Russ: Hi I’m Russ Capper and this is The Makers Show. My guest today Ashley Johnson, Founder and CEO of Mouth Marketing; Ashley, welcome to the BusinessMakers.
Ashley: Thanks for having me.
Russ: Tell us about Mouth Marketing.
Ashley: So at Mouth Marketing we specialize in LinkedIn lead generation and business to business marketing consulting.
Russ: LinkedIn lead generation, wow. So are there many marketers that focus just on something like LinkedIn?
Ashley: No, I was fortunate enough recently to run across a couple others out in Vegas but locally I haven’t met any, but I’m sure that there’s more starting to kind of get that on their radar.
Russ: Real interesting. How do you effectively use LinkedIn to market?
Ashley: We really work with Sales Navigator. LinkedIn Sales Navigator harnesses this incredible search power so you can really refine your list and connect with the people that you really want to do business with and that really want to do business with you too. What we do then is we connect with 50 people a day that’s in your target audience; of those 50 people that you connect with every single day at the end of the month we follow up, we touch base with those people and engage them through content and personal reach-outs. Not spammy LinkedIn messages which I think some people might confuse us with.
Russ: Well there are a lot of those these days but so your example then, you’re acting like I’m a client and I say okay do your thing – could I do that if I knew enough about LinkedIn by myself?
Ashley: Definitely. We actually do seminars regularly but what ends up happening is we teach people exactly everything they need to know to do this but it’s so time consuming that oftentimes they’re like oh my God, just take it back.
Russ: But would I have to be a premium member of LinkedIn?
Ashley: You would need to use Sales Navigator to really access some of those features. There are ways to get some of the benefits on the free platform, it just doesn’t work quite as well.
Russ: Okay and how long have you been focused strictly on LinkedIn?
Ashley: We’ve been strictly focused on LinkedIn for about the past year. Before that we had tried all different sorts of things for ourselves and what it really boiled down to was at the end of the day – this was about a year and a half ago – I’m like what can I do to generate business for us with essentially no money? And so we thought about it and LinkedIn has everybody that we could possibly want to do business with so why not figure out a way to really tap into that network? At that time I had a free trial of – it was the Business Plan back then – and so with The Business Plan I just started connecting with all of these executives – oil and gas and industrial executives – and within the first day of doing that somebody gave me a call. Then about 3 days later we had a meeting, we closed a $10,000.00 contract.
Russ: So when you say you’re connecting are you sending them messages in LinkedIn?
Ashley: No, what we do is we make those connections. Sometimes we’ll send a custom message if we have something where we might have met at a recent event or something like that and usually our clients will let us know if they were at a recent event or things like that, otherwise we actually leave it to the default message in most cases. In some cases we’ll have a custom message. We do a lot of A B testing for our clients so it kind of depends on their industry, who they’re targeting and what their goal is.
Some of our clients don’t want sales, they want strategic partnerships. Some of them really want to network and present themselves as a thought leader so they want more followers, so it just kind of depends on their goal. But no spammy messages are going out, what we do is we drive the content component on LinkedIn. So we’re creating custom content that engages this target network on LinkedIn and then at the end of the month we pull all that data off LinkedIn and we send a personal invite to all of the new connections.
And in that invite – and we use MailChimp to do this usually – in this email that goes out it says Dear So and So, so great to connect with you, I would love to learn more about you and your business. Would you like to go for coffee sometime? And it may not be that for every client, some clients will have a seminar or a networking event or something where it’s fun for whoever they’re connected with to come meet with and really develop that face to face relationship, which ultimately results in more sales.
Russ: So what is your typical client?
Ashley: Our typical clients really span. They’re in the B to B space; we have law firms, we have insurance agency owners, we have life coaches, business coaches, spaces, even conferences have enlisted our help to kind of connect them with the right influencers to talk about their conference. So it kind of depends on what your goal is, but if you’re in the B to B space we have a strategy for you.
Russ: Okay. It surprised me when you said this continuation of communication goes on you started talking about email too, so you’re talking about initially connecting via LinkedIn but then actually having their email address to communicate like the rest of the world does?
Russ: Did I get that right?
Russ: How do you do that?
Ashley: This is a very common question; a lot of people don’t realize that LinkedIn actually gives you all of the data on your connections – at least for right now. I don’t know if that’s going to be a permanent thing but for right now they’re giving email addresses, first names, last names, the date you connected with them – which is also valuable – their title, company name, that sort of thing.
So you can really target it down; you can say I want to send an email out to all of the CEOs in my list and invite them to coffee. You could do that. Or you could say the last week of people that I’ve connected with I would like to set up some meetings with; you could really get specific. Exporting that data outside of LinkedIn allows you to upload that list into a MailChimp – that on the flipside I need to be really careful on. It’s not for a sales email which can often be confusing to some people, there’s a difference.
Russ: You mean MailChimp is not often for sales email.
Ashley: You can use MailChimp for sales; you can also use MailChimp for personal emails. That said, some people get confused on what I mean by that. So there are laws that say you can’t go spam people, so you can’t pull that list off of LinkedIn and say hey, buy my widget, it’s 20% off. Oh my gosh don’t do that. But what you can do is you could say Dear So and So, it’s good to meet you. I would love to get to know you in person. That’s a personal email; you’re actually reaching out on a one on one basis. Yes it might be sent out to multiple people but it’s still a personal message. It kind of depends on how you do things, but that also needs to come from a personal email. It can’t come from an info@ or something like that, it needs to come from a person.
Russ: So once again, does that mean I have to be a premium subscriber to do it? And you use this term Sales Navigator, is that what you call premium now? Or is that a subset of premium? I’m out of date.
Ashley: LinkedIn has multiple different premium services so it gets a little confusing. But LinkedIn Sales Navigator is really created for sales and marketing so if you’re wanting to build your businesses in LinkedIn I highly, highly recommend Sales Navigator. It pays for itself in the first month if you’re doing it right for every single one of our clients.
Russ: How much is it for an individual?
Ashley: $85.00 a month through LinkedIn. So of course it seems like a lot for a social network to some people but it really pats for itself.
Russ: Let’s say that I have a small business and I wanted to engaged your services, do I just take my personal account then and give you access to it completely?
Ashley: Yes. So what we do – and mostly this is going to be executives, sales teams, kind of anybody that wants to be the face of an organization – so we’ll take their personal accounts and we’ll manage the content that goes out, the invitations that are coming in and going out and really just build up their persona online. So while they’re out networking in person we can be out networking online for them, so they’re really kind of killing two birds with one stone.
Russ: So The BusinessMakers hosts events quite frequently too; do people sometimes use LinkedIn just for invitation purposes for events?
Ashley: Yes. It’s kind of a different way of doing things. When it comes to events you can do it a few different ways. You can still make those connections with people that you know that like to go to networking events; there’s different things that you can search for to refine that down. So once you connect with them then your content is really going to be talking about these events and what the value in these events are.
And then eventually – it happens fairly quickly – these people start engaging in your content. But it also requires you engaging in their content too, so that’s kind of the flip side. A lot of times you have marketing programs where you’re pumping out this great content but nobody is engaging with anybody back and so if you’re out there on the News Feed and you see so and so who you really want to do business with is posting all the time you better be liking their stuff too.
Russ: So what’s your opinion of company LinkedIn sites? Should every company have one?
Ashley: If you’re on LinkedIn and you have your job title on LinkedIn then you need to have a company page because you want your logo on the company page. It looks so bad when somebody says I work for Jim Bob and he doesn’t have a logo but this is where I work. I kind don’t believe them; it just looks bad. And then I’m going to judge their company because they’re not on LinkedIn. So maybe that’s just me being a little judgy but you do need a company page just for company specific information; it makes you more credible as the person and it validates the company’s existence. So it is important to be on there. I don’t stress a whole lot on the content that goes out on the company pages, organically it doesn’t seem to go very far.
Ashley: So if you have a big employee kind of network then you can encourage them to engage the company page to grow the following that way, but for small businesses, medium size businesses the likelihood of that really mattering is slim to none.
Russ: Do you do business thought with companies with a company page too on LinkedIn?
Ashley: Yes and a lot of the time what we’ll do is we’ll also manage the company page in addition to the personal and it’s not like there’s a ton of content that goes out on that but we’ll just monitor the content that’s there.
Russ: Very interesting. Let’s say somebody is watching right now and they want to get in touch with you, how do they do that?
Ashley: The best way to get in touch with me is MouthMarketingLLC.com or you can call 832-589-0817.
Russ: Okay. Ashley thanks a lot, interesting story.
Ashley: Thank you so much.
Russ: You bet. And that wraps my discussion with Ashley Johnson, Founder and CEO of Mouth Marketing and this is The BusinessMakers Show.
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