Reputation is something that money can't buy - it's something that grows organically over time - and when it comes to business, having a reputation can be a good thing, or a very, very bad thing!
In successful business, maintaining a good reputation is absolutely vital. Being viewed favourably by your potential customers can secure you more sales, bigger sales, greater trust, and referrals from existing customers that will open your business presence up to a wider market.
But in a world when the internet has opened up a plethora of ways for our customers to discuss, review and react to our products and services for all the world to see, how do we ensure that our reputation is good when we aren't the only people putting word about our brand out there?
This is where the right PR, and the right engagement with social media, becomes more than just a benefit - it becomes vital.
Ideally, you want your voice to be the loudest, and your key brand message to be the one that is being heard by your customers, and by their friends, family, contacts and wider circle. The things that are being said about your brand are - in a perfect world - all positive; your customers are singing your praises and recommending you to everyone they know.
But there is no way to control what people are saying about you, privately or publicly. All you CAN do is give them the best experience of your brand that you can - from first contact through sales, customer service and ongoing support.
In a digital world, there are almost certainly going to be occasions where someone is dissatisfied with something, and takes to the internet to say so. If you have managed your customer service and relationships well, this complaint will come direct to you - and if you handle that well, even a complaint can be positive PR, because openly and publicly acknowledging and remedying a complaint to the customer's satisfaction shows that you respond well when things go wrong.
Managing your online reputation is far more than just promoting your brand - it's engaging with your customer base, it's listening and responding to what they have to say - and it's holding your hands up when things do go wrong and taking steps to ensure those mistakes don't happen again, and the customer is satisfied with the result.
All of this leads to positive engagement, to people speaking positively about you and your brand, and to your business being linked to satisfied customers, happy stories, recommendations and a network of people who sing your praises.
Building relationships with your customers can mean that they feel a connection with your products, services or brand as a whole - and that can turn them into brand ambassadors; people who are satisfied with great products and service are going to be happy to say so to their friends - and if you work on nurturing these relationships, it can mean that they are actively promoting you to their own networks, thus growing your own and enabling you to reach a wider market.
Be careful how you respond online - and ensure that you are in control of your online reputation by managing your own presence; maintain your website, and a strong, engaged presence on social media. After all, if you aren't making your voice heard and giving people a place to connect to you online, chances are that someone else will - and if that someone is an unhappy customer, it could mean the destruction of your reputation, and, in turn, the destruction of your brand.
If you want further advice on how to maintain a positive online presence, and how to manage your customer engagement, give me a call today and together we can make a long term plan to ensure that you are in charge; be engaged, be connected, be the bi9gest part of your story...
Be your brand.