of these people or past employers personally.
“It’s the best way for me to get a ‘feel’ for this person and if he or she will fit into our company,” he says.
The same thing can happen to you and your business. Let’s assume a building manager is looking to contract with a carpet cleaning technician. She has the ability to use LinkedIn to search for carpet cleaning companies in her community, find out who owns the company and then research these people.
Once again, LinkedIn allows her to get a “feel,” not only about someone, but about their company, as well. In both cases, while it may not ensure that the job applicant mentioned earlier is hired or a specific carpet cleaning company is retained, LinkedIn “warms the way,” so that users feel they know something about you and your potential before even meeting you.
Making it work for you
The more you work LinkedIn, the more it will work for you.
The first thing to do is write an effective, well-written LinkedIn profile for yourself. Do not take this lightly since it will soon be found in all the major search engines, and once it is picked up it can be hard to make changes.
Do a little research on writing effective profiles before posting. Once on the site, it will provide a percentage as to how complete your profile is and even make suggestions as to what you should include. The more complete your profile, the more professional you will appear. Provide information such as job titles, skills, your blog or company blog if you have one or even a slideshow or video. This is also where you can add keywords that help you and your company get picked up, not only on the LinkedIn search engine, but also on Google.
Keywords must always reference your skills, products or services, not your name or your company’s name. For instance, our building manager may not initially be searching for you or your business but rather someone who cleans carpets in her community.
Using keywords like the following, she is likely to find you:
- Chicago carpet cleaner (assuming you are based in Chicago)
- Carpet cleaning specialist
- Carpet cleaning expert
- Carpet care
You should also ask for “endorsements” from current and past clients. You do not need hundreds of them, but several from important clients can prove very beneficial.
LinkedIn endorsements can be powerful because many people are concerned about — or legally prohibited in business — from recommending someone or some company. So, if they say a kind word or two about you and your business here, it can carry a lot of weight.
A company page is also a must. Here you can upload company images and tell your company’s story. The company pages are easily searched, so they allow people to find you when exploring for companies or services they are interested in.
Furthermore, the company page allows you to market yourself with content marketing.1 This can be accomplished using LinkedIn’s Pulse platform, as well, but can work even better on your company page.
Essentially, this feature gives you the opportunity to become a “thought leader” on LinkedIn and be seen as an expert, someone who really knows carpet care and carpet cleaning.
Content marketing on LinkedIn once again “warms the way” for potential customers to learn about you and, even more important, get a feel for whether you and your business are right for them.
Earlier we said that the more you work LinkedIn, the more it works for you. B2B marketers often spend a lot of time with LinkedIn initially but then back off.
LinkedIn likes to see activity. The more active you are with your content marketing, networking, getting endorsements and so forth, the more it will notice your efforts and make you easier to find. This could be seen as a downside because it means a time commitment from you.
Another downside is that you have to keep up with trends. Over the years, LinkedIn has made a number of changes to the entire platform, as well as to the way individual profiles are presented.
Also, marketing programs that may have worked a few years back may not work today. It is important, if you are seriously using LinkedIn as a B2B marketing platform, to stay abreast of new trends and directions. Look for a blogger or two who specialize in using LinkedIn as a marketing tool, and read their advice. Not only can this person give you insights into new LinkedIn marketing trends, but he or she may help you become a LinkedIn B2B marketing genius, getting you as many business customers as you can handle.
1According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is a marketing technique that consists of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
Robert Kravitz is president of AlturaSolutions Communications, a PR/ communications and content marketing firm for the professional cleaning and building industries. He may be reached through his LinkedIn profile at: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/preview?locale=en_US&trk=prof-0-sb-preview-primary-button