Securing long-term growth is no easy quest. Between sales objectives, operational efficiency, and market conditions, are the marketing and management activities you need to invest in to reach your goals. And while it’s not the first thing that might come to mind, your reputation as a brand and business is one of the most important factors that can impact the future of your business.
It’s your reputation that brings in new customers, boots loyalty, and encourages people to overlook occasional shortcomings. So let’s talk about reputation marketing, and how to use it to your advantage.
What is reputation marketing?
Publicized or not, every business and brand has a reputation. From the moment you have your first customer, partner, or employee, your brand has an impression of what activities they can expect from you in the future. This about your brand’s reputation as a combination of all the interaction between you and another individual.
Reputation Marketing evolved as a merge between reputation management and brand marketing. It fuses the activities you actively participate in for the purpose of building a good reputation (like PR, Customer Service, and business codes of conduct) and activities like following what is said about your brand (comments and reviews) with the purpose to boost the good and deal with the bad.
Reputation Management in the 21 century
In earlier days, the reputation was communicated by word of mouth and businesses didn’t have as many options to monitor it. Today, word-of-mouth has turned partially digital giving the opportunity to brands to see what is said about them. Customers are also becoming more comfortable to communicate with each other and the brands themselves, and this is where the opportunity of 21-century reputation marketing lies.
Reviews and comments are more important than you think. They can increase confidence in purchase decisions or completely deter it. A study back in 2012 found that 70% of customers trust online reviews. By 2018, that number grew to 84%. But good reputation marketing is a lot more than investing effort in getting more positive reviews.
Reputation management companies have made Search Results a core part of reputation marketing. And the reason why is simple – just look at politics to see why search results can influence a voter’s (or buyer’s) decision.
How to use reputation marketing to your advantage
Now that you know the true power of online reviews, you need to consider how to boost the good ones. It goes without saying that the quality of your product and customer services influence rewires, but there are other ways to improve your chances.
For one, you can encourage customers to leave a review by asking them (e-mail, card, notification), or even incentivize it (get 10% off on your next purchase by leaving a review). This is a good option especially for new brands that are trying to boost their reputation from the get-go.
Furthermore, you can share the good reviews on your social media channels to expand their reach and influence. You can also influence the negative reviews by investing in some damage control – reaching out to the unsatisfied customer to discuss the issue and find a mutually-satisfying solution. Just don’t ask them to leave a good review after – that’s something they need to decide to do on their own.
Actively following reviews and comments is another important aspect of good reputation marketing. Even with automation tools, this activity is time-consuming but well worth it.
Doing so is not important just to properly respond to the comments, but to get to know your customers even better. By listening to their voice, you can learn about their preferences, and make better decisions in the future regarding both marketing and product development.
How about PR activities?
You can boost your reputation by investing in good old PR activities as well. However, it’s important to note that PR and other reputation marketing activities are not stand-alone strategies.
They can only be effective if coupled with other online and offline activities. In today’s digital society, a business’s reputation can be affected by what people say about the owner, the employees, or even its partners. This is why a holistic approach to reputation marketing is integral.
Tools that can help you with reputation marketing
Especially for B2C companies, following what’s said about your business is not very easy and can be quite time-consuming. At the same time, it’s increasingly important you listen to your customers. Luckily, there are two tools that can help you do just that.
Grade.us – the basic objective of this tool is to help businesses manage their reputation a little easier. When you integrate this tool to your website, it will automatically reach out to recent customers for reviews. You can also use it to monitor review websites like Yelp. This will give you a chance to react quickly when there are negative reviews and resolve issues.
Cision – a unique tool that can help you get in touch with bloggers, journalists, and social media influencers that are the right fit for your brand. Your brand’s reputation includes all associations so you want to make sure that you strengthen your brand awareness with the right partners.
Nike is a brand that uses good reputation marketing tactics. When it comes to customer support, they have an independent account on Twitter dedicated just to CS. This is one of the best marketing examples of taking real care of your customers.
For a more unconventional reputation marketing example we have Kleenex. They used Facebook to find users that are dealing with a common cold. They then contacted the friends of these people to get information about their addresses and sent get-well items. Almost all the people that have received these kits have shared their stories on Facebook.
There are many other examples from large and small companies around the globe. No brand is too big or too small to get involved in something like this.
While it’s true that building and maintaining a good reputation requires time and financial investment, it’s also true that investing in reputation marketing can help you spend less on other types of marketing in the future. And if you are stuck on where to start from and what to focus on, consulting someone with experience is always a smart move.