Local business owners need a sterling reputation just as much as any service or product with a household name. The perceived quality of your business is equally as important as the quality of your services. Unfortunately, plenty of professionals focus so much on their work, which makes it easy to lose sight of the importance of reputation management. If you are a small business owner, you understand how word of mouth and earned media can be extremely powerful tools. Let’s learn about some more useful tips that are sure to improve reputation management.
Encourage Satisfied Clients to Spread the Word
We must first assume that you are creating a product or providing a service that is quality, in demand, and valuable to a select group of people. If you are focusing on reputation management without positive feedback, then the first step is to reevaluate the core of your business. If a client or customer seems grateful about what you are providing them, though, then it’s critical to set up a system that takes the extra step of asking him or her to spread the word about your small business. Business growth expert, Kevin Kelly famously claims that it only takes 1000 true fans for your enterprise to really take off, and far less than that to make a local impact. Encourage your happiest clients to post positive reviews to the internet and recommend your services to others. This way, your work will invest itself and pay off through natural referrals, word of mouth, and exemplary reviews posted to the numerous online review directories.
Email Marketing can Boost Your Reputation
Letting happy customers fall through the cracks has the same impact as losing a sale. The easiest way to touch base with these clients is by way of email marketing, so be sure you are setting up a way to collect emails, first and foremost. Send your clients information about new releases, discounts, exclusive offers, and other pertinent information that doesn’t make them click that unsubscribe button. As long as individuals on your email list have benefited from your service, they are likely to engage with your emails. Stay at the forefront of your clients’ minds with useful email marketing tactics and they will be that much more likely to recommend your services to those in their family, social and professional circles. After all, if your customer is pleased with what you have to offer, there’s a good chance people in their network will too.
Develop a Personality
Managing your reputation will prove that much easier if your business has a steadfast personality and a charismatic brand — especially if you operate with local markets in mind. If your business does not have a recognizable slogan, logo or spokesperson, then it’s time to establish an identity. Focus on yourself or a company founder and add a face to the business. This will create a personable, approachable experience and makes makes your business that much more appealing to prospective customers. Establish a personality and clients will be much more willing to pay for your services.
Use Social Media to Your Advantage
Social media is a powerful tool for reputation management. Take a moment to view your social media pages from the perspective of a prospective client. However, if you do not have much content posted or if you have few followers, little client engagement or any other red flags, social media can be a disadvantage. Take the time necessary to post naturally-looking status updates, respond to inquiries/questions, add links to your blog posts and so on. The more this content feels like it’s coming from a real person, the better. There are certain times to let your marketing show, and social media is rarely one of them. These subtleties might not seem like a big deal, but they matter a great deal to those who scroll through news feeds with regularity. Remember that you have about 1-2 seconds to make an impression with your posts. If you are short on time or not digitally savvy, have an intern or another employee manage your social media pages. This way, when people check out your internet footprint, they will see you are active, informative, and helpful online.
Address Negative Reviews in a Proactive Manner
When you find negative reviews of your local business (it is not a matter of “if”) posted on the web, it can be easy to feel discouraged. Remember to proactively address these critiques with a level-headed and neutral approach. Reach out to those who posted the negative reviews and ask what you can do to change their experience. In some cases, it makes sense to offer a coupon, discount, or freebie to customers who are unhappy. Acquiesce these critical clients and they will likely stop speaking negatively about your business on and offline. Fuel their fire, though, and they will diminish your earned media potential. In some cases, it may even require a phone call to clear the air and make a meaningful impact.
Win the Battle of Perception
Every local business owner should recognize the fact that perception matters just as much as the core practices of your business. Perception drives the stock market and influences world leaders — it is a very powerful tool. Make a concerted effort to boost your company’s reputation within the local community with the tips detailed above and you will accrue countless opportunities for growth. Remember that every big company once started out small. Continue to win the battle of perception and your bottom line will share the spoils.
Corey Tyner is the owner of Phoenix Fast Sell Home Buyers. He is one of the top real estate investors in Arizona with over a decade of local business experience. His work has been featured on Bigger Pockets, Real Estate Agent Magazine, and several other real estate investor publications.