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How LinkedIn can help

7 Ways LinkedIn can help you with your inflatable hire business.

LinkedIn is an extremely powerful social networking tool for small to mid range companies who want to network and reach their intended market.

The only problem you might be facing is, how do I use this tool-seemingly with unlimited possibilities-specifically to promote my inflatable hire business?

We're going to break down seven strategies that can be very effective.

1. Make Valuable Connections.

Like any social networking site, the ultimate goal of LinkedIn is to connect people and allow you to network your brand to new leads, or new business associates that can help you. While you may only find a few friends and associates based on email searching, you can take advantage of LinkedIn Groups, and connect to people in your niche industry or in local and regional locations. You can also used the Advanced Search option to target a specific market and find people, companies and industries of interest by keyword.

2. Build Your Authority by Showcasing Your Knowledge.

Publicizing your name under the guise of answering simple questions is a great way to generate brand awareness, and also to get a keen insight into the mind of your potential customers.

A few years ago, posting articles on online directories was a fairly good way to prove your authority. However, it wasn't long before people realized that the lack of interaction between writer and readers was less than impressive. The truth is, people are far less inclined to believe someone who gives a speech, than a person who takes unscripted questions and has the ability to reply. This shows your potential leads, customers and associates that you know your industry well enough to interact with the public in an objective and neutral way, and also gives you the opportunity to repeat your name and brand publicly without spamming them! In general practice, avoid just talking about your opinion and instead quote reputable sources and include your own expertise. Leave your answer open-ended so as to encourage more conversation and perhaps make more connections.

3. Get Endorsements on Linkedin.

A recent study from Dimen-sional Research shows that positive endorsements from sites like Yelp, LinkedIn, and Amazon etc. influence a decision almost 90% of the time.

Endorsements are easier for a connection on LinkedIn to put in a positive word in for you without going to the trouble of writing a recommendation.

These endorsements are like reviews for your hire business. You can use them to build up your business's reputation. Plus endorsements can lead to recommendations which we'll talk about below.

4. Get Recommended and Build Authority.

The age-old saying that you should "let someone else say it" rather than saying it yourself proves true in online marketing. It always has.

People are more persuaded by word of mouth, and by the seemingly objective endorsement of other people.

This shows your audience that your service or product is great enough to earn other people's recommendations. Recommendations are like referrals, and referrals are gold! Best of all, LinkedIn's recommendations appear on your page, and even better, they cannot be faked! 5. Host an Event and Keep People Up to Date.

Hosting an event via LinkedIn lets you build awareness for your brand and also generates additional leads, since the event is advertised to your network. The Event Platform is easy to work with and helps you "promote the event" by asking questions about your purposes and subject. Online RSVP will help you keep in touch with your most important targets, and the announcement also shows up on their page.

LinkedIn has an Events Tool search that lets people find your event based on mutual interest, as well as geographic location and industry. The flexibility of this online tool has resulted in many more links and connections being made, since you are no longer limited to traditional in-person events but can actually organize workshops, virtual webinars, phone conferences, round table discussions and more. One of the hottest strategies right now is to organize a regular monthly event, online or otherwise, and build visibility with your regular audience and with new members that hear about the meeting from LinkedIn announcements from friends of friends. Other tips you can try incorporating include:

Creating a logo, using simple and probably free software, that will make it stand out. Come up with a creative title so that it will capture attention and hopefully be shared on more social media sites than just LinkedIn)

Always finish with a call to action. We seem to forget this golden rule in social media. If you don't tell your audience what to do at the end, they may not do anything. Always include a strong call to action after advertising a meeting.

Include keywords that describe your industry and reason for the event.

Promote your event in groups, preferably the most relevant groups to the theme of the event.

It's not blatant advertising if you're providing value.

Post about the meeting on your status messages. Remember an active page represents a busy company. Ideally, you tie in the latest company event with your status messages, generating excitement for the event. Much like other social networking sites, the ability to speak openly and candidly is another way you address any issues and provide amazing support to potential customers, so use it wisely.

6. Use Sponsored Updates.

If you are afraid of coming across as an aggressive or too spammy, then using LinkedIn's Sponsored Updates to reach targeted users can help, and generate greater paid lead generation than many other social media strategies. Recently, HubSpot worked with LinkedIn and reported a 400% lead increase with their targeted audience.

7. Reach Out and Make the Personal Connection.

The biggest mistake people make using LinkedIn and other social networking sites is to lie back and wait for the traffic to generate.

Particularly because LinkedIn is professional and the opposite of the informal Facebook atmosphere, people tend to be suspicious when you add them without explanation. It is better to be proactive and to send personal messages to people before or as you add them. This way you can create the emotional connection that so many companies are missing in an overly optimized and online market.

The best approach to these messages is to look for areas of interest that you might have in common and then write to them personally, not as a form letter.

Mention why you are reaching out and create a message introducing yourself. Hewlett Packard recently used LinkedIn for greater emotional engagement with its social media audience and reported 300,000 new followers in two months, along with an increased attrition and engagement rate, and even a 250% increase in customers who refer the company's products to friends, family and acquaintances.

The biggest mistake people make using LinkedIn and other social pages is to lie back and wait for the traffic to generate.

Chances are, if someone was searching for you, you have a targeted lead that would not so easily dismiss a personal message. The Who's Viewed Your Profile option received 76% of respondents' votes for the best feature of LinkedIn. As you can see, using LinkedIn has a number of benefits but only if you are willing to use its variety of tools and features consistently… As opposed to blindly posting and visiting once every month.

This doesn't mean that you have to spend hours at a time that take up your entire day. Most people couldn't bear to spend literally hours a day on a social networking site, right? Err… Sorry Facebook devotees. Make the most of your efforts by spreading out the time you spend on LinkedIn, try to check in daily, or at least once a week. This way you can keep your presence consistent, your name ubiquitous and your brand promoted.

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      1 - 4 seconds
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      More than 1 minute

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      No
      Thinking about it now after the wet 2012 summer
      Yes - but mini-marquees and gazebos only
      Yes - we hire out full size marquees only
      Yes - we hire out all sizes of marquees

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      Call Trading Standards but warning them first
      Call Trading Standards without warning them first.
      Do nothing, but wait for others to report them.

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    • Do you charge your customers a "booking deposit" when they book an inflatable with you either through the phone or online? (E.g charge their credit card or ask them to send in a cheque, bank transfer or PayPal payment)
      Never - we're happy for full payment on delivery
      Sometimes - depends on the booking
      Yes - but only if they are a new customer
      Yes - for every booking, unless very short notice
      Yes - we won't deliver without a deposit up-front

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      1
      2
      3 - 5
      6 - 8
      9 - 10
      11 - 13
      14 - 16
      17 - 19
      20 - 29
      30 or more

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    • Which is your most popular add-on hire product?
      Jenga (all 3 sizes)
      Connect-4
      Croquet
      Giant Chess
      Giant Drafts
      Didi Cars
      Pitchburst
      Boom Blasters
      Giant dartboard
      Basketball Shooters

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    • Do you charge a little extra for hiring bouncy castles to weddings? (and other very special events?)
      No, we keep the same hire price
      We charge an extra £10
      We charge an extra £20
      We charge an extra £30
      We charge an extra £40
      We charge an extra £50
      We charge an extra £60
      We charge an extra £70
      We charge an extra £80
      We increase price in accordance with their budget

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      Yes
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      Learning about Health & Safety / Legislation etc.
      Getting help & advice from the Discussion Forum
      Displaying the BIHA logo to increase your prestige
      Learning from the mistakes (& successes) of others
      Directory listing of your business on BIHA website
      Receiving ideas to help increase your hire profits
      Saving money on PL insurance and other services
      Getting the FREE Tip of the Week from this site.
      General sense of belonging / Less loneliness!
      Hearing about special deals etc.from manufacturers

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    • Which payment methods do you accept from your customers who hire inflatables?
      Cash and Cheque only
      Cash, Cheque and PayPal only
      Cash, Cheque, PayPal and Credit/Debit cards

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    • Do you ask your customers for referrals when they are happy with your inflatable hire service?
      No, never.
      No, unless the customer recommends me to a friend
      I sometimes ask for referrals
      I always ask for referrals at every hire
      I have a system to collect referrals at every hire
      I have a system & they get rewarded for referrals

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    • Should hire prices of your inflatables be included on your website?
      No, I prefer people to call me to discuss prices
      Yes, but only one price e.g. From £50 per day
      Yes, all my prices are displayed on my website
      Cannot answer as I don't yet have a website

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    • How much do you charge for a standard 12ft x 12ft bouncy castle (including 12 x 12's with a 4ft+ safety step) delivered LOCALLY in your town.
      £35 per day
      £40 per day
      £45 per day
      £50 per day
      £55 per day
      £60 per day
      £65 per day
      £70 per day
      £75 per day
      £80+ per day

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    • What is your most profitable type of inflatable which you hire out?
      Childrens bouncy castles
      Adult bouncy castles
      Small inflatable slides (Max 6ft to platform)
      Large inflatable slides (incl. mega slides)
      Castle/slide combis
      Sumo/super hero suits
      Bungee runs
      Rodeo bulls / surf simulators / multi-rides
      Bouncy boxing / Gladiator duel
      Activity centres / Obstacle courses

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    • Do you reduce hire prices in the winter?
      Yes
      No
      Only if the customer wants additional hire items
      Sometimes

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    • Do you own an Apple iPhone (e.g. 3G, 3GS or 4)
      No
      Yes

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    • Has The Soaring Price Of Fuel Made You Stop Taking Bookings Further Afield?
      Yes
      No

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