In today’s society, word of mouth flies across mobile devices and social media platforms. People are eager to consume information so they can make quick decisions for their needs. As such, your business reputation can take on a life of its own, so it is important to proactively develop your company’s reputation so that it is a strong one. In this post we’ll go over the elements of a strong reputation, and how to develop one for your business.
A strong reputation is one that remains stable amidst the chaos of real-time, viral, and trending information in our culture today. It presents your company accurately to a consumer quickly trying to learn about your business. While you target your messaging, everyone is entitled to their own perceptions. A strong reputation is one that is minimally impacted by misinterpretation. Finally, a strong reputation is one that doesn’t change easily, such as with one negative review or mistake (This is life. Those do happen!).
A good business reputation is important, but it doesn’t happen overnight. It is developed over time, across many channels: online, offline, in various communities, in you, your employees, and more. Reputation development is a slow and sustained process, but the more channels you use, the more quickly you can build true strength. Below are some strategies for developing a strong foundation for your business reputation.
Develop a Strong Reputation With Your Knowledge
One of the best ways to develop your business reputation is to build your knowledge. Stay on top of industry topics, news, and standards. Be constantly learning. Equip yourself to be able to answer questions in any scenario—in your store or on the train, in online groups or at networking events.
The obvious reason for this is because the more knowledgeable you are on your field, the more you will be trusted, and trust is essential to your reputation. A less obvious reason is that actively learning and staying up to date will lead you to be more active in industry and community groups, and lead to more interactions with people in your network. The more people who can get to know you, the stronger your reputation will become.
Share your knowledge with everyone, not just your customers. Create a resources page on your business website accessible to everyone. Host a free webinar online or run a workshop in your community. Promote your small business blog to the people it will help. Send the message that you don’t just want people’s business, you want to share what you know to help them solve a problem.
When leveraging your knowledge to develop your reputation, be conscious of your tone and language. Be careful not to place yourself above your target audience. You don’t to make them feel inferior or insulted. You want them to feel secure in that they have you as a trusted resource in an area with which they are less familiar.
Also, don’t share your expertise at the expense of other experts in your field. You don’t create a strong reputation by beating them to the top. You earn a strong reputation by representing yourself as a thought leader among them; a member of a group of experts collectively making your industry better. Set yourself apart with your knowledge but keep yourself a part of your community. Be human, be informative, and be respectful.
When running events, avoid the mindset of getting as many potential clients in the door as possible. Take the approach of simply welcoming community members into your world, wanting to learn about them and get to know them. You can have email list signups or give out branded swag, but stay focused on building relationships, not closing deals.
Developing your reputation doesn’t just have to focus on getting people to engage with your business. Look at how you can get people to engage with each other, to improve their relationships within the community to strengthen it as a whole. Connect professionals to each other, refer people to neighboring businesses, partner with other businesses. Facilitate success for other people and businesses, not just yours. This is a great way to distinguish your business from competitors, and over time, it will not go unnoticed that you are the common thread for others’ success.
It goes without saying that being of service to people can earn you a positive reputation among them. There are many ways to develop and manage your business reputation by serving the community. Volunteer regularly, host fundraisers, or pick a charity to focus on each year. On a smaller scale, offer your time, advice, or services to your friends’ family members. Mentor students who are interested in your field. Teach a free workshop in your neighborhood. The more ways you can give to the community, the more you’ll see it giving back to you.
Stay on top of what people are thinking about your products and services. You can do this passively by keeping an eye on review sites and other social forums. You can also take a more proactive approach by asking your target audience directly. You don’t need to create a full survey. Ask one question a week on social media. Make a quick three-question poll for your store.
A good business reputation is important, but doesn’t happen overnight. It develops organically through intentional efforts. Follow these guidelines and it will not just be you—but also your customers, neighbors, friends, and even your competitors—who are contributing to the development of a strong and accurate reputation.