The importance of brand reputation cannot be understated; it is somewhat intangible and hard to measure, but it is one of the most important elements in running a successful business. How other people view your brand determines if they click on your page, if they speak positively about your brand, and most importantly if they decide to do business with you. If customers don’t trust a brand, they will seriously hesitate to buy from them. However, if customers do trust a brand, they will remain loyal. It all comes down to reputation.
Building a positive brand image takes time and effort, but there are general strategies to follow. Adopting these strategies will help develop and improve your reputation.
How to Start
The first step in building a better brand reputation is to have a plan and start early. Begin by determining areas that need improvement, and then making a strategy based on those areas. Do you respond to online reviews? Do you publish blogs? Are you being talked about on social media? Find out and keep track. There are some monitoring tools, like Mention or the Brand Grader, that can track where and when your brand is being talked about online. This takes care of data collection and allows you to focus on what the data means.
Publish more and in more places. Rather than posting your blogs on just your site, publish to many outside sources and mediums. Post guest blogs and have a presence on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media sites. Keep the sites you publish relevant to your brand but take advantage of the Internet web. Posting across multiple sites creates interconnectivity that all leads back to your brand, which in turn increases your visibility. The authority of where you post also becomes your authority. If a customer sees your brand on a site they trust, they are more likely to trust you too. Posting on a website known for their accurate information will increase your brand’s reputation. Use the positive reputation of other websites to boost your own.
One of the best strategies that can be done to improve your reputation online is by receiving reviews. As reviews are one of the first things customers see when investigating a new company, businesses need to ensure that they have an adequate amount. However, what if your business is not receiving enough reviews?
You ask. Create different spaces for users to leave reviews, give them ample opportunities to share their feedback. Adding incentives for leaving reviews will entice even more people to leave their opinions. Place review fields at the right moments, like after a customer completes a transaction or reorders a product. However, there is a right way to ask for a review; make it a conversation and ask an open-ended question.
Once you’ve found your reviews and comments, it is time to optimize their value. Find genuine user-submitted reviews and take the time to respond. Thank your customers for their reviews and acknowledge their opinions. Use positive reviews to learn what you are doing right. Apologize and address negative reviews in a respectful way, use this as an opportunity to win back customers.
However, you must be honest and sincere when you respond to comments. Sending the same response to each customer will come off as disingenuous. Take the time to answer your customers in a personal way, it will show the customer you care.
Study the Competition
It is important to know where your company stands against the competition. By looking at what other companies are doing, you can avoid their pitfalls and learn from their successes. You can even reverse engineer marketing strategies by looking at trends from competitors. Thankfully, most everything is public on social media meaning you can see competitor’s engagement, posting style, and more can be accessed with the right tools.
Partner with Influencers
Working with influencers is a good way to receive positive exposure. Influencers are individuals with respect, large audiences, and connections in their industry. Some of that large audience have likely never heard of your business, so partnering with an influencer expands your customer reach. Working with an influencer also provides credibility, you are taking the influencer’s trusting fans and using that trust to win new customers for your brand.
Customers care about what a company believes in and how they act. It is no longer enough for a brand to sell a good product, they must also have a human element and social consciousness to stay competitive. Companies need to support something larger than themselves, something for the greater good of humanity, and doing so helps your brand. By showing your brand is socially conscious, customers will look at your brand with a positive connotation. This, in turn, improves brand awareness, which results in more people looking at your message of good, and increasing reputation. For example, companies like Subaru are focusing on diversity and other heartwarming themes in their commercials, while other companies are tackling environmental challenges by making reusable and washable filters.
Improving your brand reputation is one of the most important aspects of running a business, as it can directly affect your bottom line. Put the time and effort into nurturing your relationship with customers and you will see the rewards.
~Nick Rojas is a self-taught, serial entrepreneur who’s enjoyed success working with and consulting for startups. Using his journalism training, Nick writes for publications such as Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, and Yahoo. He concentrates on teaching small and medium-sized enterprises how best to manage their social media marketing and define their branding objectives. Connect with Nick on Twitter at @NickARojas