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Drew Boyd’s LinkedIn Profile

Positioning interview with April Dunford

April Dunford LinkedIn

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Show Transcript

Over the hundreds of LinkedIn Ads accounts we’ve managed, we’ve seen a lot of companies fail. Today we’re talking about what you can do to make sure that your approach is built for success on this week’s episode of the LinkedIn Ads Show.

Welcome to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Here’s your host, AJ Wilcox.

Hey there LinkedIn Ads fanatics! I don’t like to admit defeat, but after managing hundreds of LinkedIn Ads accounts, unfortunately, we’ve seen many companies fail at LinkedIn Ads. My definition for fail here is this is client churn for us where after they work with us, they stop advertising on LinkedIn completely. Analyzing these failures, as well as many, many successes, thank goodness, we found the common denominators, the essential components to this success. We’ll go through each one of these in a lot more detail. But here are the essential components. Number one, the client needs to be clear on their ICP or their ideal customer profile. This means they understand their pain and who they are. It’s our targeting in LinkedIn. Number two, they clearly understand the value they offer to that audience. They have product market fit. And number three, they know how they’re competitively positioned in the market. So today, we’re gonna dive into ways that you can research and develop your ideal target audience, and figure out what messaging will work in your ads. We’re addressing your go to market strategy as it relates to LinkedIn Ads, but this is also going to relate to your entire business, your whole marketing approach.

In the news, we’ve heard some really great feedback from our last episode, and I’m so glad that you all enjoyed it so much. It was the one on bidding and budgeting. And afterwards, I got a great question from Steven Owen, who manages demand generation at a company called Getac. He smartly asked about manual CPM bidding, since we didn’t cover it in the episode. And I didn’t cover it because when I want to do CPM bidding, 99% of the time, I’m already using maximum delivery. There are times though, when you might want to use a manual bid, when you’re bidding CPM. So because we didn’t cover this in last week’s, I wanted to quickly answer it here for you. So when I want to use CPM bidding, I tend to use maximum delivery, like I said, 99% of the time, because when you’re bidding CPM, it’s just the easiest way to do it. The trick with CPM bidding is that your bid needs to be high enough to secure you in the top placement in the first ad slot. But not any higher because then you’ll be overpaying. And that requirement of being in the first slot is really important, because that’s where CTRs are the highest. And when we have high CTRs is exactly why we’re bidding CPM anyway. So this is absolutely crucial. But when you do manual CPM bidding, you get more control. You may remember from our holiday traffic study that those who are still using maximum delivery over holidays, their costs spiked way up. And that’s because on maximum delivery, the platform is going to bid as high as it needs to on CPM to spend your daily budget. So if you want to be insulated from those market forces, you can bid manually, that’s just one of the few ways that I can think of where you’d want to do this. Another reason could be that you can get better pricing manually bidding than you can with maximum delivery. So if you do want to do manual CPM bidding, I like to do some variation of this. So I’m going to look at the suggested bid range. And I’m going to set my initial bid at kind of mid to high in that range. Because like I said, I want to make sure that we always show up in the top slot, then I’m going to run ads. And the next day, I want to look at my effective cost per click. And remember, your effective cost per click is what you paid for your clicks, regardless of if you were bidding by cost per click. So if I’m bidding a CPM of $90, for instance, and I go and look at my effective cost per click the next day, and I see that it was $16. But I realized I could have been paying $15 If I was bidding by manual CPC, then I’ll try lowering my CPM bid by five ish dollars, I kind of tend to move in $5 increments, then I look at my effective CPC the next day to compare it to the previous, if your effective cost per click went down, then you can try bidding even less and see if you can get a cheaper cost. So in this case, I would lower my CPM bid from 90 down to 85 and see. And if my effective cost per click is now at $15, I could say well, let me see what happens if I drop this down to an $80 CPM bid. You probably also want to try increasing your bid. So let’s say I bid $95 CPM for a day and measure and see what it did do my effective cost per click. And the reason for this is if you’re ever falling into a second ad slot, that’s six or seven posts down the page, and fewer people are going to make it that far, meaning that your click through rate will be likely less. Which when you’re bidding CPM, you’re counting on getting the best click through rate possible. It is a lot of babysitting and hand holding to your campaigns to constantly be changing your bids, and constantly trying to find where’s that sweet spot where I pay the least amount for my clicks. And that’s why I like maximum delivery, when it’s available of course. But if you’re willing to do all of this work, you can get costs lower by doing it. It just requires some attention and patience.

I wanted to highlight a review of the podcast. Valentin QWP, he left a review that says, “Best marketing podcast. I found AJs podcast a few months ago, and the content of the podcast is gold for anyone managing a LinkedIn ads account. This is definitely the most useful marketing podcast nowadays.” Valentin, thanks so much for leaving that review. And I will tell you, that is very high praise. Anytime that we can have the most useful podcast in marketing, I’m in. I really appreciate that. If you’re a regular listener, and you haven’t left us a review yet, please do because I want to feature you and give you a shout out. All right. With that being said, let’s hit it.

First, we’re talking about getting clear on your ICP, or your ideal customer profile. This is important, because if you’re not speaking to your correct audience, your ads will fail, period, end of story. Think about it like this, the value in LinkedIn ads is this precise audience targeting. And we pay a significant premium for that opportunity to laser focus on exactly the right people. But if you end up targeting people that won’t ever be your customer, you’ll never be able to get a return. Occasionally, we’ll onboard a client. And when we ask them about who it is that they want to target, they may not know. And sometimes we’ll prod and we’ll dig a little bit deeper. And they may turn it back on us and say, well, you guys are the marketing experts. And I’m certainly not complaining here. This is a dynamic that just naturally happens when you’re an ad agency that works with a wide variety of industries and companies. But I can say for certain, and I’m sure you’ll all agree that just because we’re marketing experts, we’re not experts in your specific industry, or with your exact target audience. And we’re definitely not experts in your company’s offerings. Given enough money and time, we can become experts in all of these things. But if the company doesn’t already know its audience intimately, it’s likely going to take 10s of 1,000s of dollars in ad testing, and many months of time to get to that point. So if the marketer already knows their audience, then we can just jump immediately into success on the platform. So we can show run ads, but you get to decide is your goal in running LinkedIn ads going to be audience testing, trying to figure out who it is that we need to target? Or is your goal demand generation and actually reaching the right people and driving your business forward? So if you don’t already know who your audience is, how do you find out? Well, ideally, your founder is already a clue here, because your company founder or founders, they started the company based off of solving a problem that likely they themselves faced. So you can reason who are the types of people who feel this common pain that the audience suffers from. We can think through the possible roles, who would feel the pain or be responsible for the pain that we saw. Sometimes it’s easy, and we’re right, right out of the gate. Sometimes certain industry segments or certain company sizes have a bigger need or feel the pain more, or maybe they just have the budget to solve the pain. To give you an example, we have a client who built this awesome technology. It can read any document if it’s handwritten or digital, whatever. And it uses AI to grab all of the data from those documents and pushes it right into a digital format that the company can read. The product is called Pixie Docs, in case you’re curious. So we targeted several industries that we thought would have a great use for this technology. We reasoned that insurance providers will likely want to use something like this if they’re getting bids from other vendors. And of course, they’re always trying to keep costs as low as possible when they’re replacing things that customers have made claims for. So we started targeting those insurance providers with ads. And several revisions later was sponsored content ads, we were still getting like a 0.2% click through rate, which as you likely know is about half of the benchmark. So I knew we were failing. So we went to go talk to the head of sales and asked for some insights about this industry. Why can’t I get click through rates above like .25% He ended up asking a couple prospects. And they told him that they already make all of their vendors enter the bids right into their system. So all of that data is already digitized. So they don’t feel that pain point that we saw. That makes perfect sense. But it’s something we just couldn’t have known without getting to know those prospects better. Let’s talk about product market fit. And you can ask yourself here, are people buying your product? Are they happy and satisfied with it? Sometimes, like we’ve talked about the founder has created this product to solve a pain point. And it’s probably one that they felt, but your product market fit is, is it a significant enough pain that people will seek out a product to solve it, or they’re willing to pay enough that it’s in your best interest to solve that pain point for them. And if you don’t have this product market fit, no amount of advertising is going to save it. I feel like in business to consumer, product market fit is oftentimes easier. Think about it, you open a pizza restaurant because everyone needs to eat. And there’s a lot of people who live in this area. And my guess is if you took a poll, probably 95% of people would say that they like pizza. Now if you own a pizza restaurant, I’m not saying that this is easy. But you can imagine you have product market fit right out of the gate. This is much harder in business to business. Sometimes it’s really hard because we don’t have detailed understanding of what your customers are experiencing, especially in different industries. And sometimes founders go and create a solution to a problem they felt. But you find out later, they’re the only ones who feel that problem, or they were the only ones who felt it strongly enough that it was worth seeking out a solution for so you may need to validate your product market fit and ask yourself serious questions as a founder, like is it possible I’m the only one who struggles with this particular problem, or so many people feel it, but it’s not acute enough that people are willing to open up their wallets to solve. Sometimes your solution is really valuable to those in different industries that you didn’t predict. With Pixie Docs from our previous example, for instance, we stumbled across the medical industry. We found that doctors offices were struggling with onboarding new patients. You know, when you go to a doctor and you fill out a bunch of paperwork on a clipboard and hand it to the receptionist, well, then that receptionist has to enter in all that information into the computer and they get backlogged. But then it holds up things like patients getting their prescription. So it’s a significant pain point. So we found some great success targeting them. And the founders never would have thought when they were building this product that they were building it for medical practices. Now, I’ve described a little bit in these examples how we can use LinkedIn Ads to validate the pain points of the business. In this example, with pixie docs, we were targeting multiple industries segmented out as separate campaigns. And that way, when I ran a report inside of Excel, showing general performance by industry, I could look at it and say, wow, there’s this one industry that has really low click through rates. And here’s this other one that’s shining. So that is a way that you can use ads to validate. Once you’ve found an audience, you can run different messaging against them until you find out what sticks. If you’re at a very large company, you may have budget to do actual market research. You can conduct focus groups or customer interviews. If you remember episode 87 when we were talking to Andrew harder at Cisco, he was talking about how he used customer interviews and didn’t have to spend significant budget on market research. He just conducted his own. And I think that’s super cool. You can send out surveys, you can do these interviews. You can even use social listening platforms to understand what people’s pain points are. These are all ways that you could potentially validate. Alright, here’s a quick sponsor break, and then we’ll dive into how to communicate this value to your potential customers.

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Alright, let’s jump into communicating value. So if we’re speaking to the correct audience, but we’re not saying what they’re going to respond to, we’re gonna fail. We need both. We need the correct packed audience, and we need to be saying the right things. So how do you actually learn what they want to hear? And how do you get them to take action? The way you do this is you have to understand your audience. And there’s no shortcuts here, you have to understand their pain points, acutely. What keeps them up at night? What words do they use in their vernacular to describe their problem? When you actually know who your customer is, you gained two superhuman ability. Number one, you know how to talk to them. And number two, you know what you can offer them that they’ll pay attention to, because it’ll help solve their problem. Most of you who are listening are marketers. So I’m going to try to use an example I came up with the if someone targeted you with ads, and they said, we help marketers get more unique loads of their HTML file. Sure, I can interpret what it is they’re saying. They’re saying that they can get me more unique visitors to the website. Everything in that is technically accurate, but they’ve entirely lost my trust and credibility, because they didn’t use the same language that marketers use and the I’m already comfortable with. If they don’t know the terms that I use, do I actually trust them to actually be good at what it is they do? Probably not, that ads gonna feel a lot like spam. So once you actually understand your customer, how do you talk to them? I’m a big fan of Drew Boyd, I got to attend a workshop by him where he walked me through the values framework. I’ve mentioned Drew on the show before, but he’s a marketing professor and a LinkedIn Learning instructor. And he’s absolutely phenomenal. He ran me through this exercise that totally blew my mind. He had me get a bunch of sticky notes of different colors, and arrange them all over the wall of a conference room. At the bottom, we started by placing basic product features and spread them way out. Then up above, we listed all of the basic benefits that customers get from each of those features. So for instance, if I were doing this with the iPod, I could have put a sticky note at the bottom that says feature 16 gigabyte hard drive. And of course, the iPod was famous for not putting in their ads, that this has a 16 gigabyte hard drive, therefore you should want it. They understood that people want it for the benefit. Then up above that we list the high level of benefits. We’re talking about how these benefits get a little closer to home. In our iPod example, we might say 8,000 of your favorite songs in your pockett. Follow so far? Okay, good. Then at the very top, we listed the values that those high level benefits lend themselves. What value as a person would make you perfect for a product that could provide this high level benefit. So in this example, I could say, my value is I’m a music lover. I value having my music library, everywhere I go. I could do this for all of my features. And then all of the benefits of high level benefits and nailed down what are those common values that my customers have. And now if my job were to write ads for the iPod, I could write a very powerful copy. Because I understand the things that our ICP really values, and I know how my product benefits them. I would highly recommend running through this exercise with your company’s features, benefits, and values. You should also realize how important it is that your message coincides with where your customer is, in their journey. If people are just in the very beginning of their journey, understanding your brand, your message is going to be very focused on value proposition. If they’re in the consideration phase, though, they’re probably asking different questions and feeling different things that your content needs to address. Anytime your ad is just listing benefits, we call it benefit dumping, it’s going to come across very much like an ad. But if we can take those benefits and weave them into a story, it’s a lot more interesting. People are programmed to pay attention to stories.

I think we have to hit on brand positioning, because it’s not enough to figure out what value that you’re offering to your target audience because your competitors can offer that same value, or at least they can say they can. So you need to clearly articulate how what you provide is different from anything else on the market. And I’m not discounting this because as a business owner, I realized this can be really scary. You’ll come up against legitimate thoughts and concerns like, well, if we declare exactly who we’re ideally for, will that alienate potential customers and our revenue? Will it turn away some of our current customers? So it’s definitely worth sincere thought here. Someone who speaks to positioning very well is someone by the name of April Dunford. We highly recommend checking out her content. And in the show notes, we’ve linked to an interview that she’s done. Okay, so once you understand your brand positioning, and who your ideal customer is and what they care about. Now, you can start crafting offers and remember by my definition, An offer isn’t something like a percentage of or a coupon. The offer is what you’re offering your prospect in exchange for their attention. So an offer could be anything from read this blog post to buy something now to anything in between. If you want to dive deeper into offers, go back to Episode 10 of the podcast that was all about offers. All right, I’ve got my last little bit of advice for you on this topic. So make sure you stick around all the way to the end of the episode and I’ll share those with you. Okay, I’ve got the episode resources for you coming right up. So stick around

Thank you for listening to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Hungry for more? AJ Wilcox, take it away.

So you’ll want to go down and look at the show notes below. I’ve listed a link to Drew Boyd’s LinkedIn profile, so you can go check him out, follow him there, check out his LinkedIn learning courses. They’re insane. We’ve also linked to an interview that April Dunford did for called How To Make Any Offering Obviously Awesome. We’ve also linked to April Dunford LinkedIn profile, so you can go follow all her great content there. If you or someone you know is brand new to LinkedIn advertising, I highly recommend that you share with them my course on LinkedIn Learning all about an introduction to LinkedIn Ads. You’ll see the link in the show notes. It is by far the highest quality course at the lowest cost possible. If this is your first time listening, welcome, I would love to invite you to subscribe to the podcast, so you’d never miss another show. But if this is not your first time listening, please do rate and review the podcast, especially on Apple podcasts. Not to guilt trip you or anything here, but we spend hours and hours prepping every one of these episodes and this is all we ask of you is please leave us a review. It’s going to help the show in the algorithm so more people get to find out about it. With any questions, suggestions, or corrections reach out to us at podcast at

Alright, with that being said, hear my last thoughts on this episode. As you’re trying to figure out who it is who’s your ICP? What do they like? What do they care about? What do they value? And how you’re positioned to help them. It might be a little disheartening to realize that there’s no guide or completion meter letting you know whether you’ve done it sufficiently or effectively. And honestly, this process is never complete. You’re always learning more about who your audience is, and especially how they’re changing. So you have to keep testing and developing. But I do know this for sure. The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll be having a lot more success. I’ll see you back here next week. Cheering you on in your LinkedIn Ads initiatives.