LinkedIn is an amazing tool if you choose to take advantage of it in a way that can expand your network and open your mind to new ideas and educational opportunities. At Q4i, we’ve long felt that the power of LinkedIn was substantial, and as more people joined in and started to participate in a productive way, we felt that it would grow in importance and we’d all benefit from it.

As we’ve held steady with our own participation and encouraged as much industry involvement as possible, we’ve seen more and more people moving into the virtual neighborhood.

I’d like to say that everyone is a good neighbor, but we know that’s not always the case, and we do see some bad and cringe-worthy behavior.

But what we’re seeing more and more is a gathering of people around core ideas helping and challenging one another to learn new concepts, step up their game, and bring new solutions to clients in a much-needed way.

What should it look like?

Kevin recently wrote a post on LinkedIn about the importance of using marketing as a critical part of growing our sales-driven organizations. Regardless of which mediums you’re using to communicate (online, print, in-person), repeatedly getting your name/face and your core message in front of prospective clients is imperative. But keep in mind that any potential business partners will eventually look you up on LinkedIn, so being online should be a strong part of your marketing strategy.

But that core message you communicate shouldn’t be just about your company name and the services you offer. Kevin describes the essence of what your marketing should look like:

“Take a stand. People don't want lukewarm statements. Challenge us. Make us think. Embolden us. Inspire us. Make us uncomfortable. Engage us. Don't talk at us -- give us something to talk about. Always remember, we don't care about you, we care about us (your audience). Give us a reason to want to talk to you. (Hint - This will happen if you pay attention to the points made above.)”

This may either fire you up to go out and participate or it may scare the bajeebies out of you and send you cowering into a corner. In talking with agencies about marketing, I can hear an evident fear factor that keeps many from embracing marketing the way they really need to. The way Kevin describes it above. The way in which it’s genuinely going help them.

About those fears...

I hear a fear of being viewed as promotional and schmarmy and pushy. And yes, there are definitely people who take an "all about me and stroking my ego" approach to marketing. And there are people who will be attracted to that type of message.

And there are people very much turned off by that approach. If that’s you, rejoice! There are options to both share your message and feel good about yourself while doing it.

You can, and should, create your message and activity in a way that reflects your own beliefs and values. Which will get you the attention of the people who have similar beliefs and values.

For example, if you believe in being an adviser to your clients, then be an adviser to your prospects as well. If you value a good, challenging debate, then share your ideas, and you’re sure to get some ideas offered in return. If you work best with clients looking to change up the status quo, then be sure you’re talking about things that shake up traditional benefits decision-making.

What do you stand for?

Use your marketing to educate and challenge your prospects, clients, partners. Call out the bad decisions of the industry and the way that employers and employees have been duped into thinking this system is normal. LinkedIn makes it so easy to share these ideas immediately and often. Focus on the needs and values of your clients and the future type of clients you want to work with. People who see the world through a similar value lens will be attracted to your message.

Regardless of the approach you choose to take, heed the warning Kevin used to end his post: Now more than ever, no marketing = no sales opportunities. In marketing, safe = second place.”

Each agency needs to reflect on what type of client they want to attract and which type of message is right for them. When you create marketing that reflects your values, there should be no fear factor involved.

The only fear should be in choosing to not make marketing a priority.

Photo by Ron Sumners 

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