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It’s been well over a year since most of us felt that sinking feeling in our gut.
Everyone who owned a business in 2020 knew that it was bad, bad news, and in just a couple months everything that we thought was normal was turned upside down.
But, here’s what.
There were still a lot of guys who made it big.
You see, I run a growth hacking agency that specializes in lead acquisition and LinkedIn, and what surprised me the most was the number of people who managed to grow, despite the circumstances that they were faced with.
The Problem With Going Digital
The first option on everyone’s minds was to go digital.
Physical contact became taboo, but we could all still hangout via the internet where it was safer.
Overnight, work from home arrangements, online meetings, and Zoom-powered classes, all started becoming a thing. People were spending increased amounts of time online, so coincidentally business started moving a bulk of their arrangements online.
However, there was a problem with all of this.
Things started getting saturated.
I’m Not a Digital Marketer, I’m a Growth Hacker
The problem is people started flocking towards a “digital marketing” solution.
People wanted to go online for the sake of going online.
It doesn’t work like that.
Take for example my business which was already “online” to begin with.
We realized that we needed to reduce costs and we couldn’t continue working in our offices altogether because of COVID-19, we adopted new practices, changed out our targeting, refocused our messaging, and re-pivoted the business.
We didn’t care too much about winning ad spends or getting the most sessions, what we craved for was growth. We looked at each area of our business and tried to determine how to grow it.
Then we started to do same with our clients.
While a lot of people were figuring out how to advertise or market online, we were looking at the products that our clients were putting out, trying to pivot the way they’ve branded themselves, and creating new avenue for growth.
One of these avenues was LinkedIn.
A quarter of a billion active users.
That’s how many people are on the LinkedIn platform. Everyone from newly minted college grads to Bill Gates had a LinkedIn account, some used it for job-seeking, while the rest use it as sort of a “professional” Facebook.
But, think about it, how many people use the platform for targeted B2B lead generation?
It’s not exactly the platform you think about when you hear the word “social media marketing” being thrown around.
It remained to be an untapped market with a lot of potential for growth.
How Did They Do It?
So, this is what we started doing.
Targeting – our small clients took a look at their ideal customer profiles, and realized that those didn’t exist anymore. They needed to adjust for the pandemic. This meant that there were new customer profiles that had to be built out and new modes of messaging put out.
Hyper-personalization – if you’re in the B2B field you already know about Account-based Marketing or ABM, we took the theories of ABM to another level. We made sure that generic messages were a big no-no. Everything had to be personalized, if small business owners could write each email personally, they did it.
Multidimensional campaigns – yes, LinkedIn is a Blue Ocean for many of the niche clients we have, but this doesn’t mean it’s the only medium. To succeed, they adopted multidimensional campaigns, we prospected on LinkedIn, cold-emailed, then hit everyone up with a custom audience for brand awareness on Facebook.
Passive lead generation – people hate this, but it was one way we generated so many new leads for smaller organizations. It involved full optimized LinkedIn profiles turning normal assets into “mini” landing pages.
Engineering virality – think you can’t go viral on LinkedIn? That’s what our smaller clients thought, instead of thinking of virality as a bonus, we strived to make sure that each post they had was written for virality. Why? This ensured that we had maximum reach all the time.
Thought-leadership – we run an influencer academy, but when I say that in passing it almost sounds as if I need to turn B2B specialists into TikTok stars – although I wouldn’t be against that. Our influencer academy is focused on turning normal business owners into thought leaders in their industry. This is one way we’ve allowed our clients to build trust in the market.
Throw in a Little Grit
Of course, it’s not enough that they knew where and how to look for growth opportunities.
In my line of work, that’s just the first part of the equation. The second part has always been, “what are you going to do about it?”
I’ve consulted for various Fortune 500 companies and a lot of smaller startups, and I’ve seen a lot of them grow tremendously, but not without the fair share of companies that just plateaued.
The common denominator between all of the successful organizations I’ve witnessed?
Now a lot of people describe grit in different ways, but I like Dr. Angela Duckworth’s definition of grit – in her book of the same name – it’s passion and perseverance.
During the pandemic a lot of the clients I onboarded wanted to survive, they naturally wanted to “persevere”, but that wasn’t enough. The pandemic was also a test if people were really passionate in what they were doing.
There’s a lot of magic in the work that we do in the office, but if our client, or you for that matter, lacks passion in the organization, it won’t survive.
Takeaways (The Results)
In 2020, we managed to generate millions of dollars of leads for our smaller clients.
LinkedIn provided a new market, growth hacking provided a new mindset, and a little grit provided them with enough capital to keep moving forward to 2021.
But, you want to know what’s one thing that kept the smaller guys going?
It was compassion.
They understood that the clients that they were talking to were – just like them – now in a different place altogether.