KC Associates has turned an internal marketing tool into a new business for measuring online visibility, creating lots of buzz.
Kirsten Chapman, principal and founder of marketing and public relations firm KC Associates, has spent her career working to drive demand for her clients’ products and services.
This time, she’s done it for herself, creating a groundswell of interest in one of her Long Lake company’s internal marketing tools. She’s developing a product based on that tool and launching a new venture to produce it. None of which, by the way, she set out to do.
The product is a commercial version of her firm’s Web Presence Optimization (WPO) offering, a dashboard-based system that enables companies to measure and optimize their online visibility and even benchmark themselves against competitors.
The company is WPO Inc., which Chapman started late last year with Tom Pick. He’s an independent consultant who handles digital marketing strategy for KC Associates and writes about that subject on his widely followed blog, Webbiquity.com.
Known as the WPO Metrics Dashboard, the patent-pending product enables companies to maximize the online visibility of almost anything that appears on the Web, from company-generated press releases to news, blog and social media mentions to paid advertising. The dashboard uses more than 100 metrics from a variety of sources to measure a company’s online business results, Web visibility and Web presence compared to competitors.
“Marketing people are out there always trying to create demand,” Chapman said. “Really what’s happening to us is the demand is creating the business. You’d think we would have seen that this would have made a good business. It just didn’t occur to us because we had our heads down being consultants.”
Pick is credited with coining the term “Web Presence Optimization” in early 2010 and was instrumental in defining the basket of online metrics and the internal dashboard that KC Associates then began using with clients.
The response came quickly last fall when Pick began blogging about the dashboard on Webbiquity, MarketingSherpa and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s small business website, said Chapman.
‘Really big opportunity’
Web presence is crucial now, Chapman said, because more than 90 percent of business-to-business and high-value consumer purchases begin with online research.
“From listening to the marketplace, people are struggling with this,” Chapman said. “We think there is a really big opportunity here.”
The struggle stems from the fact that the various disciplines involved in digital marketing — such as search engine optimization, social media, public relations, advertising and content marketing — typically operate independently and measure results according to their own criteria, Chapman said.
Web Presence Optimization solves that problem, Chapman said, because it establishes a common framework and set of metrics for measuring a company’s online brand visibility.
The WPO Metrics Dashboard began selling in January. The set-up cost is $4,500 with a monthly subscription fee of $1,450, according to the WPO Inc. website. Likely clients include digital marketing and public relations departments in business-to-business and high-value consumer goods and services companies.
Building a brand
“Where I think it’s most valuable is businesses trying to build a brand and get that visibility, that are not household names,” Pick said. “They need to have their brand showing up when people are searching generically for their product or service category. It’s the companies you probably haven’t heard of that you may want to do business with.”
KC Associates finished 2012 with $1 million in revenue, according to Chapman, who attributed an estimated $100,000 of that to services related to Web Presence Optimization.
Mike Harvath, president and CEO of Revenue Rocket Consulting Group, a Bloomington firm that works with tech and other companies on growth strategy, said he knows of no tool other than the WPO Metrics Dashboard that offers companies such a comprehensive, independent view of their Web presence and the ability to manage it.
“For any company that’s trying to get ahead of the competition, Web presence is huge,” Harvath said. “I’m really bullish on where (WPO Inc.) is going to go with it, and I think it’s going to be big.”
The expert says: Michael Porter, adjunct marketing instructor and director of the master of business communication program at the University of St. Thomas Opus’ College of Business, said he likes the WPO Metrics Dashboard model.
“This looks to me like the most comprehensive kind of approach, assuming she can deliver on what she says is there. It fills in all the blanks,” said Porter, a longtime acquaintance of Chapman’s.
Having both realistic and appropriate metrics and a dashboard that puts those in context is “two steps ahead of where the majority of people are now when it comes to balancing out online” marketing, Porter said.
Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Woodbury. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.