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Wayzata is a premier suburb located 11 miles west of downtown Minneapolis. With a population of 4,500 people, Wayzata is a tight-knit community which is known for its vibrant downtown and picturesque setting on Lake Minnetonka. A popular destination for visitors, Wayzata’s downtown is home to a number of specialty shops, boutiques, professional services, and restaurants.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

OPINION: Use LinkedIn sparingly

Counter Perspective to LinkedIn presentation

Many thanks to the Wayzata Chamber and Caroline Melberg for putting on the LinkedIn presentation this morning at Wayzata City Hall.  About 30 attended, and the program was helpful and well received.

I feel compelled to offer a counter perspective to the information that was presented this morning. The whole concept of LinkedIn is based on too many ifs for me to make it a high priority in my marketing efforts. Should you be doing it? Yes. Should you focus any time on it outside of filling out your profile completely and responding to requests? Not yet, in my opinion.

Too many ifs

For those who missed it, part of the presentation up front went something like this: If someone needs a plumber, and if a plumber is part of someone's network and if someone searches for a plumber on LinkedIn then this is a good way to get business and connect with people. That is way too many ifs for me to handle. An informal show of hands survey during the presentation indicated 5 in 30 had searched for a specific type of service provider on LinkedIn in this way.

Let me offer a different informal survey for your consideration: how many searches did each person in the room perform on Google yesterday? 5? 10? 20? 50? 100? Using keyword research, a relevant domain name, professional writing, and incoming links to step in front of people as they look for a specific product or service makes much more sense to me, at this time.

Let me give you an example: Wayzata.com recently began offering high quality printing as part of our category of services. As part of the marketing mix, I secured the domain name “WayzataPrinting.com”, made a page that contains information about the type of printing services available, and matched it with the geographic location served. This is much more effective at lead generation in my opinion, and doesn't require the labor intensive introductions where one person emails another to talk with another. If people are searching for printing in Wayzata, my business had better have a landing page created for the Google search “wayzata printing” because the chances are good I get that business.

No "Add to Cart"

My background is in e-commerce; and search, content, bounce rates, converting keywords, conversion rates, and revenue are all able to be measured and improved upon in this kind of business platform. I have sold all kinds of things online from photo albums, to music, to promotional novelty items, to food processing equipment. The presentation about LinkedIn forces me to ask you this question: What is missing from Facebook and LinkedIn and other social media platforms? The answer in my mind: there is no “Add to Cart” button. When you place info on these pages in the hopes that you are marketing, it is very difficult to get people to buy something from you via these types of interactions, because there are just too many ifs, without much measurement.

When I built an online store for Woulett's Bakery here in Wayzata about a year ago, my team and I gave Jim Jurmu an “Add to Cart” button. The philosophy I approached him with is, “Hey, do you want to hand out an online brochure on cookies, bread, and cakes or do you just want to sell them online?” I hope you know what his answer was—and it's working. The challenge for attendees in the room then is how do we sell things online when we can't put them in a box and ship them all over the state or nation? My answer: LEAD GENERATION THROUGH SEARCH.

When people look for what you sell, do they find you?

Google is the 800 pound gorilla on the internet. 85% of all searches globally happen on Google. If I need to find a mortgage officer in Minneapolis, I'm searching Google for “minneapolis mortgage”. If you are a loan officer and your web-page isn't part of the results that get returned, someone else is getting that lead. And speaking of leads, we can know going in how many people are looking for “minneapolis mortgage” per month—in this case 2400--and those are hot leads. Let's budget X number of dollars to capture Y% of those leads and close Z% of that business. Now you are talking the language of business.

Once we build a page and start to monitor the traffic that arrives at it, we can build more content based on the variations of the keywords: “minneapolis loan officer”, “minnesota mortgage”, “minneapolis refinance”, etc, etc, etc. Make yourself an authority on your web-page about what you do—and do so using tools where it can be found.

Speaking of websites, how big is your web presence? 25 pages? 50? 100? 1,000? Know what it is going to take in the future? More—both high quality and high quantity pages. If your web presence is small in quantity or quality, you are going to lose.

Gutenberg's printing press still works

I have heard many people refer to the article that was recently published in the Star Tribune about CEL Public Relations and Small Business Mavericks. Do you know what I took away from it? CEL is excellent at getting stories published in the Strib. They got another one published, this time about themselves and the so called power of “Social Media” they provide. Caroline indicated she got a lot of business and inquiries from the story running in the paper. Proof positive in my book that newspapers and media providers are as effective as ever at driving business, and that LinkedIn should be a much smaller priority at this time for any client that values my perspective.

Does CEL and Small Business Mavericks offer quality products and services? Absolutely—the web sites and marketing materials I have seen them produce are very high quality, and are updated with regularity. Do I buy putting in more effort or spending large sums of money on Facebook and LinkedIn based on the presentation this morning? Not yet.

So what should I do to increase my business?

Want exposure and lead generation in Wayzata and the surrounding community? Plan on an insert 12 months out of the year in the Wayzata Chamber newsletter with your name and picture on it. Commit to running a newspaper ad in the Wayzata Sun Sailor and the Lakeshore Weekly News for 52 weeks out of the year. Email your clients once or twice a month with fresh insight and a specific offer to measure conversions. Build a bigger and better website. Compete in search with both a high quality and high volume of pages. Consider e-commerce, if applicable. Buy high quality pens with your name and logo on it and give them away to everyone you know. Take an ad in the Wayzata Booster program. Give money to the Wayzata Crime Prevention Coalition. Take an ad in the Wayzata Fire Department calendar. Volunteer. Have a high quality brochure detailing the benefits of doing business with you ready for when somebody asks. Buy an ad on Wayzata.com, and if you need help or don't have the time, trust Wayzata.com to execute your year long marketing schedule from start to finish.

Disagree with me? Let the community know in the comment box.

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Dan Gustafson is the President of Wayzata.com, a geo-domain website and marketing firm specializing in Wayzata, MN. The company offers news and information, internet consulting, quality printing, indoor and outdoor sign manufacturing, and full service marketing for small to medium sized businesses. He can be reached at 952-473-5200 or wayzata@gmail.com.

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