How to Use the Web to Enhance your Business or Professional Reputation
By Hector Cisneros
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A businesses reputation is more important today than ever before. the same is true for products or an individual. If your reputation is weak or little is known about you, your business or product, people assume you are not as good as a business with a well-known name or as someone who who has garnered a couple of dozen 4 or 5-star Google reviews or Facebook ratings. So, what do you do if you are doing a great job but you few if any five star ratings? Just how can you go about building your good reputation without trying to use black hat internet trickery (which can hurt your reputation). In this episode of Working the Web to Win, we will discuss more than a dozen ways to improve your reputation so you can compete with anyone on the web.
Today, a business has to actively manage its reputation. Gone are the days where you can make a mistake with a customer and not expect it to have a big and long lasting impact on your business. Social media has a huge impact on a businesses reputation. Shortchange a customer by either not meeting their expectations or not living up to the hype of your product or service and it comes back on you in a bad way in spades! If you have five 5-star reviews on Facebook and now you get a 1- star rating, your score could drop below a four. Verified negative reviews carry more weight than positive reviews, so any negative votes hurt more than positive votes help.
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To make matters worse, your competitors can hurt your reputation anonymously! Yikes! On many rating sites, a competitor (unverified reviewer) can provide their vote without leaving their name. This is slowly changing, but it's still all too common. A competitor can even engage in black hat dirty tricks that eventually could get your website or social media page delisted. Read our article called " Can Competitors Harm Your Business With Impunity Online? ".
To be successful in the reputation management game, you have to be actively engaged in growing your positive reputation. In other words, you have to create and implement a system that actively converts happy customers into positive reviews, ratings and testimonials. Failure to create and implement a program that builds your positive reputation will mean that you get stuck with only weak, poor or bad reviews. Lets face it, disgruntled people are more highly motivated to review a business that a happy customer is, any day!
There are many ways to build your good reputation. None of them are quick and easy. There is no such thing as a quick fix! If someone comes to you and says they have a low-cost easy fix for your reputation problem, they are lying. Run don't walk to get away from them. In fact reputation management is an ongoing concern that is always in play as long as you own a business or are in practice. We have written about this subject and approached it from many angles. Another article I highly recommend is reading " What's in a name? Reputation Management in the Digital Age ".
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Of the many things a business can do to help build there reputation, two items are at the top of my list (other than creating a system to produce positive reviews). These two items are Blogging and Vlogging (i.e. video blogging). In our article called " Why Your Marketing Director Should Be Blogging ", we talk about how providing high quality, relevant, useful and timely content via blogging can produce trust and a loyal following. Along the same lines as Blogging, Video blogging can produce similar results. If you do a search of our blog, you will find a long list of article s discussing the benefits of video blogs. One in particular that I recommend highly is " Online Video Marketing is Hot! Here are 7 Ways to Succeed ". It provides a wealth of information and resources if this is an avenue you decide to pursue.
Here is an additional list of related articles that will help you wrap your head around how to build your positive reputation management process.
What Makes a Positive Reputation? A positive reputation for a business or a person is built by diligent hard, honest work and a dedication to serve others well. It has nothing to do with a great logo, flashy advertising, packaging, cool slogan or any type of tactic or technique you can imagine. If your product is useful, has a competitive price, provides some unique benefits and is backed up with a solid warranty, it will stand out. Why, because this is the exception to most products on the market. If you as a business person go out of your way to provide top quality service, always treat customers in an honest and respectful way and always do your best to make sure a customers expectations are met, your positive reputation will grow. A positive reputation is built on the quality and consistency of good service and honestly dealing with customers. A simple slogan to live by is to "never defend the problem, instead, always offer a solution" and always "under promise and over-deliver". To quote a phrase from the bestselling book the " Go Giver" by Bob Burg and John David Mann , (a book I highly recommend), "Always provide more value than you receive in payment".
By now some of you are thinking that this is a recipe for bankruptcy. I know, how can you provide more value than you receive in payment. First off, I did not say that your service is free or that you should lose money in the overall proposition. I am saying that the perceived value needs to exceed what customers are paying you. The truth is simple, being a giver creates a positive reputation, not by giving away the farm, but by providing added value in everything you do and provide.
What Hurts One's Reputation. Hurting your reputation is easier than building a positive reputation. To hurt your reputation all you have to do is be a little lazy. In contrast, you have to work hard to make sure you're "dotting all the I's" and "crossing all the T's" when meeting prospects and customers expectations. Anytime you appear to be evasive, shifty, dishonest, double dealing or even omit useful or needed information, you run the risk of hurting your reputation, not a little, but a lot.
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Positive and Negative Hits are Not Equal. Negative events far outweigh positive events with a ratio of 10 to 1. This means that small mistakes have more weight than a ton of value-added services. On top of this, you are judged in your business dealings all day long. In contrast, positive valuation only comes from the last time your product or service provided good value for the money. So, on days your attire is poor, your verbal delivery is weak, you forget to mention important items or you or your products and services don't live up to the hype in your advertising, you receive a negative 10. When you're perfect for any given day, you get a positive one. Any time a prospect or customer feels they have been shortchanged, or you don't meet their expectations, you not only lose points, you get negative points! If you're late for an appointment, cancel an appointment, forget to bring important items or information, take phone calls during meetings, treat the meeting, event or conversation casually, you run the risk of losing positive points that would normally go towards building a positive reputation.
Why blogging, what makes it Special? Few people write well, even fewer are published writers and even fewer are published authors. Being a published writer and author can put you in a different league than your peers and competitors. On top of this a blog is the perfect distribution medium because it is fully multimedia capable.
Here are a Baker's Dozen Things you can do to Improve Your Reputation.
Make them part of your Reputation Management System.
Give people and other businesses testimonials first - If your trying to build your personal or professional reputation, help others first. This often will results in reciprocity on your behalf.
Ask people to give you testimonials. The bible says, "Ask and it will be given unto you." If you don't ask you will not get!
Ask happy customers to put testimonials in writing on letterhead, on postcards and on note paper. When you do ask, request the ratings, reviews and testimonials in both written and digital formats if at all possible. This will allow you to leverage these digital assets in social media and on your web properties.
Thank the people who compliment you publicly. If someone provides you with a positive written (or even verbal) testimonial, rating or review, make sure you thank them publicly. This will increase the chances of it happening again.
Thank anyone who posts something positive about you or your company. I can't overemphasize the importance of rewarding people who go out of their way to say something positive about you or your business. An unsolicited $5 gift card can often does wonders to insure your happy customer spreads your positive image to others.
Copy and share positive posts and testimonials. Any time you get a positive post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media site, copy and paste a link to it on your other social sites. Again its all about leveraging what you have for maximum effectiveness.
Help others learn the ropes of internet and social media usage. Helping people in general online (especially customers and prospects) can go a long way in building trust and credibility. It's often the small things we do (and our competitors don't) that wins our customers over.
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In this article I have discussed a number of ways you can build a stronger, positive reputation. In truth, we have only scratched the surface. Conversely, any reputation management system also has to be able to mitigate negative reviews, ratings and complaints. To choose not to address this portion of the reputation management system is a big mistake. In fact, it means you only have half a system in place. Worst of all, negative events will eventually happen, no matter how customer-focused you and your business are. At Working the Web to Win we have been helping businesses grow and improve their good names for almost 10 years. We help build systems that fit the individual business' needs and we do it as part of a comprehensive and consultative approach to marketing. If you have a reputation issue or just want to improve your reputation, give us a call, we can make it better, even if you think it's a lost cause. Any business that fails to manage their reputation will feel the sting of bad reviews, poor ratings or complaints about them, their business or their products. It's not a matter of if it will happen, it's a matter of when. If you put into place a mechanism to counter the negative effects which will eventually occur, your positive reputation management will mitigate the long term effects caused by a bad reviews, ratings or occasional complaints.
That's my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.
This article provides more than a dozen ways you can improve your professional or business reputation. These same items can be used as part of an ongoing program that systematizes to production of positive reviews, ratings and testimonials. Lastly, this article also provides many links to other articles including a link to the BlogTalkRadio show that goes with this and other related articles.
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