February 19, 2016

Your Guide to Reputation Management

Your reputation is everything – manage it wisely

  • 65% of internet users see online search as the most trusted source of information about people and companies
  • 79% of consumers place equal weight on both online reviews and personal recommendations
  • 85% of consumers use the Internet for research before making a purchasing decision
  • 73% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a business more

The situation

Dentist, hairdresser, cosmetic surgeon, education provider. It doesn’t matter what your business looks like, or from which industry you operate, your reputation is everything.

The way people perceive and talk about your business will ultimately dictate your success and growth in every imaginable way.

Over the past few years, the online landscape has changed dramatically. Your customers are no longer passively consuming reviews, recommendations and advertising materials; they are actively discussing, reviewing and critiquing your products and services, all the time.

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Why is reputation management so important?

8 out of 10 businesses fail within the first 18 months. As a business owner, this is a statistic that should cause you some discomfort.

On the surface, it might appear as though the 80% fail because their product or service is unsuccessful to ever really pierce the market. The business runs out of cash, the business doesn’t make any profit and can no longer afford to pay the bills. It’s a sad but all too familiar story.

Below the cracked surface of most business failures, however, you’ll find more than an inability to sell a product or service. You’ll also discover a poor or non-existent reputation management strategy.

And this is what most business owners fail to see before it’s too late.

The internet provides a vast array of opportunity; the opportunity to connect with your audience at scale, and with intimacy, that was never before possible. In our increasingly connected and forever online world, what people say online about your business spreads like wild-fire.

If these reviews and conversations are left unmanaged, the result can be debilitating.

You’ve made great sacrifices to get your business to where it is now. You’ve invested time, money, resources. Don’t let a failure to plan for reputation management destroy your business

The solution – a reputation management plan

A successful reputation management campaign will afford your business the opportunity to grow and prosper. Poor reputation management, on the other hand, will almost certainly destroy your business, regardless of how good your products or services may be.

What is reputation management?

Reputation management is about building, maintaining, monitoring and in some cases repairing reputation. Your plan should include but not be limited to:

  • Soliciting and curating positive online reviews
  • Dealing with and responding to negative reviews
  • Selecting review platforms that are most suitable for your business and industry type
  • Distributing reviews and positive feedback across marketing channels (social media, website, EDM)
  • Maintaining an active presence and profile on your website and social media accounts
  • Building a strong online community and following

Reviews and reputation management platforms

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There are literally hundreds of reviewing platforms now available. The trick is maintaining an active and overall positive profile in the appropriate locations.

Customers are actively looking for a reason to trust your product – the importance of online reviews should not be underestimated.

While certain industries will have their own unique platforms for reputation management, at the bare minimum, you need to have an active profile with reviews on both Google+ and Facebook.

Dealing with negative reviews

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Generating good reviews that genuinely reflect your business takes encouragement. The reality is, that even if someone is genuinely satisfied with your product or service, they are unlikely to leave a review.

Unhappy customers, on the other hand, will be much quicker to express their discontent.

Negative reviews happen. It’s unlikely everyone will always be satisfied with your product or service. You may even find yourself in the unlucky situation where someone you’ve never even met decides to leave you a nasty review.

If you don’t have any negative reviews, it probably means you don’t have enough reviews.

This is why maintaining a full-star rating should never be part of your reputation management strategy. For most business owners, the knee-jerk reaction to receiving a negative review is to either go straight on the defensive or to try and have the review hidden or deleted.

This is the worst possible way to deal with a negative review.

A negative review can actually be used to your advantage with the right reputation management strategy.

  • Ensure positive reviews well outnumber your negative reviews

Hassling people to leave you great reviews may at the time seem like a painful task, but these great reviews will overshadow any negative responses.

  • Reply promptly to any negative reviews

Reply promptly to any negative reviews. Don’t go on the negative, apologize where appropriate and highlight you commitment to continued improvement. When people read through your reviews, they will also read any responses. A prompt, friendly reply will often provide more benefit to your business than the negative review will do harm.

  • Correct any misinformation in a factual but friendly way

If you genuinely believe you are not at fault, respond in a factual way. Avoid sounding defensive at all costs, but explain why the review is undeserved. If you fear the review is not genuine at all, DO bring that up, but only if you are sure they did not visit your business, not as a way to discredit a real review.

The summary

One of the most exciting things about owning and operating a business in the digital age is the opportunity you have to expose your business to an audience that is always connected and always online.

A successful reputation management campaign will transform your loyal customers into brand ambassadors and use online review platforms to increase sales and encourage growth.

If you fail to include reputation management as part of your overall marketing strategy, prepare for a very painful lesson.

Your reputation is everything – manage it wisely.

Reputation Management with Surf Pacific

Over the past few years, we have been implementing reputation management into the overall marketing strategy for our clients. Working closely with our clients, gaining a deep understanding of their values and helping them build a business core story have been integral ingredients in creating successful reputation management campaigns.

Taking the first step toward building a strong online reputation isn’t always easy. We’re giving away a free, printable, POS document to help you start growing your online community with online reviews. Simply print the document and start giving it away to your happy customers!

If you’d like to talk more about reputation management and how it affects your business, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us today.