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How to Jump Ahead of the Competition

How to Jump Ahead of the Competition

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

Want to sell more than your competition and have more market share? Here’s how you do that.

Do a competitive analysis between you and your competition. Chalk up the amount you are spending on marketing and the number of salespeople you have. Now you will probably have to guess at the marketing spend and number of salespeople, but you should be able to guess and compare.

So you now have a table, comparing your you marketing spend and sales people with your competition.

The objective is to sell more than your competition? So How are you going to do this?

You could increase your marketing budget to be more than your competitor. You could recruit more sales people, to have more sales people than the competitor with the most salespeople. It’s that simple.

Now 9 people out of 10 who are reading this will say, there is no way I can have more marketing budget than my competition and there is no way I can have more sales people.  So what you going to do?

Simple.  You have to disrupt.

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Four things you could be doing on Linkedin which stop you from being attractive to the C-Suite

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Four things you could be doing on Linkedin which stop you from being attractive to the C-Suite

Four things you could be doing on Linkedin which stop you from being attractive to the C-Suite

by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

If you sell low priced things to junior people within an organisation then actually you don’t need to bother about your personal brand. What you do is probably pretty transactional and the buyer might not really care about doing too much due diligence. The further up within an organisation you need to be, the more difficult a task it is to look interesting to the people you need to engage.

Plenty or marketing automation type companies will give you a formulaic route to “drive registrations” or “optimise clickthrough” and whilst that may work for managers it certainly WILL NOT work for the CEO.

Selling at the top level within an organisation requires skill, patience and an ability to put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself “is what I am doing going to turn them on…or off.” Every “icon” you put in your headline or “click here to book a time” or “register now” button will turn away the very people that you want to engage.

You know it and I know it.

So what will work then? How can you get in front of the CEO on LinkedIn and have them take you seriously?

  1. You need a strong personal brand. Not a “landing page” or a “call to action” or an “advert” but a clear story about why the reader should like and trust and believe in them and in what you say. You can mention what you do and why this maters but remember – people buy from people so the thing that is really on sale here is you! 
  2. You need to have good behaviours. You need to be joining, taking part and leading (some of the) conversations and you need to be doing this regularly. It is highly unlikely that people will disconnect from you for sharing too much good content, more likely is that they don’t really know who you are at the moment (which is why they don’t comment or share or like the things that you post)
  3. Sharing your expertise. You need to be producing your own content – writing articles, shooting videos, sharing pictures. You don’t need to write 2000 word white papers or shoot studio quality films, but you do need to be creating original pieces of bitesized content to reinforce that you know what you are talking about rather than just re-sharing content written by others (although you should be doing this too of course). 
  4. You should have a clear process. Processes are vital because everyone needs to understand how to find, nurture and convert likely targets from prospects to clients and part of that process is ensuring that everything is up to date and you are “always online” being visible and having conversations.

So why would not doing these things make you less attractive to the C-Suite? Well, because they tend to be busy people. They do not have time to read and sift through a spammy profile full of pitches and platitudes, but they possibly do have time for a good story. They certainly don’t have time to scroll-back through hundreds of posts and perhaps but in to you.

If you do these things it’s highly likely you will notice a massive increase in the amount of visibility, conversations and therefore opportunities, that you have. It’s not magic, it’s just about being in the right place at the right time and the more you are “out there” virtually meeting and greeting people the more likely that is to happen. Rather like if you go to loads of events or business groups the chances are that opportunities will “just appear” because you will be front of mind and therefore people will mention you more often.

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Why Social Isn’t Another Chocolate With a Different Wrapper

Social Selling – How You and The World has Changed

Why Social Isn’t Another Chocolate With a Different Wrapper

Why Social Isn’t Another Chocolate With a Different Wrapper

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

Often we talk to people about social media, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and internal social such as Slack, Chatter, Yammer etc. People talk about them tactically, it’s all about arranging for your mates to meet at the pub, cat photos or taking photos of your lunch. Has anything changed? I had a comment on a LinkedIn post post today that mentioned that social was “Another Chocolate With a Different Wrapper”.

More than 4.1 billion people are now online, meaning that 54 percent of the world’s total population is using the internet in July 2018. The number of internet users around the world grew by eight percent over the past year, with growth boosted by accelerating adoption across Africa and South Asia.

The number of people using social media continues to grow at an impressive rate too, with the latest data showing that global users increased by 11 percent in the year to July 2018.

Roughly 300 million people came online in the twelve months to July 2018, equating to an average of almost 10 new users every second. With 328 million new users adopting social media in the past 12 months, we’re still seeing additions of almost one million new social media users every day, Well over 3.3 billion people now use social media each month, with at least 92 percent of them accessing social media via mobile devices. With 562 Million on the professional business network LinkedIn. This for a business is a massive network in which to target with your message.

We work with companies creating a social media strategy. This is often assumed to be something to do with marketing and about how much, what and what time they post. And there is the first mistake people often make, that Social is purely a tactic that marketing use, they post stuff and hope something happens.

If you start probing then companies will admit that social is in marketing, sales, customer service, human resources, procurement, Finance, I could go on. But the only department that people really “see” is marketing.

It’s watching the “penny drop” when you explain to people that social isn’t about, “sales” or about “marketing” in facts it’s about the whole of the business. Then when you explain how bringing all of these departments together under one strategy, that people start to see the power.

Humans are after all a naturally social bunch, ever since we started to make ourselves known on the Serengeti in Africa, we realised two things. 1. We need to keep moving and 2. We formed a team. And we have been forming tribes, unions, committees ever since. To be social to be human. Social media is just a natural extension of our natural need to communicate.

In my recent conversation I had on Digital Transformations when I asked why digital transformations failed the response was “siloed thinking”. So often I was told that IT did IT stuff, Marketing did Marketing stuff, Sales did Sales stuff, etc and it was the Board (C-Suite in the US) that needed to bring it all together.

So Where Do We Go From Here?

C-Level and Boards need to understand the power of social media. This is not about getting CFOs to Tweet, it is getting them to understand the business case and power of using social across the business. Increasing revenue and sales to increasing competitive advantage.

All Revolutions Start Through Small Changes

Getting your board (C-Suite) together for a day to take then through a number of exercises so they understand how the world has changed and how social media now powers businesses across the globe.

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Time to geek-out

Time to geek-out

by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

Okay, I admit it. I am a geek. A closet geek perhaps, but a geek nonetheless.

When I was writing my first book I studied everything that I could find about social media analysis, network mapping and measurement. I even went as far as to study statistics via an online course from Berkeley. It is a fascinating rabbit hole…but a rabbit hole nonetheless.

When Tim and I founded DLA we quickly realised that being clever (knowing all of this social media science stuff) largely wasn’t of any use to our clients because, whilst they may understand the principles of social media they were seldom practicing the techniques they knew.

Analytics in all of its forms is often wasted because organisations (and individuals) are not doing the basics.

Analytics data can, if you’re not careful, deliver little except pretty graphs that perhaps help you to hold on to your job but seldom deliver insights that help move the company forward.

Since we started DLA we have had a bit of a love-affair with Brandwatch because what it does is deliver insights that are actionable. Yes, it can do the pretty graphs (Vizia – their data visualisation tool creates artworks from your data) but it does more than just report. It helps us to benchmark what we are doing well and what we aren’t and make changes to that. We have the biggest share of voice for social selling on social (we know this because of Brandwatch) some of our prospects have no visibility whatsoever (we know this because of Brandwatch) when we run a campaign and we need to know just how many people have seen it we can work this out (with Brandwatch)… in fact Brandwatch is the tool that enables us to see whether our gut-feel is right or wrong.

But Brandwatch is not perfect, it has some major limitations, particularly around historical data, but we have been able to work around this. Brandwatch is not the only social media listening tool in the market…but it has been the best for a long time (despite its weaknesses)

So imagine our delight when we heard (from Giles the Brandwatch CEO) that they are merging with Crimson Hexagon. I kid you not about ‘delight’ because one of CH’s recognised strengths is its ability to provide lightning-fast access to historical data.

So, over the next 12 months as the two products become one gradually the strengths of each will iron-out the weaknesses of the other.

I don’t for a moment believe that the merging of the products will deliver perfection but I certainly do believe that the merging of these products will make them head and shoulders above any other tool that exists.

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We empower YOU to be great.

We empower YOU to be great.

by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

We speak to lots of organisations that “help” their clients embrace social media. I use the word “help” in quotes because if you help someone (or a business) what you do is make a difference and so often that isn’t the case.

The two types of organisations we see are: Agencies and Digital Transformation Consultancies.

Agencies do he work for the client. Perhaps this is based on managing their client’s social presence, or writing content fo the client or creating adverts but all of these things work in the same basic way. The client outsources part (or all) of the work to the agency.

I get why this is attractive. It’s a quick fix. The client doesn’t have to spend time either learning or doing so the agency can simply sweep-in and make the pain disappear. 

There are however, a couple of things to consider with this approach.

  1. the client pays quite a lot of money for relatively little. If I were running the agency I would buy-in the staff and sell their services out at a profit, therefore typically the client gets a junior person for a senior price.
  2. When the client stops paying the agency, the benefit ends. It is a very tactical approach and not one that we at Digital Leadership Associates favour. Our clients do on occasion say to us “can you do this for us” and we always say “no because we would rather teach you how to do it for yourselves” as this leaves a permanent benefit rather than creating an ongoing cost.

Digital Transformation Consultancies, or Management Consultancies. All of the large consultancies like to offer social media as part of their “digital transformation” programmes as they acknowledge that this is a crucial part of how people communicate these days. However, deploying social media within a business has little to do with knowledge transfer and education but has everything to do with changing people’s behaviour. Everyone’s behaviour.

That cannot be accomplished by putting in an appendix which says that ‘people will be encouraged to use social media by sharing company approved articles” because this is not social…this is spamming. 

The process of success in social media comes from a combination of:

  1. a clear process. eg. when an important prospect posts an article like/comment/share that article. Always.


  1. empowerment. Everyone needs to recognise that they have a crucial role to play and that the value that they add is THEIR voice (rather than the company’s voice).

In my experience the “social media experts” within Management Consultancies are not experts. A quick glance at their own social media presences will underline that they are not experts because they are not exhibiting the sort of behaviours that experts do. Drinking the Cool Aid is the perfect metaphor. I (personally) and everyone at Digital Leadership Associates (and our resellers) is an experts because you need only look at our profiles and you will see that we are all demonstrating Best Practice.

If your advisor doesn’t lead by example they simply cannot understand what you are grappling with because they clearly have not grappled with (and solved) it themselves.

LinkedIn has nearly 600,000,000 members. Facebook has nearly 2.5bn users. For every major social media platform the number of users is simply mind boggling and if you want access to those people you will have to work hard to achieve that.

What I mean is YOU will have to work HARD.

For example Kylie Jenner (to pick a celebrity at random) has made $900m from her social media presence, at a smaller level, Zoe Sugg aka “Zoella” (a young British YouTuber) makes seven figures per year. At a smaller level still, my co-founder Tim Hughes is generally regarded (well by pretty much all of the influencer measuring tools) as the world’s top Social Selling expert – Tim hasn’t made $900m or seven figures per year…but like the others he has built a large following that listens to what he says. So when he says the steps are A – B – C then you know that he has experience of what’s required to achieve this fame and to be frank it’s hard work. Tim is ALWAYS on Twitter answering questions and posting interesting content, Zoella is forever making videos (yes she has a small team to help her now, but the is still the subject of a video or more per day) and Kylie Jenner has a (larger) team sporting her but she is still the person shooting the photos and in the clips.

The one thing that they have in common is that they are all working hard to achieve their fame and if you want [appropriate] fame you will need to work hard too.

But one thing is for certain, it’s a great flea easier to post a few videos per week and tweet some interesting articles than it is to make 200 cold-calls per day or live on the “hope” that your campaign might solve your pipeline problems.

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Perhaps I’m just old…

Perhaps I’m just old…

by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

…perhaps I’m just cynical. Perhaps I’m old and cynical!

As I get older I seem to get more intolerant of bulls&*t! It seems everywhere I turn there are experts coming to the fore preaching about how their view of the world is the one that we all need to adopt (which is fair enough because I do a bit of that myself) but they clearly are not practising what they preach.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in social media. We see content marketing experts that rarely relate content, we see social selling experts who are not social we see sales experts who are incapable of selling…

Now, I’m not suggesting that snake-oil sellers are anything new because they’re not. But in a world where it’s so easy to do one’s due diligence we still see organisations buying very bad advice and expertise from people. How on earth can the excuse “I’ve been too busy doing my client work to put my own house in order” possibly be an acceptable response.

From my view of the world when my business coach, who proclaims that he can help me be successful and rich turns up to my office in a rusty old banger of a car rather than a shiny new Maserati it should ring alarm bells.

As it should when my social media consultant doesn’t have an unimpeachable social presence themselves.

If we can do it they can (and you can) too, we are a small business but the fact remains that we are able to write and publish a large volume of original content. Tim, Alex, Phil and myself all write blogs to be published on this website in fact we publish (now) at the rate of two pieces per day. In addition to this we all publish LinkedIn articles (literally hundreds between us) as well as #TimTalks & #AskAlex videos along with lots of adhoc videos, memes, images and countless posts.


Because how can I (or any of the team) legitimately stand up in front of you and tell you how important this is if I don’t do it myself? If I haven’t got a great profile how can I possibly tell you that YOU need one? If I don’t generate all of my business through social media how can I possibly expect you to believe that you can too.

Honestly, this isn’t a sales pitch for Digital Leadership Associates, but I would ask you to do your due diligence with any purchases you make in this area, because failure to do so may cast you dearly.

We see that there are three risks to you:

  1. The money (and time) you will invest in poor advice and guidance and the fact that you will have to make that investment again with someone who can genuinely help.
  2. At the moment there are very few organisations using social media well (but many look to do so) so you may well have first mover advantage…don’t squander it.
  3. You will need time to get up to speed and reach your full potential (that’s not the same as seeing a benefit – which in the case of social selling might be just a couple of weeks) but reaching your full potential might take a while and you need to begin that journey as son as possible.

Please don’t leave this to chance as there is an amazing opportunity for organisations and individuals to be successful using these techniques, but everyone needs to be guided by people who live and breathe this rather than just play at it because remember, every mistake you make here is being made in full-full-view of the world.

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The saturation of social media marketplace and a question for you to answer