The "chicken or the egg" conundrum has reared its confusing head yet again.
I have made several of presentations over the past 3 years on maximizing the power of LinkedIn: leveraging this great platform for differentiating your company; attracting partners and prospects; positioning your company as a subject matter expert in a niche so agencies and primes will better understand what you do and where you fit; strategically growing your network; then staying in touch with your ever-expanding network by sharing good information. This is the process that leads to more visibility and differentiates you from most, if not all, of your competitors.
The audiences always seem receptive to what I am saying, paying serious lip service to their desire to employ social media to differentiate, then reach out to the market. "We're gonna do it....real soon...."
Then comes the caveat: "We really need some sales first."
Differentiation, how and why you are different from your competitors, is one of the major keys that will lead to your ability to sell more products or services. Social media, when used properly, helps you display the attributes that legitimately differentiate your company from others. Until you differentiate yourself and become visible to your target audience, the likelihood of more sales is minimal.
"But we really need some sales first...do you have an email list of (fill in the job title here: procurement officers, facilities managers, CIOs, etc)"....
Chapter 8 of Selling to the Government is devoted to differentiating, and Chapter 11 (near the end of the book) deals with the deployment of web 2.0 tools, especially LinkedIn. I devote a fair amount of space in this book to these because they are critical to your success.
There is a reason that 25%+ of GSA Schedule holders make $0:
- little or no differentiation
- little or no targeted marketing
- and little or no use of social media.
Being on the GSA Schedule is not a guarantee of sales and being on GSA Advantage is a requirement, it is not a differentiator and it offers no real advantage (no pun intended) to the contractor.
If you are not trying differentiate, to legitimately stand out in a crowded field by clearly enunciating what makes your company different, you are already on a downward spiral.
So what comes first, the chicken or the egg?
Market Connections study stats on how contractors use social media:
1) Marketing/promotion - 85%
2) Thought leadership promotion - 84%
3) Increased collaboration - 75%
4) Improved customer access to company information - 74%
And btw, Amtower & Company offers coaching for companies and individual coaching on leveraging the power of LinkedIn and we also offer a half-day workshop to get companies started on LinkedIn.