At the time of writing this article, LinkedIn boasts just shy of 1 billion professionals using its platform. If you’ve identified LinkedIn as a place where your customers are then this post is for you.
But before we get into that, I want to set the stage.
This post is going to be about how to grow a brand. That means connecting with customers on a deeper level, building relationships, sharing your story, and bonding over a shared purpose. This is NOT going to be a post on tactical things like content strategies, newsletters, and outreach.
Why? Because I believe that if you don’t have a brand you have nothing to market.
“But Kaine, I have a product. Why can’t I market that?”
Becuase, dear reader, if you’re marketing your product then you’re confined to talking about features, benefits and price, and unless you’re the first to market in your niche then all of your competitors are talking about exactly the same thing.
We don’t do that here. On this blog, we do differentiation.
So, without further ado, let’s jump into 3 strategies you can use to build your brand on LinkedIn in 2023.
As a company, you’re always looking to connect with the right customers. These aren’t just people who buy from you once or twice or on a whim. These are people who keep coming back, who enjoy buying from you, and who tell others about your brand. They effectively do your marketing for you, and their lifetime value is exceedingly high. This is the dream state for any company which we call “brand advocacy”.
Your origin story is one of the best ways to find and connect with these types of customers. Your origin story encompasses:
To understand why this is so powerful, let’s take a brief and unscientific look at some concepts from neuroscience.
The front part of our brain is called the neocortex. It’s excellent and handling information, facts, and memories. It’s also the front line of defence in a customer’s mind when it comes to making buying decisions. If they can sniff even a hint of marketing or sales tactics from a brand their neocortex will kick in and block any messaging from progressing further.
Why is this a problem? Well, because buying decisions don’t happen in the neocortex. They happen in a deeper part of the brain called the limbic system, and to get there you need to first overcome the defences of the neocortex. By charging your messaging with emotion and sharing your origin story, you can effectively resonate with customers at the level of the limbic system.
As human beings we love to connect with each other and share our stories, successes, and failures. If you can talk candidly and vulnerably about how your company came to be then you have a great chance of doing just this. Maybe you got made redundant from your coporate job, you didn’t know what your next move was, then you saw an opportunity to bring joy to people’s lives with a new gourmet sweet. Great, talk about just that!
Along the way, don’t forget to talk about about who you are as a founder, too. What do you value? What’s important to you? What impact do you want to have on the world?
We’re at the stage of consumerism where people yearn for a “why” when making purchases. We know that we can get a similar result at a similar price point from several different brands, so anything we can do to differentiate between them and make our decision easier is a big fat tick.
Your origin story is the key to making this decision easier in the minds of your potential customers. It’s the difference between the guy with a CV, and the guy with a CV AND a cover letter. That extra personal touch really does make all the difference.
We can’t talk about LinkedIn brand building without talking about niching. If I said to you, “Narrow your audience down as much as possible. It’s the best thing you can do for your brand,” how would that make you feel? There’s probably an “Mm yeah but…” going on in the back of your mind somewhere, or maybe some anxiety around your chest.
This is completely normal.
As human beings we’re designed to socialise in tribes; we crave community and acceptance. So when we actively turn away groups of people we feel like we’re missing out on potential opportunities (specifically sales). When it comes to branding, however, niching yourself is the ticket to amassing a loyal following and doing it quickly. You know what a loyal following does? They buy from you. Not just once, but multiple times over the course of years. And they also tell their friends about your brand so they buy from you too. Do you see how exponential gain from niching down pays back far greater than targeting a larger, more general audience?
Let’s say you’re a food and drink brand owner. You go to a networking event and there is a speaker talking about the supply chain. He begins talking about the intricacies of shipping printers. Are you staying for that talk? Probably not. Sounds boring to me (probably not to people who sell printers though). But what if he started talking about the intricacies of shipping food and drink products? He covers insulation, refrigeration, padding, and all the things you’ve been scratching your head about to keep your product safe and fresh during transit. Now you’re listening…
See how this works? You’re far more engaged when someone can speak your language, understand your challenges, and paint the picture of your business without those challenges. I’ve done this exact technique here. My audience are food and drink business owners, so that’s why I’ve given a food and drink example. You’ll rarely find me giving examples in any of my articles or podcasts that aren’t food and and drink ones. I’ve chosen my niche and I stick to it.
"When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one." - Seth Godin
Start small, target a niche audience amass a loyal following, and then you can look to expand into the next niche. Rinse and repeat. When your brand is larger you CAN target multiple niches successfully. You not only have the resources to do so but you’ve already taken the time to nurture each niche individually. Once you’ve done that, so long as you continue to nurture them, you will have an audience for life.
Piggybacking on our niching conversation, my next LinkedIn brand building strategy for you is gathering insights .
Building a brand is about understanding consumers and influencing their behaviour. The more you pay attention to their behaviour, what they say, and how they engage with you, the better you can make informed decisions on how your brand can fill a gap in their lives.
One key tip I have for you is not to take what customers tell you at face value. People have agendas and confirmation biases. They also don’t know what they don’t know, so asking them what they want isn’t always the best course of action. It’s just like Henry Ford said in his classic quote about the invention of cars, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
It’s up to you to gather insights from your customers. Build a thorough customer persona based on data-backed research. Don’t make assumptions or try to prove things that you already believe to be true. This is a fast-track ticket to a brand that falls flat and connects with a brick wall at best.
In your research, it’s helpful to get a mixure of quantitative data (numbers and stats) and qualitative data (behaviour and feelings). This gives you the most well-rounded picture of who your customers are and what they’re looking for from a brand. Combine a healthy mixture of surveys, interviews, and observational studies to achieve this. For more info on how to do this, check out our other post on finding gaps in the market.
Of course, data is only half the battle. The key is knowing what changes to implement in your business that will make your brand more appealing to your potential customers.
For example, if I ran a luxury restaurant in London and I discovered that the majority of my customers were travelling entrepreneurs from overseas, what business changes might I make? To me it would infer everything from my menu to my decor and everything in between. I would be coming up with creative ways to cater my experience to those customers, and building multiple touch points on which I could sycnhronise my brand message. The result would be customers that feel truly understood and catered for, who would visit my restaurant again, and who would tell their business friends about my restaurant.
LinkedIn is a poweful tool for helping you build your brand because it gives you so much information on your individual customers. With LinkedIn you can find out people’s gender, where they live, who they engage with, their likes and dislikes. You can even infer things like their salary and their hobbies. These insights are gold dust when it comes to building a brand.
Understanding consumer behaviour and strategising ways to compliment or change that behaviour is the key to building a successful brand. In 2023, the difference between the brands that do this and brands that don’t will become more evident than ever before so if you want to stay relevant, stop competing on price, and build a loyal tribe of customers, then start leveraging LinkedIn to build your brand.
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