How to get the most out of LinkedIn Answers

What to look for on LinkedIn Answers

Today I read a very good guest blog by Allen Mireles on Shelly Kramer’s V3 Integrated Marketing website regarding utilizing LinkedIn Answers to build your reputation as an expert in your niche or industry by answering questions.

 Allen gave some great advice on how to share your expertise on LinkedIn Answers. I especially appreciated the information about using RSS feeds for each category of questions to keep track of what is being asked so you can answer in a timely manner.

In the article Allen recommended answering a couple of questions per day.

On Sunday, after investing 20 minutes answering 2 questions on Linkedin Answers, I asked a question of my own that received a large and interesting response.

The question:

If you have time to thoughtfully answer 400-500 questions on LinkedIn per week, how much business can you possibly be doing? Wouldn’t spending more time prospecting be a more fruitful use of your time?

I received 16 responses in 24 hours. Four of the responses were from one person who consistently answers 400+ questions per week.

Why did I ask the question?

Curiosity.

I enjoy reading LinkedIn Answers and occasionally answering those that I feel I have both experience with the subject of the specific question and a fairly high level of expertise in that industry or subject.

When I do answer a question posted on LinkedIn Answers, between reading the question, thinking about how I should respond and what type of information would best help the person posting the query and often research to provide links or other experts, I have typically spent 10-12 minutes on each answer I post.

Now I admit I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I do attempt to always be thorough and careful with my answers.

To answer 400 + questions at even 2 minutes per question, certainly not long enough to answer thoughtfully, would take more than 13 hours. 1/3 of the work week. Answer carefully and thoroughly and your entire work week could be taken up JUST in answering questions.

If you are not taking at least that much time (2 minutes) to answer the question, as some of the answers to my question suggest, how much value should I place in your answer?

What I really wanted to know is:

  • Why would you spend 13 to 60+ hours on LinkedIn Answers each week?
  • Does it generate enough leads to justify the investment of time?
  • If it does generate that many leads, how can you service those clients when you are spending that much of your time on LinkedIn Answers?
  • If you run a business, how can you spend that much of your week answering questions? Do you delegate the task of answering questions? What are you delegating in order to spend the time personally?

I keep my client base at a set number that allows us to give each client personalized attention from myself and my staff.  I don’t have the time available to spend 1/3 or more of my week on one single lead generation activity. So I wanted to know, how are they doing it.

When I posted the question on LinkedIn I simply did not, and still don’t, understand how someone could spend that many hours on a single lead generation avenue without the rest of the business suffering.

So what to do to weed out the chaff to find the real experts?

The bottom line is that if you are looking for an expert on LinkedIn, look for someone that answers a few key questions in select categories per week. If the persona answering your question also answers too many other questions or in a large number of categories, how much value can there be in their answers and would you want to have them work on your behalf?

When you ask a question, look for someone that thoroughly and thoughtfully answers the question and gives you more than just a line or two.

Better yet, read the answers and then contact the authors of the best two or three for a more complete understanding of their advice.

The Secret of Effective SEO

Let Me Tell You The Secret of SEO.

______________________________________

There IS no secret of SEO!

The SEO strategy and tactics it takes to get your website ranked high on Google, Yahoo and Bing on a consistent basis is constantly changing.

Every year Google makes 500-600 changes to its algorithm and every few months those changes are major in scope and effect. The can completely change search engine optimization for your website and sometimes they can require a change in your entire strategy for inbound marketing.

On February 25, 2011 CNN Money spoke of the major changes to Google Algorithm that was made as part of the Panda algorithm.  According to CNN, “Google made one of the biggest changes ever to its search results this week. The changes will affect 12% of Google’s search results.”

3 months ago the NY Ttimes had an article outlining how Google changed their algorithm  in October 2011 to reflect the importance of new material on your blog or website. This update, named Panda 3.0, changed the rankings of 35% of all sites on the internet overnight.

Recently the change that changed how your site is ranked on Google was the introduction of Google+ into the mix. With Google+, social media has become a major part of search engine rankings on Google.

And yesterday Google announced the Panda 3.3 update. This new update makes 40 changes to the algorithm including major changes to how Local Search is incorporated into the rankings & page placement on Google.

SEO strategies and SEO tricks that worked last year or even last month may not effective SEO strategy & tactics today!

What were the most effective methods for ranking high on the search engines just a few years ago are no longer even a consideration to Google when they rank your website.

It used to be that all it took was to have the right keywords in your meta tags. Your title and description. Today only Bing even considers meta tags in its rankings. Meta tags are still important to your overall click-through rates because they are your “AD” that catches the searcher’s eye once they find your listing and they help search engines categorize your listing, but they no longer play a any part in ranking higher on Google.

It used to be that you could “hide” keywords in the html or on your page in a background color and drive your rankings higher. Today this practice can get your listing flagged and your search ranking downgraded.

It used to be that you could buy links from any site, whether it had any relevance to your product or not, and that would drive your rankings higher.

The bottom line is that the SEO landscape is ever & rapidly changing and none of those methods will help you today. In fact, many of the “black hat” methods of SEO will actually get your website penalized or even outright banned from searches.

______________________________________

The TRUE secret of SEO is that it requires constant study and trial and error.

There are no tried and true methods that you can do once and your site will permanently rank on the first page of any competitive keyword search on Google, Bing or Yahoo. The search engines change what they are looking for and how they are looking for it much too often to simply build your site and then sit back.

Your competition will also be working at search engine optimization in order to rank higher and you need to continue to work at SEO to consistently rank high on the search engines.

With that being said, there are 3 main areas that you do need to focus on to rank higher today.

  • The Right Keywords.
  •  Relevant Links

At Impressions Plus we specialize in keyword research to target keywords that optimize both your reach and conversion.  We focus on search engine placement for keywords that give you the best combination of high search volume and low competition. That includes long tail keyword phrases when applicable.

We also work with you to produce relevant content for your website on a regular basis for the keywords that have been thoroughly researched. Content Marketing is the hot topic in inbound marketing today and producing relevant content that is optimized for the keywords & keyword phrases you are targeting is critical to search engine optimization.

Then we build links from high ranking websites and blogs that are relevant to your product or service in order to effectively increase your rankings on Google, Bing Yahoo and other major search engines.

Call or email us today with a link to your website and we will put together a FREE outline of the SEO steps you need most specifically for your website.

The 7 Deadly Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

The 7 Deadly Marketing Mistakes
(and how to avoid them!)

1)     Not Having a Plan of Action!

 2)     Not Knowing what “Success” Is!

 3)     Relying on Just One Channel of Marketing!

 4)     Not Knowing Who Your Target Market Is!

 5)     One Step Marketing Campaigns!

 6)     Using Shotgun Marketing Methods!

 7)     Not Asking for Referrals
(or not asking often enough)!

Mistake #1

Not Having a Plan of Action –

There is an old saying. “If you don’t know where you are going, then it doesn’t matter which path you take?”

Having a plan of action will give you a clear idea of where you want to go and keep you on path to get there.

Now, that doesn’t mean you need a formal business plan with financial projections for the next 20 years. What it does mean is you need a well defined idea of what success looks like for you (see mistake two) and an outline for the steps you will need to take to achieve it.

To build your plan of action, always work backwards from your goal.

Let’s say you want to sell $1 million this year, the questions you need to answer will include:

  • What will your average sale be?
  • How many sales will you need?
  • How many appointments will you need to PITCH to sell that many jobs?
  • How many raw leads will you need to set that many appointments?
  • What sources of leads are you going to start with and what others will you phase in and at what points?
  • What will you need to start generating leads from those sources?
    (ex: Home Show and Special Events require home show displays, tables, table cloths, brochures, entry forms, 10×10 carpet for booth, canopies for outdoor booths, weights to hold down canopies and displays in the wind, etc…)
  • How long does it take to do a job?
  • How many crews will you need to do that many jobs?
  • Where will I recruit my employees and crews?
  • How many ads will I have to run?

There are additional questions you can ask, but you get the idea. A weekend of putting thoughts on paper should yield a good, detailed plan of action.

If you know what you want and what it should take to get there, then if you are not getting the results you wanted, you can look back at your plan of action and see what is not working or what you are not doing.

If you don’t have a plan, when you are having problems, you will not have any idea what you need to change to get back on the right track.

Mistake #2

Not Knowing what “Success” Is –

Success can mean many deeply divergent things.

One contractor I worked with wanted a consistent six figure income from a small organization with an emphasis on total quality that would give him time to spend with his growing family. No more than 3 crews and less than 10 total employees. Time for family was the most important factor and $1 million per year in sales would completely fulfill his idea of success. Expansion beyond this level of sales and company size would only be pursued if it didn’t interfere with his primary goals.

Another contractor had a goal of $30 million in gross sales and $5 million in net profit in 5 years. He wanted to dominate his current market and to expand to 3 other metropolitan areas in a tri state area. His goals would require 12 crews per market, regional management, and more than 100 employees by the end of 5 years.

Still another contractor wanted to build his existing company to $3 million per year with net profits in the $500,000 to $600,000 per year range within 5 years and then sell the business so that he could retire.

What success means for you is totally up to you. I can’t tell you what success will mean to you.

Decide what you want and then follow your plan of action to get you there.

Mistake #3

Relying on Just One Channel of Marketing –

Picture a stool or chair in your mind.

If that stool has just one leg it is difficult, if not impossible, to sit on. If you are not holding it constantly, the stool will simply fall over. It is a failure as a stool.

If the stool has two legs it is somewhat more stable but still difficult to sit on. A little push from the sides and you easily lose your balance. Again if you are not holding it at all times, it will fall over.

Once you add a third leg your stool it can stand on its own. If pushed from the sides it is still stable.

Add a fourth leg and your stool is now completely stable. Even if a leg breaks it can still stand on its own.

And the more legs you add, the more stable it becomes.  If you have 8 legs on a stool you could break off several legs and still have a stable stool.

You business is like your stool. The more profitable marketing channels you have, the more stable your company is and the less it can be effected by outside influences like government regulations (ex: Do Not Call list legislation) and rising costs (ex: increases in postage costs).

Mistake #4

Not Knowing Who Your Target Market Is –

It seems basic doesn’t it? Who buys your products?

But it never ceases to amaze me how many businesses have never researched who buys what they want to sell and why they buy it.

Even worse to me is the number of existing companies that have never sent out a questionnaire to their past customers to find out who they are and what THEY want to buy.

Mistake #5

One Step Marketing Campaigns –

Too many contractors contact potential clients only once. This is a mistake on so many levels that I don’t have space here to cover them all. Let’s talk about the top three.

#1 – Advertising science tells us that your customers do not even register your name until they have seen it an average of 15 times. FIFTEEN TIMES!

#2 – Most advertising pieces are never even read! How many times have you sorted your mail over the trash can? How many times have you gotten up for a snack or bathroom break or simply changed the channels during TV or Radio commercials? I mean the whole TIVO industry is built around that one!

#3 – Contacts from multiple sources add to your credibility.

Mistake #6

Using Shotgun Marketing Methods –

TV, Radio and most major media are shotgun marketing efforts.

By that I mean that they will go to a large and varied demographic and are not targeted on your customer’s key demographics.

Yes, hundreds of thousands and possibly even millions of people read the Sunday newspaper in most major metropolitan areas, but how many are your customers? Yes, millions watch Oprah daily, but do they purchase paint jobs and new roofs? Are they in the areas you WANT to do work in?

One contractor I worked with spent tens of thousands of dollars on San Diego Padres TV and Radio broadcasts which provided great branding and some leads. Unfortunately, many of the leads were in outlying areas of San Diego County he didn’t cover like Ramona and Fallbrook that were not covered because of the cost of traveling there to sell and then do the jobs.

Also, because of the cost of the advertising spots, he had to cut short his message so that many of the leads did not want a premium product like his; they just wanted a cheap paint job.

His cost of raw lead was within his parameters, but the cost per sale was way too high because so many raw leads did not result in an estimate.

We moved his marketing dollars to target the areas around his current jobs and into media that more closely targeted his customers demographic.

Door hangers,

Local weekly papers,

Direct mail,

Community events

and even open houses.

While the total number and cost of raw leads didn’t increase, the number of usable leads did increase and so did his sales.

An added plus was that because the advertising targeted a small geographic area around his sales, the costs of travel were reduced.

More sales and reduced costs.  What a concept!

Mistake #7

Not Asking for Referrals (or not asking often enough) –

I hear this all the time.

Do you ask for referrals?  –
Yes we do. In fact a lot of our business is from referrals.

When do you ask for referrals?  –
After the job is complete.

What percentage of your business is from referrals?  –
I am not sure what is from referrals but I know it’s a lot.

How many referrals do you get from most jobs?  –

Well, we get 1 or 2 referrals a month.

When it comes right down to it most contractors are getting a big percentage of their business from referrals only because they are doing so little business. 1-2 or even 5 referrals a month is a total failure.

30% of all your customers should be giving you 5+ names of referrals!

To do that you need to build your whole marketing effort around gathering referrals.

EVERYONE in your company should be asking for referrals.

– On initial contact your canvasser or telemarketer or special event personnel should ask for referrals whether or not they set an appointment.

– Your Sales Reps should ask for referrals as part of the sales presentation. In fact they should offer a discount for referrals up front!

– Your Production Manager should ask for referrals when they come to do an initial walk around with the customer before the job starts.

– Your Painting Crews should ask for (and be compensated for) referrals as they do the job. They will have more contact with your customer than anyone else.

– Your administration personnel should ask for referrals on each contact (using a pre-written script).

– You should send a thank you package with their warranty that asks for referrals and gives them an outline to follow to write a letter of recommendation.

– You should send a questionnaire 30 days after completion that asks for referrals and compensates them for sending in the questionnaire.

– You should send a company newsletter quarterly that offers discounts for other products and asks for referrals.

I think you get my point.

Ask for referrals every time you can.

Compensate your customer generously for giving referrals.

Let them know about the great deal you will give to the people they refer, and keep asking for more referrals every chance you get.

Remember, the more referrals they have given you, the more vested they are in your company, and the more willing they will be to give you more referrals.

Hello & Welcome to Impressions Plus

Welcome to Impressions Plus.

In the days and weeks to come back to my blog and you will discover a plethora of articles about Inbound Marketing as a whole and Social Media, Content Marketing and Search Engine Optimization in particular.

To start out with let me tell you a little about what prompted me to start this business and this blog.

After more than 2 decades of working my way up to being one of the preeminent speakers writers and consultants in the Home Improvement industry, I woke one day to find that my “Cheese” had been moved.

The housing market in California, my home base, had collapsed and the national housing market was in a nose dive. As home prices plummeted, home equity collapsed with it. That equity is the driving force in home improvements.

The Painting Contractor, Window, Roofing, Sunroom and Solar clients I had helped build from start up (many from their garage or living room) had seen sales plummet from $1 million per month to $1 million per year over a 2 year period.

As a consultant whose primary source of income was a commission based on an increase in my clients revenue, my income fell off a cliff, my hours doubled and my health suffered.

I was forced with a difficult decision. Give up on my home improvement consulting business and learn a new industry. I needed to sniff out a new “cheese”.

That cheese proved to be something I had often dabbled in and even more often outsourced – building an online presence for my clients.

Since that realization I have spent 4 years researching the best of the best in the industry, seeking out mentors that could help me accelerate my learning curve and perfecting my skills in Inbound Marketing.

The result is this website and this blog.

Those inbound marketing activities I have been perfecting include:

As you read through this blog about those subjects and many more, please feel free to leave a comment, drop me an email or even pick up the phone and tell me what you thought about the article or ask me questions.

The whole point of this blog is to give you information on a regular basis that can help you build your business.

And don’t forget to look me up on social media –

Richard Burns
President
Impressions Plus