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E2A 022: LinkedIn Lead Generation (Without Sleazy DMs) 

 January 31, 2022

By  Scott A. MacMillan

Have you ever logged into LinkedIn and found sleazy sales messages in your inbox? Have you ever logged into LinkedIn and NOT found sleazy sales messages? As annoying as it can be to get those…it’s even more annoying to have to send them. If you shudder at the thought of receiving and sending cold DMs on LinkedIn, buckle up…this episode is for you.
In this episode of The Entrepreneur to Author Podcast, your host and author Scott MacMillan talks with digital ad expert Mark Firth about using paid traffic on LinkedIn and other platforms to scale your business profitably and consistently.


GUEST BIO: Mark Firth
After 18 years in B2B in companies like IBM, Siemens & start-ups Mark Firth has helped hundreds of clients land deals with companies like Facebook, BMW and of course small + medium CEO’s. Mark specializes in Facebook & LinkedIn Ads and has built a multi-million-dollar business helping B2B consultants build a profitable and impactful business, a consistent sales pipeline full of prospects, and a sales process that predictably converts them into high-paying clients.
 
CONNECT WITH MARK
Website: markfirthonline.com
Website: clientsimpact.com
Mark on Twitter: @MarkRFirth
Mark on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/markfirthonline/


MARK’S SOFTWARE RECOMMENDATIONS
Grain: grain.co
Descript: descript.com
Notion: notion.so


CONNECT WITH SCOTT
Entrepreneur to Author™ Select membership
entrepreneurtoauthor.com
grammarfactory.com
scott@grammarfactory.com

Scott on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/scottmacmillan/
Scott on Instagram: @scottamacmillan
Scott on Twitter: @scottamacmillan
Scott on Medium: @scottamacmillan


Episode Transcript

Scott A. MacMillan: 

You're listening to the Entrepreneur to Author podcast, episode number 22.

Mike Manz: 

Welcome to the Entrepreneur to Author Podcast, the podcast that brings you practical strategies for building authority and growing your business, and now, here's your host, Scott MacMillan.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

"Hi, Scott A. We have some mutual connections. It's a small world. I'm building a network of other business owners interested in turning their existing infrastructure into a competitive advantage. Are you interested in a strategic edge in 2022? Please use my Calendly link to book a no obligation consultation. Warm regards, Stanley."

Yikes. How many messages like this do you get on LinkedIn? It sort of feels like getting hit on at the office while you're just trying to get some work done, doesn't it? That said, I feel for Stan, I really do. We all need to generate demand and sales for our business. But, are LinkedIn messages the new cold call? Or is it more like a slimy sales pitch over canapes at an industry conference? Look, I love LinkedIn. It's a great social media platform, especially when your market is B2B. But there has to be a better way to use it than high volume, cold DMs. A way that builds your network, your business and your reputation, rather than damaging them. Is that even possible to do? And to do it at scale? Well, we're about to find out in this episode of Entrepreneur to Author.

Today, I'm speaking with Mark Firth. Mark built his expertise working at some of the biggest B2B companies in the world, including the likes of IBM and Siemens. He's the founder of Mark Firth Online, which specializes in helping B2B consultants and agencies use Facebook and LinkedIn ads to land high value, high profit deals, and grow their business exponentially and predictably. I'm really excited to speak with him.

So, please join me in welcoming Mark Firth to the podcast. Mark, welcome, it's great to have you on the show.

Mark Firth:                  

It's great to be here. And that's the best intro I've heard about LinkedIn, ever in my life. You nailed it.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

You know, I get so many of those. I assume you do too, right?

Mark Firth:

"I don't know you, but I want to take 15 minutes of your time that you'll never get back. You up for it?"

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Isn't it slimy? Well, look. Mark, first off, could you give listeners a little bit of a sense of your background? I talked a little bit about it in the intro.

Mark Firth:

Yeah.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

What do you do, where do you come from and who do you do your work for?

Mark Firth:

Right. I started my B2B career back in 2003. I started at IBM, I worked in B2B sales. It was nobody would take me so I ended up in sales, like a lot of people. Reached the age of 30, realized I didn't actually want to do sales, got lost for a bit. And then, started my own business and found my direction in life.

Yeah, as you just said, we're helping people to grow their businesses. We're helping them to do LinkedIn, Facebook ads, as well as some LinkedIn but we do it a bit differently.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

And you work mostly with B2B clients, is that right?

Mark Firth:                  

B2B. We tend to like to work with small businesses. So it would individuals, your typical independent team of one consultant. And also, small professional services companies, SaaS companies and so forth. We don't really go into corporate because I had enough of that. If I never have to work with a corporate organization again in my life, I will be happy.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

It's an entirely different beast, isn't it? Totally different.

Mark Firth:

It is.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Yeah. Different issues and most of them not so much fun.

Mark Firth:

Yeah. Yeah.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Great. Now, let's talk about LinkedIn a little bit. You've been deep into the platform for years. What do you like about the platform? What's changed, too, in terms of what you're seeing in terms of its effectiveness for business development?

Mark Firth:                  

I have a love-hate relationship with LinkedIn. I'm just going to be honest, I don't love any social media. I don't get up in the morning and go, "I can't wait to go on social media and see everyone telling me how amazing they are." And arguing about you-know-what that we won't mention, and getting angry, getting happy. I don't love social media. But however, it still remains the most powerful tool at our disposal to build a business. It's amazing. It's love-hate. Truly, I don't enjoy it, but truly I love it because it enables me to connect with people, it enables me to make an impact and it enables me to build relationships that I wouldn't otherwise have been able to do to build my business.

So LinkedIn has changed. I started in 2009, I was on it for a while, came back in 2017. In 2017, people were just, "Oh my God, someone sent me a message! Let's jump on a call, let's have a call." And then, as with everything, the marketers ruined it and LinkedIn reacted by ... We have to remember, social media platforms want their users to have a great experience, they want to enjoy it. The social media platforms, they make money if people spend more time on it. But, people were renewing it. As you've alluded to now, it's toned down a bit. But they've started restricting things, they've started adjusting how people can and can't do, to keep people on the platform. Yeah, it has changed and people have to adapt.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Yeah, right. There seems to be a few different ways to use not just LinkedIn, but most of the social media platforms. There's direct messaging, there's obviously posting content, posting original content.

Mark Firth:                  

Yeah.

Scott A MacMill...:        

And then, there's the whole paid ads, paid traffic. And there are probably some others, but I'd say those are the big three.

Now, you're really bullish on paid ads, aren't you? Sponsored posts. Why is that?

Mark Firth:                  

Well, let's answer that at the top level, first. I think everyone that starts a business, I don't know if you agree with this, to a certain degree, there are exceptions, there are edge cases, with anything in life, but we ultimately solve the problem for ourselves. When we solve a problem for ourselves, we can then solve it for other people. Does that make sense?

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Yeah, absolutely.

Mark Firth:                  

Yeah. So the problem I had is I don't enjoy organic marketing, I don't enjoy a lack of control. I don't enjoy spending a lot of time doing content, and then the LinkedIn Gods decide who it gets shown to because ultimately, I have no control over it. I don't enjoy being restricted by a platform and having no control over how many messages I can send. And I don't ultimately enjoy connecting my time directly with lead generation because, you talked about scalability at the beginning. If your time is connected to lead generation, if you're restricted, you've got a ceiling by default. So the problem I had to solve is I've got a kid, I've got by this point two kids. I'm working a job and I have a great skillset, but how can I grow a business without having to spend exponential time on a platform and just be lucky? And just do a dance, do a dance to the Gods and hope someone replies that day. And I've caught them at the right time. The right person, the right time, needing my thing. I had to figure out that problem.

That's why I went to paid advertising because ultimately, you're going to pay with time or you're going to pay with money. And I prefer to pay with money and guarantee that people see my content. That's where it came from. Starting a family and needing to get the business going.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Yeah. Really well put. It's about scalability, right?

Mark Firth:                  

Yeah.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

There's only so much reach you can get through organic posting. And of course, DMing and private messaging. But with ads, the world is your oyster pretty much.

Mark Firth:                  

Yeah. And I think scalability is also a red herring, because a lot of the B2B consultants that I work with, they don't want to scale to the moon and those sorts of phrases that come from the internet marketing community, God bless them. They just want consistency. So it doesn't have to be about scaling, it doesn't have to be about making millions. It could be able a decent income, and just having that predictability and consistency, and know that people see it, and know that the leads pop in. There's two camps. I just wanted to elaborate on that.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Consistency, that's a really good point.

Mark Firth:                  

Yeah. Exactly.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

That's a very good point. Because you're right, you're right. We always hear about, we always talk about scalability, how you can scale what you're doing and grow. Growth is great, but you're right. Consistency is probably more important.

We were talking earlier about the corporate world. Corporate earnings, the corporate executives, every day of the week, they would take consistent earnings over growth.

Mark Firth:

Yeah.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Because the market's will kill you, otherwise.

Mark Firth:

And some people don't want hundreds of clients, they want one a year. As we would say in the UK, I don't know if you say this, it's horses to courses, each to their own. But there needs to be consistency and predictability, no matter how much you sell and how many clients you want.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Yeah, very good. Great point.

So with most things, I imagine there's a right way and a wrong way to approach paid traffic on LinkedIn. What would you say are the most important things to get right, if you want to see returns from it?

Mark Firth: 

The first thing is, I'm not going to go technical on this, but the way that the advertising platforms work is they are dictated by supply and demand, just like most things business are. But what that means is, if there's a lot of people that could potentially see an ad, there's a lot of inventory. And that means that cost is cheaper because it's supply and demand.

Here's the statistic, here's what people don't look at. We went deep on this because we've done a lot of advertising across YouTube, LinkedIn. We've done Facebook, we've done Google. We won't go into all source. But if you look at the statistics, you can Google this ... You hear all these LinkedIn coaches say, "LinkedIn is the B2B platform. X% of clients get their leads from LinkedIn." But that's never the full story. Where was the first click? Where did they engage? Did they meet at an event and then see them on LinkedIn? Did they go to the website first, did they see them on a podcast?

The reality is, if you look at the statistics, the statistics that count, the average B2B decision maker spends over 12 hours per week on Facebook versus 28 minutes on LinkedIn. 12 hours is enough time to fly from San Francisco to London and probably clear passport control, even with all the chaos that's going on. I've got coffee here. This won't get cold in the amount of time people spend on LinkedIn. And that's because LinkedIn is not an enjoyable platform. It's a transactional platform, because the other data says that people want to go on LinkedIn to do business. Everyone knows, and you've all heard this and you probably all get this, "They're never on there, they never post content, they reply to my messages. I don't know if they see my messages. They don't reply to email." Well yeah, because they don't go on LinkedIn much. No one enjoys it.

So how do get past that problem? What we do is we actually use the Facebook platform at the front of the funnel, and the front of the funnel means first contact, it means the first time you see them because a lot of B2B decision makers, the data says they do use Facebook. They don't use it actively. They're not going on there, posting about who should be president and taking a picture of their cereal in the morning. But, they've probably got a group where their kids are in school like me or they scroll the feed. And that means that they can be found. And then, as soon as you find them, you can then follow up with them on what we call remarketing on LinkedIn. Because once you've got their data ... That's the wrong thing to say isn't it, in 2022? Once you've found out who they are, you can then retarget them very strategically on LinkedIn. So we actually use Facebook front of funnel and retarget on LinkedIn, and that works well for us.

Does that make sense? I don't want to go too technical. But we've just gone with the data.

Scott A. MacMillan:   

Yeah. We often think of the various social platforms as mutually exclusive. But what you're saying is they can work together.

Mark Firth:                  

Yeah.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

You can find somebody on one platform and reconnect with them on another. Am I understanding that right?

Mark Firth:                  

Yeah. What I want to do is I want to, in 2022, I want to have as many roots to contact that individual as is humanly possible. Let me compare my competition. My competition has a LinkedIn contact in their network. They can message them and they can post content, but they don't go on there. If we post content, how do we know LinkedIn's going to show them? Versus myself, I've got SMS, I've got email, I've got a LinkedIn retargeting pixel, the Facebook retargeting pixel and a Google pixel. That's five alone that I can now retarget. Because I don't believe you should be your marketing around a platform, because people are multi-platform now. That's changed since the you-know-what happened.

We need to ask ourselves instead, where are our clients spending time? Where can we guarantee that they see our marketing? That, to me, is first principles of marketing. Where will they see it? Because that's all I need them to do, to see it. If I've got a compelling message and all that stuff's lined up, everything will be good. If you haven't, that's another conversation anyway. Where can they see my marketing? They can see my marketing where they spend time. We all know people spend time ... It's not like someone says, "Oh, I work at this B2B business, therefore I don't log on to Facebook." Of course, they do, so we need to find them. Does that make sense?

Scott A. MacMillan: 

It makes perfect sense. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

Now, all of our listeners have either already published a book or are at some point in the entrepreneur to author journey. I'd love to chat a little bit about, are there ways to incorporate your book into the paid traffic strategy in some meaningful way, whether it's to drive book sales or to use the book as some sort of component of it.

Mark Firth:                  

First of all, congratulations. I'm eternally writing a book. I've got what, 20,000 words in yet, at the moment. So congratulations if you've written a book. I really, really, really just want to say it's hard and kudos to you for getting it done.

Yeah, there's so many ways. There's absolutely so many ways you could do it. What's the best way to answer this? Simplicity is the way forward. And instead of asking the question how do you use the book, I would like to ask the question what does your market need to come into your world? Because ultimately, when we do advertising, what we're looking to do is we're looking to turn somebody that's never heard of us, doesn't know of us and is busy, I don't know, feeding their cat and then they see your ad in the feed, to becoming someone that is in your world, and then is enabled to see all your other content.

So let me elaborate on what I mean. The front of funnel for advertising is not going to be, "Read my book." It's going to be can I solve a quick problem right now, that my market's thinking about on a Monday morning. I always say there's a Monday morning problem. So, what can we do? Is it a chapter of a book? Is it some video training based on the book? Or, is it the book itself that's solves a Monday morning problem? Because if you can offer that kind of free gift, or you can offer that training, or you can offer something that solves the Monday morning problem, you've then got the right to market to them. And they're in your funnel, they're on your email list, they're in your LinkedIn. And then, you can educate them and possibly offer them the entire book.

There's multiple ways to do it. Some of the most famous internet marketers on the planet, they've offered their entire book for free. Others have offered a chapter. Others have just done a free video based on it and then the whole follow up is about offering the book. But, the point is solve that Monday morning problem, get them into your world. I can't guarantee much, but I can guarantee if the person's not in your world, they're not on your email list and your SMS, they're never going to become a client. At least if you've got them there, then you've got a fighting chance of them becoming a client over a period of time.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Yeah, right. Right. So from feeding your cat to solving a Monday morning problem, I love it.

Mark Firth:                  

Yeah. Or, Sunday night problem. The high performers do it on a Sunday night. I've never been good at that.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

I used to do it on a Sunday night, but now I'm a Monday morning guy.

Mark Firth:                  

Same, same.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

It's funny how that changes over time.

Mark Firth:                  

Yeah.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Apart from what we've been talking about around LinkedIn and paid traffic, one thing I know about you, Mark, is that you're a bit of a fanatic when it comes to software tools that help make our lives easier as entrepreneurs. I hope I'm not putting you on the spot here, but I know I'll regret it if I don't ask you for your top three recommendations for software tools. So what have you got for us?

Mark Firth:                  

All right. So I did a video the other week on YouTube, it's one of my best viewed videos. I've decided to take this passion and actually start talking about it. It's going to my YouTube. In the spirit of top of funnel, people want to know software. I'm just going to put software on top of funnel, B2B consulting software on YouTube. And actually, the video about the best content software.

I have to tell you, the software that I'm using at the moment, it's moved, Scott. Since we last spoke, it's moved. But there's a piece of software called grain.co. If, like me, you do a lot of Zoom meetings with your clients, some of your best content is going to come from Zoom. You're in the zone, you're not trying to get in states through a marketing video and it's just great. What this does is you invite it into the Zoom meeting room and it automatically records the call. The moment you finish the call, you press stop and you don't have to wait for it to process. The meeting's automatically transcribed and you can highlight a section in the transcription, create file. And it creates, then, a three minute video that you've got ready-made to distribute, just with two clicks.

It's also great for your team because ... With my team I'm like, "Okay, just before we've finished, I'm going to stop this. I want you to take this bit, I want you to take this bit." And the clip is there and done, and it's a ready-made process.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Wow.

Mark Firth:                  

That is an absolutely fantastic piece for content creation and team management. If you are not using that, I recommend giving it a go. I don't know what the plan is, but I think it's 40 bucks. It's not a lot. I just get it back, I use it every day. That's the first one I'd recommend.

The other one is obviously Descript, which I've spoken about before. Descript is another video editing app because we've got to get ... Here's the conundrum. We need to get content out there, even if you're doing ads. Ads will increase the effectiveness of content. People need to know who you are and if you know what you're talking about. People need to see you in order to reach that conclusion themself. Otherwise, you're like the world's best kept secret. I just put content into Descript and it transcribes it. And then, you edit the video content by editing the transcript.

What that means is, if there's a section of an um and ah, you delete the um from the transcript, it's automatically deleted from the video. We've all done it, moving the slider around, where did I say this thing, where is it. One hour later and you're just, "Oh my God, where has the morning gone? It's done." And even more than that, you can just highlight it and get the VA to edit the video. Because that saves the problem of which bit's good, which bit's not because judgment and the content, we know. We know. But, it's very difficult to find someone that does unless you pay a lot of money. So you just highlight the bits you want kept and there's your content. I recommend that.

And the other one that I use every day is Notion. It's very hard to describe. Just check out Notion. They're my note taking app.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

So, Grain-

Mark Firth:                  

Grain.co.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Descript and Notion.

Mark Firth:                  

Yeah, they're the three that I'm loving at the moment. Notion, I use as a knowledge base for my business. I find it very hard to find a knowledge base system because things get complex quick online. Before you know it, you've got a link here, a training link there, you need this, you need your podcast bio. It'll be through soon. All this stuff's just at arm's reach.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Yeah, fantastic. Well listen, amazing. Lastly, I want to ask you what the best way is for listeners to learn more about you and what you do, and how to get in touch with you?

Mark Firth:                  

It can be markfirthonline.com. That's M-A-R-K-F-I-R-T-H online.com. Or, clientsimpact.com. That's clients with an S, clientsimpact.com. We're just about to set that up as well. That's got a free gift around the statistics I was talking around earlier, about LinkedIn and Facebook. And breaks down a lot more detail, what we were talking about.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

That's perfect. We'll be sure to put those in the show notes for easy reference. Thanks again for being here, Mark. This has been amazing. Lead generation is so important for any business and I know it's top-of-mind for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs especially. So I really appreciate you joining us to share your expertise today.

Mark Firth:                  

Thank you, Scott. I've really enjoyed being here. Great questions.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

That was so good, wasn't it? I get so much out of conversations like this and I'm so glad that Mark agreed to come and speak with us today. As I think back, there's some really important points we covered.

So, remember this. Organic posting and outreach are important, but they can only take you so far. Paid traffic is how you scale your marketing and perhaps even more importantly, make it consistent and predictable. No single social media platform is the one answer when it comes to paid traffic. Instead, find your customers where they are, and then you can reengage them elsewhere.

Now is the time. Time to write, time to publish and time to grow. I'm Scott MacMillan, until next time.

Scott A. MacMillan


Scott A. MacMillan is a speaker, international best-selling author, entrepreneur, and the President and Executive Publisher at Grammar Factory Publishing. He and his team help expert entrepreneurs write and publish books that build their authority and grow their business.

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