Marketing Automation Meets LinkedIn

Have you noticed in the past 12 months or so that spamming new connections on LinkedIn has become a thing? I’m sure it happens to all of us nearly every day. For those that may not be tracking with me, here’s how it usually plays out.

  1. A professional sends us a LinkedIn request to connect. They seem like a perfectly respectable individual working for a solid organization. The invitation goes something like this. “Hi, Doug. I see we’ve got some mutual colleagues. I respect your work and hope we can connect. Thanks, Sam.”
  2. You click ‘accept’ – Sam seems like an upstanding guy and you see no harm in accepting his invitation.
  3. Then, as soon as you accept Sam’s invitation, the LinkedIn messages begin. Automatically. By LinkedIn’s Marketing Automation feature. “Hi, Doug. I see you are a tax attorney (I am not an attorney of any sort and do not even play one on TV). We help top ranked tax attorneys like you win 100s of new clients. Set up a meeting with us today to see how we can help you expand your business 10X in 2021!”

To LinkedIn and to everyone using these robotic approaches to marketing, I say “STOP!” Not only is it highly annoying, it doesn’t work. When was the last time you – or anyone you know – clicked “Sure, I’d love to set up a meeting with this annoying person who I don’t know and certainly have no reason to respect.” Never. You don’t and guess what, no one else does, either.

My co-author, Tom McMakin, and I discuss marketing automation in our book, How Clients Buy.  Without throwing the baby out with the bath water, marketing automation does have a role in some scenarios. For example, trade associations. If you’re a member of a professional trade association, you do not expect to have a personal, one-on-one relationship with the organization. You want to be kept up to date on industry trends, data, reports and other relevant news. If it is automated, who cares?

Here’s another example: consumer products. You’re considering buying a new refrigerator to spruce up the home during the shelter in place times. You’re considering the Kenmore, Whirlpool and KitchenAid. Ever notice that now you start receiving automatic emails from dealers with information about their products. Kinda creepy, but not totally a waste of your time.

Here’s the issue though: consumers (you and me) do not buy professional services in the way that we buy products or join trade associations. Buying a professional service – say, accounting or financial services or web development – is a much harder buying decision. And, the marketing techniques that work in product sales do not work for us in professional services.

Anyone who doubts that choosing a professional is a much harder consumer decision than buying a product, explain to me why we can buy our dream home after a one hour walk-through with the realtor, and yet will take 6 months to select an architect if we’d like to build our dream home instead? Tom and I go into this at length in our book, and I go deeper still in my forthcoming book, How To Win Client Business.

OK, that’s probably enough of a rant for today. I feel much better. I am not delusional in thinking that my little piece will stop this annoying marketing practice. This post is akin to a drop of rain in the Sonoran Desert – and will have the same effect. But, maybe, just maybe, it stops one person or one organization from starting this annoying practice. And, well, that will have made the world a better place……even if in a very small way.

Take care and thanks for listening. If you have strong feelings in either direction on this topic, I’d love to hear from you. I’m learning new things every day in an effort to help others win client business. Be well.