The answer to remaining relevant in today's digital marketplace is adopting this simple philosophy: "Share everything, everywhere."
As an Internet marketer with a specialization in professional SEO services I'm consistently asked a question that goes something like, "How do I ensure my company remains relevant in today's ever-changing digital marketplace?" Simple, right?
Typically, these executives or business owners are looking for some new digital marketing tactic that will ensure their success, so that they can start sleeping again. Many of them are frustrated after spending millions on failed digital marketing initiatives. Unfortunately, I can give them no silver bullet tactic. My response is a business philosophy that I believe has built many digital giants, such as Zappos and Ebay.
This philosophy is simple: "Share everything, everywhere."
Share everything about your business, industry, staff and products or services, and share this information everywhere possible. Engage your customers both on your website and off it in blogs, forums, and social networks. Be open and honest about what makes your company great and discuss your struggles. Contribute thought leadership to your industry. I'll go as far as to advocate taking a long hard look at closely guarded trade secrets to determine if any can be shared. Trade secrets are often extremely powerful pieces of thought leadership, and sharing them can help a company evolve beyond them. The only exception to this philosophy is sharing irrelevant information on irrelevant websites, otherwise defined as SPAM.
Sharing will ensure your company remains digitally relevant by vastly expanding your digital footprint. To determine how digitally relevant your company is, perform a Google search for your products or services. Google is the first single source that the majority of the population trusts to determine the best companies in any given industry. If your company doesn't show up on the first page of search results, you're not digitally relevant; and it's very likely you're not sharing as much information as your competitors.
Sharing works for one simple reason. Google and other search engines judge companies based upon the information available about them on the Internet. The less quality digital information associated with company, the less relevant you are on the web. Your company may have incredible products or services, but without sharing, engaging and contributing to the digital conversations about them, search engines may have no idea.
Search engines have ushered in the Information Age by cataloging the world's information and putting it at our fingertips within seconds. Consumers are now more empowered than ever to research your company online before making a purchase. This new phenomenon has been labeled the Zero Moment of Truth where consumers search for digital information about your product or service before buying. This Zero Moment of Truth can happen at most any time—after seeing your commercial or even in the aisle with product in hand.
Sharing increases the likelihood that consumers will find compelling information about your products or services during the Zero Moment of Truth. Working with many large enterprises, I find that this philosophy of "Share everything, everywhere," is often a hard pill to swallow. The majority of large companies are extremely protective of their brand and its easily accessible information. This risk-aversion often leads to strict, cumbersome compliance and little sharing of information. Often it is not fully understood by executives just how inherently risky this "risk-averse" stance can be.
One thing to keep in mind when sharing is to focus far more on the information you're sharing than your branding. During the Zero Moment of Truth consumers typically shut down immediately when they find blatantly biased advertising speak and in-your-face branding.
Again, my advice to companies that want to remain relevant in the evolving digital marketplace is to share everything everywhere. I know this may sound like an overwhelming initiative, but so is the ROI from being digitally relevant. Not only is digital relevance an incredible boon to brand awareness, but it's also a ticket to one of the largest lead sources on the Internet, organic search engine rankings.
KEVIN BAILEY is co-founder and president of Indianapolis-based Slingshot SEO, a national leader in online marketing, planning and execution. An Indiana University graduate, Kevin has more than fifteen years of Internet marketing experience. @SlingshotSEO