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B2B Breakdown Series – Episode VII

The eternal question: how “done” do your website and LinkedIn page have to be before you start doing cold outreach? It’s a tricky question, but as with any sort of B2B marketing, you never want to phone it in. A “finished” digital presence that lacks details is often less effective than a growing one that offers value. Recently, I received a LinkedIn connection request that perfectly illustrated what I mean.

Review of Initial Outreach

I received a connection request from John Smith* with a personalized message. So far, so good. In fact, the initial outreach was well done. It was short, to the point, and not at all sales-y. Dropping his location was a nice touch. I’m in the Wilmington, NC area, so his mention of Raleigh immediately captured my interest. This message was personable, relevant, and casual — the perfect mix.

John offers a clear description of what he does in both his LinkedIn title and the message itself. I instantly know what field he’s in, so I imagine he wants to connect with me as a prospective client. Yet he does this without sales language. Indeed, he even asks if I’m open to connecting rather than insisting that we do.

This very low-pressure, short-and-sweet message was a great start. He hasn’t allowed up yet, so I went ahead and checked out his profile. 

Review of LinkedIn Profile

Unfortunately, John’s authenticity doesn’t carry over to his profile. While I’d love to learn a bit more about him and what makes him tick, John’s About section is all about his company. He has no description of himself at all, save for his LinkedIn headline. (And the bit of content about his company isn’t very long or compelling, either.)

He made a great impression with his friendly message and location-dropping, so I’d like to learn more about him, not just what he does for work. I see a lot of diversity in his Experience section, but no descriptions of any of those positions. When your LinkedIn profile is even less detailed than a standard paper resumé, that’s a problem.

John also doesn’t show a lot of activity on LinkedIn. He has thousands of followers, but he mostly seems to comment on other people’s posts. I don’t see any content that gives me insights into what makes John tick. What are his philosophies? What drives his efforts? What could I expect from working with him?

In short, I’m left wondering what his skills and passions are. My advice to all B2B marketers (and all professionals in general). Don’t be afraid to be as relatable and authentic in your LinkedIn profile as John was in his initial message to me. Even hobbies and personal projects are good to include. I want to see a real person behind the profile.

Still, I clicked over to John’s company page to try to learn more.

Review of LinkedIn Company Page

The further I go down this funnel, the less information I get. Jeb & Company’s page is very sparse. There’s essentially no content in the About section — just the phrase, “Welcome to Jeb & Company!” John could copy his “bio” from his profile to the company page and it would suffice. As it stands now, there are no details except for the tagline: “Content Creation. Digital Strategy. Branding.” And I’m not seeing any of those efforts made on their own LinkedIn page.

To their credit, Jeb & Company regularly posts videos that highlight their recent projects and offer marketing advice. I’m all about using rich media on social channels. But overall, the page is sparse, and the captions on said videos seem very internal-facing — like this is a LinkedIn page for the company and its fans rather than prospective clients.

In conclusion, I’m not highly impressed with their content, which means I’m not confident that they could effectively help me reach my goals. They don’t seem to be implementing a strong strategy for themselves, so why would they do it for me?

One last stop: the company website.

Review of Website

I thought the LinkedIn page was barren, but the website is even more so. With literally nothing but the company name on the homepage, I’m left wondering if I accidentally stumbled onto a placeholder site. I love minimalist design, but this looks like they did the minimal effort, as well. The simple white-on-black look is not sophisticated or sleek. I’m looking for a digital experience — or at least a few clues as to this company’s values, work style, and personality.

The other pages on the site have a bit more content, but they’re still fairly blank. No images, no design, and no intuitive flow for visitors. You always want to make sure your website aligns with your audience’s buying journey. Here, there’s no value proposition, no context, no clear calls-to-action.

When I dig into the site a bit more, I see that Jeb & Company has taken the time to put together a portfolio comprising short videos. That’s a good tactic, but without context, it still seems very internal-facing — like a catalog of past projects for their team to reference. 

If you’re doing cold outreach, remember that prospects know next to nothing about you. You need to speak to them and give them something to chew on. A website alone isn’t enough. And if your finished website is so barren as to be confusing, you’re leaving people in the dark.

Wrapping Up

Bottom line: You can do a great job on cold outreach, but remember that prospects will likely research you. If you have nothing for them to explore or chew on, your outreach probably won’t go anywhere.

I understand that when you’re first starting out, you may not have all your ducks in a row. You may be reaching out to people if your website’s not perfect. But in the case of John and his company, there are no ducks at all. And yet their website seems “done,” not growing.

They should do more to build their digital presence before starting to drive people to it. It seems that this company is not putting the effort into their own strategy — which doesn’t give me confidence that they would do it for me, either. So before you begin your cold outreach strategy, put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. Can they get to know you by browsing your website and LinkedIn content? If not, work on that before you start introducing people to your brand. 

*Name has been changed to hide identity of the sender of this outbound message.

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