Plbsearch: Growing with Linkedin

10 Pages Posted: 30 May 2017

See all articles by Marian Chapman Moore

Marian Chapman Moore

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business


This case is used in Darden's "Digital Marketing" course elective. It explores the experience of a niche search firm whose founder attributed her ability to open her recruiting firm to LinkedIn and the new model of recruiting it created. LinkedIn Corporation had been one of the most successful companies in the digital media space, with more than 4,000 employees and a market capitalization of over $25.5 billion in August 2013. But few people knew how LinkedIn had grown and how it had become profitable. LinkedIn had multiple unique aspects to explore: its focus on professional--not simply personal--social interaction, the company's B2B components, and also its marketing positioning from user experience to targeting and growth strategy.



Rev. Feb. 18, 2015

PLBsearch: Growing with LinkedIn

Friday, August 2, 2012, was a hot summer afternoon in Washington, DC. Pepper Lunsford Binner updated her LinkedIn profile before clearing out the office for a beach vacation. She indicated that her employment as a recruiter at Korn/Ferry International had ended. She entered the name of her new firm: PLBsearch. By Saturday morning, she had four clients. She hadn't even bought her own laptop yet. (See Exhibit 1 for sample messages.)

Before leaving her previous employer to open her own shop, Binner had prepared several things. She had budgeted for a drop in household income; she had planned for office space and the administrative needs of her own firm; she had also established a corporate identity and paid a marketing company $ 900 to prepare an announcement e-mail that she would send to her contacts when she and her family returned from vacation. She never sent the announcement e-mail. By simply updating her own employment status on LinkedIn, Binner had more clients than she was ready to take on. She remembered, “I was building this ship and flying it at the same time.” And Binner attributed her ability to open her own boutique recruiting firm to the very tool she used to announce her firm's founding. LinkedIn had transformed the recruiting process for everyone in the industry.

Although Binner was a recruiter, she didn't take advantage of all of the features LinkedIn had designed for search firms. Even after operating her business for a full year, she still hadn't purchased LinkedIn's premium online tools. She had started a niche firm—and, at least so far, LinkedIn was serving her niche very affordably. The sales team contacted Binner at least once every quarter to upsell her, but wasn't having success.

. . .

Keywords: digital marketing, B2B marketing, social networking, Internet, strategy, business-to-business marketing, recruit, interview, staffing, professional staffing, HR, human resources, headhunter, head hunter, LinkedIn, Linked In

Suggested Citation

Moore, Marian Chapman, Plbsearch: Growing with Linkedin. Darden Case No. UVA-M-0858. Available at SSRN:

Marian Chapman Moore

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

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