Contractors’ Questions: How maverick should my contractor marketing be?
Contractor’s Question: How ‘out there’ should my contractor marketing be? Or, how maverick should my marketing be, or is it best to toe a conservative line, on platforms like LinkedIn?
Expert’s Answer: The best way to answer this is to share with you the gist of a LinkedIn post by the once-proudly outspoken owner of a small accountancy firm. Let’s call her Meg.
Meg had built a reputation for not having a filter! She was reliable for disseminating some thought-provoking, if not controversial posts on LinkedIn. The posts stirred up both positive and negative comments, but always (always!) triggered the LinkedIn algorithm to reach more people.
LinkedIn prioritises content that reaches an interest threshold, and Meg’s posts were seen far and wide. This strategy had resulted in lots of exposure for her and her firm, and as a result, a healthy stream of business.
Doubt, Honesty and the Unknown
But the negative comments and her company’s growth created doubts in Meg’s mind and so she made a conscious decision to dial it back, and ease off on the ‘say what I think and be 100% honest all the time’ approach. Instead, she adopted a more conservative and corporate tone. Unfortunately, Meg’s business subsequently experienced a downturn in business. And in her latest post, she attributed the downturn to her change in her LinkedIn marketing strategy.
It’s hard to tell if her 2020 “being honest and controversial” strategy opposed to her more filtered 2021 strategy is the true cause of her business declining. It could, of course be a result of the strange post-pandemic market, which is still ongoing. The cause is unknown. Nonetheless, her experience raises the same question which you raise – how ‘out there’ should a business be when creating marketing collateral? For clarity, ‘marketing collateral’ includes your CV, LinkedIn profile, website, and any subsequent marketing activity such as social media posts and other forms of thought leadership -- a podcast for example.
What contractors shouldn’t wade into when marketing
Whether it’s a social media, business network or other online platform, I personally recommend steering clear of genuinely contentious subjects. So I’d avoid Brexit and Vaccines, among other divisive topics. But everything else is on the table -- with the caveat that you remember that marketing is all about your TARGET AUDIENCE. Also remember, it’s one thing being authentic, but alienating your target audience with a message that they won’t appreciate is another. In a perfect world, your thoughts and ideas would mirror those of your potential clients. To that end, good businesses manage their PR, rather than employ guesswork, and ensure their marketing communications are aligned with the psychology of their buyers.
Compared to your CV, LinkedIn is a more informal channel where you can let your personality shine through. But your CV does need to be more conservative, and focus on your professional capabilities more than your personal qualities.
I mentioned earlier that Meg’s more controversial posts were triggering the LinkedIn algorithm and subsequently getting more air-time across the LinkedIn network. In the same way, your CV needs to pander to the algorithms within the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that are omnipresent in the recruitment ecosystem. Remember, a startling 70% of CVs get REJECTED before they are read by a human , and that’s because they are not optimised for ATS.
To learn how to optimise your CV for ATS, and strike the tone of voice that will win you the most contract work, join our upcoming Contractor UK webinar on Dec 1st at 6pm here.
The expert was work-winning expert Matt Craven, founder of the CV & Interview Advisors.