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What 17 Enterprise Executives and $276.96 Billion Can Teach You About Unlocking Growth

The question is: Can you growth hack the enterprise? To find out, Johannes Ceh and Aaron Orendorff asked executives from 17 of the largest organizations in the world – roughly $276.96 billion in market value. These are 100% original contributions (to the tune of nearly 4k words) direct from the brightest and biggest minds in business: 1. Start with Clarity: LinkedIn 2. Know Your Numbers: Slack 3. Provide Disproportionate Value: Gary Vaynerchuk 4. Unite Key Objectives: Shopify Plus 5. Expose Your “Must Have” Value: Dropbox 6. Add Growth to Your Product: Guy Kawasaki 7. Break the Rules: Tinder 8. Extend Your Channels: DCMN 9. Be Rigorous about Data: Duolingo 10. Challenge the Conventions: T-Mobile 11. Develop a Growth Skill Set: Mercedes-Benz 12. Focus on Customer Led Optimization: Western Union 13. Experiment for Disproportionate Growth: BuzzFeed 14. Organize Around an Operational Mindset: ClassPass 15. Allow, but Don’t Excuse, Failure: Adobe 16. Build for the Long Term: WeTransfer 17. Tell Authentic Stories: SAP

Why LinkedIn Groups Can Be Great for Businesses (and How to Create a Successful One)

LinkedIn Groups do not have a great reputation. Many of them are filled with self-promotion and spam rather than valuable discussions and meaningful interactions. Hence, it can be easy to turn down the idea of creating a one for your business. “It wouldn’t work.”

While it is true that there are few good LinkedIn Groups, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t useful for all businesses. With the shift in social media usage in the recent years, closed communities such as Facebook Groups and LinkedIn Groups might be the next best way to engage your audience.

In this post, we’ll explore why your business should have a LinkedIn Group and how to create and manage a successful group.

Read on to find out more.

Why LinkedIn Groups Are Great and How to Build a Successful One

Why LinkedIn Groups

If you’re still wondering if LinkedIn Groups are useful for your business, I hope the following reasons can convince you of its importance and power.

First, social media as we know it is changing. There’s a significant shift from simply broadcasting marketing messages to engaging fans. Instead of building huge public pages, more and more businesses are opting for niche closed communities. This shift is also encouraged by changes on major social media platforms such as Facebook, where meaningful content in groups is given priority over public content.

LinkedIn has also announced that they will be improving the LinkedIn Group experience, which is “at the heart of what makes LinkedIn a trusted place for professionals to help and support one another”1.

LinkedIn Groups changes

Second, LinkedIn usage is growing. While Facebook and Instagram had received the attention of most marketers (including ourselves) in 2017, LinkedIn has steadily grown its user base to more than 500 million members.

And unlike Facebook and Instagram, people on LinkedIn are there to further their professional network, build their personal brand, and increase their industry knowledge. This makes communities like LinkedIn Groups a great way for bringing your customers together, especially if you are a business-to-business (B2B) company.

LinkedIn Membership growth

Finally, LinkedIn Groups has powerful community management features that are not available on other social media platforms. For example, LinkedIn sends a daily or weekly digest of all activities in the group to your members to keep them updated and engaged. You can also send an admin announcement email to your members once a week – an email that’ll sit in their inbox, not a notification in the app.

LinkedIn Group announcement example

If these reasons are convincing enough for you, if you have the resources, and if you want to learn more about creating and managing a LinkedIn Group, let’s dive in further.

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How to create a successful LinkedIn Group

1. Pick a topic that your customers care about

A Group, however, should be focused around a topic that has a natural connection to your brand and less on directly promoting your brand or company. People should join the group because they are interested in the topic, not your company. Over time, the audience will create a natural connection with the topic and your brand, through an earned connection, which is much more valuable.

– Charlie Lowe at Social@Ogilvy

HubSpot’s LinkedIn Group is about inbound marketing; Content Marketing Institute’s LinkedIn Group is about content marketing. They focused not on their own brand but on topics that their customers care about.

Your customers might be interested in discussing your products with fellow customers. They are, however, likely to be more interested in the wider topic instead. For example, if we had a LinkedIn Group, members would likely be more keen to discuss how to improve their social media marketing than chat about how to use Buffer.

Having a topic that your customers care about will not only attract them to be part of your LinkedIn Group. It will also help keep the conversations in the group focused and make it easier for you and your team to manage the group.

Here are some questions to help you decide on your group topic:

  • What are your goals for the community?
  • What conversations would be useful to your customers?
  • What are some questions that your customers often ask you?
  • What are the common topics that your brand is related to?

2. Create your LinkedIn Group

Once you’ve decided on your topic, the next step is to create your group on LinkedIn.

Creating a LinkedIn group is as simple as filling out a form. Navigate to your LinkedIn Groups and click on “Create group”. Or you can use this direct link if you’re logged in:

Here are the fields to fill out:

  • Group title
  • Group logo
  • Description
  • Group rules (optional but highly recommended)
  • Group membership (standard or unlisted)

Create a LinkedIn Group

One aspect that I would recommend focusing on is the group rules. Your group rules will help your members understand what’s encouraged and what’s not. Having your groups rules stated explicitly will also make it easier for you to manage your group and moderate conversations.

Here’s an example by Content Marketing Institute LinkedIn Group:

Content Marketing Institute LinkedIn Group rules

It might sound harsh that they would “delete any discussion submission which includes a link to posts and articles or are a promotion of services” and “Members who repeatedly submit links will be removed from the group.” From my personal experience, having such rules and enforcing them seem to be the key difference between a LinkedIn Group with meaningful discussions and one that is filled with spam and links.


If you want to check out more group rules for reference, I thought Search Engine LandStep Into The Spotlight!, and Lean Startup Circle have pretty good group rules. (You’ll have to join the groups to see the rules.)

3. Set up message templates

One handy feature of LinkedIn Groups is its message templates. You can create custom messages that would be automatically sent to people interested in joining your LinkedIn Group. This is a great opportunity to let your brand tone shine. If you do not create a custom message, LinkedIn will send its default message accordingly.

Here are the various message templates:

  1. Request-to-join Message (to people who requested to join your group)
  2. Welcome Message (to people whom you have approved their membership in your group)
  3. Decline Message (to people whom you have declined their request to join your group)
  4. Decline and Block Message (to people whom you have declined their request and want to block any further requests)

To access this setting, click on “Manage” on your LinkedIn Group homepage and select “Templates” on the left. Then, click on “Create Template” for the ones you want to customize. Here’s how customizing the template looks like:

Customize message templates

Here’s an example of how a custom welcome message email looks like (the message is in the middle section while the other two sections are automatically generated, I believe):

LinkedIn Group custom welcome message

If you would like interested people to fill out an application form to join the group, you could include an application form in your request-to-join message, like HubSpot did:

LinkedIn Group application

This way, you can ensure that only people that fit your target persona or people who are really interested would join your LinkedIn Group.

4. Invite your connections and grow your group

To help ensure that your LinkedIn Group remains a trusted place for you and your members to gather, you can now invite only people whom you’re connected to on LinkedIn.

To invite your connections, click on “Manage” on your LinkedIn Group homepage and select “Invited Users” on the left.

Invite your connections

If you have other marketing channels, such as other social media profiles, email, or a blog, you could use them to promote your new LinkedIn Group. Alternatively, you could also share your LinkedIn Group on your personal LinkedIn profile and encourage your colleagues to do the same.

Here are a few more ideas from LinkedIn on promoting your group:

  1. Optimize and edit your group information to include keywords that prospective members are likely to search for.
  2. Encourage group members to invite people.
  3. Advertise your group with LinkedIn Ads by clicking the Advertising link at the bottom of any LinkedIn page.

It might be tempting to think that the bigger your group is, the better it would be. Before you go about growing your group, here’s a thought to consider: many of the largest LinkedIn Groups have over a million members and are often filled with just links. It’s often the smaller groups with proper moderation that have meaningful discussions. (LinkedIn has now limited the number of members in a group to 20,0002.)

5. Start discussions and be active

This step and the next are the most crucial ones, which will influence how well your LinkedIn Group becomes. You ready?

Once you’ve created your LinkedIn Group and invited your connections, your group would likely still feel very empty. Members might not post anything if there aren’t any posts in the group (or they might just start sharing links <img src="×72/1f648.png&quot; alt="

iOS 11.3: Beta 3 has been released to public testers, fixing several bugs but removing AirPlay 2

Updated 02/21/18: Apple has released Beta 3 to public beta testers. It primarily fixes a number of minor bugs, but also removes AirPlay 2 features.

Hot on the heels of iOS 11.2.5, which brought HomePod support, Siri news, and a fix for the Messages text bomb, Apple has started to release betas of iOS 11.3. And it’s going to have some pretty cool features on board, including the one we’ve all been waiting for: a toggle for CPU throttling on phones old batteries.

To read this article in full, please click here

Spotlight: Franchise Takes a Unique Approach to Dog Training

Spotlight: Dog Training Company Zoom Room Takes a Unique Approach to Dog Training

The pet industry is booming. But it’s not all about boutique grooming products or homemade treats. Service businesses like Zoom Room are also appealing to pet owners.

The company takes a unique approach to dog training, focusing on training with dog owners and also giving the animals a place to exercise and socialize. You can read more about the business in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Provides dog training services that focus on helping dog owners.

Mark Van Wye, CEO of Zoom Room told Small Business Trends, “Zoom Room is a national indoor dog gym and training facility with the moto, “We don’t train dogs, we train the people who love them.” Zoom Room focuses on providing curriculum that deepens the bond between dogs and their owners. This allows the owners to fully understand their dogs’ behaviors and creates a distinctly social atmosphere at Zoom Room. Zoom Room also has philosophy to train dogs using only positive reinforcement. This is not only the most effective and humane means of dog training, but it’s also something every dog owner can do.”

Business Niche

Involving the owner in every step of the process.

Van Wye says, “Unlike other dog training facilities, Zoom Room is climate controlled and owners are required to be with their dogs at all times, which plays into Zoom Room’s mission to deepen the bond between dog and owner. Zoom Room also features cutting-edge curriculum not seen anywhere else. In addition to being experts in dog agility – which can be taught to any dog, no matter its size, age, breed or experience – Zoom Room also offers specialty classes including Shy Dog, Calm Down!, Pup-lates®, Scent Tracking, Urban Herding, Flyball, Rally Obedience and more.”

How the Business Got Started

Because of a gap in the market.

Van Wye explains, “Zoom Room was created because there was no indoor space for owners to train with their dogs and there was a lack of quality dog training curriculum outside of the traditional obedience training. We wanted to create a unique place where dog owners could come and play, train and exercise with their dog, while socializing with other like-minded dog lovers.”

Spotlight: Dog Training Company Zoom Room Takes a Unique Approach to Dog Training

Biggest Win

Securing investments for franchise growth.

Van Wye says, “One of our biggest wins in Zoom Room’s history would have to be the recent investments we’ve secured with experienced franchise investors to spur the franchise growth of our brand around the country. We’re confident Zoom Room would become the epicenter of any dog-loving community and with the pet industry expected to top $96B in sales by 2020, we feel there’s no better time than now to expand the brand.”

Biggest Risk

Increasing retail offerings.

Van Wye explains, “When we began, our focus was almost 100% on the training and socialization services we offered, and the only retail products we carried were minimal and meant to enhance the training. Even though it seemed that consumers had countless options for purchasing pet retail at big box stores, boutiques, and online retailers, we took the risk of slightly increasing the footprint of our stores and dramatically increasing the amount of retail products we offered. It was a gamble because the investment was significant, and there was no guarantee that we could compete with all the other well-established options. But our conviction was that we could differentiate by carrying a curated line of solution-oriented products, almost all American-made, with all-natural treats, eco-friendly toys and puzzles, and truly the best in class across all product categories. We knew that clients whose dogs we had just trained would deeply trust our recommendations of the best stuff for their dogs. And the gamble paid off. Retail product sales now account for as much as 40% of gross revenue at our stores. We haven’t looked back.”

Lesson Learned

Find the right franchisees.

Van Wye says, “In our early days, we were so excited to get the Zoom Room concept launched across the U.S. that we didn’t do enough due diligence into the financial wherewithal of those applying to become franchisees. We didn’t verify their amount of available liquid capital to ensure that it was sufficient for launching and growing a business. As a result, we saw some stores close because the owners, from the outset, were unable to properly stock, staff or market their locations. If we could do it all over again, we would have asked the hard questions at the beginning, and worked with a great partner like Benetrends. These days, we partner with them – experts in the field – to diligently qualify our candidates as well as to assist them in securing all necessary funding to make their business a success.”

Spotlight: Dog Training Company Zoom Room Takes a Unique Approach to Dog Training

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Spreading the word to potential franchisees.

Van Wye says, “We would use 100% of it toward marketing, advertising and PR. After the investment we received in the late summer of 2017, and all of the profound improvements we’ve since made to our infrastructure, we now have the bandwidth for limitless growth, so we’d earmark those funds to help us get the word out about the Zoom Room opportunity to dog-loving entrepreneurs across the U.S.”

Company Mascot

A Komondor named Clyde.

Van Wye explains, “Our Mascot almost since our inception has been Clyde Orange, a hilarious and majestic Komondor. He’s appeared in movies and commercials, like Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 and Marmaduke, but it’s his Therapy Dog training that best defines him. He is eternally patient with the literally hundreds of people a day who stop and ask to take his picture, and with children who love to hang onto his cords. The Komondor has for centuries been a serious working dog, guarding livestock, but thanks to his training since puppyhood at the Zoom Room, Clyde can also ride a skateboard around his home in Venice, CA, or let his awesome dreadlocks fly as he runs the agility course. But most often he is just the perfectly mellow and loving family dog. Our CEO’s son learned to read by reclining against Clyde – more than twice his size – and uninhibitedly reading books like Dog Man aloud to him. (This mirrors a program we offer at the Zoom Room called Ruff Reading®, in which kids can leave fear aside by reading boldly aloud to trained therapy dogs.)”

Favorite Quote

“The time to make up your mind about people – is never.” Katharine Hepburn to Cary Grant in The Philadelphia Story

* * * * *

Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program

Image: …Zoom Room, Mark Van Wye

This article, “Spotlight: Franchise Takes a Unique Approach to Dog Training” was first published on Small Business Trends