LinkedIn is the most powerful B2B marketing tool of the 21st century. There are three main reasons. First, because its media, second, because of its partnerships and third, because of its users.
I’ve been involved in the online marketing game for eight years. In addition to running my own marketing campaigns, I’ve consulted with and trained thousands of other insurance agents from both small and large agencies. Throughout the past 8 years I’ve tracked, researched and studied multiple social media platforms, followed industry leaders in the area and have obsessed over finding what really works and what doesn’t in the digital and social media world.
LinkedIn statistically has what it takes to really work for you. Let’s look at some of these statistics:
- LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 325 million members in over 200 countries and territories.
• Professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a ridiculous rate of more than two new members per second.
• There are more than 39 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn. These students are LinkedIn’s fastest-growing demographic.
• LinkedIn counts executives from all 2013 Fortune 500 companies as members; its corporate talent solutions are used by 94 of the Fortune 100 companies.
• There are more than 1.6 million unique publishers actively using the LinkedIn Share button on their websites to send content into the LinkedIn platform.
Even though it’s such a powerful platform, many business owners are barely scraping the surface of what’s possible on LinkedIn.
Just a few weeks ago I attended an insurance networking function and entered into a conversation with a small group of agency owners. One senior agency owner, in his late forties or early fifties, remarked that he wasn’t looking to be recruited and that he didn’t see the point of LinkedIn. He struggled to see the value. Yes, LinkedIn is a tool for agency owners to find possible job candidates. Yes, it’s a tool for graduates and job seekers to find jobs and careers. However, LinkedIn is much more than that.
LinkedIn is actually a powerful platform for doing business.
In today’s highly competitive business landscape, it’s become extremely difficult to standout in the marketplace and to get your message in front of key decision makers. With the billions of dollars being spent to turn insurance into a commodity, the important messages and brands are being drowned out. The old traditional marketing methods are not as effective as they used to be. If traditional marketing channels are working for you, I’m not recommending that you abandon them all together. I’m just suggesting that you use a blended strategy. Consider cutting back on some of your traditional marketing so that you can reinvest that money into digital marketing channels.
With millions of members (about 49% of which are key decision makers), LinkedIn has leveled the playing field, giving business owners all over the world the opportunity to find, connect and build a relationship with their target market regardless of industry or location. And that is powerful!
Let me get back to my point of why I feel LinkedIn is the most powerful marketing tool of the 21st century.
Any business adviser or marketing expert worth their weight in gold will tell you that media exposure is critical for raising your agency’s brand awareness and positioning your brand in the market. You may give the best service in the world but if nobody knows who you are or where to find you and your agency, then what good is that?
The problem is that getting noticed can be an expensive and time consuming exercise. There’s so much noise that you have to cut through! Hiring a traditional PR agency can cost you thousands and whether or not their campaign will result in increased sales is unknown. My personal feeling is that it’s a big cost to your agency with very little return. I feel that you should handle your marketing efforts internally.
The buying behaviors of consumers have changed dramatically over the past 2-5 years. Today they care more about the people they do business with than the actual product. You could have the best product in the world, but if they don’t like you, they might not necessarily do business with you. This is why personal branding is so very important. Based on what they see and read online or in the social world, most customers will decide whether or not they want to do business with you before they even speak with you. Social Media a very powerful way of marketing your agency and having an in-house social media marketing person is critical to your agency’s success and growth.
Fostering strategic partnerships is a powerful way to grow your agency’s business. With the right partner or partners, you can refer clients to each other, leverage the power of offering complimentary services, and help grow each others’ businesses. There is power is giving and sharing.
Finding the right joint venture and alliance partners (trusted partners) however can be very challenging. So where do you go to find joint venture partners, for instance, if you’re a social media consultant focused on helping doctors improve their marketing? LinkedIn of course!
If you study or research the corporate strategy of some of the biggest brands in the world, you will see one thing. These big brands all have in common the implementation of joint venture partnerships with key industry players. They are teaming up with strategic partners to become more powerful. This strategy has been so successful because rather than getting your message in front of 1 potential client, using this strategy you can broadcast your message in front of hundreds, if not thousands of targeted contacts that have already built trust with the business or person you are partnering with. This is the way of the world today.
LinkedIn is also a powerful tool for finding clients and prospects. I believe that regardless of industry, size or location, we are all in the business of marketing. And to be a successful marketer, I also believe it’s 15% what you say and 85% how you say it that makes the difference.
Now if you really think about it, what’s the real reason we all market our insurance agencies in the first place? To get our message or brand in front of decision makers, right?
Well, this is why LinkedIn makes so much sense and why it is a social platform each and every one of us in the insurance industry should be using.
Over the past 15 years of business I have tried every marketing and/or advertising campaign under the sun- everything from Social Media and Digital Marketing to Radio, TV, Newspaper Ads and Direct Mail. When I look back at the time, energy and money we’ve spent in designing and launching those campaigns, I see that none of them have proved to give us a better return on investment than using LinkedIn over the past couple of years.
This, I would say, is mainly due to the fact that LinkedIn allows us to easily find, connect and build a relationship with hundreds of potential clients. It’s never been easier to build a sales funnel of targeted leads.
Now that you know the true power and potential of LinkedIn, let me share with you what the future holds for this platform.
During the 2014 LinkedIn presentation in San Francisco, California, CEO Jeff Weiner shared the company’s 10 year vision and I find it very interesting.
He shared that LinkedIn would be focusing on 3 crucial strategic objectives over that time period:
- Identity – To be the professional profile of record online. If members are going to be maintaining a professional record online, then LinkedIn wants to be the primary place where people create, update and access those records. Want to know what someone’s professional history is? Just look up their LinkedIn profile.
- Networks – Connecting all 600 million professionals or knowledge workers across the globe. Weiner notes the increase of students or “pre-professionals” coming onto the platform. It’s an ideal place to access new talent and develop professional relationships.
- Knowledge – To be the definitive professional publishing platform. Want to be a global thought leader? Publish your content on LinkedIn.
So if before reading this you hadn’t realized that LinkedIn is a great tool to help you do more business and write more insurance, I hope this gives you a new perspective. Get into the LinkedIn world and explore, but remember to be patient and consistent.
What has been your experience with LinkedIn so far? What challenges have you or your agency had with the LinkedIn platform? How has it helped you grow your agency? I would love to hear from you.