Lucy Bingle has 20 years marketing and experience and is a LinkedIn Marketing Expert.
Lucy is passionate about helping individuals and companies succeed in amplifying their brand, reaching their target audience and growing their business.
Lucy Bingle is all about all about enabling professionals and companies be the best brands that they can be. She helps them achieve business success through the usage of LinkedIn. She works with her clients 1:1 to achieve their LinkedIn Marketing goals.
Visit Lucy’s site at www.lucybingle.com and check out Lucy’s LinkedIn Profile
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Happy reading! Now here is the full transcript of the podcast.
Ingrid: Hello Lucy, thanks so much for joining us. Lucy has a very interesting niche business. Lucy how do you describe your business?
Lucy Bingle: Hi Ingrid. Yes my business is a LinkedIn marketing business, and I focus solely on helping companies and individuals build their brand awareness on LinkedIn and from that teaching them strategies around LinkedIn marketing so that they can create opportunities through LinkedIn.
Ingrid: Wow, that’s great. So it’s only LinkedIn and it’s focusing on the business profile on LinkedIn and the individual profile on LinkedIn.
Lucy Bingle: That’s right and I’ve done that quite strategically because there’s nobody in the market that deep dives into LinkedIn marketing. I think if I was to become a digital agency which can do lots of different digital marketing channels I can’t deep dive, and LinkedIn for me is the quickest and most efficient way to cut through, especially for B to B marketing and some B to C options as opposed to Facebook for business or Twitter or other channels which are effective but I believe that LinkedIn is actually the way of the future for marketing for business
Ingrid: For marketing for businesses. And can you just, because there might be some people listening who are new to business, when you say ‘B to B’, you mean?
Lucy: Business to Business, so that would mean businesses that are providing services or products to other businesses, and when I say B to C I’m talking about Business to Consumers, so that’s normally things like retail or fashion, luxury, retails outlets, I mean that’s generally it, so if you were to buy a pair of jeans that is a b to c or a business to consumer relationship, where a business to business, or a b to b marketing is when you are providing a service or a product from a business to another business.
Ingrid: To another business. Thanks Lucy, that’s a great definition, thank you. OK so when did you start your business?
Lucy: Well I’m actually quite new, I started five to six months ago, and I came out of doing a marketing directoral for a executive search firm, and I’ve been in marketing for twenty years and I have done marketing in multi-nationals to small and medium size enterprises. I’ve worked from investment banking to running marketing for a graphic design studio, to having my own business, and most recently being the marketing director for original executive search firm and one of the key components of my role was to train sixty consultants on how to use LinkedIn for business in the executive search world, and as a result of that by default I sort of became a bit of an expert on the LinkedIn platform and as well as that component of the business I also then started to think to myself as part of the marketing strategy which I was l rolling out across seven locations globally, why would we just use LinkedIn for sourcing talent, why wouldn’t we turn it on its head and actually market to these people that are on LinkedIn because you know, three out of four users on LinkedIn are key decision makers. So often those people that would have, historically just been candidates, they actually turn into clients in that executive search world, so I then looked at the marketing strategy across the business and I started to market on LinkedIn for that executive search firm. And we got a lot of traction quite quickly, people started to notice us, they started to realize that we were sharing interesting knowledge and insights, we were promoting and highlighting events that we had, we were showcasing trophy appointments and things like that, and so because it worked I then started thinking to myself, well if this works in this business, why would it not work for all the other businesses who are trying to do business to business marketing or b to b marketing, so then I started of thinking of my own exit strategy out of that business to set out on my own company which would specialize in teaching companies and individuals how to market on LinkedIn, having done that. And fortunately for me on the day of resignation to my boss who I’d been there for six years and had developed this great strategy, he actually asked him to pitch him my resignation meeting, so I was able to pitch back to him and I’ve still actually got them as one of my clients and I still do all their LinkedIn marketing for them and other digital marketing stuff.
Ingrid: See that’s a lovely story in terms of the exit strategy and the relationship that you had with your business. So you’ve talked about sort of the timeline, well not really the timeline but how it happened, but what, why did you start the business, what was it that made you, I know you said you thought, oh if I’m doing this I could do this, but what was it that made you think that, that having your own business would be a good idea? Because lots of people might think that but they never actually do anything about it. So why?
Lucy: Well it was a combination of a couple of things, I think it was I was looking for a lifestyle as well, I’ve got two little girls and I was working extraordinarily hard in somebody else’s business and shlepping into the city every day, and getting home very late and facing the challenges that many many people face which was this sort of quandary between being able to balance my work with my life and I felt that I wasn’t across a lot of stuff at home, especially with regards to my daughters and so, it was a combination of trying to figure out a way to make that work better for me, because I just felt that I wasn’t performing in that part of my life, and then I also, I had aspirations to have my own upkeep and to have my own business and to really help other companies and individuals put their best brand forward, because that’s what I’m really passionate about. I’m passionate about businesses promoting themselves in the absolute best possible way and I think, you know, twenty years of marketing in other corporates and other businesses was a long enough time for me to really turn around and back myself and think, you know what I could probably do this on my own, and do it without other people.
Ingrid: That’s great. And I just have to comment that you and I both work from home and we can hear the sounds of the suburbs in the background, I think I just heard some dogs barking and there was an airplane going over, so for those listening, we are in our home offices with all the sounds of the suburbs. So when you started your business, so you wanted this idea of helping businesses market themselves better and you for yourself, you wanted this idea of having a better engagement with your family and having the time that you needed to be there. Was there anything else that you wanted from your business or were those the two main factors?
Lucy: I think they were my main drivers, and also the notion of I wanted to, you know, basically make money and basic success-
Ingrid: Yay! And Lucy the reason I say yay is because so many people are so busy being helpful to everyone, and work life balance, and really we’re in business to make money, aren’t we.
Lucy: Absolutely. And I mean, I’m always a bit shy, I’m a bit hopeless in that regard, I always feel like you’re never allowed to admit to that, but the bottom line is of course I want to figure out the best way that I can make money for myself and the most money that I possibly can for the amount of work that I do. You know? And that’s fundamentally it
Ingrid: Great. And my next question is when did you realize you were in business because for different people that is a different thing. Now you’ve already said that right from the moment you had your resignation conversation, your previous employer asked you to pitch for that business, but was that the moment that you felt that the business was real, or was there another moment that you actually felt your business was real?
Lucy: That was definitely a really defining moment that this could work, you know. The moment you have validation from a company that you’ve worked with, who actually then says OK, that’s great that you’re going to do this but we’re going to, we still need you and we still want you and we know what you do works, that was probably, it probably was the defining moment that I came, if they believe in me, and they’re going to pay me to do this, and they’re going to keep me on, then I know I’ve got actually a business happening here. But also you know Ingrid, I’ve been really fortunate, every time I merely go and meet people or meet companies, the response I get is this resounding nodding of heads, and when I first go in there they’re sometimes a bit skeptical because LinkedIn marketing is a very new way to market and it is not common practice, so they’re always a bit dubious, oh here’s another social media sort of thing going on. But once I then have the conversation with them, there’s this real aha moment where they turn around, nod their heads and say, wow that’s really clever, it’s really easy, and it’s efficient, and OK what are our next steps?
Ingrid: Fabulous. So you’ve talked about your twenty year marketing background and the fact that this was working exceptionally well for this international recruitment company. How did you know that it was going to work for other businesses as well? What is it that you can base this on? How do you know what customers want?
Lucy: Well I know there’s a few factors. There’s four hundred million users on LinkedIn. There are seven million users in Australia, three out of four of them are key decision makers, so they’re all like senior executives, the usage time of people on LinkedIn has gone in the last year from about twenty minutes a day, to around forty five minutes, and it’s only increasing. People are actually, the moment you meet anyone, or anybody meets anybody, the first thing that person does is go back to their desk and Google that person or that company. The first thing that appears on your Google list is your LinkedIn profile. So if you have a dynamic, vibrant and engaging LinkedIn profile page or company page, you’re immediately a step ahead of your competition. So it’s, I don’t know if I’m answering the question correctly, but I know that it works because now LinkedIn is such an ingrained process in people’s everyday research process for making business decisions.
Ingrid: Yeah. Because it really builds the ability of the person, like you said if the people are spending forty five minutes instead of twenty minutes and the first thing they do is looking for people and if the LinkedIn profile is something that comes up first then people need to know how to use LinkedIn properly don’t they.
Lucy: Yay and how to put their best brand, corporate brand and personal brand forward. And the beautiful thing about LinkedIn, and look I’m not affiliated in any way to LinkedIn and I’m not, I mean I’m an advocate of LinkedIn but what I’m an advocate really of is your brands, and the beauty of LinkedIn is it’s a level playing field. So Coca-Cola has exactly the same platform to use as you do with your business at home. So if you know how to use the tool well and in a clever and smart way, you can make yourself look as good as any multi-national sitting up there, if that’s what you want to be.
Ingrid: If that’s what you want to be. So to take a slightly different tact, how did you fund your business in the early days. So you went from working to not working, and of course you had to get clients, so where does the money come from in those early days Lucy?
Lucy: Well it was a combination of, well fortunately because I had this seamless transition with that first client, I could, I knew that I had some money coming in on a monthly basis from those guys, so that was great, and then I did top up with savings, and that first three months, I just hit the pavements hard.
Ingrid: So that’s my next question. How do you find new customers. When you say you hit the pavement hard, clearly, did you actually hit the pavement or is there a LinkedIn pavement that you could hit?
Lucy: Well of course I sort of practice what I preach. So I used my own LinkedIn marketing techniques to build my brand. So I’ve immediately been strategically connected with people that are the right people and key decision makers and I made sure that when I connected with them I was personalizing it and adding value to why they would want to meet with me. I would then, you know, on the side of that actually market my own services. So I then ran a few workshops, which I still do every month, but I ran a few quick workshops to demonstrate my expertise and to get business owners along to get a look at what I do. But I also did have to literally hit the pavement, so go out, reach out to connections that I’ve made and then go and see corporates, and see companies, especially that mid-sized company is a very good sweet spot for me because often they don’t have a marketing function, so if I can get in there and demonstrate what I do and show them the service that I can provide often I’ll get good traction.
Ingrid: That’s great. And so do you have, because we’ve talked about avatars and profiles, what word do you use for that, for your ideal client?
Lucy: Yeah so my avatar, I kind of have two, I have, because I have a few services, so I have three services basically. So my workshops are great for small business owners, because they can learn quickly and within three hours strategies that they can implement immediately from that workshop. I then also do in house corporate training sessions, which is more for medium sized businesses who have maybe sales teams, even just for their employees about how to position their profiles, position their business and how to market online, through LinkedIn, and then I have a retained monthly service where I actually do the heavy lifting on the part of a company and I will do all their LinkedIn marketing for them on a monthly basis.
Ingrid: Great. So you’ve got those clear distinctions about those parts of your market. So you know, you don’t have to tell us the actual dollars, but how did you decide a pricing strategy, because that’s often where businesses, when they get started, how much do they charge, if they charge this is it too much, if they charge that is it not enough, how did you decide your pricing strategy?
Lucy: I did a combination of, for the workshops I did a bit of a competitor analysis, and just sort of where I wanted to position myself and also make sure that the value of what I was including in my workshop was appropriate for the investment, and for the retained model it took a little bit more work. I sort of based it generally on the hours, but not really because the value is so much higher than sort of the hours, you know what I mean? So it was a mixture of both, to be honest, in gridlocking it hours as well as value and then coming up with a figure that I knew wouldn’t terrify them but was reasonable and also added enormous value to the business.
Ingrid: And that’s one of the keys, isn’t it, to always be adding enormous value to anybody that you work with.
Lucy: Yup. That’s right.
Ingrid: Now, just in terms of an exit strategy, I always ask this question, because when people are starting a business they often don’t think about where it’s going to go. But you’ve been in and around business for a long time, so you know people buy and sell businesses and I know you’re looking for something that is creating a lifestyle for you, but do you have an exit strategy or have you thought about, you don’t have to tell us exactly what it is, but is that actually something that you’ve thought about?
Lucy: Yeah, no I do think about that. As much as I like working I don’t want to work forever. I would ideally either like to be bought by either a, I mean this is a really big dream, the big dream, and I can’t even believe I’m actually putting this in the public domain, would be to have LinkedIn actually buy my business. But another dream would be to maybe have a digital agency or somebody that would buy the business, because it is so niche and it’s so deep dived into LinkedIn marketing, that I could see how it would sit quite well within a digital agency or something like that.
Ingrid: And are you starting to employ other people so that other people can do what you do or?
Lucy: Not yet but I definitely outsource and employ people to do the bits of my business that A) I’m no good and that I’m time-poor at committing to, so for instance, finance, as you know, is not my strength and I don’t want to be worrying about that. I would rather outsource and pay somebody else to manage my finances for me, and do it brilliantly, than me, I’m better at spending time on what I’m good at and my core strengths.
Ingrid: Smart, very smart. So if you look back, and you know, you said this year was when you got started, is there anything you wish you’d done differently? Can you already look back and say, gosh if I’d done that then, things would be different?
Lucy: Not at this stage Ingrid. I think I’m tracking very well at the moment.
Ingrid: You are actually, yeah. It’s been, it’s gone off to a good start, but do you think you put that down to having thought it through, to a large degree before you actually made the decision?
Lucy: I think yes, I think that I thought it through very clearly, I was very clear when I went out on my own, and it was through being able to use my past employer as a dummy example for a few years, so I was very clear that I knew that it worked, and I also think that staying niche has been a massive advantage. Because there have been times over even just the last five months where I’ve been hoodwinked by the idea of actually, maybe I should become a Facebook expert, or maybe I should start looking at Twitter as well. Because I do know those digital channels, but I think that I’m right and true in staying niche and just being really clear about what the services that I provide and who I’m providing it to.
Ingrid: And Lucy with your marketing expertise you know the importance of that. It’s interesting when I talk to people thinking about starting a business and when we say who is their customer, oh everyone, and that’s, I think your example is such a good one, of really staying niche, because you know the power of that, don’t you?
Lucy: Yes, that’s right. And I just, it just gets better and better, you know because if you stay niche you become so expert in what you do, and so often when I visit clients and even prospective clients you know, I’ll say, so what is your digital strategy, and they’ll say, oh well we’re doing this this and this, but you know what, we’re not really, we’re not getting much return on that. And I’ll go you know what, let’s start again. We take it right back to the beginning and look at some really core strategies. So why don’t you just do your website, why don’t you just do LinkedIn marketing, why don’t you just leverage the database that you’ve got with a new newsletter, and it’s amazing the response you’ll get, even though you’re taking stuff away, the response is so good because they all of a sudden see, immediately that A) you’re an expert, you know what you’re talking about, but also, it’s manageable, and the moment businesses have a manageable situation they feel more in control, they can actually really see the return on their investment, because they even have the time to keep their eye on it. And I think again, it’s just kind of really, it’s a relief to everyone to think, OK why don’t we focus on three strategies and let’s do those three really really well.
Ingrid: Yup, rather than, it’s that whole scatter gun approach and not doing anything particularly well.
Lucy: That’s exactly right.
Ingrid: OK, so just a couple more questions Lucy, thank you for your time, so and again, it doesn’t matter whether you tell us the actual person, but who apart from you has been of greatest assistance to you? You’ve referred to your bookkeeper, so I presume that’s a very important person in your business, but who else is important over the last couple of years?
Lucy: I think my old boss was a fantastic boss but he was a brilliant mentor too, in that he was very entrepreneurial, and he really demonstrated to me that again if you show your clients true value, and if you listen, if you listen to what the challenges are and their problems are and show them that you can take them away and resolve them for them, rather than talk talk talk, if you know what I mean? It’s easy for you to sell constantly, rather than listen. And I think he was really great at teaching me those sort of strategies. And it wasn’t that he was teaching me, it’s that I sat in on many meetings with him, and I realized that he had this uncanny knack of getting clients on board, and it was around listening to the challenges, telling the challenges back to the clients so that they actually felt heard, and they knew that you were actually going to resolve them, and then having really clear terms and conditions around your business proposition.
Ingrid: So that you’re clear about what’s expected and the client’s clear
Lucy: Yup, that’s exactly right. And I mean I know that that mightn’t have actually answered your question, but he was a good mentor. And my bookkeeper, who is fantastic because she’s more than that, she’s brilliant at strategy and she’s able to say to me very clearly what I need to achieve in six months, in twelve months, and what that means in terms of how many retainers I need, how many workshops I need to run, and the moment somebody tells me what I need to do, I’m much better at executing it.
Ingrid: Well it’s about goal setting isn’t it? If you don’t know what you’re going towards, you don’t know if you need three workshops or one workshop, you’re very lucky to have that sort of bookkeeper. So Lucy, characteristics to be successful, what do you think your characteristics are that have made you successful?
Lucy: I think you have to be pretty tenacious, and personable. I think people like dealing with nice people. That’s fundamentally what I think this is all about over twenty years. The people I’ve enjoyed working with and the services I’ve engaged over the years, it’s not necessarily because they have, I don’t know, they’ve had the most sophisticated product or service, it’s actually that they’re super nice people, they deliver what they say they’re going to, and they have quality service. And I do believe that they’re sort of the things that I bring to the table. I’m very personable, I have a high attention to detail, and I really, I believe in what I’m doing. And I think that’s the other thing, because you know don’t get me wrong, there are times that I’ve worked really hard in a week, as everybody does and I haven’t converted something that I thought that I would. So I thought, wow, you know what, it’d be a lot easier to be working for a corporate where I’m getting a fixed salary that I know, but at the end of the day, I think you’ve really just got to believe in what you’re doing.
Ingrid: And as you say, tenacity is so critical isn’t it.
Ingrid: Yup. So if someone came to you, this is the last question, if someone came to you and said ‘I’m thinking about starting a business,’ I know you’ve talked about your characteristics but what would you say to somebody who was thinking about starting their own business?
Lucy: Do a business plan.
Ingrid: Do a business plan.
Lucy: That’d be my first thing, because I think it’s very easy also to believe in your own business and to think that it’s completely unique and different and that there’s nothing else out there in the world. And until you’ve done a proper business plan and a competitor analysis, that just may not be the case.
Ingrid: Because, you know it’s interesting when you say right back at the beginning about you knew that somebody actually wanted what you were offering. And until someone actually pays, for what you’re offering, there is no business. And so as you say the competitor analysis, the business plan helps to show if there actually is something viable.
Lucy: I was just going to end on I think there’s a really good saying too about identifying quickly what is and what isn’t working, and if you’re going to fail, fail fast so if a product or a service isn’t working, don’t spend too much time trying to make it work. Because if it’s not working it’s not working. So you just move on to your next thing.
Ingrid: That’s such a good piece of advice. And to just cut your losses and move on. Lucy thank you so much for your time today, that was great, and I’m sure everybody listening will have a great listening to what you’ve said. I’ll put contact details in the show notes, and there’ll be links through to your business page, as part of that. So, again thanks for your time Lucy.
Lucy: Thank you Ingrid, thanks for having me.
Ingrid: Thank you, bye bye.