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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

20 top LinkedIn tips

LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network, with a mission to connect the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful

To get started with LinkedIn you need to set up both a personal profile and company page - but then what?

Luan Wise explains what to do next.

1. Make a good first impression

Make sure you are presenting yourself in the best possible way - with a good profile photo, a strong headline, and all the key sections filled in.

2. Personalise your URL

Include the details of your profile on your business card, in your email signature and as a link from the 'About' information on your website.

3. Avoid the hard sell

LinkedIn is not a place for pitching, so remove any bullet-pointed lists about your services and add rich media links that highlight your work instead. Video and documents can be added to the summary and experience sections of your profile.

4. Make it easy for people to get in touch

Make sure your contact details are clearly visible on your LinkedIn profile. Include your phone number and email address as part of your summary section call to action, as well as completing the contact section fields.

5. Think about what you share

Check your settings and privacy. Ensure you know what information you are sharing with your network before you update your profile or post any content. Are you happy for your network to see all of your connections, for example?

6. Add existing contacts

Go through that box or drawer of business cards you've been collecting at networking events and meetings, and add them to your LinkedIn network.

7. Be personal

Don't forget to personalise the connection request! Always send a short note to highlight how you know each other.

8. Build your LinkedIn network

Search for new people to connect with. Use the 'Connect' button on someone's profile to ensure you can personalise the connection request.

9. Avoid making generic requests

Using a mobile? When you are looking at someone's profile there are three dots at the top right. Hit those and you will be able to personalise the connection request - no excuses!

10. Remember your manners

When someone accepts your connection request, say thank you. Continue the conversation.

11. Manage your LinkedIn requests

When you receive a connection request, you have three options:

  • Ignore it - which is fine if you do not know the person and they do not fit your target audience criteria.
  • Accept it - fine if you know the person. But don't just click on the green tick, or accept button. Reply, say thank you for the connection. Continue the conversation.
  • Send a message. If the invitation is from someone you haven't met or you're not sure they fit your target audience criteria, go to 'My network' and 'Manage All' in the invitations section and you will be able to send them a message to find out more.

12. Check who's looking

You will only be able to see this information with a premium LinkedIn account. If it's someone in your network, that you haven't been in touch with recently, why not drop them a quick message to see how they are? If it's someone not yet in your network, you could get in touch to see if you can help. Acknowledge that they looked at your profile recently and use the information as a trigger to start a conversation.

13. Use opportunities to get in touch

You can find conversation trigger - such as job changes and birthdays - by looking at your notifications. Get in touch if it's relevant to do so.

14. Be helpful

Share articles (think of this as a long-form alternative to a standard update), photos, videos or ideas with your network. Try to share something at least once a week to stay in front of your network.

15. Consider the content format

Select the format that's most appropriate to the content you are sharing. An idea is short form (up to 600 characters), and can include links, photos and video in addition to text. An article is a long-form piece of content and should provide insight and opinion into a subject area.

16. Use hashtags

These help LinkedIn users and editors find your posts if they are searching.

17. Share the love

Like, comment and share content posted by your network. Do it when you wish to get in front of them, but remember everyone else in your network will see your activity in their newsfeed.

18. Give shout outs

Mention people within your content - they will receive a notification when you need this.

19. Keep up to date

Check out the 'Daily Rundown' for the latest top stories. If it's relevant to you or your business, jump in with a share and a comment.

20. Follow those in the know

Follow individuals, influencers and businesses to gather more news and industry information inside your newsfeed. Use relevant information to reach out and start a conversation.

Written by Luan Wise.

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