Founder and Interim CEO at Marqui Management, overseeing the development, transformation, and success of online brands globally.
I believe we have surpassed the digital age and have evolved to the Information Era. With many consumers using the internet to find local businesses, your brand’s online presence and reputation are becoming progressively and exponentially more crucial.
Many business leaders are familiar with “online reputation management” by now, or ORM, but as the CEO of a reputation management firm, I’ve found few truly know about reputation marketing and what it can do for increasing sales and building a brand’s online image.
What is reputation marketing?
Reputation marketing is taking a proactive approach toward your brand’s presence, whereas reputation management is a reactive strategy used to target bad press, reviews and other forms of negative content. One of the easiest and most common strategies used for reputation marketing is embedding reviews and testimonials on your website.
Today, both job and college applicants understand the importance of being cautious of what is posted online, including on social media and various websites, so why shouldn’t your brand? With some estimating that Google processes more than 5 billion searches each day, it’s not a question of if but when a customer will search for your company, or even you for that matter, online. It’s best that potential customers find both positive and authentic information; I’ve found this could be the difference between winning a customer or someone turning away from a sale or canceling their services altogether.
Common Mistakes Made In Reputation Marketing
Above, I mentioned the need for positive and authentic information. Positive information about your brand and team are essential. There are two strategies for accumulating positive information about your brand: organic and paid.
• Organic information is more trustworthy in the eyes of consumers. Most consumers can tell when reviews are authentic and when they are paid for, in addition to press releases, news and media mentions.
• Paid-for information generally has a bad reputation because it is not “earned,” meaning anyone can acquire it. This includes paying for reviews, press releases or interviews.
It’s important to avoid the mistake of relying on only sharing paid-for information. A well-planned reputation marketing strategy will use both forms, with more resources and efforts placed on the organic approach. While it might seem tempting to buy fake reviews, pay your customers for leaving reviews or pay to get your brand on certain websites, these efforts will likely yield little to no return on investment.
Rather, invest in getting your press release out to wide audiences any time your brand has made a massive change or has gained recognition. In this manner, you are piggybacking a paid reputation marketing strategy on your organic efforts and getting it recognized by more potential customers.
Building An Actionable Reputation Marketing Strategy
When focusing on reputation marketing, it’s vital to take the initiative and proactively promote your brand’s story, rather than wait for a crisis to occur. Here are a few best practices for getting started:
1. Create an outreach campaign that asks customers for honest feedback.
Arguably one of the most successful ways to promote your brand’s image online is by acquiring more reviews for your business. More than 70% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from someone they know. Websites like Facebook, Yelp and Google My Business are only a few of the many sites that can be used to collect and monitor reviews from your customers.
It is not enough to simply send an email that asks for reviews, and paying for reviews is often seen as unethical and in a “grey legal area.” Reputation marketing is about targeting the sources of bad reviews from a consultant’s perspective and devising a solution to fix the discrepancies that caused them. You’ll begin to recognize a pattern if customers are complaining about the price, quality of service or product, or professionalism of support and staff.
With reputation marketing, your brand is positioning itself as the authority figure in its respective industry. Do not worry about the star rating of the reviews at first; just know that over time, with hard work and dedication, you will be able to increase those ratings and have a much more marketable brand and reputation.
2. Communicate authentically, effectively and passionately.
In reputation marketing, authenticity is key. Authenticity is a primary factor that influences whether consumers like and support a brand.
You must be honest, courteous and uplifting from the start. In my experience, people are relatively good at determining what’s real and what’s inauthentic. I say this to add that having hundreds of great online reviews is not enough. Differentiate yourself from your competition in all emails, phone calls and anything that represents your brand. Authenticity will lead to higher quality leads and repeat buyers.
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