Is LinkedIn a good marketing channel for your start-up?

Surprisingly, many start-ups we speak with in the ICE Advisory Practice haven’t considered LinkedIn as a marketing or sales channel: they wonder how they’ll find the time to manage yet another social network and how it might contribute to their long-term success.

To answer these questions, I refer them to a recent report. I’ll focus mostly on the benefits to an enterprise-facing start-up in this blog.

Here are the main benefits:

  1. LinkedIn helps you stay in front of customers while building awareness;
  2. It can keep your sales funnel full with prospects and high-potential leads;
  3. It can help you validate your business model through constant customer feedback;
  4. Build awareness by engaging consumers and customers through content;
  5. It can make you money by converting leads to paying customers
  6. It provides an extended platform for content e.g.: company white papers, blog extracts, customer endorsements and more.

According to LinkedIn, 57% of companies have used it to acquire a customer.

Getting started with LinkedIn

The first step for a start-up is to create a ‘Company’ page within LinkedIn to get the word out about all the great things your start-up does.

Here’s a few reasons why this is important:

1. It establishes and helps to raise awareness of your company on the network;

2. It provides an excellent location for your recruitment efforts; and lastly

3. Customers can become your best spokespeople by recommending your company.

To create a company, click on ‘Add a Company’ from the Companies home page. From there, you’ll be able to enter all the details for your start-up to create a page.

Once you’ve created a company page, it’s time to start giving back to the community and your customers by creating a Group. Here’s a few reasons why creating a group is important:

The power of groups

Groups allow you to engage an audience through enticing content themed around your offering. For instance, if you are an e-commerce start-up, it is good to create an e-commerce themed group;

  1. It provides a great place for people who share similar interests;
  2. It allows you to seed content from your start-up’s site or other social media, redirecting users to this content;
  3. Provides a great place to convert the audience into enewsletter subscribers;
  4. Is a tool to convert visitors into direct customers of your service; and lastly
  5. You can directly link it to your Twitter account which will help you expand your network of influence.

To create a Group, simply click on ‘Create a Group’ from the ‘Groups’ tab and complete the details. Once you’ve created your Group, join other groups and become part of the conversation. You’ll be surprised at the connections you make and the leads you obtain. As the old saying goes: ‘You put into it, what you get out of it.’

Other useful tools

Now that you have your Group created, it’s important to think about other useful tools on LinkedIn, which can help you promote your start-up. Here are a few:

a. Linked Answers: an under-utilized section where consumers who want to ask questions about a business go to get advice

b. LinkedIn Applications: go and add new and interesting apps that improve the experience people have on your page. E.G: You can add an RSS feed of your blog to keep users engaged.

c. LinkedIn People: great for sales people or to find folks looking for jobs and B2B owners who want to get their foot in the door at a large corporation

d. LinkedIn Direct Ads: these ads work in the same way Google paid search ads work. You simply write a headline, add some copy and create a destination link. Then you bid on how much you’ll pay through.

For instance, LinkedIn states: ‘if it takes 50 clicks before you convert a customer, then you’ve just spent $50 for 1 customer. If your product sells for $500 each, investing $50 to generate $500 is not a bad return-on-investment.

e. LinkedIn Mobile: if you haven’t already, go and download the slick Linkedn App. it’s great if you’re on the floor of a trade event and need to obtain contacts. LinkedIn transfers these contacts from the mobile app to your LinkedIn profle.

Now, once you’ve done the above, how do you manage the time to do all of the above? LinkedIn recommends the following:

1. Commit each Wednesday that you’ll connect with 5 current or former business associates. When you connect with people, you and your business jumps to the top of there mind. When that happens, they remember you when someone needs the product or servce you provide. Connecting = Top of Mind

2. Over the course of 30 days, join 17 Groups in your space which can help you extend you network. Why 17? Because it’s not 2 or 3, which s the number most people join. Your goal s to spread your visibility online and the best way to do that s by joining 17 Groups, not just 2 or 3.

3. Start a discussion in each new Group every day for 5 days after you join them. If possible and appropriate, your discussion should nuclide a link back to your website so people can download a white paper or sign up for your e-newsletter.

4. Go to the Answers section and answer 2 questions a week consistently.

5. Create a DirectAd if you need to get the word out further about your Company or Group(s)

6. Add applications on your Profile Page and Company Page

7. ‘Rinse and repeat’ the above steps.

Keep an eye out for upcoming Lean Marketing Monday blogs and for more useful tips on how you can utilize different channels of marketing to reach your customers, without ‘giving away the farm.’ You can read more of my blogs specifically targeted to the consumer and enterprise digital media start-ups by clicking here.

For more specific LinkedIn resources, be sure to visit:

a. LinkedIn Today



Nathan Monk

Nathan Monk is a senior strategist for the MaRS Information & Communications Technology (ICT) sector. Nathan is a lean-agile evangelist, mentor, digital strategist and growth hacker/marketer. Follow him @cowboytweets. See more…