Tom Brady has pocket presence. Randy Johnson had mound presence. Mark Messier had locker room presence. Sportscasters point to Brady’s coolness in the huddle, the Big Unit’s imposing size and Messier’s leadership on and off the ice as key assets that – though intangible – contribute substantially to their high performance. Presence is not easily defined. It cannot be quantified. Yet we know it when we see it. We’ve seen its impact, we’ve seen how people respond to it and we know it is real.
It’s the inner quality that appears on the outside as charisma and confidence but is entirely devoid of arrogance. This elusive presence is said to elevate the play of teammates and strike opponents with awe. But just how much better do teammates play when in the presence of such a dominating presence? How can you measure presence? Well, when Tom Brady missed a season due to injury, the Patriots missed the playoffs for the first time since he took over the team in 2001. Mark Messier captained the Rangers to their first Stanley Cup since 1940 but since his retirement, the team has struggled just to make the playoffs despite signing one star player after another. And just how does awe affect a batter?
Just ask the Cubs’ Doug Glanville. “I saw my name in the lineup against Johnson, and I almost had a heart attack.” He was out before he stepped into the batter’s box. It occurred to me that many people act the same way in business while in the presence of greatness. It defies measurement but presence can be documented after it has gone. Consider a young sales person who trains under the wise guidance of a proven veteran and delivers numbers far in excess of anticipated results. Or the manufacturing engineer who figures out how to meet a delivery deadline or production target that only the company president believed was possible. In presence is the power to spread belief.
But what of the people who go to work afraid as if they’re facing Randy Johnson every day? Is there a lack of presence at the office? Or have they been dulled and demoralized by the untold power of a competitor’s media presence? It is well understood that companies creating an imposing media presence instill confidence in their employees, shareholders, customers and prospects. They generate a continuous inflow of sales inquiries. With their names published alongside the most famous brand names in the world, they seem large, stable and highly respected. They get response. Their sales people can get calls taken and meetings scheduled.
But what is less commonly considered is how creating a media presence can put competitors on their heels. Companies that dominate the media by securing a constant flow of publicity and running a consistent advertising program in print, online and in other media, enjoy an impressive level of attention that begins to demoralize the competition. Over time, their sales teams feel outnumbered, outgunned and out on the road with little chance of success. Their executives feel unable to keep up with the flow of product introductions and begin operating halfheartedly as followers, pondering each decision in terms of their omnipresent rival. They concede one market. Then another. They know they’ve lost before the battle has even begun.
A high profile media presence also attracts top talent. By presenting the company as a strong, capable player thriving in both good times and lean times, this presence provides an ongoing invitation welcoming skilled professionals who want to work for or represent an equally professional organization. Many players would prefer to be on the same team as Brady, Messier or Johnson rather than compete against them and often lose – painfully. Similarly, many executives, engineers and sales people may prefer to join your winning team and the right media presence may help them realize their preference. Or when they’re ready to make a change, this media presence ensures your name is in front of them as the obvious choice. As costly and time-intensive as it is to recruit talent, expanding your media presence to drive a continual recruiting process needs to be considered.
In addition, a substantial media presence aids customer satisfaction and retention by reinforcing their smart decision to purchase from or work with your company. Remember, these buying decisions are both rational and emotional and the consistent placement of articles, business news items and memorable, professional quality advertising ensures your customer will continue to be exposed to positive messages about your products or services during and long after the sales process. Any buyer’s remorse may be soothed before it can set in. This not only helps prevent the potential for negative comments but also helps drive recommendations, referrals and repeat purchasing. And with the reach of social media, a single happy customer offers tremendous power to drive referrals.
Many people focus on the tangible sales benefits that come with a strong media presence. It’s easy to measure and take action based on leads, likes and phone calls. But intimidating the competition, supporting talent recruitment and retention, and reinforcing customer satisfaction offer equally important benefits, though they cannot be measured as easily.
And just how would you measure the importance of putting the competition on their heels? For Randy Johnson, Mark Messier and Tom Brady, measuring that isn’t as important as the fact that it works. The only truly important measurement is winning.