Tuesday, August 31, 2010

LinkedIn for Lead Generation

Social Media Marketing, Web 2.0 , Internet Marketing and so on are the buzz words today but in the middle of all this a business owner is left baffled trying to understand how can he use Social Media to benefit his business!
Through this post I would try and simplify the way in which one of the social media platforms, LinkedIn ™can be used to generate sales leads for a business.
Although the methods described in this post are not specific to any business but still for our reference we would take an example from a business vertical which has seen turbulent times in past few years i.e. the Real Estate .
Let’s understand “How can you create leads using social media?”
Lead Generation is a 5 step process (in fact 4 key steps!)
1. Identifying your Target Audience. (Whom do you want to target?)
2. Finding your audience (Where would you find your target?)
3. Ways to interact with the Target Audience (How would you engage them?)
4. Convert the Target Audience to Sales Leads (Once engaged, how would you make the kill?)
5. Plan Follow ups
Let’s discuss each step in details and understand more about each step by using examples

1. Understanding your Audience:
No matter in which business you are you have to make sure that you first understand whom do you want top target as potential customers
For example if you are in Hospitality or Travel related business you should know that to which set of people out of a millions of humans online do you want to target. These are generally those people who are most likely to buy your products. So for a Hospitality business owner these might be those families which are established and can spend a fortune on their holidays or individuals who are seeking adventure during their trips depending on what your business has to offer.
The key is first list out people who are most likely to buy into your offering.

2. Finding your Target Audience:
No matter how bizarre is your product or service, Internet is one place where you can definitely find people who would buy it. The question is where to find them?
Since our discussion here is specific to LinkedIn ™ , lets try and see where can we find the target audience for the Hospitality business. As you have already identified your target audience try and search for a group on linked in hich these Target Audience is most likely to join.
For example, if you are targeting rich, well to do families then you should know that most of the CEO, COO, CTO , CXO level people are well to do and have loads of money to spend on their holidays ;) . So…search “CEO, CTO, CXO” on LinkedIn ™ groups and….
Voila!!!! You have hit a jackpot!!
Just see the number of member who are members of these groups! This means that if you join this group you can communicate with all those thousands of potential buyers sitting right at your desk. And the best part is you can first go through their profiles and then contact them if required!!!

3. Ways to Interact with your target :
As we are currently focusing on LinkedIn ™ , lets see how can you interact with the thousands of potential buyers within the group you have just found.
There are following 4 ways (may be more)in which you can interact with the potential buyers
a) Joining the group and sending a direct message to a potential buyer who is now a fellow group member
b) Starting a discussion which may attract large number of potential buyers for example “Contact me and I would prepare an itinerary for your next trip for Hawaii free!!”
c) Adding a potential buyer to your network and then sending a direct message to the potential buyer
d) Posting replies or messages to various discussions started by potential buyers
May be you can find a couple of more ways…. :)

4. Convert the Target Audience to Sales Leads:
Now if you have already gone through and have implemented the previous three steps and you are a seasoned sales person, it should not be very difficult for you to convert a “prospect” to a “customer”. This does not require any expertise in Social media marketing but is more a test of your sales skills!!

Once you have started interacting with a potential client, its up to you whether you want to arrange a phone call or a meeting for further discussions. I leave that up to you hunter!!!
I hope this post was helpful, please feel free to post you comments and interact with me if you want to discuss your how Social Media can be used boost your business!
Madhur Dhawan

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