The importance of the online marketing strategy cannot be overstated. Whether you realize it or not, your prospects are going online and learning what they can about you before they ever actually meet with you. If you do not believe me, go online and check out these studies:

  • SiriusDecisions 2012: 70% of the B2B buying decision is made before prospects are willing to engage with a salesperson.
  • DemandGen 2012: 78% of buyers reported that the buying decision was primarily influenced by a Web search and the vendor’s website.

I can list other studies that all confirm that buyers today are going online before making a decision. The question is this: If I do a Web search of you (not your agency) what will I find? A second and equally important question is this: If I go to the agency website, will I find anything that tells me that you are different from all of the other benefit professionals in your area? After reviewing more than 250 websites of benefit professionals, I can tell you that I have only seen one site that actually made the agency seem different from all of the others. Of course I know that you think that yours is different — but it is not and I guarantee it.
The beauty of the cloud is that with a little effort you can significantly differentiate yourself from your competitors, and more importantly, be a brand of one.

To create your brand of one you will need at a minimum:

  • At least one idea-specific website
  • At least one client testimonial website
  • An optimized LinkedIn profile
  • Online, branded content

If you are aggressively marketing for new business you will see an uptick in the number of people who view your LinkedIn profile. That is because your LinkedIn profile will show up at the top of any search of your name, and approximately 70% of your prospects will do a search before the first meeting. So, first on your list should be to optimize your profile, beginning with the headline.
Next, you will want to set up a sales webpage. Your brochure website, while very pretty, was not built to help you sell. You will want to direct prospects to a website that tells prospects about the results that you deliver, as opposed to a list of products and services. You want the prospect to feel as if they have not heard your message from any other agent. A separate website dedicated to client testimonials will help you significantly increase your closing ratios without using any sales tactics at all. LinkedIn provides you the ability to list three websites, so by all means take advantage of this.

Finally, if you want to establish yourself as a true expert and brand of one, you need to create original online content.  Original content establishes you as a thought leader and separates your from everyone else. You can post original content on slideshare.net, youtube.com, ezinearticles.com and other content repositories.

Strange as it may sound, if a prospect does a search of you and finds an optimized LinkedIn profile, multiple websites and content, you become a much more credible contender for their business.

Schlesinger is an independent consultant focused on helping benefit professionals double their income. Reach him at (336) 777-3938 or throughgetmoregroupclients.com.

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