Thought Leadership

Manufacturer Marketing: Are You Leveraging LinkedIn The Right Way?

When year-over-year growth doesn’t reach targets, we often look at products themselves and wonder what’s up. Sometimes, we’re sitting there with great products and our pitches tell leads how great they are, but the needle barely moves.

The issue here might be that marketing is focusing on the product pitch instead of consumer education. Are your e-mails and videos focusing too much on the product itself and not enough on the broader problem your customers face?

The goal of your marketing should be to educate customers on the problems they face, underlying ways to address the problem and then make the connection to your product or service. You don’t want to sell on benefits or features; you want to build your brand as a thought leader.

LinkedIn is the perfect tool for that kind of thought leadership. The articles you can create through its publishing options – when you stay away from pure product pitches – will help you establish a top-of-mind awareness and build your credibility. LinkedIn results are showing up in more and more Google searches and they’ll help your build your brand when it comes to SEO.

You do a lot of research before you buy anything for your business. Do you search on LinkedIn or look up a company once you realize that they operate in the solution to your problem? If you do, your customers do too.

Education is your sales tool, and taking that approach can help you build out the right sections for your company’s LinkedIn presence.

LinkedIn Best Practices for Manufacturers

Now that you’ve got your overall strategy of placing yourself as a thought leader instead of cold caller, there are some tools and tricks you can use on the service to improve the quality of your LinkedIn work and your pages.

Here are 6 things that you can do for a better experience:

Add some photos. You’ll want a professional headshot for your personal page. LinkedIn now allows you to use large landscape photos for the background on your page through a new layout, so get your marketing team to create a shot that shows off your company with the logo, office or a jobsite. When you start publishing, pick photos that highlight your point and help. It’s okay to use stock images, but avoid cartoons and drawings that don’t have a direct relationship.

Add quality Connections. On LinkedIn, you’re judged by your connections. Stick with people whom you have a relationship or would like to establish one. These individuals are more likely to endorse you for your skills. Knowing them or working in the same industry also means you can write a quick and simple introduction note that shows how you two can work well together.

Add testimonials to product information. LinkedIn’s business pages allow you to upload content specifically for your products and services. While it’s great to add basic information and photos, you want to pair these with testimonials from your clients. Take quotes you’ve got approval to use as marketing collateral and add them to a nice, high-quality PDF about your services. Customers respond well to this type of word-of-mouth and LinkedIn also gives them the chance to instantly search for the person or company who provided the testimonial. While that search is great, it only lends you credibility if the testimonial is true and recent. If someone was at a job 15 years ago and said some good things about you, make a note of the date or look for another quote.

Pick your targets. LinkedIn’s publishing platform will allow you to post company updates to your profile. These updates can be targeted, and you should take advantage of those options immediately. You can select through general-public settings or make your posts for industry-specific individuals. Narrowing the focus can help your company news get found by the right people for your industry. This means existing clients and new leads are more likely to see your posts as opposed to those connections you went to high school with.

Join groups and participate. LinkedIn is a great place to share information and groups can help you quickly get your thoughts to the right people. You can also find a lot of good information from people in your industry. Groups can give you credibility and help you keep up-to-date on the best practices of your industry. Groups are a wealth of information for your leads. Groups also show you what works for your competitors. If you see something that really grabs you, whether it’s an article, share or infographic, make a note of it. Don’t steal the content or idea outright, but try to determine what speaks to you and incorporate that approach with your next LinkedIn posts.

Build your pages with keywords. LinkedIn profiles and company pages should be lightly – very lightly – peppered with keywords that are associated with your industry. You can use long-tail and short-tail keywords in your efforts. While these aren’t going to be an instant SEO win, they will help you rank higher within the LinkedIn search. You can improve discovery a little bit and get your products associated with both the problems of your industry and their solutions.

Building the Whole Experience

LinkedIn for manufacturers is actually very close to any B2B practice. That’s great news for you because there are a ton of resources for building a B2B presence on the Web. These tips we’ve gathered are among the best we’ve seen for generating new leads and conversations on the manufacturing side of things.

There are a lot of great stats about how fast LinkedIn is growing – recent estimates put it at about one new person every two seconds – but don’t let those big numbers scare you off or make you certain that victory is at hand.

LinkedIn supports every industry the world has to offer, so you’ll need to do your homework and always target your niche. LinkedIn is appealing because it has an established motto of building better business and practice. It’s time for you to adopt that mantra.

By Philip Odette, 2014