2 cures for Internet invisibility

Gunnar Hood, WSI-Summit

While many companies may be grouped together in an industry, each company is unique. Just ask them and they will tell you. From products to service, each offers something better than their competitor. Yet, in many cases these companies are invisible on the web. The good news is that they don’t have to stay that way. Read on for some tips on how the visibly challenged can get noticed.

If a company truly has a differentiated product or service, what happens if buyers can’t find it online? Chances are they will buy from the inferior competitor if that business is visible online. Just imagine, what would have happened to smartphones if Apple built the iPhone but no one knew about it?

So why would the superior company choose to be invisible online? It is usually an unintended consequence. Change can be hard for people. Since businesses are run by people, they tend to avoid what they don’t understand, especially if they have ‘always done things a certain way’.  Don’t believe it? One word: Kodak.

In my last blog post I wrote about how the Internet has changed the way people buy. A lot of that change can be attributed to businesses that never sold things the old way, you know, with sales people. Remember the excitement of bidding for an item on eBay or the first time you bought something on Amazon?

How then can a company join the age of the Internet and actually help their buyers find them online?

1. Share, don’t hoard

One of the lessons our parents taught us as young kids was to share with others. Somehow as we aged, we shared less and less. Buyers are looking for information to help them solve a problem, answer a question and get to a point of making a decision. So stop hoarding information and start sharing it.

Oh yeah, if we put information on the Internet, our competitors will see it. Hmmm. Put your buyer’s shoes back on again for a moment. Who are you more likely to buy from? The company that says little about their products and services or the one that makes it easy for you to know if what they sell would be a good fit for you? The one that hoards information will certainly have the best kept secret in their industry while the other company is cashing in at the bank.

2. Manage your reputation

Reputation trumps brand.

Not sure about that? Just ask Volkswagen. The truth is that reviews matter more and more, so you need to pay attention to what is being said about your company. Sure, you can choose to ignore reviews and comments, at your own peril. If a customer called you on the phone with a problem, would you hang up on them? Probably not, but that’s what it feels like to the person whose online critique or review is ignored.

Again, put on your buyer shoes. How many reviews do you read before making a purchase, booking a restaurant or a vacation? What do you do if you see several negative reviews with no response or worse, a combative response?

It’s far better to have a strategy that encourages feedback and allows your company to have a conversation with your customers. There are many tools available to help you monitor and manage your online reputation. It takes many years to build a brand and a reputation, but only one bad social media post to erase all that.

It can’t be that simple

There is a level of complexity to everything in life and it would be ridiculous to think that you will master something in one try. So if your business is invisible on the Internet, posting a few pages of content and answering one review won’t make it visible. It takes a strategy and the discipline to carry out that strategy consistently to achieve meaningful results. Don’t take shortcuts, do it right and the rewards will follow.

Want more information on creating a winning online strategy? Contact me to get a free copy of our best selling book, Digital Minds.

As a buyer, what matters most to you when researching a purchase online? Comment below with your thoughts.

Leave a Comment