I suppose I don’t have to convince anyone how important a company’s reputation is. This is an issue that historically has always been important and it is rather difficult to argue with that. Nowadays, it is even more important because we all have such easy access to reviews, opinions, tests, comparisons and a whole bunch of various virtual (and not only) sources, where we can find the opinions of others and express our own opinion about any company. Such opinions largely contribute to the company’s reputation, which impacts its development, customer trust and sales results. Using the available marketing tools, it is worth taking a number of steps to help care for reputation and ensure ongoing safety in this matter, but also to be able to react quickly in the event of a crisis or unforeseen situations. Since the concept of ‘reputation marketing’ has been born, this must be an important issue.
Take care of your reputation
Although it may seem obvious, that this issue should be closely monitored, many marketing managers underestimate the potential costs of a poor (online) reputation and the scale of the damage it can cause in sales results. Various reports are available on the internet discussing the importance of a company’s reputation, and even calculating how a poor reputation affects the revenue. You can find specific numbers that are really significant. These are not only losses in sales, but also press coverage, a decrease in willingness to cooperate from other entities or worse hiring abilities.
It should be remembered that prevention is usually better than intervention. It is much more expensive and more difficult to fight a bad reputation and try to improve it than to make sure that the opinions about the company are constantly positive thanks to the proactive attitude of those responsible for it. What can you do as part of an effective reputational-forming campaign?
- It might sound obvious but you should do everything to prevent a reputational crisis. Choose a team of people whose competencies will include continuous monitoring of all available opinions about your company. It means the most usual monitoring of tweets, blogs, and posts on opinion-forming portals, but also checking major publications in serious media. Your people must be good not only in following the current situation, but also need to know how to respond to small and large crises. Not everyone knows that there is even a position called reputation manager.
- Plan an active PR strategy that your team will implement and take care of everyday compliance with its principles. It is about regular, active actions, but also about the right responses to market signals.
- Take care of all the opinions. Using a metaphor – it’s not that only the first 10 reviews on Google matter. The overall reputation is also affected by the second, fourth and tenth search results pages.
- Be active in social media. Today, this is probably the most important way of communicating with your customer, i.e. creating and maintaining relationships with him. It is up to you what these relationships will look like and how the customer will use them to form an opinion on your business. You can also consider running a company blog, which is often perceived as a very professional marketing activity.
- Be stable and reasonable when it comes to choosing the entities you work with. Remember that if their reputation is low or becomes low for any reason, your business opinion will also be affected.
- Remember that your brand name is also part of your reputation. Make sure you have the right www addresses and social media profile names. Minimize the possibility of impersonating your company and monitor this type of behavior. React immediately when someone tries to impersonate and damage your reputation.
- Think modern. You can advertise your products not only through the descriptions on the website. You can show them in youtube movies (hiring the right actors) or create interactive forms of presentation (e.g. 360-degree views) and these are just examples of what you can do. You don’t just have to advertise products and services in company materials. There are many more messages you can send to your audience, like posting tips, organizing original promotional campaigns or even acting pro-environmental. With proper organization, this will only bring positive results.
- Show your company as proactive. Engage your brand in charity campaigns. Make your brand associate well and have only good associations. Turn your audience’s attention to positive information and news.
Why is reputation important? In a nutshell, you can count on increased:
- shareholder value
- customer lifetime value,
- ability to hire top talents,
- brand equity and awareness,
- opportunities to invest in innovation,
- ability to create a higher company culture.
Importantly, not only the company’s attitude, mission or any specific actions affect its reputation. Top-level management has a very significant impact on it too. People often identify the CEO with the company he manages, so the personal reputation of the CEO has a huge impact on the company’s reputation. That is why the right selection of people is so important. The second issue is the cost of having a team or even a reputation manager. If you ever wonder if this is a reasonable expense, think that the cost of having a bad reputation will be many times higher.
The third important point is that good reviews about your company today do not mean that it will always have a good reputation. If you care about it, you need to stick to the plan and react quickly and effectively to any crises, because in this very online world everything happens in real-time, customers expect fast and relevant responses, and even one tweet can be very opinion-forming. Quick response is crucial, especially in situations involving product or service quality, especially data security or privacy issues. You have to take care of it every day and never forget about it because reputation-forming is an ongoing, continuous process.