Everybody’s fighting fire with fire - 005

Go a different route to your competitors on LinkedIn

I was in a unique position a couple of years ago in that for about 6 months a large part of my role was doing account audit calls and optimisation of new LinkedIn Ads clients, spending over $5k per month. I spoke to about 100-120 clients in that time period.

It was a unique because I had a birds-eye view of what was happening across multiple verticals. A lot has changed since then but I feel a lot of what I learned is still relevant now.

This was about 2018 and so many of these accounts were doing the same thing:

  • Whitepapers

  • Webinars

  • Events

  • Blogs

  • Demo Requests

You're going to see some provocative marketing creators in the feed saying things like “THESE METHODS ARE DEAD!”, and I'm actually not one of them. They may be more traditional but I still think they can all be used in effective ways in B2B.

But, there was a real problem. The problem was around how these methods were being promoted. All the ads looked and sounded the same:

“Download our white paper to understand how…”

“Join our webinar on Thursday…”

"Attend our event at..."

“Read our blog to understand…”

“Request a demo to see…”

B2B in 2017 was generic. A whole lot of generic. So generic it will probably be hipster in 5 years.

Standing out in B2B doesn't mean radically different.

Just not generic.

What got me going was when I came across an account that had a different approach to their ads and often, they were performing well because of it. I was genuinely excited to speak to these people, solely based off their LinkedIn Ads account.

Aside from having the desire to take a creative approach, two common themes started to emerge once I spoke with these types of marketers:

  1. They all knew B2B ads were too generic.

  2. They all understood their audience deeply.

Since then, the areas that I start with when attempting to differentiate are having a deep audience understanding and also, an understanding of what the brands competitors are doing.

It's a very common pitfall I've seen with agencies. Often, the person who is managing the ads and writing copy is excluded from the initial discovery, onboarding and briefing or is there but is just a passenger. This is a mistake that I'm being deliberate to avoid with Tuned Social.

Simple ways to be different

So these days social ads simply have to be less generic, so standing out is more difficult than just doing something different. Because of this a lot of marketers take inspiration from their competitors, which is fine but whatever you do, don't copy them.

1. Don't promote generic copy: or at least know that if you do and I may see your ads, and I'll frown upon it. In the simplest and least time-consuming form, at least build copy around the industry or challenge of the potential customer that you're speaking to.

2. Use different ad types: this can be an easy way to differentiate. Before you plan your ads, go to the company page, check their 'Ads' tab and see what they're using (see below). Or if you have the time and the budget, just use a mix of ad formats.

3. If you use the same ad type, have a different offer: if they offer demo, give the demo away in a video. If they show a demo in a video, show your features in a carousel. Find what works.

4. Or at least if you use the same ad type, have a much better offer: if this isn't your decision, with knowledge of competitors you should be involved.

5. Target different audiences than your competitors: If competition is too hot, unbundle it and go after a segment.

If you do the same it’s simple, the brand with the biggest budget will win.

And this isn't a public service announcement to focus your whole strategy on your competitors, not at all.

Just take note of what they do and take a different path.

That’s it for this week…

You can reply directly to this email or book a call if:

  • Have any questions on the content

  • Would like to discuss how to differentiate on Linkedin

  • Want me to build a LinkedIn-led social strategy for your business