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How I've Used Content Marketing and LinkedIn to Turn Cold Prospects Into Warm Leads

This article is based on when I first started building my personal brand The Content Marketing Guy in 2019 and the results I was able to generate executing content marketing on LinkedIn. Though it has been a few years since then, the principles outlined in this article still applies today.

On February 5, 2019 I decided to launch The Content Marketing Guy. The intention was to do two things:

  1. Satisfy my love and desire for Content Marketing through expression of content creation

  2. Create content that could add value to Marketers and Business Owners (as I realized there was a need for practical advice)

I did this through posting articles on my website and posting content throughout LinkedIn in different content formats (text, graphics, audio, video, infographics, etc.).

After a few weeks something unexpected started happening. People were reaching out to me over LinkedIn with potential job offers, potential clients wanting me to help them with Content Marketing, and others wanting me to train them on how to use Content Marketing for their business.

Here’s what it looked like for me the first 6 months of doing this. I’ve erased the persons' names and images to respect their privacy.

These are just a few but you get the point.

The reason why I say it was unexpected is because though I know the power of Content Marketing, my intention was never to generate leads or try to sell marketing or training services. However, that’s exactly what was happening. People were reaching out to me because they had seen what I was doing and they liked what I was doing, and believe I could help them through what I was doing.

In other words, cold prospects were turning into warm leads. Ironically, most people who reached out to me I simply gave them advice without asking for anything.

So how did I do it?

1. Identify your target audience

In order to turn cold prospects into warm leads you have to first know with explicit detail who you want as a warm lead in the first place. You have to know definitively who you serve and what challenges they face that you can help them with or what goal they have you can help them achieve. This is important because it will affect your messaging and how you communicate to these individuals.

Starting out I would also recommend choosing one target customer, reason being is you can’t use one messaging for several customer groups, each has their own pain point and will respond to specific messaging accordingly. Get the first messaging for the first group right before moving on to more.

The broader and more generic your message, the less likely you’ll attract anyone. Make it narrowed and specific, that way when you speak your potential customers know you are speaking directly to them and exclusively for them.

2. Edit your profile to reflect your business

This is the most important part of this entire process because it’s what you will use as your ‘digital billboard’ to attract the right leads for your business. Don’t just put things like Digital Marketer, Chartered Accountant, Experienced Project Manager, those titles are vague and mean absolutely nothing to your potential customer. Instead use it to describe who you serve, how you serve them, and how they benefit. Speak to them and their needs, not what you do because they don’t care about what you do.

Take my profile for example.

The main title under my name speaks directly to whom I serve (Business Owners), how I serve them (Effectively Positioning Their Brands Using Content Marketing), and how that will benefit them (Achieve Growth). Nowhere does it speak about who I am or what I do, which is being a Content Marketing Strategist. That’s because people don’t care about who I am, only how I can help them.

I consider this my primary purpose and my primary audience. My secondary purpose and audience speaks to my wider mission of The Content Marketing Guy and other groups such as Marketers and CEOs as shown in the header image.

Additionally, you should use your ‘About Me’ section of your profile to elaborate more on how what you offer benefits your target customer, including any results, case studies, or testimonials of other customers speaking on how your product/service has helped to make their lives better.

Finally, edit your company section to speak on the same. The point is creating consistency in your brand messaging throughout your entire profile

3. Create valuable content

I don’t think I need to speak much on this since my entire content focus has been around this. However, for clarity when I speak about “valuable content” I mean content that your customers consider valuable and not what you do. This means content that is useful and helpful to your target customers. This is the silver bullet that turns cold prospects into warm leads. Create 6-8 weeks worth of content that educates them on how to solve a challenge or achieve a goal they have, and you will get their attention.

The reason why creating content first before reaching out to anyone is so important is because when you finally get people to your profile, you want them to have something to look on and immediately feel as though they are getting value by connecting with you, rather than feeling like you added them simply to make your sales pitch.

4. Search and add your target customers

Next you should use the search option in LinkedIn to search and add the type of customers you want based on your detailed description.

Let me walk you through how to do this.

Let’s say you’re a B2B tech company that wants to sell a service or product to other companies. Undoubtedly, you would want to approach CIOs, CTOs, and other senior executives that you know are decision makers and influencers within the organization that can help get you through the door for that first meeting.

Go to the search bar and type in CIO or CTO (or the job title you want to target) and click enter.

You will see a screen load, and where it says “People results for CIO” click “See all” to the right.

Right away you see that there are over 500,000 results. But let’s say you wanted to be more specific with your search. You wanted CIOs of specific Industries, Location, or a specific company, then you can click on “All Filters” to the top of the screen.

Here you can narrow you search as you see fit to get a more targeted and refined list.

5. Engage with your target customers

Once you’ve found your target customers and added them, next you want to engage with them. Do not add them and immediately try to pitch to them, that won’t work and will only turn them off from doing business with you.

Simply add them, and once they accept send them a personalized message thanking them for connecting. You can go a step further to say something like “I noticed that you are a xyz position at 123 company, what are some of the challenges you face in your role?”

It’s using the opportunity to:

  1. Build rapport

  2. Learn more about your target customer so you can better position your message

The cause-and effect of this is since you have shown interest in them, they now feel the need to learn more about you so they will click on your profile. Then they’ll see that what you do, who you are and how you serve them. Also, they will see the relevant content you have been creating that is helpful to them and so their interest will be piqued to learn more about what you offer.

If you really want to stand out, you can take it even further by engaging with them through liking and commenting on their posts with insightful comments. However, don’t just comment for commenting sake, it’s better to say nothing than to be insincere. Leave meaningful comments that shows you are sincere and are educated in your area of expertise (assuming the original content allows for it).

The more you can engage with them without pitching, the more open and receptive they become as the Know-Like-Trust factor starts to build over time.

Final Thoughts

The process I outlined is a bit tedious I will admit. However, though LinkedIn can be used as a sales platform, it’s still a social media platform, which means you still have to connect and engage with potential customers first, and add value to them before trying to sell to them.

Is it simple? Yes. Will most people do it? No. Why? Because it takes time and a lot of effort, and most people are impatient and want immediate results. That’s where the competitive advantage for you comes in. Because they won’t do it, it gives you the chance to stand out from everyone else to your potential clients and customers, and when the time is right for them, you will always be top-of-mind as the go to person they choose to provide solutions for them through your products and services.

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