David Carothers, Marketing 2.0 Maven
David Carothers is a risk management advisor at Praxiom, a two year old risk management consulting firm. In this podcast interview, David shares how he developed a step-by-step social media business development plan.
Praxiom helps companies save money and reduce risk through business insurance products. My inbound marketing agency is a Praxiom client. David purchased my book, Marketing 2.0, last summer and got inspired to start his social media business development plan (though originally under the cover of darkness) right away. David used my book as a roadmap for his social media plan. But, he purposely didn’t tell anyone at his firm about it. He knew that social media marketing would be met with skepticism, so he worked his plan until he was able to point to tangible business development results. Once he captured new clients from his social media plan, he unveiled it to his colleagues at Praxiom. David had quickly observed that people who use social media are either very successful if they are committed to it, or not successful if they are half hearted about it. So, David decided to go full speed with a social media marketing strategy using the principles he read in my book. David knew he would be bucking the paradigm of traditional outbound marketing strategies commonly used in the risk management industry, which he characterizes as a lot of “dialing for dollars” to create a wide funnel of leads.
A Step-by-Step Social Media Business Development Plan
In early 2010, David set up a step-by-step social media business development plan for other risk management advisors at Praxiom. His plan starts with the basic mandate that everyone’s LinkedIn profile must be built out 100% following the LinkedIn meter. He points out that it’s important for all relevant content assets to be listed in your LinkedIn profile and up to date. In David’s case, he links his LinkedIn profile to his blog and his Slideshare account.
Professional and Social Credibility
David focused his social media business development plan on building two aspects of a client relationship – professional credibility and social credibility. LinkedIn is the platform to build professional credibility along with his blog. David is not a technology guy. So, when he decided to start blogging, he went to Google and searched “how do I build a blog?” David found Hubpages to build a blog. David finds blogging therapeutic. He enjoys sharing very valuable info with his network through his blog. Some of his content is about insurance and some of his content is about non-industry business topics such as how to do business development through LinkedIn.
David also builds social credibility through Facebook. He connects with clients and friends and shares both personal aspects of his life and business content. He opens up the personal aspect for clients to get to know him. He often hosts after hours networking events just to socialize with people and build personal relationships. He uses the Praxiom Facebook fan page to engage with more content at a business level and with photos to add a human aspect.
Content Sharing Strategy
David produces content that helps him build his professional credibility and his social credibility. He uses his Twitter account as a tool to help him spread his content. He views Twitter as the gasoline that drives the engine. Through Twitter management tools he selectively posts content to all his social media accounts. He also shares content from other blogs and tweets about his client’s industry topics, and about general business topics. He understands that by sharing non-industry business content, he gains confidence from clients about his business acumen. Once in a while he tweets a self promoting piece of content. He measures the click through on the content he tweets to help him understand what content people are responding to.
He’s At it Everyday
David is active in his social media accounts every day, multiple times per day. He has built the infrastructure. Now he’s driving the car. The results have exceeded his expectations. When John Keller joined Praxiom, David put him through the step-by-step social media plan. John would arrive each day at 7:30am to get ready for the day. Six weeks later he had become very active in LinkedIn, blogging, using Twitter, etc. But, he was very discouraged because he didn’t see any results. David advised him to be patient, promising that good results will happen soon. The same day David offered that advice, John forwarded an email to David. Someone had emailed John asking him to consult for their business on worker’s compensation based on one of his blog posts. This was proof positive of building professional credibility and winning new business. John flew to Atlanta and landed the account for $2.7M in workers comp premiums which translates to over $100k in revenue to Praxiom. Pretty good ROI!
David doesn’t mince words. He says “either you’re in or not. Don’t do it half hearted. If you’re not 100% in, you won’t see results. If you are, keep at it and you will see results. Once it kicks in, you’ll see the momentum build and ongoing results as you keep at it.”
While I observe some aspects of David’s social media business development plan he could do differently, in the grand scheme of it all it doesn’t matter. Social media marketing isn’t about being perfect. It’s about doing it 100% with commitment and sincerity. As David says, it’s about “building professional and social credibility.” The results will be there.