The Marketers Guide to Successful Marketing on LinkedIn


LinkedIn has emerged as a powerful platform for personal branding and establishing new connections.

Powered by a steady stream of value-added content and relentless engagement with a growing network, Jason Vana has become one of the highest-profile marketers on LinkedIn.

In this conversation, Jason talks about how he approaches LinkedIn and why he sees it as an effective platform to drive leads and make money.


My name is Mark Evans and I'd like to welcome you to marketing spark, the podcast that delivers small doses of insight, tools and tips from marketers and entrepreneurs in the trenches. By small doses, it's conversations that are fifteen minutes or less. On today's show I'm talking with Jason Vana. He runs his own business shift marketing and he's also the marketing director of Fusion Tech. I connected with Jason on Linkedin, where he publishes a steady stream of posts that offer practical advice and how companies can do better marketing, content and branding. Welcome to marketing spark. Thanks mark. I'm really excited to be here. Before we jump into all the questions that I've that I have for you, give me a snapshot of Your Marketing Responsibilities and how you bounce them. As you said, I am the marketing director at Fusion Tech. We are a company that produces, manufacturers and designs food processing equipment, so the kind of equipment you would see in like a Tyson plant. There I basically oversee all of the marketing from for the company. When I started, they didn't have a marketing person, they didn't have a graphic designer. They had a website that look like it was from the S. basically came in develop the brands, develop leegen system, built a new website, do all the marketing from we do magazine ads, which really shocks me, but it works, social media content, all of it basically falls underneath me. And then in the evenings and a night or in the evenings and on the weekends, I do shift marketing, where basically I take all the experience that I've had from the last eighteen years of marketing and help other businesses with their branding and their marketing need. I have a handful of clients that I work pretty regularly with, whether it's just developing a brand or you know, I have some clients where I do all of their marketing for them. It is a balancing act, but what I found is when you have a side hustle like that, especially when it's kind of the same realm as your full time job, I am... to I learn a lot more in shift applying marketing principles to different industries and learning how different industries operate, and then I'm actually able to take that and apply what I've learned helping other customers to my full time job at fusion tech, and so I tell people all the time fusion tech has very greatly benefited from me having a side aside job because there are things that I never would have tried in our industry that I tried because I worked with a financial planner, I work with sales trainer, I worked with an IT company and I tried marketing aspects with their target market and then I implemented and tried it with fusion tech and was like, man, I never would have thought this, but having that side hustle really helps you learn more than you would just working in one industry. Let's get to this home marketing, ever evolving marketing world that you and I are playing in these days. Maybe you can talk a little bit about what you've seen over the last six months since covid hit and companies started to take a different approach to marketing. What do you see as some of the most interesting developments or some of the biggest challenge that are that are facing a companies when it comes to marketing these days? I think the biggest thing is is learning how to adapt. One of the things I said early on when covid happened and this is I did some post on this, is that if you're a great marketer, you have a buyer persona you know your target market. You kind of have that development of this is who my target market is, this is what they like to do. When covid hit, for every single company, your target market change, I think, the not not maybe necessarily the industry or the person, but what they're struggling with, what they're dealing with, what their hobbies are, how they spend their time, where they spend their time. All of it change when everything kind of went in lockdown, and I think the companies that that recognize that...

...and adapted quickly to those changes are the ones that are still being fairly successful in the midst of like an economic downturn and so being able to and I think that's just the truth of marketing as a whole, is you need to always have your thumb on the pulse of your target market, because we we went from for most people, your target market was working in an office, they had a desk, they had a phone at their desk, they had their email, to now they're working at home, they're also the teacher of their kids, they're also have their pets around them all the time. They're also with their spouse. Seven they can't go anywhere, they can't really stress. So they're stressed out there. They're agitated. They're spending a lot more time online, like we saw if you're regular on Linkedin, when covid hit. There's been a massive spike in activity on Linkedin because people are realizing, well, I'm either out of a job or I'm working from home. I have more time. What should I do with it? Is I should probably build up my my resume. I should probably have a good presence on Linkedin. And so we're maybe prior to Covid your target market wasn't on Linkedin. Now it is, or they're using social media differently, like more people. But since covid hit social media usage has gone through the roof. You're seeing more people my age, like s and S, on ticktock. They're actually creating. They're not just scrolling their creating. People are looking like when restaurants are closed and movie theaters are closed and everything shut down, they're looking for ways to be entertained. And so these brands that recognize hey, we might not want to focus necessarily on our product. We might want to focus on entertaining people and giving them valuable resources to help them in this time, because when you do that, people are going to remember that. Hey, when I was stuck at home and I lost my job or I was looking for a new job or, you know, I was frustrated because I'm trying to work on my kid is screaming and stuff, you provide a way to help... People remember that kind of stuff now. Sorry. So one of the things that we're sort of dancing around, and this is something that you and I talked a lot about on Linkedin, is the idea of brand positioning and being focused on your target audiences. As as you say, a lot of companies sort of position themselves pre covid based on what they knew about their target audiences. But do you think many of them change that, their brand positioning and their overall branding to reflect the new reality? I think a lot of companies are a little late to the game, and the only reason I say that is one covid first hit. I think a lot of people had this understanding that it was only going to be a month or two, because for most states they shut down for a month and then extended and then extended and so when it all first hit, I think we all had this idea of it's a month and everything's going to go back to normal, and so I think a lot of people just kind of hit pause and didn't want to change anything, because why would you change anything for four weeks and then change it all back? But I think as people started to realize, yeah, this isn't changing and this is going a lot longer, that's why some people are are a little bit leaked to the game. is they didn't think it was going to last long. They didn't adapt to it as quickly as you know, looking back, I think most brands would have been like man when they announced the shutdown. We should have been on that right away, changing our brand, changing our message, trying to change our position. Hit really understand the transition our target market is going through, and so I think in some of that, okay, now I'm working from home and I have to figure out this whole new routine and how do I do this? and My internet slower than what it was at work, and you're trying to deal with that. But now you're also trying to deal with the process that you normally would take months, like weeks or months to go through of understanding your target market. It is completely flipped overnight and now you have to learn how do you contact them? What are they struggling with? Is your product even a solution to them anymore? So I think some of it too, is just... was a lot thrown at people all at one to not only adjust their brand, but you're also adjusting to a whole new way of working, which adds its own levels of frustration and difficulty to it. Yes, I think brands were, most brands were a little late to the game. But, you know, at the same time I like to give a little bit of grace because it was a global pandemic. Yeah, exactly. No one anticipated this. So you've been a longtime content creator. You mentioned before we hit record on this podcast that going back even to your college days, you were writing, you were into blogging, and writing is in your is in your obviously in your blood and your you like doing it and clearly you're good at it. Content marketing has always been part of the BDB landscape, but a lot of companies has suddenly doubled down on it or they've embraced it for the first time in a in a big way. What do you see is some of the keys to success with content marketing, because I think in my mind, a lot of content is pretty mediocre and a lot of companies are simply going through the motions to create the appearance that there are creating value out of content. So what's your take on and I know it's a load of question right, and how you create content? That that matters. The very first thing, and and I say this a lot on Linkedin, I preach it a lot to my client the most important thing you have to know your target market. That is key one. You cannot create great content, you cannot really reach them and create value if you don't know who they are. You don't know what they're struggling with, you don't know their daytoday life and what they deal with. First thing, you have to know your target market. You have to know who they are, what they like. You have to be like, I tell people, stock them like. You have to be the stalker level creepy. You know everything about them, hiding outside their bushes to see what they're eating for dinner, type exaggeration. But you need to know your target marketing, you need to know them. Well. Beyond that then, and I actually just put a post out. I don't know when you know this podcast going to air, but I put a post out yesterday...

...that great content comes at the intersection of for for areas, your target market, what the platform allows, your passions and your expertise do you can find content ideas that hit all four. That tends to be much better content. First most important thing you have to make your target audience. The second thing, and this is just my strategy, is to give away your expertise in content. And what I mean by that is if you go through, if you go to my linkedin profile and you scroll through all my content for the last year, you will be able to market yourself and create great content without ever having to talk to me. You won't have to hire me. You can create your brand, you can build your website, you can do all of it. All you have to do is consume my content. Now, most people are not going to sit there and linked in and scroll through a year's worth of content. I get that, but the level of content putting out is I'm going to show you everything I do for you, I'm going to give you all my secrets, I'm going to give you I even give out the resources. So last week, in this week, I gave out resources that I use to take my clients through when developing their brands and I thought, you know what, instead of hoarding this and keeping it to myself, I'm going to give it to people for free and they can use it. They cannot use it, up to them, but you have what I take my clients through. You have it yourself. You can do it yourself. That is the level of what I give away in my content. I show you how to do for yourself what you could pay me to do for you and what that does, let's say, I think for a lot of letting back up and say this, I think for a lot of companies, they don't want to do that because they think it's going to cost them money. They think, well, if I give away all those secrets, if I show people how to do this themselves, then they won't hire me. But what I found is when you do that, one of two things happens. People see the process that's required and they say there is no way I'm...

...going to do that, like that's too much work, I don't understand it, I'm just going to hire someone, or they start doing it and part way through they realize. Okay, I came up with an answer like I have a guide to write your own Tagline, so you could go through that. And I've had people do this. They go through the Guide and they come up with the tagline and then they're like, I don't like it and I don't know how to improve it. So then they message me and they're like, Hey, this is what I came up with. Can I have you just like review it and give me some suggestions, or is there a way that you can do it for me? I make money off of the free guides I give I give it all away for free and then people like come to me, they message me, they're like, I need help with this, I need a consultation. I try, I went through your guide, I don't like what I came up with. Can you help me? I make money off of the free guides I give out. It's easy to consume this content. Is Easy to think that you can do. Is like think about a if you're hiring a carpenter, right, you can look at videos on how to saw properly and how to hammer properly and how to do all the cool things that carpenters can do, and you might think, well, this is a do yourself project, until you actually try to do it and then everything doesn't fit and it doesn't look good and your wife's upset with you, and then you hire a carpenter. It's the same philosophy right, which is I find it really interesting. One of the things I don't want to ask you it, just going back to Linkedin, is that you've been on Linkedin for a while. You've got a great profile. Your engagement in terms of comments on your posts and the number of people who like your post is extremely impressive. So I wanted to get a little context from you about that journey, like how do you approach Linkedin? How do you create content? How much time do you devote to Linkedin, given that it's obviously a great channel for you? You you must enjoy using it and it must drive oury. So can you probably with a little bit of color around your linkedin... It's funny because it's a lot less investment than most people think. When I when I approach linked in, basically I come at Linkedin with the idea of I'm putting out content in order to make money. Now building your relationships and and all that. Yes, that's important. To like some of some of the people I am closest to I met on Linkedin. Like I text them almost every day. Yes, I'm never going to say that the relationship side is not important, but I always chuckle when people are like, I'm just here for the relationships. Like No, if you put out content on Linkedin, even if you're not actively trying to make money, it's benefiting you personally. I come at it from this mindset of this is how I generate leads, this is how I get client when I create content. I'm going to give away a little bit of my content creation secrets here, but what I do is I batch create and I create my content in weekly themes from Monday through Friday. Now I'm actually shifting it up a little bit. I'm posting Sunday night to Thursday nights. I found that over the last few weeks I found that evening's tend to do a little bit better for me. Basically, what I do is I focus on one theme overall themes. So like this week it is content. I'm talking all five days on content and each day is a different aspect of that kind of content creation. When you have this strategy of Monday I post this and Tuesday I post this and Wednesday post this, or you don't have a strategy and you just post whatever you feel. That doesn't solidify a brand inside people's minds. If you engage with my content all this week, what's going to be embedded in your head is Jason knows content. So now, if you have questions about content, if you want to improve your own content, I have pushed it into your brain for five days in a row. Jason Noell was content. Same with when I do a weekend branding. Now you know Jason knows branding. And what it allows me to do, too, is go deeper. What I do... I look at each week is almost like a long form blog post that I break up like a break up, into five individual little post. So really I can take my linkedin content, throw it together, put it up as a blog post and be done. That's kind of how I approach it, so that when you see my content, I can go deeper into the topic then you could in just one post. What that is done is it's position me as an expert. Is People don't see that. Okay, he posts about content one day and then he posted about a logo another day. I could have read someone else's post about creating a logo and popped it up there and most people would have know. But if I spend five days talking about logos and going deep into like here's what you need to think about with the logo, here's how you choose the colors for your logo, like that shows a level of expertise that you can't see in just one post. And so I do that weekly type theme. I batch created all at once so that it all flows together and it and then the biggest thing when it comes to Linkedin. Putting out great content is very important, but in order to get your content seeing, you have to engage not only on your on the comments on your own post, but you have to be out there engaging with other people. I have a favorites list. I use ever note for a lot of my stuff. In ever note I have just a list of these are the people that I want to make sure I engage with the content every single day. I copy the link to their post page to make sure that when I click it I see their most recent post. I can engage right away and then pop off. I tod quickly spend about an hour on linked in a day, but I break that hour up into small bites throughout the day. It looks like I'm always on Linkedin when in reality I might spend an hour on the platform a day. Yeah, Linkedin, Linkedin is pretty amazing. I think that's the one thing that is probably doesn't get as much at tension as it deserves. It's the fact that it's a great engagement Lee...

Generation Platform. So one final question for you. If you're new to Linkedin and if you're sort of finally realize that Linkedin is a pretty interesting place, or could be a pretty interesting place, where do you start? Like what's the one of the first few steps that you should take? The marketer in me and the brander and me wants to say, before you start, figure out what is the benefit that you offer. What are you wanting to use linkedin for? Are you trying to do it to get a new job? Are you trying to do it to grow a business? Are you just trying to do it to network with New People? figure out your goal and then figure out, okay, what is the unique benefit that I bring? How do I communicate that and then start creating content. You don't need to start having a great strategy. Just get out there, start putting out content and start engaging. Even before you start putting out your own content, find people on Linkedin that are in the industry that you want to serve that right on topics that you enjoy and like their post and leave thoughtful comments on it. So then when you're ready to start producing your own content, you've already seen on other people's content. You're already like having it conversations with people, so then when you finally hit the published button, you have that support. You know, honestly, when I started on Linkedin I didn't even see it as a platform that I could make money on. It wasn't until I was on the platform for about a month or two and seeing what other people were doing that I was like, Huh, I could actually make money here. You know, like and I think for a lot of people they don't. They don't see the full picture of how to do it because you haven't used the platform yet. So stop trying to get it all figured out before you post. Just engage and then post. Yeah, maybe it's like that, the old Nike analogy. Just just do it right. This has been that's that's just the way to go and you'll see, you'll learn as you go. Jason, this has been terrific insight. I really appreciate it. It's it. I want to thank everybody for listening to another episode of marketing spark.

If you enjoyed the conversation, leave a review and subscribe by Itunes or your favorite podcast APP. If you like what you're heard, please rate it. For show notes of today's conversation and information about Jason, visit marketing spark dot Col blog. If you have questions, feedback or would like to suggest a guest, send an email to mark at marketing spark dot com. And to learn more about how I help be to be companies as a fractional CMO consultant and advisor, visit marketing spark DOTCO. TALKING NEXT TIME.

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