With the recession lingering, many marketers have been tasked with using “free” social media for business development. To that end, in SmartBrief on Social Media and here on this blog, we spend a lot of time on creative uses for Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. We shouldn’t forget, however, that LinkedIn can also be a tremendous tool for generating new business — if you know how to get the most out of the platform.
The Carlton Hotel, a historic luxury property in midtown Manhattan, provides marketers with a great LinkedIn case study, complete with a real return on investment.
This past summer, the hotel’s management company, Gemstone Hotels & Resorts, wanted to leverage LinkedIn to help promote The Carlton as a corporate destination for groups, conferences and executive events. The company turned to Freesource, a social-media consulting and training company run by ex-LinkedIn executives Nathan Egan and Patrick Baynes, to help develop and deploy a strategy. (Disclosure: Freesource is also SmartBrief’s go-to group for LinkedIn expertise.)
Freesource’s recommendations for The Carlton’s sales team included:
- Build a closely held network. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Freesource recommends only connecting to people you really know and trust. Managing tightly held, individual communities on LinkedIn will maximize the value of the platform and the quality of in-bound/out-bound business opportunities for your representatives.
- Teach sales representatives how to benefit from search engine optimization. Encourage sales reps and staff to identify with the hotel’s offerings on LinkedIn and align their profiles to meet their goals. Have them incorporate strategic keywords into their job titles, summaries, specialties and job descriptions to benefit from increased Web hits.
- Learn about your prospects. Use LinkedIn for “social CRM” throughout the entire sales process, Freesource recommends. Active, daily use of LinkedIn will give employees a better understanding of their current and future clients — turning cold calls into warm handshakes, shortening sales cycles and giving you greater share of wallet through stronger relationship management.
- Create prospecting efficiencies. In-depth knowledge of Boolean strings, LinkedIn’s basic and advanced search capabilities, as well as its newly revamped “Company Pages” will help a sales team find new, qualified leads faster. Lastly, use tools such as LinkedIn’s SlideShare application to provide virtual property tours so that the profile can bring in leads around the clock.
The results of this four-pronged LinkedIn initiative speak for themselves: Less than 90 days after implementation, the Carlton’s five-person sales team sourced $186,550 in new corporate and group business.
How are you creatively using LinkedIn for business development?
Image Credit: Carlton Hotel