One of the most powerful advantages of LinkedIn is that it provides the ability to directly target the decision-makers you are trying to reach with content that is relevant to the product or service you are trying to sell.
When you know exactly who your ideal target client is, what interests them and their problems and challenges, you’ll be able to craft a compelling profile that will speak to and resonate with them.
Identifying Your Target Customer
Once you have established your goals, you need to define who your target audience is. Who you are looking to connect and engage with on LinkedIn?
If your main goal is to generate new clients, then you must identify the specific individual or business that will either do business with you and/or refer business to you. Think in terms of people who can refer business to you on a regular basis.
For example, if you are a social media strategist, web designers and developers would be excellent referral sources. If you own a landscaping business, then professional gardeners could be good referral sources for you.
If you are have a printing business, then graphic designers would certainly know many people who can use your services. You may list up to three target audiences – the important thing is to rank them in order of importance.
Defining your target market and honing in on the group of people who are in your target market will help you to streamline the effectiveness of your LinkedIn marketing. Since you understand their problems, you will be able to produce content that speaks to them and effectively describe exactly how you can benefit them or solve their problems.
Defining Your Target Audience
It is important to understand the unwritten rules of LinkedIn. LinkedIn’s focus is on developing a mutually beneficial online business network. With LinkedIn, you can stay in touch with your existing contacts and effectively network with other professionals who share your goals and interests.
LinkedIn is not the place to amass thousands of connections “overnight”, engage in traditional marketing or heavy sales tactics, or send out “spam-like” communications. Keeping these “rules” in mind will help you develop a LinkedIn strategy that generates positive results in your business. You need to know who to connect with and what to say to them in order to get them emotionally involved with you, your business, and your brand.
With whom specifically do you want to connect? What is their business, their position, their title, their industry? Is there a specific type of business or individual you want to connect with? What problems do you want to solve for them? How many people are you looking to connect with? If so, how often?
If you are very clear on who you want to connect with, you stand a much better chance of locating, connecting and and effectively engaging with them.
Focusing your efforts on defining and communicating with your target audience will help you achieve the meaningful returns on your time investment. This means you need to effectively define your target audience.
If you are offering a specific service, be ultra-specific with your target market so that you are aiming for a particular audience. For example, if you are a web or graphic designer, targeting “everyone who needs a website” would be a fundamental mistake. If you try to target “everyone who needs a website”, your message will be too broad and may not resonate with anyone in particular.
On the other hand, if you are ultra-specific, and focus on your niche market, your target audience will definitely hear your message because it will be focused on the specific problems and challenges that they are facing. Rather than simply going for everyone who needs a site, define your target audience.
Your target audience could be individuals, non-profits, or businesses whose websites are not delivering the ROI (return-on-investment) that they were expecting. This could be down to a poorly designed Website.
Whatever the reason, by focusing on just those individuals (who are receiving poor ROI from their investment), you’ll be able to craft laser-targeted messages that resonate with that particular audience, because they realize you are speaking directly to them. They will also be more likely to react to your message than a generic message that is targeted at everyone and no one in particular.
From the well-crafted messages you will be constructing, your audience will be able to clearly see that you are an authority that clearly understands their problems, and if you understand their problems, chances are that you will be able to solve those problems for them. In addition, the content that you produce for your audience on LinkedIn should be designed to engage your specific audience, and nobody else.
Note: This does not mean that you are going to exclude a particular sector of people that do not fit your criteria. Instead, what it means is that you are simply going to focus on a specific market that is more likely to buy from you than other markets.
Identifying and defining your target market is imperative to creating a successful LinkedIn marketing campaign. It is the foundation of any business marketing strategy. Your target audience on LinkedIn has to be clearly aligned with the specific goals you have set out to achieve on LinkedIn.
If your goal is land your next job or software testing contract, your target audience are probably recruiters and hiring managers that are based in the location you are seeking work, and career professionals in the same industry as yourself.
As you research your audience, keep asking yourself: “what makes my target audience different from everybody else in the world?”
On LinkedIn, you can target your audience according to the following:
- Continents, countries, states, provinces, and some cities
- Companies by their name or by category (includes industry and company size)
- People by specific job titles or by job category (includes job function and seniority)
- LinkedIn Groups that individuals are members of
- Age groups (18–24, 25–34, 35–54, and 55+)
You need to understand who it is that would be looking for the content, research, comments and opinions you provide.
- What do they worry about?
- What are his or her wants, problems, needs and challenges?
- What problems can you help them solve?
If you don’t already know that, use a survey to get feedback from the customers that you already have.
Following are tips for finding meaningful connections on LinkedIn:
- Review the lists of your connections: Review the list of people your current connections are connected to, which displays in their profile. You’ll probably know some of them and want to connect with them as well. View the profile of the person you want to connect with and click the Add [person’s name] to Your Network link to send an invitation from the Add Connections page. For example, lets’s say you have identified Abiye White as the decision maker of a local not-for-profit that you wish to offer your vendor services to. When you click the “Add Abiye White to Your Network” link, you find out that one of your connections, Peter Lawson is directly connected to Abiye. Now you can simply use LinkedIn’s tools to ask Peter for an introduction. Without LinkedIn, you might never have been able to get through the gate keeper to make that connection happen.
- Search for individuals by name: Search for individuals by name in the search box on the global navigation bar. Click the “Add to Network” link to the right of the person you want to connect with to open the Add Connections page. For additional search options, click the Advanced link.
- Define your keywords: Search by keyword and location on the Advanced Search page to find local members of your professional associations. Click the Advanced link on the global navigation bar to access this page. For example, you could search for the keyword “IT hiring manager” and the postcode SE16 within a 25-mile radius to find fellow IT hiring managers in the SE16 area of the UK.
- Search groups: Search for potential connections among the members of any LinkedIn groups to which you belong. The Members tab (available from the More drop-down list) provides a list of all group members and an Invite to Connect link with which to contact them. However, always ensure that you do not spam anyone with connect requests to avoid damaging your brand image on LinkedIn.
What is the reason you want to connect with your target audience(s)?
Think about what problems your business, product or service solves for your target audience and write them down. You should be very specific here.
For example, if you are targeting business owners with sites that have been experiencing losing customers because of the look of the site, you are solving the problem of “high bounce rates” rather than just creating a “good looking website”.
Using a reputable, professional plumber gives you “peace of mind” when problems arise much more than just “fixing a leaking tap”.
What value do you bring to your target audience? What makes you different or unique from your competitors? Think in terms of “you”, rather than your business, product or service.
What aspect of your personality makes doing business with you a better option than doing business with other similar businesses in your niche? This summary is what YOU and what you can do for your customer. It’s all about you now, not your business.