By digital presence, I am referring to everything a prospect, customer, partner or any interested party can find out about you and your company online. This includes your website, social media postings, press releases, articles, etc. It also includes whatever anyone else says about you in an online forum or review website. Your digital presence does not necessarily define you any more than the clothing you are wearing on a particular day, but as they say, perception is reality and prospects act based on their perception.
There have been countless examples of people and companies praised publicly for their virtue while the reality behind the scenes has been quite different. For that matter, there are some terrific people and companies that get little marketplace traction because they lack a large promotional budget and few prospects ever hear about them.
Not everyone is a proponent of spending effort and dollars on beefing up their online visibility and reputation. I actually had a B2B technology CEO question me when I suggested his website was badly in need of optimization, especially from a content/education standpoint. His reply: Why do I even need a website to educate prospects…Isn’t that what I pay my sales reps for? Interesting perspective, right? And this gentleman isn’t the only C-level executive that doesn’t understand the value of a compelling and professional digital presence.
Each company or individual may get a unique set of benefits from improving its digital presence but there are four major categories.
Know where you are starting from. Years ago, we had a client who had been part of an organization that was acceptable at the time she started her affiliation, but that came to be very unpopular. And although she was no longer associated with the organization, when you searched for her online, the first three results were somewhat embarrassing. She’s not the first or last person to face this challenge. We implemented a reputation management strategy to subsume the negative content with lots of positive messaging – moving the unwanted search results to page two. When faced with such a challenge, your strategy will be different from companies who are starting with a blank slate.
One other important consideration: decide whether you are going to be the tortoise or the hare. To implement the tortoise strategy, you take a consistent phased approach to building your online persona. You post on a regular basis and concentrate on solid and non-controversial information. Your mantra is “steady and reliable”. By contrast, with the hare approach, you come out of the gate fast with a brand-new approach, a breakthrough product or service, or a controversial perspective on a timely topic. This strategy really can get you a lot of attention quickly, but you had best think about what your next several steps will be since the hare approach can see you fall as quickly as you rise.
The Role of Digital Presence in Lead Generation
One question I get asked is whether social media can be used to generate leads and revenue. While some say social media works well as a lead generation tool, others are not so sure. Based on my experience, and that of my clients, it can work but only if you make a commitment and pursue it consistently. I’ve acquired several great clients who discovered my company or me through social platforms such as LinkedIn or through my online writing in various marketing and sales publications. While this was not a fast and easy process, it had a great return on investment (ROI).
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Before taking anyone’s advice about whether to pursue a social media initiative, make sure they have relevant experience. In another article, I related how when I asked a prospective client whether he had considered pull marketing methods like social media to create awareness, he answered, “Of course not, that crap doesn’t work”. When I asked him how he could be so sure that it wouldn’t work if his company had not tried it, he said, “I don’t like reading that stuff so I choose not to do it myself”. If this is your attitude, remember that what you like or respond to isn’t the point – it is what your prospects like and respond to that is most relevant.
Even if you believe that your digital presence has an impact on revenue, it is a bit more difficult to quantify than direct response methods. For example: someone reads your article in a trade publication, googles your name, looks you up online, visits your website, downloads information, engages with one of your sales reps and becomes a customer. Chances are, the sale is attributed to something like a direct visit to your website. Regardless, the impact is there and is often a significant contribution to the sale. Likewise, if a prospect hears about you from a promotion, then searches online to verify your qualifications, the sale may be attributed to the promotion even though your digital presence certainly contributed to his or her decision to purchase.
Best of success in creating and implementing your digital presence strategy.
This content was originally published here.