AJ Wilcox is a LinkedIn Ads pro who founded B2Linked.com, a LinkedIn Ads-specific ad agency, in 2014. He’s an official LinkedIn partner, host of the LinkedIn Ads Show podcast, and has managed among the world’s largest LinkedIn Ads accounts worldwide.
He’s a ginger & triathlete. He & his wife live in Utah, USA with their 4 kids, and his company car is a wicked-fast gokart.
B2Linked.com is the top LinkedIn ad agency that specializes in high-performing LinkedIn Advertising campaigns. He was been heavily involved in B2B marketing since 2011, and has managed over $130M in advertising spend on LinkedIn across about every sector. Before that, he specialized in Search Engine Optimization, mostly for B2C companies.
AJ’s journey is a case study on the power of staying passionate and staying focused on the original problem you set out to solve because no one else is.
As an interview in Medium.com, we can learn from him:
AJ was a digital marketer looking for answers, was hooked from day 1 on LinkedIn Ads.
He had worked with Google Adwords but this was something different. LinkedIn Ads spoke to him in a different way. Excited, AJ began searching for information to learn more about the platform and take his strategy to the next level.
But there was a problem.
It was 2014.
No one was writing, speaking or publishing about advertising on LinkedIn. He came up empty almost every time he tried to find answers. Questions on forums and every Quora thread about LinkedIn Ads went unanswered.
Aj was confused. Why weren’t experts sharing their experiences and answering questions?
This went on for months until he start:
First Step: Change from Consumer to Creator
AJ made an important transformation. Deciding to passionately create value where none existed before. He wouldn’t search for answers anymore, he’d be the one providing the answers.
Starting with online forums, he began to develop a name for himself. He found questions related to LinkedIn Ads online and diligently got to work.
AJ started by digging in and providing answers to other peoples’ questions. He has spent days answering questions about LinkedIn advertising.
Since 2014, he has provided detailed answers to 98 LinkedIn related questions on Quora alone.
AJ spends time on Quora because that is where the action is.
It may not be Quora for your niche. Do you continually end up on the same websites where others are asking the same questions about a topic with no answers? There probably is one central hub with a concentration of chatter. Find that source and focus on becoming the expert there.
Don’t worry if it only seems like 20–30 people are involved in the conversations. That means probably hundreds more people are passively reading the threads on sites like Quora and StackOverflow.
Building an audience takes time. It could take months or years to see any traction but the important part is to get started and stay consistent.
AJ did the work and became the go-to expert on LinkedIn advertising. This turned into speaking and interview opportunities.
AJ started leveling up. He began giving talks at digital marketing conferences about LinkedIn Ads. He was the only one pitching to talk about LinkedIn.
AJ didn’t care.
He stayed focused on LinkedIn Ads because he believes deep down more people need to know about how awesome they are! You can’t be a great conference speaker without a true passion for what you are presenting. The audience can sense it.
3 years later and AJ is still focused on LinkedIn Ads.
Is there anyway you can be the first to speak about a topic at a conference? Being cutting edge is an element of a good pitch and gives you a little bit of an advantage.
Depending on your topic of interest, maybe there aren’t conferences that make sense. If that’s the case, record yourself answering questions or presenting about the topic and put it up on YouTube.
Starting endeavors is hard. Starting a company can be scary. But, if you do it right, starting a company gives you the ultimate freedom of how you spend your days.
To ensure that he could focus his days pursuing his passion of LinkedIn advertising, AJ started a company. Piggy backing on his newfound exposure he got his first clients. Starting a company is a lot less scary with clients. AJ’s knowledge lent itself perfectly to an agency business model. That allowed him to generate revenue from day 1.
He only needed three tools. Email, LinkedIn Ads editor and Excel. Most digital marketing companies are able to bootstrap because they are very practical companies to start.
But don’t underrate how hard it can be to get initial traction for any new business. The first 5 customers are hard. You have to earn it. An audience helps immensely whether you are offering a service or product.
After speaking at conferences or landing a few big clients it can be tempting to get distracted.
Many of AJ’s customers asked, ‘Can you run my Google advertising too, what about my Facebook campaigns?’
But AJ had a rule at his new company:
It was LinkedIn Ads work or nothing. He maniacally focused his company on providing clients LinkedIn marketing services. No other work allowed.
I am sure clients were willing to pay hefty prices for other services. It didn’t matter. Every time AJ stayed true to his focus on LinkedIn. He always said no.
Focus is so important. The biggest mistakes many entrepreneurs make are a result of lost focus.
It’s so easy to get distracted. But stick to what got you started in the first place. Stay focused on the original problem you set out to solve.
Enjoy the Ride
Be prepared to stay focused for years.
Even making a lot of great decisions and staying focused doesn’t mean it is going be easy. What sustains you is passion.
It hasn’t been easy, building a company rarely is, but AJ loves it.
If you find yourself looking for answers online about a topic and repeatedly coming up empty. Maybe you should ask yourself…
Is there a great idea for a company hidden there?
There might be. If you can generate Stay focused on what got you started and maybe you can replicate AJ’s success.