Whether your business is big or small, brand reputation is hugely important. You need to be constantly thinking about how you want to be known and remembered by your leads, customers, and website visitors.
Most business owners would probably say that they want their company to be well-thought of, but don’t necessarily have a plan to execute on.
So here’s a workable plan, also known as – what I like to call – the eight be’s (you’ll find out why in a second). Here’s how you can build your online business with brand reputation in mind.
Transparency is being talked about online more than ever before. For some, like Pat Flynn, it’s about disruption. He saw an opportunity to be transparent in a niche where businesses generally weren’t putting a face to their brand and being open about everything.
But what it comes down to is that people don’t want your corporate nonsense. They want to feel connected to you.
Transparency creates trust. When you’re open about who you are, what your business is about, and what your goals are, people can identify with you. When you don’t share relevant details with your audience, you become just another faceless corporate entity.
Authenticity – especially in connection with transparency – is particularly important online. You might even say that you can’t have one without the other.
What’s missing from most businesses is that all important human element, whether it’s humor, wit, emotion, passion, or excitement.
Think of it this way. Most businesses online are speaking in a monotone voice. They aren’t particularly excited about anything. You stand out like a sore thumb when you start talking with passion, enthusiasm, and emotion, because that’s what’s lacking from many businesses.
You can’t serve everyone, so learn to focus in on your target market. Study, research, and ask questions. Get to know your prospects, leads and customers so you can be their go-to solution.
Remember to stay up-to-date in your industry. Changes and shifts are happening all the time – especially in technology – and you can’t afford to get left behind. You have to be flexible in your approach, because you never know when you might need to pivot or make some tweaks to your business model.
Additionally, keep an eye on your competition. Learn how they are serving the market, and figure out how you can do better, or do something unique that will grab the attention of the market.
There’s a common misconception about building your brand online; it’s not about stimulating engagement. It’s about being engaging.
A lot of people tend to think that if they just post more photos, ask the right questions, and share the right ratio of their own content to curated content that they’ll eventually build a following that loves to participate in discussions. Those might be good tactics, but that’s not how engagement works.
It starts with you. If you want to engage, you have to be engaging! You have to think about what makes you worth following, because that’s what’s going to set the precedent for the longevity and strength of your brand.
You can’t manage your brand without keeping an eye on feedback, reviews, social posts, search results, and so on. Ultimately, there’s only so much you can control, and rest assured, you will have some haters. Since negative is an inevitably, it’s all about how you respond.
Use tools like Google Alerts and Social Mention to monitor what’s being said about you online. Again, you may not be able to change people’s minds, and there may not necessarily be a lot you can do about the negative, but when you’re aware of what’s going on, you won’t be taken by surprise.
Most of the time, the negative isn’t even worth responding to or paying attention to. At other times, it could provide inspiration for blog posts or FAQ topics that will ultimately end up helping your target audience.
We have a tendency to think that our business is all about us. Of course, you’re probably building a business because you want to make some money and do something that challenges and fulfills you, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
But if you care about your brand reputation, you have to be looking for ways to add value to people. You have to have a servant’s attitude, and continually ask, “how can I help you?”
If you’re only interested in your own affairs, why should anyone else care? Make your target audience the centerpiece of your business.
Good content can boost your credibility and increase trust with your customers. If you don’t have a blog or a content strategy yet, it would be a good time to get started on that.
Share industry tips and insights with your target audience. Share news about the industry, and exciting happenings in your company.
Of course, don’t forget to keep your blog updated. It’s not a “set and forget” marketing strategy. It’s a relationship-building tool that you can leverage to attract new customers and build trust with them.
Consistency is important in a number of different ways. Think of the content you’re going to create for your website. Think about your social posts. Think about the overall message you want to put out into the word. You want to be consistent in the way you show up online.
It’s also good to be consistent in your communication, in the quality of content and service you provide, in the way you treat customers, and so on.
Conflicting information can throw people off, and cause people to question who you are, what you’re doing, and how trustworthy you are. When you always show up in the same way, people know what to expect, and grow to like and trust you.
When you have a solid, established brand, you’ve already won half the battle as a business. People will come to you because they know they can count on you to get the job done.
Managing your reputation can be a lot of work, but it’s worth the effort. Remember to delight your customers in whatever ways you can, and don’t be afraid to do some things that are un-scalable when you’re first getting up and running (like recording and sending a personalized video to every new customer).