As of 14 April, LinkedIn has removed its products and services feature from Company Pages. With well over one million pages being lost — complete with the wording and recommendations that went with them — businesses are wondering how they can promote their products and services on LinkedIn now.
The Products and Services tab may have disappeared but businesses now have two options to promote their products and services on LinkedIn:
These pages are a relatively new feature and essentially work as an extension of your Company Page with the aim of highlighting a brand or business and the products and services that you offer. The pages consist of a cover photo, a quick description of what the page is showcasing, a sample list of page followers and, of course, the actual page updates.
The main difference, however, is that people are able to use this page to follow aspects of your business they find most interesting. LinkedIn says: “Showcase Pages allow you to extend your Company Page presence by creating a dedicated page for prominent products and services. A Showcase Page should be used for building long-term relationships with members who want to follow specific aspects of your business, and not for short-term marketing campaigns.”
As the majority of space on this page is taken up by page updates, LinkedIn says you must: “ensure that you have a plan for maintaining an active presence” before you set up a Showcase Page. If you have little to say, you’ll soon find your Showcase Page looking bleak and barren.
Posting real-time company updates about your products and services on your main Company Page is a sensible suggestion, but these can be quickly disappear from people’s newsfeeds as new content arrives and the same will happen on your Company Page.
Many firms prefer a more permanent place to highlight products and services. And the products and services section had been well-used by businesses, with some even paying external consultants to create these sections for them.
So how did LinkedIn justify this decision to remove all the hard-earned product and services recommendations and wording? It said: “we do this to ensure that we’re creating a platform where companies can deliver timely, engaging content to our members. Sometimes, this means we need to remove a feature to focus on areas of the product that most benefit both companies and our members.”
Before jumping feet first into a new Showcase Page, ensure that you have enough content and create a plan. In the meantime, posting regular company updates will help but in the long term, this is less than ideal. With regards to your product recommendations, if you’re a page administrator, you can download these to ensure they are not lost forever. You can also request a copy of them from LinkedIn.
Social networking sites are always evolving and should never be solely relied on to showcase your business. So it’s vital that your company website remains the principal shop window for your products and services.
Emma Pauw is social media writer at We Talk Social.
Keeping your website updated is important for encouraging traffic that brings in business. If your team has got in the habit of adding to the business website regularly, you’re on the right track. A website that’s continually updated will pull better results from search engines and it demonstrates to customers that your business is doing well.
It’s also worth trying to come up with “evergreen” content. Evergreen content doesn’t become outdated or irrelevant. Rather, it always reads and appears as relevant whether it’s viewed the day you upload it or three years later. While all content that’s fresh and enticing doesn’t have to be evergreen, this kind of long-life content is very useful.
Blog about new products, share a tutorial with your subscribers or write about what’s going on in your business. It’s not necessary to blog daily, but add one or two blog posts per week to keep visitors coming back for more.
What are people talking about in your industry? Is there an event coming up or a new product launch? Fresh content includes news that’s current. To keep it evergreen, use dates instead of time frames. For example, say “on May 29th, 2014” instead of “in a few weeks”.
Current client testimonials show potential customers that your business is thriving and clients are happy with your services or products. Seek testimonials from satisfied customers, add them to a specific page and intersperse them amongst relevant product or service information. One of the best ways to convert a would-be customer is to provide them with previous customer reviews.
Know your customers and subscribers to provide content that is relevant and enticing. If you understand your demographics, you’ll be able to focus on your niche market to cater to the specific needs, personalities and interests of your customer base.
Update your readers on past stories or news items, especially if they elicited a large number of “likes” or shares. There’s nothing wrong with flying on the coat-tails of a previously popular post if you have a fresh update to add.
Tap into the interest in current events — national or local — through your blog; and promote products and services that customers would find useful in relation to those events.
All the fresh content tips in the world won’t amount to anything if they’re being applied to a website that is clunky to navigate and unpleasant to look at. Before adding a blog to your business website or hiring a professional writer to create content, ensure that your website is attractive to viewers and easy to use. Avoid cramming too much onto one page or overwhelming the viewer’s senses with music or flashing pictures. Keep your website clean so viewers can easily focus on the fresh content you’ve created for them.
Mary Ylisela is part of the writing team at TouchpointDigital.co.uk.
When you are looking for a marketing agency, you may feel apprehensive about handing over such an important part of your business to a third party. However, there are some things to look for when choosing an agency that should ease your concerns.
Here are five simple things that you should expect an agency to be using to give you the best service and earn your trust in those vital early stages.
HootSuite is a well-known tool for social media management. It allows your agency to schedule updates for social media pages across multiple channels, to monitor their reach and engagement and ensure your social media activity runs smoothly. As a client, you can become a “super admin” on HootSuite, which means all updates go through you before publishing.
HootSuite Pro includes a range of reporting tools and can be integrated with Google Analytics, so definitely look for an agency that takes this approach to get the most out of social media.
As a small firm, you’ll be looking for an agency that reports a full picture of your return on investment. You don’t want to be investing in marketing services that are not cost effective — so your agency should be advising you on where to shift your budget.
For a full ROI picture, your agency should be offering call tracking. It’s an affordable option for businesses of any size. By placing trackable phone numbers across your different marketing campaigns, you’re able to track enquiries and conversions that result from online and offline media, and analyse them alongside clicks — giving a truer picture of your marketing success.
The marketing world is full of data, most of which you probably don’t need to know. Your agency should understand that not everyone is an analytics expert, so they need to deliver results in a clear and digestible way.
Ask about Google Analytics dashboards. These are fully customisable reports, so they don’t swamp you with unnecessary data. They display only the information that is relevant to your goals, whether that’s clicks, time on site, conversions or simply profit.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software should be at the heart of every project. We use Basecamp, which gives transparency to a project every step of the way. It allows the agency to lay out the process beforehand, set up tasks and assign them to team members, establish milestones and keep a paper trail of communication with you.
If you have an audience, turn that into a readership. Every marketing agency should offer an email strategy for sending out regular newsletters with links back to your content. They say that great content shares itself, but go with an agency that gives it that extra push.
MailChimp makes it easy to import your existing contacts to a mailing list and push your content to the right people. It’s capable of split testing designs, and sending follow up emails to those that engage. The reports give clear insights into how the campaigns are performing and help you keep track of conversations, so you don’t miss out on capturing customers.
Every agency should be using these industry-standard tools to build a long and profitable agency-client relationship.
Passport — check; tickets — check; insurance/meerkat toy — check; business lounge card — check. There comes a time when your business is ready to go international. Your idea is great and it’s going global. Revenues will increase and so will your air miles balance. All sounding good so far…
Let’s face it, anything ecommerce-related potentially has a global market as soon as the web pages are loaded, right? Yes, theoretically, but this blog is for those of a B2B persuasion and if you think merely having a website will result in huge global sales, please read on.
A few years ago I met a trade delegation (a great way to reduce the risk of international expansion) from an Estonian incubator. There were about ten companies and the leader of the incubator and they met with a number of local tech hubs and other useful people, so the entrepreneurs could evaluate if the UK was a place to do business and more importantly if there were people they could trust to do business with.
The problem with expanding into more than one country is cost. As soon as you set up somewhere you are incurring costs before generating revenue. An office, a phone line, a new set of web pages, a sales person and so on... While you might like the idea of global expansion, if you don’t get a firm grip on costs it could kill your company.
You can get stats to show how big a new market is and how much revenue it will generate for your business, but that’s all theory and the reality is you need people on the ground who know how to get things done. The trick is to find the right people for this.
As always, use your network and approach any organisations that help entrepreneurs and businesses to trade abroad. Government bodies such as the UKTI and British Chambers of Commerce are a good place to start. Don’t ignore social media to get things rolling. LinkedIn groups can be a good place to start to get some quick wins. Attending international trade shows can also accelerate international expansion by giving you access to new contacts.
Once you have the people in place, you need to provide them with a lot of support, detailed instructions and listen well to exactly what they can deliver. I have some brilliant “door openers” for US businesses looking to expand into the UK/Europe but the companies have got to trust them and let them work their magic.
The risk here is letting go and trusting someone else with your baby — sorry, business. You can’t be in two places at once and you need other people in the team who can help you build the business.
Must dash as my taxi is here to take me to the airport.
Marc Duke is a marketing consultant.
You may think that that social media and direct marketing are two completely different beasts, but I beg to differ.
Engaging with an individual via social media is about as “direct” as it gets in direct marketing. Direct marketing aims to connect marketers to customers and social media allows us to do this in real time with real conversations.
As we all know, selling is increasingly a two-way process with your potential customers more often than not being the instigator of a relationship. No longer do we have the preacher and congregation scenario whereby sellers preach their wares to a voiceless audience.
Our customers now have a voice and they are using it.
The key to success is to harness the power of this voice using social media to help spread positive news and reacting quickly to any negative conversations to convert the naysayers.
So there you have it, social media and direct marketing do not have to be quarrelling siblings; they can work together in perfect harmony to increase the influence and effectiveness of your campaigns.
In the current market conditions, businesses rely on their key members of staff more than ever — especially as organisations downsize, cut costs and freeze recruitment plans.
However, what plans do companies have in place to retain, motivate and inspire their key members of staff? Or are you taking those members of staff for granted? What about the staff who seem to have been around forever or the people that have been ultra-reliable, that you count on and put a lot of faith in?
These are the people who have been working harder than most for a long time. They are the people who put in extra hours without question — the people you can leave to handle things when you’re away from the office; the people who you can rely on to give you an honest assessment of what’s going on.
Yet these are also the people who often get overlooked or taken for granted. They get disillusioned, lose motivation and start looking for other opportunities.
For some firms, it’s the head of accounts or credit control who keeps late-payers in check and makes sure the cash flow is where it should be. For others, it’s the top salesperson that outperforms the rest and brings in large amounts of profit to the organisation. It could also be the head of the admin department or office manager that keeps everything running smoothly.
Now, more than ever it’s important to motivate, inspire and retain these key members of staff to ensure business efficiency, productivity and profitability. So how does your company measure up?
As conditions change, the key players in your team may well be different than the key players in the past. So how do we identify the key players now as well as the likely key players in the future? As businesses evolve, it can be difficult, but you can accomplish it with a simple exercise.
Exercise: Get out a pen and a sheet of paper. Imagine you’re starting the business again today — one that is designed to succeed in today’s market. Draw up an organisational chart of what the business would look like, with the key positions in it. Now step back and have a look at it. How different is it from the company you have now?
If you were to fill in names for those positions on the chart, who are the key players — the essential people you couldn’t do without? How do they compare to your key players today?
As businesses re-engineer their offering, the key players may change. Are your team on board with the changes? How do they feel about it? Can you rely on them to deliver under a new structure?
People need leadership now more than ever. As a leader, people will look to you for direction, motivation and inspiration. If you’re implementing changes in the business, you need the buy-in of your staff members, and particularly your key players for the changes to succeed.
Many change management programmes have failed because they didn’t get the key players on board — those who prefer things the way they were — and the longer they have been in the business, the more likely they are to prefer it the old way.
You need to sit down with them and discuss the changes, the reasons why changes have to be made and what you’re trying to achieve and then get their buy in. Failure to do this properly could lead to people sabotaging the project or stiff resistance at the very least.
If you’re planning on setting up a new team, or re-engineering the business and the people within it, you have a great chance to take a fresh look at the business and set up the perfect teams within it. So what does a perfect team look like?
Right now you need people who are proactive, who will do things without you having to prompt them or stand over them to make sure it happens. You need people who are determined to make things happen and see things through. You need people that are on your side, who you can rely on to perform, no matter what.
Nowhere is this more important than your sales team. Your sales team are always an important part of your business, but now they’re more important than ever. They have a direct influence on your profits and the potential survival of your business.
So right now, who are the members of your sales team that are regularly demonstrating the right traits? They’re going to be facing more objections from clients than ever before — things like "we’ve got no budget", "things are on hold for the moment" and "we need to get a few more quotes" — and these are from clients that would have ordered without a quibble before.
They’re going to be facing more objections from new business prospects. There are going to be more competitors; more projects are going to be cancelled; and more companies are going to be closing their doors. How are your sales team placed to cope? And how are you supporting them now?
You need to work on your sales team and their attitude, skills and abilities — to ensure their sales skills stay sharp and to make sure they have tenacity, determination, resilience, self-motivation, confidence and all the successful traits associated with top sales people.