When it comes to B2B marketing, it’s all about expertise.
You want to demonstrate to your target audience that your company is the leader in your field, the go-to resource for industry wisdom and experience – in a word, the expert.
And sure, you can accomplish this through strategic marketing of the company itself – but positioning your business as an expert is a lot easier when you can point to the expertise of each of your employees as individuals, as well.
What it boils down to is this: Your company’s employees each need personal brands.
The combined strength of each of their brands will augment your company’s brand and cement your position as the leader much more quickly than simply marketing the company alone. The key is to let the company brand flavor each individual’s personal brand, so that they integrate harmoniously.
Shama talks a lot about the importance of a personal brand – and luckily, it doesn’t have to be complicated to create one. In fact, you and your team probably already have the beginnings of one in place: your LinkedIn profiles.
But for the purposes of creating personal brands and marketing your B2B business, you’ll need to do more than just post your resumes there. Here’s the complete MZ guide to making the most of LinkedIn to show off your industry expertise.
First things first. Of course, every team member should have the basics of their resume on their LI profile – work history, education, etc. But that’s far from all. LinkedIn offers many different ways for individuals to set themselves apart from the crowd.
1. The right profile picture: The usual advice is to go with a professional headshot – and that can definitely be the right choice, if that fits your company culture and projects the image you want to convey.
But what if your company culture is more laid back, or even fun and wacky? In that case, a bunch of employees with professional headshots can derail that image. Try more casual snapshots, or even professional photos of team members laughing.
The one non-negotiable? Make sure the photo focuses on their face. A shot of someone dancing may be fun, but it won’t show their face clearly enough – and looking at someone’s face creates a type of connection that a full-body shot from further away just can’t.
2. The right headline: Sometimes, that short description of your current position under your name on LinkedIn is all a person will see – so it’s important to get it right. What is the best title for each member of your team? Are you all partners? Evangelists? Technicians? Experts? Specialists? What fits your brand best, while creating a unique identity for each individual, as well?
You’ll want to take LinkedIn’s search engine into consideration here, as well – using our industry as an example, if someone is searching for an expert in “content marketing,” you don’t want to have your writers use the phrase “content writing” in their title. No one will find them – and by extension, no one will find your company.
3. The right summary: You know the summary at the top of your resume that usually holds one or two cheesy sentences about how you are looking to put your skills to good use in a company that will allow you to grow, yada yada yada? Yeah, this is not that summary.
Your LinkedIn summary should be a rich, detailed description of your personal brand. Who are you? What defines you? What experience and expertise do you have? What are your passions? How do you contribute to the company? What makes you unique? Why should people trust you? Take search into consideration again, as well, including phrases and terms that your target audience will be searching for.
It can be several paragraphs long, but here’s the key – make it readable. Make it interesting. No one will read dry summaries of a person’s work history, or even worse, lists of skills. Tell your personal story, and get people excited to work with you. If each team member has an inviting summary at the top of their profile, people will actually read them – which means they’ll be drawn into their personal brands, and through those, into your company brand.
4. The right content: Once your profile itself is beefed up, you can start focusing on the best part of LinkedIn – building relationships. On your LI homepage, share posts from your company blog with your connections or the general public, or share links to other content that meshes with your brand. If you engage with your connections’ posts by commenting or liking them, they’re likely to return the favor.
Even better than sharing content is publishing your own content directly on LinkedIn. LI now offers users a blogging platform on their homepages where they can create content to share with the wider LI community. Write blog posts specifically targeting your company’s audience – and make sure they all reflect your brand and your company’s brand. Share your expertise in each one, in your own unique voice. Can you imagine the power that these posts will have, if every team member is regularly sharing their own expertise?
LinkedIn Company Pages
Make sure that each and every one of your team members has put your company name on their profiles correctly, so that it links them to your company’s LinkedIn page. That way, they’ll all show up on that page – and even better, anyone looking to work with any one of them will be led to your company page, as well. On that page, you should again focus on your company’s brand, conveying it through the cover image, the company description, and even the posts you share. But don’t stop at sharing your own company’s content – promote your team member’s LinkedIn posts, as well, to further the association.
Now comes the fun part! This is where LinkedIn becomes truly interactive. In order for your team members to start reaching out to the LinkedIn community to create relationships for the benefit of your company, they’ll all need to start participating in the conversations happening in LinkedIn Groups. Here’s how.
1. Find the right groups to join.
Search for Groups related to your industry, but not ones that will be full of nothing but fellow industry businesspeople. You’ll want to find a place where you can share your expertise with potential clients, not with competitors.
You and your team members should look for Groups with two criteria especially: a large number of members, and a good amount of discussion going on. Some Groups can seem promising, but end up being full of nothing but spam, or even lying idle without any discussions for weeks at a time. Others maybe very active, but only have a very few members. Be strategic in your choices. Be careful, too, not to spread yourself too thin. Choose 2-3 Groups to join, tops – otherwise you’ll be overwhelmed.
2. Join in the right conversations.
When you and your team members first join a Group, don’t start right off asking questions and initiating discussions. Instead, get a feel for the group’s dynamics first. Read through several ongoing discussions, and like or comment on them wherever you feel you can contribute something useful. Start slowly, so it doesn’t look like you joined the Group just to shout your own message from the hilltops.
3. Start the right conversations.
Once you’ve taken the Group’s pulse, you can strategically begin to start your own discussions. Be sure they’re never salesy at all – this is not the place to pitch your company’s products or services. Instead, you and your team members should simply share your expertise freely, and ask authentic questions to start thoughtful discussions.
Starting conversations will get your name and picture in front of a large group of people, strengthening your personal brands, and thereby, your company’s brand, as well. Whenever someone in that Group decides they need whatever it is you sell, they’ll think back to that helpful expert who explained something in the industry to them in such a friendly way, not being pushy or salesy at all – and they’ll look up the company he or she is with, to do business with.
By beefing up your profiles, sharing the right content, linking up with the company page, and participating in Groups, you and your team members can develop strong, unique personal brands that contribute significantly to your company’s brand. And when your B2B company is known for having a slew of helpful, friendly experts on its staff, you’ll already be most of the way to being known as the industry leader, the company to do business with if you want the very best.
If you’d like help managing your B2B company’s LinkedIn presence, contact us here at Zen Media today.