How to Maintain a Good Reputation for Your Business
Creating a good reputation takes careful effort, sometimes months or even years. On the other hand, your reputation can also be destroyed instantly, and there is a long road to rebuilding it. Some businesses lose their entire brand identity overnight. The best offense for your business reputation is a good defense. Being proactive in shaping consumer perceptions about your products and services is critical to your success—especially now when consumers increasingly turn to social media to voice opinions about brands.
What does it take to add a reputation management program to your marketing plan? How do you ensure that your reputation is sparkling and shining? And what do you need to consider when creating a reputation management program? These questions are answered in this article.
What Does Reputation Mean?
Reputation is one of those things that sounds simple enough, but it gets complicated fast. There are many definitions of reputation out there, but here are some of the most common ones:
- A person's good name or character.
- Your public image.
- How well you do in life.
- The quality of your work.
- What others think of you.
- Your standing among peers.
What Does Reputation Mean for Businesses?
Businesses are built around some combination of products and people. A product might include anything from a physical good like a car or a pair of shoes to intangible assets like a company's culture or brand identity. People make up everything from the CEO down to the receptionist. Together, these elements form what we call the organization.
The problem is that organizations can sometimes be challenging to define. They don't exist in a vacuum; they're part of larger systems—like society, politics, media, or even the economy. As such, they're often associated with multiple definitions. There are dozens of different ways to describe an organization. Some are broad, while others are narrow.
In this article, we'll take a look at three major types of business reputation definitions. We'll examine how each one works, why they matter, and how you can use them to improve your business.
Brand Reputation Definition
In our digital era, reputation has become one of the most valuable assets of modern organizations. Companies are often judged based on their reputation, and individuals are increasingly expected to show respect for others' opinions about their work and actions. In short, reputation affects how people perceive you and how much trust they place in your products, services, and ideas.
Brands today represent an equivalent for standard terms like honor or virtue. They convey information about the quality of products and services and the integrity of businesses and organizations. Thus, brands are seen as a form of social capital and influence the individual's ability to coexist and cooperate with others.
Why a Good Reputation Matters for a Business
A business's reputation is just as important as its product or service. If you want people to buy into what you're selling, it makes sense to start building trust early on. A great reputation helps build brand loyalty and can even help increase sales.
Reputation is much more than just customer reviews. Your customers sometimes need to learn how to judge your business based on one review. They want to see many different sources of information. For example, Amazon's reviews are primarily positive, but there are plenty of negative ones too. If you look at Yelp, you'll find both positive and negative reviews.
You can use social media to amplify positive reviews, but it's still important to show the whole picture. You can rely on something other than social media to tell your story. People want to hear it from multiple sources.
What Shapes a Brand's Reputation?
Brands are built around a mission, vision, value proposition, or philosophy. These things set a foundation for how you want customers to perceive you. However, it's not just about what you say; it's about what you show. What people see and hear about you is key to building trust and credibility. This includes visuals, messaging, and tone of voice.
Company name, logo, and images related to your visual identity—like your social media profiles, product packaging, advertising materials, etc.—reinforce a consistent brand name. When consumers encounter these elements, they form opinions about your brand.
Mission, vision, value proposition.
Your mission, vision, and values provide context for your brand. They explain why you exist, what you stand for, and what makes you different from competitors. Your mission statement helps define your purpose, while your vision provides direction and inspiration. Your values describe what matters most to you and how you treat others.
A philosophy defines your beliefs and principles. For example, a philosophy might include honesty, integrity, respect, compassion, empathy, and fairness. A philosophy guides your actions and informs decisions about how you interact with others.
Business Reputations are Earned – and Managed
A second way to build a reputation is to pursue one actively. This includes investing in brand management strategies, media relations, and reputation management solutions. But there's another side to building a reputation too. You can also passively build a reputation by being open about your business. This is the most important type of reputation because it's what people will associate with you long after you've closed up shop.
So, how does this happen? Well, the truth is that no matter how good you are at running your business, someone else will always be better. And even though you're doing everything right, you'll never be able to stop negative reviews from popping up on review sites. If you're selling cars, you'll probably need help keeping those negative reviews off CarGurus.com. Or if you're a restaurant owner, Yelp will keep giving away free meals and posting pictures of your food.
And while you could try to control what gets posted on social media, you'll still need to catch up on some great opportunities. People will post whatever they feel like, whether it's true or not. So, if you're looking to build a reputation, you will have to work hard to ensure that people know what you stand for.
What is Reputation Management?
Reputation management is a broad term to describe how people communicate about organizations or brands. In short, it refers to managing how consumers perceive a particular entity or product. For example, imagine having a restaurant review site where customers can post reviews of restaurants they've visited. If those reviews are positive, the restaurant might benefit from increased traffic and sales. However, the restaurant could lose out on potential clients if negative reviews start popping up.
In the same way, a brand can use reputation management strategies to manage how consumers perceive themselves. A positive image helps companies attract new customers, while a poor one can lead to lost revenue.
Why is Reputation Management Important?
Reputation management isn't just important; it's essential. Even if you don't want to change what people think about your organization, you must monitor how others talk about you. When your customers, partners, employees, vendors, investors, media, and even competitors talk negatively about you, it affects your bottom line.
That's why it makes sense to think about how you want to be perceived by the public. If you're concerned about negative comments about your products or services, there are ways to address those concerns publicly. But if your concern is more about how you're portrayed internally, you'll need to work with HR.
Benefits of a Reputation Manager
Reputation management is the process of managing online mentions about your business. Some businesses hire a reputation manager to monitor what people say about their products and services online. Nowadays, it's easier than ever to find information about your competitors. You might think you do enough research yourself, but there needs to be a way to know everything that's being written about your industry. A reputation manager helps you keep up with what people say about your business. They use sophisticated, purpose-built tools to identify problems and resolve issues quickly.
Better Insight into Your Brand Image
When you work with a reputable reputation management firm, you gain access to real-time data about your brand. You can see how people feel about your company and whether you're trending positively or negatively. If something goes wrong, you can act fast to correct the situation. When you work with a reputation management company, you don't need to worry about missing important conversations because you've been too busy trying to manage your reputation.
More Time to Focus on What Matters
You probably spend most of your day working hard to grow your business. But it's easy to lose sight of the big picture. By outsourcing your reputation management needs, you free up more time to focus on what matters – growing your business.
A reputation management company can save you money. Many companies offer discounts for bulk purchases. For example, one company I worked with offered a discount of 20% off the first month's fee for clients who purchased more than ten accounts.
The Internet is full of information about you—and it's easy to find out what people think about you. With the help of tools like Google Alerts, you can monitor news stories, social media posts, and even comments left on your site. You can even use Facebook Insights to see how many likes, shares, and comments your posts get. But there's one important factor missing from this list: your online reputation.
Online reputation refers to a collection of data that represents your brand online. This includes customer ratings, reviews, blog posts, product listings, and photos. While some aspects of your online reputation are harder to control than others, there are ways to manage the whole thing. Here's how to build comprehensive credibility.
You might assume that negative reviews aren't worth worrying about because most customers don't read them anyway. However, a recent study found that nearly 40% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. If someone isn't happy with your products or services, chances are they'll tell everyone else about it. And if you want to keep customers returning for more, you need to ensure they have a positive experience.
Google My Business lets you respond directly to reviews, flagging ones as spam or inappropriate, and report businesses that violate terms of service. You can also ask customers to review your store on Google Maps and Yelp.
Respond To Customer Feedback
When a customer leaves feedback on your site, take note. Even if you don't agree with the criticism, responding positively demonstrates that you value your customers' opinions. When you disagree, address the issue head-on rather than ignoring it. For example, if a customer complains about slow delivery, explain why the problem occurred and offer free shipping options.
Get Responsive, Around-the-Clock Corporate Reputation Management
The amount of information being shared online is growing each year exponentially. At the same time, it's getting harder to control what gets out there. As you know, social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others allow anyone to post anything anywhere. This includes comments on blogs, mentions in videos and posts, and even status updates. Nowadays, it seems like everyone is posting something — good or bad. And that makes it hard to manage how your organization appears across the web.
But here's some good news: You don't have to accept whatever happens on the Internet without a fight. With responsive corporate reputation management, you can take charge of the conversation around your brand. We can help you monitor everything online and respond quickly to negative reviews, complaints, and other damaging content.
Check Out These Simple Good Reputation Tips
Reputation management is one of those areas where most people are just plain lost. There are so many moving parts and different ways to build a positive online presence that it can seem daunting. But there are plenty of simple steps you can take today to start building a strong reputation foundation. Here are three quick tips to get you off to a great start:
The best way to avoid negative feedback is to make sure that you're doing everything possible to prevent it from happening in the first place. This includes being proactive about responding to customer complaints and reviews, communicating publicly whenever possible, and ensuring that you're following up on every request. If someone asks for something, do what you can to ensure they receive it.
When you build relationships with customers and prospects, you'll find that they'll be much less likely to complain about you later on down the road. You don't want to become known as "that guy" but rather as "the guy." So, focus on establishing genuine connections with everyone you contact. Start by asking questions about how they're doing, offering advice where appropriate, and keeping track of what they say about you. Then, use that information to improve your communication skills and overall brand awareness.
Don't Forget About Your Online Presence
You might think that having a strong offline reputation automatically translates over to the digital world, but that's simply not true. Many companies spend millions of dollars each month trying to boost online visibility without understanding why it matters. Fortunately, there are several easy ways to improve your online footprint. For example, you can invest in social media marketing, pay for advertising, and even hire a public relations firm. And, while none of those strategies are cheap, they could save you money in the long run.
Make Timely Follow-Up and Follow-Through Habits
Follow-up is one of those things we're always told to do but rarely ever do. We know it's important because people use it to measure our performance. But how often do we follow up? And when we don't, how does that affect us?
We've all been there. You start working on something and say you'll do it later. Then later rolls around, and you finally do it. When you look back, you realize that you could have done it sooner.
The problem isn't necessarily that you couldn't finish earlier; you never got started in the first place. So whenever you say you'll do some work, actually take action.
Don't wait for tomorrow. Take your time next week. Just do it now. Make timely follow-up and follow-through habits today.
Help People Reach Their Own Goals
When building a strong personal brand, reputation management expert Michael Port says there are three things you must do. First, build relationships. Second, show up. And third, make sure people remember you. "Reputation management is really about helping people reach their own goals," he explains. "You don't want to just build your name; you want to help people reach theirs."
Port shares examples of how his clients use reputation management tools to help people achieve their goals. He notes one client whose goal was to become a professional athlete. She reached her goal by participating in sports throughout high school and college. As she got older, she realized she wanted to pursue acting. To help her reach her career goal, she used social media to promote herself as an actor. Her efforts paid off, and she landed roles in movies such as "The Hunger Games."
Another person used reputation management tools to land a job. After graduating from college, she worked as a receptionist at a law firm. One day, she saw a posting online for a job opening at another law firm. She applied and received the position. In addition to the job, she also learned that the hiring manager liked her work ethic and personality. This helped her secure future employment opportunities.
A final example involves someone who wants to start a small business. To help him succeed, he uses reputation management tools to increase his visibility. His friends and family recommend him to potential customers. They tell them he's trustworthy and reliable. This helps him stand out among competitors.
Make Others Look Good
When people are looking to buy something, they often rely on recommendations from friends and family. And while those referrals can give you insight into what someone might like, they only sometimes tell the whole story. A recent study found that when people hear about a product from multiple sources, they tend to believe the most credible source.
In other words, if one person says, "I bought this," another person can say, "Oh yeah?" and still believe the original statement. But if both people say, "I bought this," they know they're talking about the same thing. This phenomenon is called social proof.
You can use social proof to build trust with potential clients. If someone recommends your services, offer to pay for the referral fee. Or if someone mentions a competitor, show how much better you are than them. In short, try to earn credibility from the people around you. They'll be happy to spread the word.
Over Deliver and Under Promise
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how important it is to over-deliver and underpromise. There are two reasons why we do this. First, it helps us earn brownie points. Second, it makes people feel like they got something special. So, let me explain why.
When we tell our clients that we'll do something for them, most of the time, we're being honest. We know that we will only sometimes be able to meet our commitments. However, if we say, "I'll try," we permit ourselves to fail without losing face. When we over-deliver and under-promise, we show our clients that we care enough to go the extra mile. And because we've already given them our word, they trust us again.
And that's where the brownie points come into play. Over-delivering and under-promising build trust. Trust leads to referrals. Referrals lead to more work. More work leads to bigger projects. Bigger projects mean better opportunities. Better opportunities mean more money. And ultimately, more money equals happier clients.
So, next time you want to impress someone, think twice before telling them that you'll do something for them. Instead, ask yourself whether you could do what you promised. Then, decide whether you'd rather lose some brownie points or disappoint someone.
Improve Your Reputation on Paper
Your reputation is much like your credit score — it's something you've built over time and impacts every aspect of your life. You're judged by what you do, and sometimes people snap judgments about you based solely on what they see online.
In addition to the things you say and do, your physical appearance plays a big role in building your reputation. To improve your reputation, start thinking about how you present yourself. Here are some ways to build a better reputation on paper:
- Choose a reputable address.
- Invest in a high-quality website.
- Curate your social media posts.
- Make sure your documents are professionally prepared.
- Pay attention to the little details.
Present Yourself the Way You Want to Be Seen
Your brand identity is the total of everything that represents your company. From the color palette, fonts, logos, visuals, and overall look and feel, it's important to ensure that what you present reflects how you want others to see you. Research shows that first impressions are lasting ones. A study conducted by researchers at Cornell University found that people judge someone within the first 30 seconds of meeting them based on physical appearance.
The same goes for online presence. Customers who see your company name and logo form an initial opinion of whether or not they like your product or service. They might think, "This company doesn't care about me. I don't know why they chose my email address." Or, "Wow, this person knows their audience. They must be doing something right."
So, the next time you go shopping for clothes, shoes, bags, etc., consider what you wear. What do you want to project to the world? Do you want to be viewed as a caring company or one that wants to take advantage of people? How does your office look? Is there anything wrong with your company's branding?
Always Be Aware of Your Body Language
Body language is one of those things we tend to take for granted. But it does say a lot about us. If you don't know how to control your body language, you could send out signals that aren't very professional—which could hurt your career. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to improve your posture and send the right messages. Here are five easy ways to change your body language today.
Stand Up Straight
A study by researchers at the University of Texas found that people who stood up straight looked like leaders, while slouched bodies gave off a submissive vibe. So next time you're meeting with someone important, try standing up straighter. You'll instantly feel more powerful and authoritative.
Lean In When Talking To Someone
When you're sitting across from someone, it's perfectly acceptable to lean forward slightly. This gives the impression that you're eager to hear what they say. However, leaning too far forward can be aggressive, so keep it short of being creepy.
Smile More Often
Smiling makes you seem friendly and approachable. Plus, smiling increases your confidence, making you less likely to stutter or hesitate during conversations.
A recent study found that people are likelier to spread negative information about brands than positive information. They're also more likely to share negative reviews on social media than positive reviews. This isn't surprising when considering how we tend to seek online information. We want to hear what others think about us and our products, especially if they've had a bad experience. And since most of us aren't perfect, we often look for someone else to blame.
But it doesn't matter whether a review is good or bad; you will only build trust if you're consistent in your messaging. So ensure you're being true to your brand image everywhere, even when things aren't great.
Act with Integrity
Integrity is what you do when no one else is watching. It's about doing the right thing regardless of whether anyone sees your actions. It's easy to say that we should treat everyone fairly and equally, but that only sometimes translates into action. People often don't want to see fairness because it might mean taking away something they already have. And while some might argue that the ends justify the means, most of us agree that the ends shouldn't come at the expense of the means.
Actions speak louder than words. If you want to show that you care about your employees, take steps to ensure they earn a fair wage. If you want to demonstrate that you value diversity and inclusion, ensure that your policies reflect those values. When you act with integrity, you show that you understand how important it is to put others first.
Get Engaged in the Communities You Support
Engagement is a buzzword in marketing today. Brands are trying to figure out how to make themselves relevant in communities where their customers live, work, play, shop, eat, learn, volunteer, etc. Companies like Starbucks, Whole Foods, and Nike are doing it well. They understand that there are many different ways to engage with consumers.
We've found that one size only fits some. There are three levels of engagement:
- Community building—This level is about creating connections. For example, you could host a local meetup group, sponsor a charity event, or donate money to support a cause. These types of activities help build relationships within a community.
- Brand advocacy—At this level, brands advocate for causes, events, and products. For example, you may promote a local food festival, encourage people to vote, or advocate for a certain political candidate. At this level, companies are often called upon to speak up for issues important to them.
- Customer advocacy—Customer advocacy is about making sure customers feel heard. When a customer experiences a problem with a product, the company must respond quickly. If a customer has a question, the company needs to answer it. And if a customer wants to voice their opinion, the company needs to listen.
Each of these levels of engagement requires a unique approach. However, most importantly, they must align with your brand's mission, vision, and values. A strong sense of purpose ensures that you engage with your audience.
People do business with people, and having likable people on your teams can make a huge impact. A recent study found that employees are twice as likely to recommend a company to friends and family if there are likable personalities on the team. This is especially true if those personalities are visible to others. Employees want to work with approachable, friendly, helpful, and trustworthy people. They also want leaders who set good examples for how to behave.
So what does it take to become more likable? Well, according to research, it takes some practice. Smiling more makes us feel happier. And we're not just talking about fake smiles; genuine happiness makes us look healthier, younger, and more attractive. So next time you're feeling down, try cracking a smile. It helps lift your mood too.
Curating and Maintaining a Positive Reputation
The digital age has brought many benefits, including increased access to information. But what happens when we do business with people across oceans? We sometimes need to find out who we are dealing with.
When you're doing business someplace else, sometimes your reputation is everything. Your reputation is the total of all the things people think about you. In fact, according to a report published by the Pew Research Center, 80% of Americans say that their opinion of someone is based on whether they've heard good or bad things about that person.
So how does this affect your reputation? If you're trying to sell something to someone in New York City, chances are they'll want to see pictures of the product before making a decision. And if you're selling a car to someone in Australia, including photos of the local scenery.
But what if you don't live in either place? What if you want to sell something to someone living in Sweden, but they live in Japan? Or vice versa?
In those cases, you're stuck relying on word of mouth. You're limited to whatever the person you're talking to knows about you. And even though most people are honest, there's no guarantee that they'll tell the truth about you.
That's why it's important to maintain a positive reputation. After all, you never know when a potential customer could stumble upon your negative reviews. And if that happens, you'd better hope your reputation remains intact.
Want to learn more about how our reputation management services can help you control your online reputation? Contact us today!
November 18, 2022