People are more likely and willing to link to companies they're familiar with. There's already a certain level of trust. The familiarity and trust factor is one reason knowledgeable, well-established companies obtain natural links in large numbers.
How can your company start to increase its familiarity and trust online? As sales slow and employees have more idle time, utilize that time for online public relations. At the very least, it can help sustain sales over the coming months. Once the economy turns around, you'll have a competitive advantage with better links, better brand image, and more traffic.
There are a couple approaches to this -- even a few for those petrified of the concept. First, think of this as relationship building. You're developing positive online public relations with people and communities, not just going after links. People should think of your site when a particular product or service is mentioned.
For the "very" traditional salespeople who may be resistant to change, explain it as just another form of networking and building relationships. Equate an industry conference to an industry-specific discussion board or forum. Once they see it's all about relationship building, they'll see more sales opportunities than your Internet-savvy newbie.
Here are some online public relations strategies to get you started.
The easiest and least stressful way to start building a positive image online is by answering questions. Have staff monitor forums, e-mail lists, Q&A sites, and other social sites for questions relating to what your company does. Have your staff give straightforward answers to people's questions and provide additional resources when appropriate. Make sure it's in a non-promotional language.
Over time, your company will build a great reputation within those communities. The other members will reward you with links from their blogs and sites. Plus, they might even start recommending your company on the social site!
Contact blogs related to your company about being a guest blogger. This is a great way to get in front of a targeted audience, build traffic, and a solid reputation. These blog postings provide a great link, exposure, and a lot of new organic search traffic. Don't forget your local and community newspapers. Many are looking for topic-specific bloggers.
This is also a great way for a new site to get organic traffic from search engines while waiting for their own rankings to increase.
Write a Column/Articles
Contact newspapers, journals, magazines, industry sites, or other related sites about contributing articles. This is another great way to build links, branding, and traffic at the same time.
Put together different instructional videos covering different topics. Then give them away for free for others to republish -- with a link back, of course. This technique can be combined with the strategy of answering questions for an even bigger impact. When answering the question post a link to the instruction video. For an example read my B2B case study for restaurant equipment.
Have your staff boost your online image and develop links during idle time during these down economics times. This will broaden your staff's marketing aptitude and hopefully provide a moral boost. Plus, your sales staff will discover some effective online sales techniques. This can help to sustain sales now and, in the long run, the payoffs will make your competition cringe.
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