By Nancy Marshall, The PR Maven® 

How to Make the Most of ‘The Perfect Network,’ According to a LinkedIn Ads Expert

  • LinkedIn’s unique combination of wide reach, effective targeting, and generally good behavior makes it an especially effective platform for building a personal brand. Advertising on LinkedIn is more expensive than advertising on other networks, though, so be prepared to invest.
  • You don’t have to wait to have a perfect LinkedIn profile to start taking advantage of LinkedIn ads! Updating your company page with the basics is enough to get started.
  • LinkedIn ads expert AJ Wilcox says: “If you need sniper-like precision to get in front of your exact perfect audience, then as far as I’m concerned, LinkedIn Ads is the only channel out there.”

AJ Wilcox can pinpoint the origin of his career in advertising. It all started when he was a kid watching “Star Trek” with his dad. During commercial breaks, AJ’s father would quiz him about what was happening on the TV screen.

“He’d ask me questions like, ‘Hey, who do you think is the audience of this commercial? Who do you think they’re trying to reach? What are they trying to say?’” AJ says on episode 97 of The PR Maven® Podcast.

In hindsight, AJ can only assume the vast majority of the Trekkie viewership was composed of men, so he assumes that most of the commercials he saw during those father-son TV-watching sessions were meant to capture that audience. And while he can’t remember any specific examples of commercials that captured his young imagination, AJ knows his passion for advertising was born in those moments.

How to Make the Most of ‘The Perfect Network,’ According to a LinkedIn Ads Expert‘The perfect network’: 4 ways to make the most of LinkedIn

AJ pursued a marketing degree, landed his first internship in search engine optimization (SEO), and has developed a specific niche in the advertising world — LinkedIn Ads.

In 2014, he founded LinkedIn Ads agency B2Linked. AJ is also the author of the LinkedIn Learning course on LinkedIn advertising, along with the forthcoming book “LinkedIn Ads Demystified.”

AJ shares some of the best practices he’s learned for making the most of LinkedIn.

1. Don’t let an unfinished profile hold you back

If the fact that your personal LinkedIn profile isn’t quite where you would like it to be is causing you to hesitate about advertising your business on the platform… stop. AJ says a lackluster personal page is really no big deal. After all, the people you’re advertising to will only see your company page.

There’s no need to panic about your company page, either. The LinkedIn company profile only really requires the basics, anyway — company name, logo, business description, where you do business. So set up that information and forge ahead!

“Even if your company page was terrible, you’re not going to see a huge impact,” AJ says. “Sure, get it to the point where you’re comfortable with it. But don’t worry if it’s not perfect. Don’t let that stop you from advertising.”

2. Think of LinkedIn as a silent focus group

One of the greatest advantages of LinkedIn Ads, according to AJ, is that they offer awesome feedback to advertisers, especially when compared with ads on other social networks.

“If you’re using other channels that don’t have as good targeting, you wouldn’t get the same level of feedback,” AJ says. “I love the targeting we can get with LinkedIn. If you need sniper-like precision to get in front of your exact perfect audience, then as far as I’m concerned, LinkedIn Ads is the only channel out there.”

Once you have access to feedback from such an effectively targeted audience, you can — and should! — put it to good use. With LinkedIn, “not only are you generating leads, but you’re also learning about your audience, like a silent focus group is going on.”

3. Know when it’s time to invest in a professional

If the idea of targeting and managing your ads and then interpreting the feedback on top of that feels overwhelming, you might want to consider working with a LinkedIn Ads pro. And AJ isn’t just saying that because he happens to be a LinkedIn Ads pro. It comes down to dollars and cents.

“LinkedIn Ads is a really expensive ad channel,” he says. “If you’re advertising on Facebook, you might pay $1 to $2 a click. For business to business leads on LinkedIn, you’re going to pay between $8 and $11 per click. What that means is if you go it alone and you’re trying to learn the learning curve of a new channel, you’ll probably make some mistakes.”

Since advertising on LinkedIn is pricier than the alternatives, the mistakes become expensive.. Basically, when it comes to LinkedIn ads, you might want to consider going with the old adage about spending money to make money… especially if you don’t want to spend additional money correcting mistakes.

4. Don’t ask too much of your audience

A LinkedIn Ad pro like AJ can advise on everything from ad spend to ad content, but there are a few best practices most brands and companies can benefit from as they’re developing a LinkedIn strategy. To start with, think about LinkedIn ads as an opportunity to introduce the audience to the basics of what you do.

“With everything we do on social media, you have to assume this is the first time [the audience] has ever heard of you,” AJ says. “They’re a cold audience.”

Knowing this, it’s best to use your ads to inform potential leads about your work, rather than offering multiple calls to action. Once audiences know more about what you do and can find your website, you can prompt them to contact you, purchase your service, etc.

Leading with calls to action in your LinkedIn advertising “would be the equivalent of asking someone to marry you on the very first date,” AJ notes. “It’s like, you might be great to marry, but now’s not the right time to bring it up.”

Seriously, though — don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn

If LinkedIn ads aren’t part of your current marketing strategy, it’s time to seriously reconsider your approach.

“I love the free reach that you get, in addition to the fact that it’s your actual professional name,” AJ says. “And people tend to be on their best behavior on LinkedIn. With all of those benefits together, it’s just the perfect network to continue to build a personal brand.”

This is based on episode 97 of The PR Maven® Podcast, a podcast hosted by Nancy Marshall. Weekly interviews feature industry leaders, top executives, media personalities and online influencers to give listeners a peek into the world of public relations, marketing and personal branding. Subscribe through Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.