Library of emails
April 18, 2020
- Start zigging
- Learn LinkedIn
Did it feel good this week to see April 15 slide by without having to file a federal tax return?
Ah, the small pleasures when you’re stuck at home.
What else are you taking time to enjoy?
For me, it’s an extra glass of red wine with dinner and a scoop of Belgian chocolate gelato after.
In this week’s issue…
We look at these timely topics:
- Now’s the time to be zigging: Now that everyone else is talking about COVID-19, go in the opposite direction [article]
- Up your game on LinkedIn. Here are 8 tips [article]
Your reading time this week is about 11 minutes. That assumes you read at 200 words a minute. (If you move your lips when you read, it takes longer.)
This is a long one, and it’s packed with good stuff.
SALES | MARKETING | REVENUE | STRATEGY | MESSAGING | TRENDS
Now’s the time to be zigging
At what point did you start ignoring the emails about the corona crisis?
I’m talking about the ones that start with the words coronavirus, COVID-19, working from home (WFH), these uncertain times, and the new normal.
For me it was about 10 days ago.
That’s when the floodgates seemed to open. Sales and marketing teams had adjusted their message to reflect current events. And within a few days, it seemed, everybody was saying almost the same things.
If your goal is to be different―to stand out in the crowd―then stop using the same language everyone else is using.
Please, abandon these new clichés. Don’t invite your readers to use their itchy delete fingers on your messages.
Zig when others are zagging
Just a few weeks ago, you had to show your audiences you weren’t clueless. You had to acknowledge that you understood almost everything had changed for them, and it had happened with shocking speed..
Now I suggest you make another sharp turn.
People are tired of reading about this virus. They’re starting to think about reopening for business. They don’t want to read any more about this uncertain time.
They assume whatever you have to say about it will be the same bullsh*t many other people are saying.
They don’t want to hear it from you—any more than you want to hear it from me. . .
Talk about the problems the virus has caused, without mentioning the virus
I’m not saying you should avoid talking about problems the virus has caused. I’m suggesting you not sound like other people.
If your solution helps companies manage crazy fluctuations in inventories or supply chains, focus on that.
Everyone will understand the context. They’ll know why your message is valuable and relevant now. So don’t turn them off by starting with In these days of the coronavirus…
SALES | MARKETING | PROSPECTING | SOCIAL MEDIA
Up your game on LinkedIn
If your established methods of prospecting aren’t working so well, this is a good time to learn to use LInkedIn like a pro.
This article shares some good, recent resources to help you start.
Much of what you may have read about how to use LinkedIn is outdated or misleading.
Many LinkedIn consultants offer advice that doesn’t work well for complex B2B sales.
So you’ll probably have to experiment to see what works for you and your company.
Your learning process could take as much as 6 months of daily effort before you see big results. But in that time, you can grow your following to thousands. And you don’t have to give it more than 30 to 60 minutes a day.
Why it matters now
It’s not clear whether usage of LinkedIn has risen or fallen since early March. Microsoft hasn’t published recent numbers, so we have to rely on third-party data.
At least one source shows somewhat lower LinkedIn use on average.
This finding provoked a debate among a handful of LinkedIn power users this week. Many say their own engagement rates are up, even if third-party data shows total usage is down.
Regardless, this is a good time to hone your skills on LinkedIn.
With your routine distrupted, do you have more unstructured time available during the day? If so, you can learn the ins and outs of LInkedIn without compromising other sales or marketing priorities.
Even If you think you don’t need LinkedIn to fill your pipeline, it’s still good to learn to use it well.
That’s because it can help protect your personal income. You can build your personal brand and establish relationships with potential employers.
LinkedIn may not be right for your needs
LinkedIn isn’t right for everyone. If you’re trying to reach C-suite supply chain executives in major retailers, LinkedIn may not be the best channel. Many senior executives don’t participate—at least not visibly.
The most active LinkedIn users tend to be people with something to sell.
So if you’re trying to reach to sellers and marketers, it can be a fertile hunting ground.
Even if your best target audiences aren’t active on LInkedIn, you can still use the site to learn a lot about companies and their employees. Use of the paid LinkedIn Sales Navigator may be worth the money.
And you can develop connections with mid-level people who can refer you to higher-level executives in their company.
8 quick tips
1. Increase your first-degree connections
The more first-degree connections you develop, the more broadly you can share the content you post to LinkedIn.
If a large number of your first-degree connections comment on your posts, LinkedIn algorithms will also show your post to your second- and third-degree connections, as well as to your connections’ connections.
But don’t connect with just anyone. Target the people you want to connect with. Create and follow a plan.
2. Play the long game
Using LInkedIn isn’t a good way to fill your pipe fast. You must build relationships first. And that takes time.
3. Don’t ‘connect and pitch’
If there’s one iron-clad rule to follow on LinkedIn, it’s this: Don’t ask to connect with someone and then share pitchy content or ask for a phone call or a meeting. People will not take this well.
They’ll reject you as a spammer.
When you sell high-value SaaS to relatively small markets, you can’t afford to burn bridges.
4. Post plenty of fresh content to your LinkedIn account
Only about 1% of LInkedIn users ever post any content to the site. You want to be among them.
You can post content to LinkedIn in 3 basic formats: posts, articles, and company pages.
These are relatively short pieces of content with limited text-formatting options. They go out in a steady stream to people who follow you. Posts are similar to updates you might publish on Facebook.
You can attach files to posts, including images, PDFs, audio, and video.
These look more like conventional blog posts, and they allow more formatting options than a LinkedIn post.
You can attach the same kinds of files as with posts, and you can include links to other online sources inside or outside LInkedIn.
If your company has a LInkedIn corporate account, you can establish a company page. If your company doesn’t have a well-tended company page, it should.
Company pages have their own format for the kinds of content you can publish there. Specifications may change. See Dig deeper, below, for more on using company pages effectively.
5. Post a variety of content types
Each type of content serves a different purpose.
Plain text posts generate the most engagement of any format. That’s good when you’re looking for broad exposure. Engagement extends the reach of your posts.
Video and audio posts get little engagement, but they show who you are in ways that text posts can’t.
You convey much more about yourself in a video or audio post. They can help you build personal relationships, trust, and confidence.
6. Don’t add links in the main body of your post or article
LinkedIn wants its visitors to stay on the site. So their algorithms tend to penalize posts that contain links to other websites.
This means that if your post contains an external link, LinkedIn will show it to a smaller number of viewers.
How can you get around this?
For now, you can fool the algorithms. Add your link to a comment that follows your post. Explain in your post where to find the link in the comments that follow.
LinkedIn’s algorithms will eventually figure out how to overcome this ploy. Use it until they do. .
7. Try to get your audiences to respond to your posts
To get broader exposure for your posts, try to get people to like them or comment on them.
One way is to ask a provocative question. Another is to make a controversial statement and ask people to share their thoughts.
The timing of your posts and readers’ reactions are both important. The sooner readers respond after you post, the more widely LinkedIn will share your post.
So post at times when readers are most likely to see them and respond. The ideal times will vary from one audience to another, but often they’re early in the morning. Saturdays are usually bad times for posting to LinkedIn.
You can also get more comments to your post if you join something called a pod. And a company called Lempod enables you mechanize the process of working with pods. But some power users question the value of using pods.
8. Use hashtags to expand your reach and improve your research
LinkedIn has enabled use of hashtags since 2018.
Hashtags help users find the kind of content they’re looking for. LinkedIn borrowed the idea from Twitter.
Some LInkedIn power users say they don’t like using hashtags in their posts. But I haven’t seen a good reason not to use them.
Many LinkedIn users love hashtags and use them often.
How can you know which hashtags to use? Will you get more exposure with the hashtag #covid19 or #covid_19?
Here’s a cool trick. Go to the search box at the time of your account page.
Type in the # character (number sign). Then start typing a hashtag you think might be good for the audiences you’re trying to reach.
If you type in #covid19, you see that it has 396,730 followers.
If you enter #covid+19, you see it has 13,966 followers.
Then choose the hashtags that will get you the number of viewers you want to reach with your post.
You can also elect to follow the hashtags of your choice. You do so by clicking on the button to the side. Then you’ll receive a feed of posts with the same hashtag.
You’ll find many more handy tricks like these when you start looking.
LinkedIn isn’t a magic solution for your prospecting and networking needs. But it’s a tool you can’t afford to ignore.
So start learning to use it effectively. Take advantage of any extra time that’s freed up in your daily routine.
What to do now
Learn to use LinkedIn through experimention. Don’t worry about screwing up your early posts. Before you’ve built a big following, few people will notice any mistakes you might make.
Don’t pay for an expensive course that teaches you how to spam people.
Get the book Finding Sales Success and view the webinar of the same title. See Dig deeper, below.
Would you be interested in a joining a small online group that shares LinkedIn learnings among peers?
If so, let me know by responding to this email.
LinkedIn post by Logan Lyles. April 17, 2020. Accessed April 17, 2020. [This post explains how to use hashtags.]
LinkedIn post by Jonathan Elder. April 17, 2020. Accessed April 17, 2020. [This post shares data about current LinkedIn usage. The data comes from SimilarWeb, an online market research service. Many comments to Elder’s post dispute the data he cited, based on unsubstantiated personal impressions.]
“The Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn Company Pages.” Allie Decker. Hubspot blog. January 8, 2020.
“Finding Success on LinkedIn: 108 Tips from 36 LinkedIn Sales Stars.” Scott Barker, Host. Scott Ingram, interviewee. Sales Hacker webinar. April 9, 2020.
Finding Sales Success on LinkedIn: 108 Tips from 36 LinkedIn Sales Stars. Scott Ingram. April 2020. [The Kindle edition of this book costs just $4.99. You can get a copy gratis if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. Although the book could have been better written and edited, it’s probably the best and most current source about how to succeed with LInkedIn.]
That’s it for this week.
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