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Growth | LinkedIn Ads & Strategy for B2B with Anthony Blatner

24 Jun 2024
Growth | LinkedIn Ads & Strategy for B2B with Anthony Blatner

Show Notes

Anthony is one of the nine LinkedIn Certified Marketing Experts in North America. He’s also the Managing Director of Speedwork, a B2B LinkedIn Marketing Agency, and hosts the LinkedIn Ads Radio Podcast.

He and Dave discuss

  • LinkedIn Ad Creative & Consistent Branding
  • Thought Leader Ads & Organic Reach
  • Niche Audiences & Custom Content
  • Nurture Campaigns
  • Expert LinkedIn Ads Tips


  • () - Intro to Anthony Blatner
  • () - Focusing on LinkedIn and Future Expansion
  • () - Effective Social Media Advertising and Organic Content
  • () - The Overlooked Importance of Creative Content in Advertising
  • () - Targeting Personas with Top-of-Funnel Ads
  • () - Creating Unique and Targeted Content: Pros and Cons
  • () - Lead Generation Strategies for Small Budgets
  • () - Effective Funnel Strategies for Small Budgets
  • () - Using Paid Advertising and Lead Magnets to Grow Your Newsletter
  • () - Building Long-Term Memory with Consistent Branding in Marketing
  • () - The Power of Narrow Focus for Audience Growth
  • () - Content Planning Based on Sales Cycle Length
  • () - Connecting with Anthony Blattner on LinkedIn

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Dave Gerhardt [00:00:15]:
Anthony, good to have you on. Nice to meet you. Thanks for coming on the exit five podcast.

Anthony Blatner [00:00:19]:
Thanks for having me, Dave. I've been in the community for a while and I've been following you, so had to reach out and see if you wanted to talk LinkedIn ads.

Dave Gerhardt [00:00:27]:
Well, I don't, but I do.

Anthony Blatner [00:00:32]:
That's what most people say.

Dave Gerhardt [00:00:34]:
No, no. So what? I've been having a lot of fun in doing this podcast and kind of basically since really like committing to going and doing exit five and building this business. I think like the first year I did the podcast, it was like talk to cmos and do kind of like career story and yada, yada, yada. And what I realized was as we build exit five, people want, like, I think the podcast is, this can be, is and can continue to be this awesome resource that fits under our, like, no one goes to school for b two B marketing. And so I've been pushed by people on the team, others around the community, like, let's cover all topics. And so I'm more just being silly in that, like, this is actually what's so fun about doing this podcast now is, you know, there's like one or two topics in marketing that I feel like really strongly that I know. And then everything else I get to play interviewer and do these podcasts. And so the style of interview that I do for these is literally like, you know, grilling, not grilling, but like really diving deep and asking a lot of questions.

Dave Gerhardt [00:01:34]:
And we've been getting a lot of positive feedback. And so having you come on to do something like this is great. We've been trying to do more of these. Like, I have, I have one in a couple weeks with some woman who is an expert at Instagram ads. And so we're gonna do everything ABM LinkedIn ads, SEO content. Like, I want to hit all the topics. And so you're, the timing was perfect and the note that you had sent me was great. Hey Dave and exit five team.

Dave Gerhardt [00:01:57]:
I joined exit five a little bit ago. This was a while ago now. And I've been catching a handful of the podcast episodes. I don't see one deep diving on LinkedIn ads, ads yet, so I figured I'd reach out. By the way, take notes. If you want to learn how to pitch, pitch this podcast, this is a great one. I'm one of the nine LinkedIn certified marketing experts in North America. I can jam on LinkedIn ads for startups to enterprise implementing demand gen and ads, combining paid and organic, how to crush it with the new thought leader apps and other topics.

Dave Gerhardt [00:02:22]:
So I'm pumped to have you on.

Anthony Blatner [00:02:25]:
Good to be here.

Dave Gerhardt [00:02:26]:
So give me a quick backstory. How did you. You worked at IBM, you've been in b two b tech for a while. Give me the shortened version of your career that led you to kind of zero in on LinkedIn ads.

Anthony Blatner [00:02:38]:
Yeah, I never expected to be a LinkedIn marketing expert in a million years, but I'm here now and way I got here was through the tech world. Started my career at IBM doing software development. They would ship me out to big clients and do software development. Big clients. I got to learn the consulting world. I'm in Austin, Texas, which has a great startup tech community here. So after a few years at IBM, I spun off to start my own mobile app development firm. We built a lot of different apps.

Anthony Blatner [00:03:06]:
Some did really well, some did not do well, and realized it's all about marketing. After you build the app, it's all about marketing. You can put an app on the app store, but if no one knows about it, no one's going to download it. So the natural next question was, hey Anthony, can you help us with marketing for our apps? And that's how I got pulled into the marketing world. And then with that background of working at IBM, those types of clients, and then the startup tech community, it was always like LinkedIn that did the best for those types of companies. So decided to just solely focus on LinkedIn for the last several years now at this point, and that's how we are here now.

Dave Gerhardt [00:03:37]:
So you've been doing. Tell me about speedwork, which is the company.

Anthony Blatner [00:03:40]:
Yeah. So Speedwork is a LinkedIn marketing agency and we specialize in working with b, two b companies to help them with their LinkedIn marketing. Most of them have sales and lead gen goals. So we'll help with our three main services. Number one is ads. That's the bread and butter. And then the outreach campaigns and then social content. Social content's probably been growing like the fastest recently with the growth of the social platform.

Anthony Blatner [00:04:02]:
But yeah, we're a LinkedIn marketing agency and we'll work with b. Two b companies.

Dave Gerhardt [00:04:06]:
And did you start this agency?

Anthony Blatner [00:04:08]:
I did, yes.

Dave Gerhardt [00:04:09]:
And you've been doing it for eight years?

Anthony Blatner [00:04:11]:
Eight years. I know. It's crazy to think about that. In the very beginning, it was just me and doing a little bit of everything for those initial tech companies, Facebook, Google, SEO, Facebook ads. And like, I feel like I've done everything out there and then just seeing that LinkedIn always worked the best, decided to kind of focus in on that area. So I've done big e commerce campaigns, I've done huge Google Ads campaigns. But as of recent, just focusing on.

Dave Gerhardt [00:04:34]:
LinkedIn and you've positioned speedwork as LinkedIn ads. Has that always been the case or no?

Anthony Blatner [00:04:41]:
Yes, that. Well, maybe like a couple years. You know, maybe the first couple years we did everything. And then after the first couple years, it was, okay, b two b is b to b. Because, like, you know, a lot of those tech companies, some of them were b two c. And then just finding LinkedIn was the best for the tech world. And the ones that I was working with at the time and saw back then, no one, not many was, were doing it. So saw the need, saw the opportunity, and then we decided to just focus on LinkedIn marketing for b two B since then.

Dave Gerhardt [00:05:07]:
Oh, my God. I wasn't following you on LinkedIn. Don't worry, we're there now. No, I'm asking because, like, I will talk about LinkedIn. And I love when I talk to people who have a very clearly defined niche for a business, just because the more people that I meet and talk to, like, you could probably have an agency that does lots of things for lots of people, but you learned over the years that it's like, no, we need to focus on this one core thing. Have a repeatable system here. I'm sure there's, like, hard lessons you learned along the way where I see some people, and I've even thought about myself, I'm like, I'm going to start a marketing agency. Well, what would you do? And I'm like, well, I can do everything.

Dave Gerhardt [00:05:45]:
Well, no, that's the quickest path to, like, burnout and not being successful. And so I like talking to entrepreneurs who have really found their pocket because I'm sure it's tempting to go and do more and to expand in other areas, but there's value in owning that niche, right?

Anthony Blatner [00:06:01]:
Yeah. And it was like in the early days when I was jumping between Google and Facebook and LinkedIn and then just seeing how much work it was, redoing how much work to redo what I needed to do on each platform and, like, relearn it and, like, create a new process for each platform, and it was just like, triple the work every time. And then seeing that most of the time it was LinkedIn, that was the winner. So I was like, well, let's just focus on LinkedIn and just deliver that service really well. And nowadays, clients might have another person or agency who handles the google side of things, and then we're just focused on LinkedIn. And that's not to say it'll be like just LinkedIn forever. I could see maybe Google search we get asked about probably the most to add on. Maybe we offer that in the future down the road.

Dave Gerhardt [00:06:41]:
All right, let's start at the beginning, and let's make the case for LinkedIn. Why LinkedIn? What is it about b two B and LinkedIn?

Anthony Blatner [00:06:51]:
LinkedIn is very interestingly positioned in the b two B world where there's not many b two b platforms, if like any others out there. So, like, LinkedIn's the place. So if you're a professional, and especially if you're in b two B, you're probably on LinkedIn. In the b two C worlds, you have so many platforms that people are playing in, you have to go cover all them.

Dave Gerhardt [00:07:10]:
So why do you think. Let's pause on that. Why do you think, why is it a thing that people who work in b two B are on LinkedIn? I'm also asking because I feel like most people are not like, I'm in b two B, therefore I must sign up for LinkedIn. There's something about it's where if you have a job of any kind, you have a LinkedIn profile. And I struggle to articulate that. I know it intuitively, but I'm trying to see if I can get you to articulate that better than I can.

Anthony Blatner [00:07:41]:
I don't know if I'll do any better, but it's like when you're talking about your work and posting on whatever platform it is, if you're on, like, Facebook, you're going to have, like, your aunt comment on it and be like, I don't know what you're talking about. So all of us in that b two b world just end up on LinkedIn? Because otherwise that's going to happen.

Dave Gerhardt [00:07:59]:
Well, and it's almost become not everybody, you know, the universe of people like you and me who create content on LinkedIn is small, but everybody from my sister to my brother in law to my wife to my neighbor, they probably have a LinkedIn account and they use LinkedIn to look for jobs, or it's become your digital resume. And so you're going to be there. Do you ever bump up to any companies and industries where they're like, oh, my customers are not on LinkedIn? Is that true for some people?

Anthony Blatner [00:08:36]:
Yeah, definitely is true for certain industries and certain Personas. You know, the more digitally active ones are the better ones for LinkedIn. They're on LinkedIn, the more offline industries, you know, construction, for example, there's a lot of people in the construction world that are more work. They might be going to their field sites and stuff like that. So a lot of it depends on that target audience. I am always surprised the audience size. Sometimes one will get different niche audiences. I'm always surprised at the size of audience.

Anthony Blatner [00:09:02]:
I can often build for that. But then come down to how active are those people in that audience. Some of those people, maybe they check once a month or less. So it definitely is the more digitally active, tech enabled industries that are on LinkedIn the most.

Dave Gerhardt [00:09:16]:
Okay. All right, cool. For most people that listen to this podcast, they are in b, two, b. So where should people get started with LinkedIn ads? Let's start at the beginning of your process.

Anthony Blatner [00:09:26]:
Yeah. So two things about getting started is, number one, any kind of social ad is an interruptive ad. So it is more of a brand awareness, demand generating platform. Because you're interrupting somebody, they're not actively seeking you out at that moment in time. And then for companies or individuals who are just getting started, you know what is like step one? Step one is creating your own content that you're publishing. Maximize the organic side of the platform first, get comfortable putting content out there. Get comfortable figuring out who your target audience is. And then you can go throw fuel on the fire with ads.

Anthony Blatner [00:10:01]:
So best place to start is if you already have some warm traffic. Start with a retargeting campaign.

Dave Gerhardt [00:10:07]:
Warm traffic to your site, to your website, company website.

Anthony Blatner [00:10:10]:
So a couple different things are your website, you can also retarget company page visitors. So most people, even if their website isn't getting much traffic, a lot of times their company page might, might be getting more like the really small ones or brand new ones. And then you can also, if it's a founder led company or a brand new company building off the founders network, you can export your connections from LinkedIn and then import them into the ads platform and then retarget those people that way. It's kind of surprising there's not a more direct integration for targeting your own connections. But for right now, that's what you do. And you can retarget your own connections that way.

Dave Gerhardt [00:10:44]:
Isn't that what's great about all the, I guess, is why this is a rented platform. But like, I was just writing about this earlier this morning for something that I was doing, but I have 165,000 followers on LinkedIn. I would say the average post of mine gets 50 to 60,000 impressions. So less than 10% of my followers ever see my content.

Anthony Blatner [00:11:06]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:11:07]:
And that is the case for spend. That's what these platforms want you to do, right? They want you to spend money to reach all of those people in some way or another.

Anthony Blatner [00:11:19]:
If you talk to anybody in the organic who's focused on the organic side of LinkedIn, they're always going to say, reach is dropping. Organic reach is dropping. And it is because all platforms are promoting their ad side. The more that they grow, they want to monetize more and more. So it does make sense that the more that advertisers use LinkedIn, they're making more space for those advertisers to run their ads.

Dave Gerhardt [00:11:39]:
And that's also why LinkedIn doesn't like links in my content also, right?

Anthony Blatner [00:11:45]:
Yeah. And that's primarily because you're taking people off platform, so they're then losing out on the opportunity to deliver ads to those people.

Dave Gerhardt [00:11:52]:
Not only does the algorithm not like links, but when you actually click on a link, they first take you to that, like, interstitial page and it's like, are you sure you want to go here? This is a link warning.

Anthony Blatner [00:12:02]:
You are leaving the safe zone.

Dave Gerhardt [00:12:04]:
Yeah. And would you have more success? Like, would a company have more success if they have been creating content on LinkedIn and had a strongish organic presence either through the company page or a couple other, like, key people than somebody that had none of that but maybe had a lot of website traffic?

Anthony Blatner [00:12:22]:
I'd say that will give you a good starting point because you're already there on the platform, you have content that you can go back and review and evaluate, which posted well, did not do well. So usually that's the best if you have past history there. But otherwise, if you are brand new to LinkedIn, but you have been doing a lot of stuff elsewhere, you probably have a good feel for your target audience, what's going to work for them and what's not. But yeah, it is most ideal when you have past posts that you can start by boosting and kind of get started with that.

Dave Gerhardt [00:12:50]:
Where do we start with content? Because I think there's a bunch of different approaches you can take, as you mentioned. But at least for me, I see a lot of ads, like you mentioned, it's supposed to be interrupting the feed. Yeah, I see a lot of ads that just look like ads. Is that okay? I feel like the biggest, I'm not even, I'm not in this world. I'm not an ad guy, haven't spent any money. But man, I feel like people don't think about the creative and the content enough, and they obsess over the audience and the targeting and the budget and all that stuff matters. But I feel like there's a missing piece here on the b two b side with creative for creative and offers. Right.

Dave Gerhardt [00:13:31]:
Even maybe the creative is great, but like, running LinkedIn ads to some kind of average piece of content or to try to book a demo when this is the first interaction I've seen. I'm trying to say these things to hopefully get some insight from you about creative and offers that people can take home.

Anthony Blatner [00:13:50]:
So I'd say LinkedIn's criticized the most for, like, feeling so buttoned up and boring. And b two b content's so boring.

Dave Gerhardt [00:13:57]:
Well, the flip side is, on Twitter, all the only ads I see are for Cheech and Chong edibles.

Anthony Blatner [00:14:03]:
I see those same ones.

Dave Gerhardt [00:14:04]:
It's like, are they the only people advertising on Twitter? I don't understand.

Anthony Blatner [00:14:08]:
I'm like, what did I click on to be getting this? Nothing.

Dave Gerhardt [00:14:11]:
They just have the whole audience targeted.

Anthony Blatner [00:14:14]:
So when it comes to, like, content on LinkedIn. So we'll start with ad content. There's different formats work for different objectives of what you're trying to do. I'll start with top of funnel cold ads. Before somebody knows who you are, you can't lead with your brand name or what you do because they don't know who you are. So that doesn't mean anything to them. The best cold ads start with your prospect calling them out. What's the imagery? What does their workplace look like? What are the tools that they're using look like? And the best brand awareness.

Anthony Blatner [00:14:46]:
Top of funnel ads are going to be less branded because you don't want to scare people away with your logo, but are going to.

Dave Gerhardt [00:14:51]:
Let's pick an industry like somebody that you've worked with. You don't have to name them, but like HR finance. Let's use an example to give people as we talk through this.

Anthony Blatner [00:14:58]:
Yeah. So an HR payroll management platform, your top of funnel ads are going to focus on the people. And like the workplaces, it's going to be a picture of like an office setting. And as you get to know your Persona, you can build it to. What do those people look like? What's the average age? Are they older? Are they younger? More HR leadership? Those are going to be a little bit older people in their career. So you want to pick people in the image that reflects them and then use wording that speaks to them. So those will be like your topple funnel ads. You'll talk about the pain points, you'll talk about what their goals are.

Anthony Blatner [00:15:32]:
Is there a new payroll compliance they need to meet. You're going to talk about those topics. That's top of mind for them. And then once somebody engages, that's when you want to start working in your brand more. And it's almost like the more that somebody engages with you, the more you want to add your retargeting campaigns to broaden their awareness of you.

Dave Gerhardt [00:15:48]:
Okay, I got you. So you want to start with basically, like, let's plant a flag with something top of the funnel to get something happening, to get some type of engagement or response here. And so we wrote this report about this compliance trend or something that's happening in the industry. The first step is going to be to drive people to that free report. Whether it's gated or not is a different discussion. But we're going to drive them to that report. That's step one. Even just starting there and mapping out the steps feels like a win versus let's run ads.

Dave Gerhardt [00:16:26]:
And I think this is what's hard in marketing, too. It's hard to be patient. We want to go spend, I have the budget. I want to go spend 30 grand right now, and I want six new sales meetings this month. But if you haven't gone through any of those steps, it's not going to be as effective. Am I kind of going in the right direction with that thinking?

Anthony Blatner [00:16:44]:
Yeah. You want to figure out what's going to be your brand awareness content and then what are going to be your offers that you're going to run and what order those are going to go in.

Dave Gerhardt [00:16:50]:
Okay. And before we keep going on that, you mentioned the creative, like, are finding the creative. How do you, how do most people come up with the creative for this? Are they going to some like, stock photo website and grabbing images? Are they making their own? How do you, if you had all the resources in the world and you wanted someone to really, really be successful out of the gate, if this was for your business, what would you tell them to do for the creative?

Anthony Blatner [00:17:12]:
For creative, I would use, so do a photo shoot with the same people so you can have the same models throughout your photography that are unique from all the other stock photos that are out there.

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:23]:
So make your own. Don't do stock photos. Ideally, in an ideal world, you would make your own.

Anthony Blatner [00:17:28]:
Right? Because if you, like, look through the candle library, like every one of those, you're like, oh, I've seen this. I've seen this. I've seen this, you know, we did.

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:34]:
This in very early days when I was at drift. We took photos, like, with my iPhone, and they were some of the best Converting ads. And then, like, as the brand got bigger and bigger and bigger, the ads became more corporate. And I think this is true for, for anybody. But I love that idea of, like, doing your own photo shoot and you could do this really low cost, like you can find. I guarantee you there's someone on your team, an engineer or a product manager or maybe somebody on the marketing team who loves Photography. They have a camera, do it in your office, meet up for 2 hours, take a bunch of pictures. Like, this is the do it yourself way.

Dave Gerhardt [00:18:08]:
And then, all right, now we just took like 50 photos. We have like a quarter's worth of content to use in our ads, right?

Anthony Blatner [00:18:15]:
Then you'll have, like, consistent people throughout your images. So just like, your branding will be consistent, you'll have the consistent people, and then people will connect the dots until.

Dave Gerhardt [00:18:23]:
They see your face over and over. They're like, damn it, that's the payroll guy. I hate that guy. I see him everywhere.

Anthony Blatner [00:18:29]:
Seen comments on ads. Like, I've seen this so many times. How do I make it stop? And you're like, are retargeting's working?

Dave Gerhardt [00:18:36]:
All right, and do people do this? People take this advice and go do their own photo shoots and create their own creative for ads.

Anthony Blatner [00:18:43]:
Sometimes, like, the big companies will, they'll go do their own photo shoots. And sometimes it's also like, maybe from a conference they went to do have a whole photo shoot from that conference. And you'll see consistent people throughout those.

Dave Gerhardt [00:18:52]:
Yeah. I just think to your point about, like, breaking through the noise, like, why wouldn't you do this? Everyone's going to go to the stock photo site and do the, like, you know, two people in business looking suits, doing the handshake across the table. Why not? So start with the top of the font. We're going to start with the top of the funnel offer. We're going to shoot our own creative, we're going to design in our own way. Let's talk about where you drive people. In this first example, we mentioned having a report of some kind. Is that the best way? And does it have to be, do you want it to be gated so you get emails from it? Can we just ungate it and send people to our website? And can we retarget them in some way? Are there pros and cons to those approaches?

Anthony Blatner [00:19:33]:
Yeah. So there's a lot to unpack here. For top of funnel content, let's take the HR compliance thing. If that's something that's coming up in the industry, they're going to see that and be like, I know I need to figure this out. I haven't figured out yet. I see this article, I'm going to go click on it to read more. For gated versus ungated, lots of different things to consider here is, number one, the size of your ad budget. Companies with bigger ad budgets can do a more demand gen approach and you can then deliver the amount of impressions you need for somebody to really know enough to like, take that next step to go to request a demo.

Dave Gerhardt [00:20:04]:
Can you explain that for people who might not understand, what would a more of a demand gen approach mean?

Anthony Blatner [00:20:08]:
Yeah, so you have legion, which would be gating your piece of content. You have the form there. They need to submit that to get your report, maybe your how to guide how to achieve compliance. The way that I think about it is like for really small companies with really small budgets, you're only going to be delivering a couple impressions or getting a few clicks out there. And the chance that someone's going to convert off one click is very small. So your best bet is to capture that person who's interested just to have a chance at following up with them. Because if you're just delivering a handful of clicks a month, then those people are probably not going to convert and then you're not going to get anything out of your traffic. So for really small budgets, I do see people have the most success with doing a lead gen approach because at least you'll have a couple of leads coming in that you can get in touch with those people.

Anthony Blatner [00:20:52]:
The bigger the budget gets, the more then you can ungate that so that people can just go to your website to read it. They're going to be more likely to share that then. So then you get a lot more shared reach. That's the whole dark social approach. So demandgen versus lead gen. It's a very heated topic if you are on LinkedIn at all. And most people demonize lead Gen. But if you have a very small budget, your one click isn't going to convert them.

Anthony Blatner [00:21:16]:
Your best bet is to grab that lead and then be able to follow up with them via email, call them whatever you need to do to try to give them more info.

Dave Gerhardt [00:21:24]:
Interesting. So smaller budget we want to a content download might be okay because assuming we have a smaller budget, we just might not have anything going. And so the seven people who got this payroll report might be good fits. Three of them are ICP. Let's call them or do something.

Anthony Blatner [00:21:40]:
Right. The other thing to think about for that is if it's like proprietary data that they can't get anywhere else, then those are cases when it can be good to get it because it is a trade of value. You're giving somebody something that they can't get anywhere else. If it's valuable enough for them to opt, that is a good trade. But if it's just like your blog post on your website, then that's not a good trade.

Dave Gerhardt [00:22:01]:
Yeah, I think that's the nuance that's missed in the lead gen versus demand gen discussion, which is like, what is the asset? What is the thing? If you intentionally created this amazing, highly researched first party data report, then sure gate it. Make people give you some type of information to get it. But if you're just taking some half assed blog posts and then here's the offer, and then you get sales calls from that, of course that's not going to work. And so I think there's a lot of nuance in that.

Anthony Blatner [00:22:35]:
I have an example for this. There's a data company we work with that does a lot of analysis of really big corporate companies. They'll do monitoring, they'll do a lot of calculations based on their company performance. They have a lot of blog posts on their website that give you the basics of the reports and stuff that they're publishing. But then they'll do a once a year really comprehensive report with a lot of trends data and like tips and tricks for other companies to learn from. And that is a very valuable piece of content. So that piece is gated because people who have read some of these other blog posts, they always want that yearly comprehensive report. And that is a hand raise.

Anthony Blatner [00:23:08]:
You know, I am interested in the data that you have and I'm willing enough to opt in for it and download it. And then that's, those ones will go to the sales team. They won't follow up super hard with them, but, you know, at least they'll know, like, hey, these people have been reading all our blogs. They've downloaded three yearly reports. You know, keep them on the list.

Dave Gerhardt [00:23:24]:
Then why is it if you have more budget that you would don't need to gate something? Like how would the funnel there work?

Anthony Blatner [00:23:32]:
Yeah. So when you have a very small budget, you might just the chance of you reaching that one person again. You're just going to reach them once, probably they're going to maybe click go to your website and then most people are on their mobile device. So bounce rates tend to be very high with everything social because again, it's interruptive. So you might have reached that one person, they might have clicked, and then if you have a small budget, it's very hard for you to reach them again. So you've then lost that traffic. You haven't made enough impression for them to take that next step. When you have bigger budgets, you can then go retarget that person.

Anthony Blatner [00:24:06]:
You can deliver a lot more impressions of that person so that you have the chance to deliver a lot more information for them and build that, generate that demand in them for them to go take next steps.

Dave Gerhardt [00:24:16]:
Okay, now it's pretty clear that to be successful, you need to have, and.

Anthony Blatner [00:24:21]:
Also, if I could like, kind of break down the ordering here, I'd say this is almost like a step two type of funnel that we've been talking about. Step one for like the very smallest of people, I would recommend starting with thought leader ads. And this is building off of boosting posts from individuals. So at the very smallest level, your best bet is, number one, retargeting. And if you're already getting some warm traffic, retarget that warm traffic. Number two is then going to boost posts from the founder or whomever is like the subject matter expert. Thought leader ads have been doing extremely well since they've, since they've come out because people will always engage with people more than they will accompany. And then step three would then be going to consider a lead gen approach for small budgets.

Anthony Blatner [00:25:03]:
And then as you get to like step four, you're then in a demand gen approach.

Dave Gerhardt [00:25:06]:
Beautiful. Good. Good job. This is what you should do. If you go on somebody's podcast, you should have a conversation and should take the reins. And if you think of something, you should say it. Good job.

Anthony Blatner [00:25:14]:
Just want to make sure I explain that order. We don't get overly focused on the lead gen portion.

Dave Gerhardt [00:25:18]:
No. Great, great. Let's go back to thought leader ad in a second. But I was just going to say, like, it seems like, like anything in marketing, if you just wake up one day and you're like, we should do LinkedIn ads. We have budget. Let's go do LinkedIn ads. You're not going to be as successful as if you were like, nope, let's create a killer content offer. Let's go and get a bunch of good creative, let's have a real strategy for this, and then go do LinkedIn ads.

Anthony Blatner [00:25:42]:
Right? Absolutely.

Dave Gerhardt [00:25:43]:
Okay. So this is my biggest challenge with any type of advertising or spending money on advertising. It's like we actually just had a discussion internally about exit five where we want to try to see if we could grow our list through LinkedIn. Yada, yada, yada. It only works when you plan this thing out. And it's like, if you're gonna go spend money on this channel, why would you not go and create the assets for that? It's like so often we try to find like the existing landing page and the existing offer where it's like maybe you actually, it's worth investing in something, creating something unique or at least customizing it and rewriting it, versus just repackaging something that you already have.

Anthony Blatner [00:26:20]:
Right. I did scope out exit five's page and I noticed, I think there was one boosted post of yours from maybe a while ago and that was it.

Dave Gerhardt [00:26:27]:
So far, yeah, yeah, we're cheap. We're paying for this all on Dave's credit card. So we're working our way.

Anthony Blatner [00:26:34]:
Oh, I understand, I understand.

Dave Gerhardt [00:26:35]:
We're working our way up.

Anthony Blatner [00:26:36]:
But so for you guys, I know you talk about your newsletter a lot, you talk about the community a lot, and you obviously have your own huge following. So for you, you already talked about how you don't put links in posts because the LinkedIn is not going to give a lot of reach to them. But you could do a post about promoting your newsletter every once in a while and have a link that goes to the newsletter. And then that would be the one post that you would boost to make sure that that does get the reach and does get in front of the people. In front of people. You probably start that to your retargeting audience and then that could be a way to use ads to grow the newsletter as a funnel into the main.

Dave Gerhardt [00:27:11]:
Yeah, this is actually what we're doing. Matt just started to do this like about a month ago. He just sent a bunch of data before this call, actually. Because email is like the key piece of our business, like as a media company. Right. And we have 16,000 people on our email lists. We have 3000 paying members. That math just doesn't seem right to me where it's like, I think we should have a much bigger email list if we have this size of audience on other channels.

Dave Gerhardt [00:27:35]:
And so I think it's hard to grow a list without organic. And it's so funny that this is more like the Twitter world, but there's a whole cohort of newsletter growth people. And do you know what their strategy is?

Anthony Blatner [00:27:50]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:27:50]:
It's advertised, it's paid. That's the strategy. And it's like there is only so much organic growth hacking that you can do to grow your newsletter. And so it turns out the way to do it is to spend a little bit money because it just becomes math. Can we make a little trade? Can we spend x dollar for this subscriber? Does that work? We want to grow our list because of sponsors and we want to grow our list because the bigger our list is, we'll get trickle down effect, more members and blah, blah, blah. So anyway, we have this lead magnet offer which has really helped grow our email list a lot. Instead of just saying like, join our newsletter, it's join our newsletter and we'll send you this deck that I have, which is the 16 lessons I learned as a b, two b marketing leader going from PR intern to CMo. And so that's like a good fit offer for most of the people in our audience.

Dave Gerhardt [00:28:36]:
And so it just is a little bit of a tripwire, like, to get somebody onto the list. And so we did that and it's working great. Like, we've acquired a couple hundred email subscribers and I think the math makes a lot of sense. And now I can just see the only thing I don't love is that just becomes then this, like we always just gotta, just gotta spend money to grow it. But it just becomes a math exercise. And we're working on making the economics of that work. But it was a really cool test and it was eye opening for me and we did that approach with taking a post from my thing. The other thing I was going to say is, what is interesting? LinkedIn doesn't like links, but I noticed something that when I do promote the newsletter, the post has very low impressions and very low comments.

Dave Gerhardt [00:29:18]:
But if I go into HubSpot, I will see that we added 200 new email contacts on that day. Something happens where either people go to the site or they click on the link via a different way that it doesn't show up in the comments. But there is some correlation I try to have once every couple of weeks. I have just kind of like an evergreen post. And actually this is reminding me that I probably need to make sure it goes out again. Isn't that interesting? Like, the engagement on the post is low, but we do see the correlation and like, there's a lot of signups over that period.

Anthony Blatner [00:29:46]:
Yeah. Instead of engaging, people are closing LinkedIn, going to your website and then signing up there.

Dave Gerhardt [00:29:50]:
And this is why marketing attribution is the worst.

Anthony Blatner [00:29:52]:
100%. 100%.

Dave Gerhardt [00:29:56]:
All right, so you got to do the work up front. Can you actually explain for people that might not be super familiar, what thought leader ads are? You mentioned them, but let's spend a couple minutes on them.

Anthony Blatner [00:30:05]:
Yeah. Thought leader ads are now being able to boost posts from people on LinkedIn. Before this past summer, you could only run ads on behalf of a company page. It would have the company's logo and name the top left. But now you can take a post that an individual has posted and boost that. The benefit is, number one, is just purely engagement. People will always engage with people more than companies, and then it just opens up a lot of new, gives a voice to a lot of people that were just playing on the organic side. Now you can put them into your campaigns and use it as like a combined effort.

Anthony Blatner [00:30:36]:
So we see much higher engagement rates and then just all the benefit of your prospects, getting to know the people at your company, whether it's your founder or if you're boosting push from salespeople, it just really accelerates that relationship building.

Dave Gerhardt [00:30:48]:
Any good examples that you can think of from what you've seen so far about what works?

Anthony Blatner [00:30:54]:
Yeah, so a few different things. Number one, my favorite is using videos on LinkedIn and then boosting those because it just increases facetime with your prospects. You know, FaceTime is something you only get if they attend a webinar or have a Zoom call with them or are working with them. FaceTime is like so valuable because it just builds that relationship. So using video on LinkedIn and then boosting those into thought leader ads and then keeping videos of your founders, your salespeople, in front of prospects just accelerates that relationship building. So that's number one. Past that, there's lots of different tactics that you can try out. One of our favorites right now is matching up the Persona of the person that you're boosting to the Persona of your inside your target audience.

Anthony Blatner [00:31:35]:
So many companies have several different Personas they're looking to reach, whether it's sales leaders, salespeople, rev ops. These different Personas you're going to reach at target customers and then inside your own company, if you have those people who are subject matter experts, take the content that they're posting that these other people might be looking up to already, and then boosting that to the associated Persona.

Dave Gerhardt [00:31:56]:
What have I not asked that we should cover about the LinkedIn ads and the LinkedIn funnel?

Anthony Blatner [00:32:01]:
Go try out thought leader ads. As you get more into the demand gen approach, other things that we see that work well are using your campaigns and not thinking about it as direct response, but instead of thinking about it as the messages that you're going to be delivering. So a lot of times we'll organize our campaigns into the different messages that we want to deliver. And most commonly we get to group these into product messages, social proof messages, thought leadership messages. And like, those are like the very common categories. You might have a product, you know, your yearly update, you might. That might be a separate campaign. But for implementing demandgen, we like to build out these different messages we want to deliver and then use ads to deliver those messages to our audience.

Anthony Blatner [00:32:43]:
And then when you get into the demand gen approach, it's all about, I just did an interview with somebody from the B two B Institute and it's all about, and she had some very interesting frameworks and research that they do over there. But what we talked about was it's all about building memory structures with people. And the more that you can build memory with people who are seeing your marketing materials, the longer that they're going to remember you for. So how do you make an idea stick with them for the long term? If you're doing a very direct response ad, you're being very direct about it. You know, someone's just interested in that moment or they're not. But if you're doing more of a brand awareness or demand gen approach, you're delivering messages that you want to stick for the long term. So what are ways that you can do that? Consistent branding is a way to build that repetitive memory with people using common characters throughout those ads. When they see the same mascot or logo appear in different ads, they're going to be more likely to remember that.

Anthony Blatner [00:33:34]:
So as you go to build out your demand gen campaigns, think about what are the different messages you want to deliver and how are you going to make those ideas sticky with people over time?

Dave Gerhardt [00:33:42]:
Can we talk about organic for a little bit?

Anthony Blatner [00:33:44]:
Let's do it.

Dave Gerhardt [00:33:44]:
What do you make of the LinkedIn algorithm in terms of caring about it? Caring about it as a content creator, as a brand?

Anthony Blatner [00:33:54]:
Yeah, I just post the stuff that I'm going to post and like, some of it does well and some of it doesn't. I spend more of my time on the ad side. But I do think the organic algorithm is fascinating. You know, what do people engage with, what do they comment on and stuff like that? Right now, of course, selfies always do well. People love selfies.

Dave Gerhardt [00:34:14]:
It's not, there's no way not selfies. Like, I'm gonna add one, right? I'm gonna add one with the.

Anthony Blatner [00:34:20]:
We haven't seen a good Dave selfie.

Dave Gerhardt [00:34:21]:
I don't know if ever I told, you know, it's my said last week my wife put me on, she saw me on video and she put me on a new sketch, a skincare routine. So I'm ready. I'm ready for the selfies.

Anthony Blatner [00:34:33]:
But what always beats selfies is dog pics. So yes, yes, your office pet or whatever, and you know, these are dog pics are the fun post you might have every once in a while. But I do like to advocate for post a mixture of content. You'll have your professional stuff, you'll be showing off your expertise, but then maybe on weekends you post stuff about like yourself in your own life. And like that just allows people to get to know you better as a person and like prove that you're a real person and you're not just some small avatar talking about LinkedIn ads all the time.

Dave Gerhardt [00:35:04]:
Yeah, I talk about this often where I think the key to growing an audience on a platform is to focus on a specific topic. And so for example, like in your case, if you really wanted to grow your account, which you probably, you don't need to, you have a nice business and 10,000 followers, you can do really well with that. But I think there's a lot of value in like being the LinkedIn ads guy. Like that is what your content is about. And for me, I notice it where I used to kind of share all different type of stuff and then when I just focus on marketing and b, two, b marketing, that's my content, majority of it. That's when my engagement and content grows. And you know, you want to be like, no, but I'm so much more like, I have so much more substance. But I think for the sake of like if you want to use the platform, like for business, and I do, it's the number one channel for helping us grow exit five.

Dave Gerhardt [00:35:53]:
I do think it is best to be focused on a particular topic. Or you see like as an example, like Justin Welsh owns the topic of like solopreneurship and that's his thing. Right. But I do think to your point, one out of every five or two out of every eight or whatever the number is, like mix in something, mix in a random picture or photo. Like that's how you inject personality. And then I also think the way you write about those topics is how you show your personality to tone of voice, the words that you use, the structure that you use. I think that's all ways to bring your personality into it. But I do think you need to pick a particular topic that you want to be known for.

Dave Gerhardt [00:36:30]:
Which topic is it valuable for me to be known for? And then create content around that topic. If you wanted to grow, if you just want to do it for fun, then you can post. But whatever you want, that's fine.

Anthony Blatner [00:36:40]:
And there's some people out there that their whole shtick is just like the funny side of marketing or just random memes and stuff.

Dave Gerhardt [00:36:46]:
That's great.

Anthony Blatner [00:36:48]:
Those are great.

Dave Gerhardt [00:36:49]:
That's fine. That's totally fine. And you can build a humongous audience that way. The challenge is, though, not all of those people are going to be the right fit for your business. And so you might be surprised where like, you know, Anthony with 10,000 followers, focus on LinkedIn ads might be more powerful at driving business than a hundred thousand follower advertising meme page. Right? Because your focus on that specific audience. So there's a lot of fluff that comes with it. But again, it's tough to say without the goals.

Dave Gerhardt [00:37:21]:
I thought of one last question to ask you before we wrap up because you posted about this recently talking about how b two B sales are long. And we know that, right? How does LinkedIn ads fit? Like, I get it when we're talking about direct response or like we got this report, we want people to download it, we're going to reach out, whatever. But when you don't really know when you're going to, how you're going to reach somebody or when, or it might take nine months, twelve months, 16 months to buy, you're just always spending. Like how do you, how do you lay out that funnel so you're not just wasting money or missing opportunities? Like if this thing is ongoing, how do you set this up in a way? Do you have like evergreen ads? How does this, how does that work with a really long sales cycle? Like we have oftentimes at b two b?

Anthony Blatner [00:38:05]:
Yes, that is a great question.

Dave Gerhardt [00:38:07]:
Oh, thank you. I came up. Thank you. I'll be here all day.

Anthony Blatner [00:38:11]:
So the ways that we think about that is, number one, knowing what your average sales cycle time is and then planning out your content around that, that will guide how long your email sequence should be. That will guide how long your retargeting window should be. Most commonly for b two b, it is like six to twelve months. It is very long, which sometimes is longer than the possible retargeting windows on the platforms. So there's a couple things here. We do usually split campaigns into like direct offer campaigns and then like your long term nurture campaigns and like the long term nurture ones, you just max out those retargeting windows. You try to retarget people for as long as, as possible because it could take six months, twelve months for somebody to convert. The other thing here is that there's like a very common like step in the middle that we try to implement of like subscribable media.

Anthony Blatner [00:38:59]:
How can I get somebody that is interested in my brand or offer to either follow my LinkedIn page, follow some of my thought leaders on LinkedIn. Subscribe to YouTube. Subscribe to a podcast. We like to cross promote those because if you can get somebody to subscribe to your media, then, boom, they're on that list. They're going to be getting content for that long term. So a newsletter is a great thing. YouTube channels, podcasts are all great for that. But I really like that subscribable media step because, boom, then you can communicate with them for free for the long term.

Dave Gerhardt [00:39:29]:
Very good. All right, Anthony, thank you for hanging out with us for this LinkedIn ad session. I'm smarter about this topic. We're going to go spend all of our money on LinkedIn ads now, but you can go and check out your company, dot. You can also go and do, the best call to action is to find Anthony on LinkedIn, connect with him directly. Say you, you heard him on the exit five podcast. You thought he was interesting. He had some valuable stuff to say, taught you a little bit about LinkedIn, and I bet you he'd even answer a question or two if you have him in the DM.

Dave Gerhardt [00:40:00]:
So find him on LinkedIn. Anthony Blattner. Anthony, nice to meet you. Good to see you. Thanks for being an exit five member, and I will see you inside the community.

Anthony Blatner [00:40:09]:
Sounds great. Dave, thanks for having me.

Dave Gerhardt [00:40:10]:
All right, man.
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