Posts Tagged ‘social marketing’

The Spraying and Praying of Social Selling

As part of my overall social selling efforts, I regularly ask those who wish to connect with me on LinkedIn what prompted their LinkedIn invitations.  A more recent response was the following:


“I just thought that it would boost my business so that’s why I joined hope you having a great day thank you.”

This struggling entrepreneur (yes I am presuming he or she is struggling) is engaged in the all too common spray and pray marketing behaviors.  In this particular instance, spray my name all over LinkedIn and it will increase sales.

How wrong. how sad and what a waste of resources!

Social selling is misnamed because what it really is, is social marketing.  Marketing is attracting attention and beginning to build relationships. Yet because people continue to call it social selling, some folks like this struggling entrepreneur believe it is selling.

Each day thousands of independent sales professionals believe if they spray their names all over the social media landscape, they hope (pray) to increase sales. They fail to understand the first rule of buying:

People buy from people they know and trust.

How this translates within the social selling world is through engagement. Salespeople must engage with potential sales leads, centers of influence, etc. to demonstrate their knowledge and their trustworthiness.

What would have been a better response by this LinkedIn member is something like:

“I enjoyed your recent posting (update, etc.) and possibly we can schedule a quick chat to better understand our respective businesses.”

“I am looking to expand my LinkedIn presence. Possibly we can schedule a quick chat to better understand our respective businesses.  Does (insert date and time) work for you?  If not, let me know some better times.”

The social media landscape can expand one’s market presence provided that individual understands this basic concept:

Marketing is not selling!

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What’s So Wrong with this LinkedIn Invitation?

LinkedIn is a great social media site to increase business contacts and when done well will increase sales. Yet there is a correct way to write a LinkedIn invitation to connect and so many wrong ways to write a LinkedIn invite.

LinkedIn-invitationThis morning I received this invite (I have deleted any specifics to ensure the sender’s anonymity):

Please accept my connect request. I will then scan and send you a VIP $200 **** Savings Card. Activate and it comes with 110% lowest cost guarantee on ***** and all other ***** needs as an intro to a new ***** search engine. It can become a huge fund-raiser.

Beyond not having this specific need, I am not into any fund raising activities.  After reading this poorly pitched sales pitch, I thought “what a dolt!”

This LinkedIn invitation lacked being authentic outside of the obvious sales pitch. I wonder what LinkedIn training she had that even suggested this was an appropriate message to send with the invitation?

Personalizing the standard, boring invite of “Hi (insert your name) I’d like to join your LinkedIn network,” makes good relationship building sense. However using that same invite as an obvious sales pitch stinks to high heavens.

People buy from people they know and trust.  I may not know you, but I can check out what shared connections we have as well as your profile.  Sometimes I will accept LinkedIn invitations from people I personally do not know. However, I do have a process to ensure the invitation was authentic and not just an attempt to expand the other person’s database.

When will people recognize that marketing even social marketing is not selling?  Marketing is all about attracting positive attention.  LinkedIn invitations such as the one I just shared do not in any way meet that first desired end result of marketing.

With all the emphasis on social selling, I believe it is time to redirect those efforts to social marketing because unless people buy you and your company, they will never even consider your social selling solution as exemplified by this great example of what not to do with a LinkedIn invitation.

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Your Social Marketing Reflects Your Leadership

Have you ever considered how your social marketing may be a reflection of your leadership?  For example,  do you add people to your email list without asking permission? By taking this action what does it truly say about your leadership as well as your  business ethics?

Each day I must unsubscribe or mark as spam dozens of emails.  Many of these come from so called “experts” on sales, marketing, leadership and even business ethics. I guess they believe it is okay to add my name to their email lists.

Permission based marketing still exists and should be the best practice for professionals engaged in social selling or social marketing.  However given the increase in social selling, it appears permission based marketing has taken a bad seat to sales pitches.

When professionals regardless of their role ignore common courtesy and respect, this is a reflection of their leadership skills. Their actions only reaffirm my belief not to purchase from them or make any recommendations.

Additionally when SMB owners and sales professionals fail to identify identify their target audience, they may unintentionally send emails to recipients who would never, ever buy from them. I belong to several communities where we share similar solutions. Members on one community never ever add me to their email lists without permission and yet members in another community do so all the time.

When I email those members who add me without permission, I usually receive a contrite reply of “sorry for the inconvenience.”  No, they really aren’t all that sorry.

Leadership is the ability to secure the desired results using clearly articulated positive core values. This means no social marketing or social selling spamming and no sales pitches.

Yes any SMB owner or sales professional wants to increase sales and therefore hopefully profits. However, it is imperative that all behaviors reflect consistent and outstanding leadership otherwise the goal to increase sales will be much harder to achieve.

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To Engage or Not to Engage, the LinkedIn Quandary

LinkedIn for B2B professionals does matter.  For the last few years I have been conducting my own private research and learned, at least for me, the top 5 reasons why people ask to be connected.



#1 Engagement

The super majority of people (nearly 60%) send me invitations because I have engaged with them or with one of their connections.  Since LinkedIn changed its groups policies, these engagements are overwhelmingly from update posts.  Prior to this change, the invitation outreach was through groups.

Additionally within this reason for connection, I have included those profiles I have visited.  When a second or third degree connection has visited my profile, I usually return the visit.  In quite a few instances, I will then receive an invitation to connect.

#2 LinkedIn Pulse Articles

Even with all the people publishing on Pulse, my articles still continue to drive a significant amount of invitations to my In Box. Right now approximately 25% of all LinkedIn invitations are because of these articles. What I have also observed is quite a few people within this community will follow me first and then extend an invitation to connect.  Content marketing for B2B is a proven marketing method for attracting attention and beginning to build relationships.

#3 Direct Outreach

Sometimes either through a personal one on one meeting, I will receive an invitation to connect or I will send an invitation.  These invitations represent around 7%. Also within this group are those who are connected to one of my first degree connections and believe it may make sense to connect with me as well.

#4 Referrals

As my network has grown, I have begun to see an increase in referrals from other colleagues.  Those within my existing contacts also have made suggestions for others to connect with me. Where in the past this percentage was nominal, today it also hovers around 5%.

#5 Suggestions

Finally, around another 3% of my connections now originate from LinkedIn’s suggestions to connect. This is the smallest percentage. And for me has always been the smallest percentage.

For those engage in social selling or better yet social marketing, then it makes sense to be engaging on LinkedIn.  Share the update posts of others.  Comment on those posts.  My other suggestion is to keep track of those who visit your profile, research their profile to determine if an invitation to connect is warranted.

P.S. Please make sure your LinkedIn Profile is complete and engaging.  Many profiles turnoff more sales leads or prospects than they turn on. And no you do not have to accept all invitations.


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Please Stop with the Cold Calling Social Selling Emails

I don’t know who is teaching these SMBs to send cold calling social selling emails, but I wish they would stop already.  On any given day I receive as few as two (2) to as many as 10 personalized emails all from complete strangers.



Here are three facts from my perspective about sales in general:

#1 Fact: People buy from people they know and trust.

#2 Fact: Social selling is really social marketing.

#3 Fact: Cold calling works provided you have done your homework and have a compelling marketing message.

Today I received this email and I have removed all names to protect the guilty.

My name is…. I consult with small businesses and assist them with building an online presence. Our main service is designing custom websites that are built to rank well on major search engines and help bring in additional business. Most of our work is with other small – medium sized companies and summer normally starts a busier season for us.
We are looking to bring on some additional projects before our busier season begins. I reached out last month, as I thought this might be a good fit for you. If we are able to offer a discount on our pricing or break up the cost into manageable payments, would this be something you would be interested in?
Either way, send me a quick email or give me a call at (phone number). I can go over your different options and hopefully help get you started with the project. You can also check out some samples of our at (website)
You can also email me “Remove” if you wish to be taken off my list.
I look forward to hearing back from you, (Contact Information Follows)
Beyond being a complete stranger, he now wants me to remove my name from his list via a return email.  What might have been better is “If I don’t hear from you within 48 hours, I will remove your name from this list to respect your privacy and time.”
What is even worse this particular person considers himself an expert in social media.  Really?  Looking at his LinkedIn profile, I have some serious reservations.  All of this information only further reaffirms my decision to turn him down. Here was my response:
(Insert name) I do business with people I know and trust. Offers like yours from complete strangers I receive on a daily basis.
My suggestion is to first establish a relationship before you make a sales pitch to an absolute stranger unless of course your message is so emotionally compelling it would cause the recipient (stranger) to take positive action.
Possibly if more SMBs who receive these cold calling, social selling or rather social marketing emails would take these actions, our inboxes would be less cluttered and we can return to our own sales.
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Time to Kick Your Social Marketing into High Gear Part 3

In business results matter. Social marketing is no different. Your goal is to increase sales, expand your pool of qualified sales leads and continue build your credibility and influence.

social-marketingWhen sales professionals and SMB owners decided to incorporate social marketing as one of several marketing channels, this is not a one time event or a sporadic action.  To be successful using social marketing means every day you must be kicking  your efforts toward the goal post. This particular marketing channel does take time and is not the quick fix to increase sales.

For the last 11 years I have using social media as a marketing channel. My first efforts in 2005 began with one article directory site, Ezine Articles. Then I expanded to two other sites Evan Carmichael and Sales Gravy.

In 2007, I began writing a weekly column for the Post-Tribune. This column within two years went 100% online. Then 2010, I started this blog and in 2014 began publishing to LinkedIn Pulse.  Finally, I began responding to requests by journalists through Help A Reporter or HARO.

Here are some of the results from all of this social marketing that is 100% education based driven.  My goal is to inform, to educate and not to spew sales pitches.

2007 – Began writing for NBiz as a regular monthly contributor author. This opportunity expanded my reach into the great state of Texas.  I have earned several clients from this exposure.

2010 – This blog within several months attracted attention.  I earn one to three clients per quarter.

2010 – Published my book Be the Red Jacket through Sales Gravy Publishing. The book continues to sell and reinforces my expertise in sales for SMB owners and sales professionals.

2012 – Most Influential Dame in Social Media for Indiana

2013 – Became one of the founding authors for this publication Worldwide Coaching Magazine. This publication further highlights my credibility within the executive coaching and corporate coaching  fields.

2013 – Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2013

2014 – Twitter @CoachLee – One of the Top 50 Sales Pros to Follow on Twitter

2014 – LinkedIn Pulse publishing platform has been directly responsible for my earning more clients than any other social marketing effort.  Since last 2014 with the publication of this article, Entrepreneurship and Leadership Growing in a Indiana Cornfield,  I earn one client per article within six months.

2015 – Contributing author for this community, LinkedIn Local. As this is a new endeavor, the results of this effort at this time expand my social media presence.

2016 – Quoted in this free eBook on Sales Inspiration published by Tellwise.

Additionally these efforts beyond new securing new clients have gained me paid speaking engagements, other education based writing opportunities,cited in various business journals and business websites,  sales referrals and further solidify my expertise and credibility.

Yes with more and more people actively engaged in social media platforms as evidenced by the increase in smart devices, now is the time to kick your social marketing into high gear.  If you see an immediate return on your investment be grateful and if you don’t, do not be discouraged.  This is one marketing channel where slow and steady wins the sales game.

If you missed parts one and two of this three part series, here they are:

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Time to Kick Your Social Marketing into High Gear Part 2

To kick your social marketing into high gear also requires the building of communities who will readily share your postings, blogs, quips, photos, etc. Without these supporting communities, you cannot leverage the one to many concept.

social-marketingTo build these like minded communities begins with the presumption you understand social marketing is a two way street of engagement and not the traditional one way street of traditional marketing.  Here you must be willing to invest some of your time to share the social media postings of others.  Automation sites such as TriberrTwitterfeed and Hootsuite help to undertake this task.

I belong to one group of like minded sales professionals.  We informally agree to share the postings of the other members within our group of nearly 40 members. Not all members routinely share (as it is informal), however those who do share expand the reach of my postings.

For example, my Twitter followers are over 11,000.  When I add in those members who share my posts, this number jumps to well over 250,000 and sometimes has climbed over 500,000.

LinkedIn provides the opportunity to build another community of followers especially for those engaged in B2B sales.  My followers at this time number 2,748.  What is good about this community is these individuals have voluntarily agreed to follow you. As you continue to build your reputation of providing insightful, informative and even intriguing information, your followers will grow.

Social marketing requires a much greater understanding regarding marketing and social networks.  Additionally having exceptional writing skills along with emotional intelligence that address important issues facing your ideal target market is essential as well.  Finally social marketing is not the quick fix to what ails your inability to increase sales.

Tomorrow this 3 parts series concludes with the sharing of my results for the last 10 plus years.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.



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Time to Kick Your Social Marketing into High Gear Part 1

Possibly as a SMB owner, solo entrepreneur or sales professional you have been engaging in the common marketing efforts of B2B networking, direct mail, referrals, etc.  These marketing actions are good yet you are missing one significant marketing channel – social marketing.

social-marketingFor clarity,  marketing is all about attracting attention and then beginning to build a relationship. Unless people (your ideal customers) know about you, they will never know about your solutions, your people, or even yourself. And you will remain pocket poor.

To get people to know you does require that you first understand your market place. This understanding evolves from crafting a strategic plan.  The importance of the action is planning (applying critical thinking questions) as the plan will change. President Dwight Eisenhower said “Plans are worthless; planning is everything.” Going forth without a well thought out strategic plan is like taking trip to the grocery store to buy items for an important dinner without having a written grocery list.

With so many businesses in the marketplace vying for the same attention, the SMB and especially the solo entrepreneur must be the Red Jacket in the sea of gray suits.  The question is “How do I do that?”

Social selling which is actually social marketing answers a large part of that question. There is a presumption in social marketing you have a clear and emotionally compelling message.

From your strategic planning process, you have already determined what social marketing channels will deliver you the attraction you want.  For those in B2B, LinkedIn is probably one of the best social marketing channels.

Quality content marketing when infused into LinkedIn using the LinkedIn Pulse publishing platform allows you to expand your marketing presence without leaving the comfort of your office.  There are also other social media channels to share your content marketing whether you are B2B or B2C.

Social marketing works and here is one example.

On January 3, 2016 I published this article on LinkedIn Pulse platform – Putting the How into Employee Engagement.  Two weeks later these were the results

  • One confirmed executive coaching client
  • Three solid qualified sales leads
  • 10 new prospects
  • Increase of followers by 100 (think sales prospect pool)
  • Profile (my) in the top 5% of my 2,277 connection

The competitive advantage of social marketing is spreading your brand.  In this example of LinkedIn Pulse, I responded to all 200 plus people who shared the article. By taking this action, I also looked at over 200 profiles and captured the number of their connections.  Quickly adding up the connections, this article had the potential to be viewed by over 100,000 people on LinkedIn as the super majority of those who shared had over 500 connections.

Another critical piece of information I gathered was the viewing and sharing of this article was not by the over 2,000 firs degree connections I have but mostly through second and third degree connections. Within LinkedIn, the second and third degree connections are where you prospect for new sales leads.

Effective social marketing also requires building communities of like minded people.  Tomorrow’s posting will look at the impact of that intentional action.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Want a Low Risk Small Business? Try Selling Residential Real Estate

The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well.  Individuals are opening up small businesses at a record rate. Over 70% of all US businesses are single owner (non-employed).  To ensure the success of that venture, identifying risk is part of that equation.  If you are seeking a low risk small business, then selling residential real estate may be the solution.


Low Cost Threshold in Selling Residential Real Estate

Depending upon the licensing state, the cost of entering the residential real estate industry is relatively low.  You do not need a MBA, a Masters or even a college degree.  In doing some cursory research, the cost to become a licensed real estate agent in Indiana is around $600.  This is far less expensive than a post graduate degree that ranges between $30,000 to $12o,000.

Yes there are required continuing education units to maintain the license. However many of these courses are free or at a nominal expenditure between $25 and $50.  My professional development is budgeted for $2,000 annually and I am not mandated to have any continuing education courses.

Low Cost Marketing Through Social Media

The advent of social media has become social marketing.  Since the majority of social marketing is 100% free except for one’s time, the paid advertising is becoming a thing of the past. On demand searching through and other sites is now the driving force from the buyer’s and seller’s perspective.

All small businesses must market themselves.  They must attract attention and build relationships.  Investing money on marketing is part of the cost of doing business regardless of industry.  Yes there are some fixed marketing costs. However much of the marketing is free and hence is truly low risk.

Limited to No Financial Risk

Outside of the real estate industry, legal orders such as garnishments and online auction sites, all businesses both profit and not for profit must deal with customers who pay their bills directly to them.  These organizations do not have a third party distributing the dollars earned for the sale of their solutions.

Cash flow is 100% dependent upon customers paying their bills. There is no third party unless the small business goes to court or places a lien on the business.  Their income may wait up to 120 days before payment is received.  This is not the case for those selling residential real estate.

In selling residential real estate, a third party, the title company, distributes the funds to the various parties including the listing real estate agent and the selling real estate agent. Wow, what a terrific way to get paid.

No worries about:

  • Checks bouncing
  • Delayed payments
  • Discrepancies between the invoice and payment

And best yet the seller and buyer of the home assume all financial responsibility. There is no financial risk for selling residential real estate.

Now some may argue that selling residential real estate is risky because of the economy.  My answer is welcome to the real world.

Small businesses must always adapt to market conditions.  And the economic research still reveals most millionaires are created during a recession because these individuals take risks and innovate where others just stand back and watch. The question remains are you willing to do what it takes to be successful in a very low risk small business of selling residential real estate?

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn

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The Big Lie About Social Selling

Social selling is a lie, a rather big one at that. Yes I said it, it is a lie. Unfortunately a lot of small businesses are buying into this lie and spending their hard earn profits.

social-sellingThere are numerous definitions for social selling. One of the more concise ones is offered by Hubspot:

“Salespeople use social media to interact directly with their prospects. Salespeople will provide value by answering prospect questions and offering thoughtful content until the prospect is ready to buy.”

The words in bold and in red (my editing) reveal that social selling is really social marketing.  Being ready to buy does not mean the prospect will buy.  What it means you have an opportunity to meet with him or her. You still must engage in some type of selling conversation because not all necessary information has been revealed.

Marketing is about attracting attention (interacting directly or indirectly).  Until the qualified sales leads call for an appointment; send an email; or walk through the door, no selling is actually taking place.

Marketing involves channels to distribute the message.  Traditional sales or product based marketing used:

  • Broadcast media (television, radio and cable)
  • Newspapers
  • Publications
  • Direct mail
  • Business to business networking

With the Internet, the emphasis is now on educating sales prospects (education based marketing) through the sharing of articles, blogs and even comments in discussion groups. Social media sites provide new marketing channels and thus new opportunities to educate and better qualify the ideal customer.


The Shadows Behind the Big Lie

There are two shadows behind this big lie of social selling. The first is the presumption that in a very short time qualified sales leads will be knocking down your door.  Effective marketing through the traditional channels or the non-traditional ones recognizes the slow and steady wins the race approach.

The second is salespeople do not want to think of themselves as marketers.   Heavens forbid! You can almost imagine salespeople using their fingers in the sign of the cross to scare off any marketers.  Marketing is for some other internal department or some outside agency.

With 97.7% of all US businesses having less than 20 employees, these small businesses do not have the resources to have their own marketing departments. Their salespeople must attract their own qualified sales leads.

People buy from people they know and trust. The various social media channels allow people, your prospects, to get to know you and to begin to trust you.

When we recognize that social selling is social marketing (social meaning using the various social media channels), then we just may have far better clarity and not make the mistake that marketing is selling.  Far too many small businesses continue to make sales pitches on social media, ticking off more qualified sales leads or prospects than turning them on.

Peter Drucker is considered by many as an extremely smart business person.  He made three very insightful observations about business (paraphrasing):

  • There are only two purposes in business:  Marketing and Innovation
  • All other aspects in business outside of marketing and innovation are costs
  • When marketing is done well, selling is effortless

Consider heeding the words of Drucker and do not get caught up in this social selling lie and continued hype.

Download this Simple Sales Process (for free) to better understand

why social selling is a lie.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals in the key areas of strategic growth, people development and process improvement. She speaks and writes specifically to high performance sales people who require a tailored executive coaching solution and to small businesses under 50 employees whose challenges are more unique and resources more limited. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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