Being in business is like diving in to a pit of snakes. There are dangers lurking at every turn – staff turnover and training, fluctuating cash flow, client dependence, people stealing your coffee cup, fatigue and a lack of resources when you need them most, are just a few of the pitfalls of being a businessperson.
You spend a great deal of time on managing your cash flow, your human resources and the physical functions of the business, and so often ignore the one thing that can help you balance quality and growth of your business – managing your reputation. Small business relies heavily on word of mouth referral, but do you know what consumers and the public are saying about you online?
Consumers are more tech savvy than ever, and blogs and social media portals allow them to provide immediate feedback on service and experience. Has your business invested any time or resources in evaluating or managing your reputation?
Here are five tips to managing and improving your business reputation.
Monitor your social media – this is the best way to keep an eye on what is happening with your brand and what users are saying about your business. Its easier to connect with your customer than ever before and evaluating what your customers are saying about you, your competitors and what is happening with your brand is fundamental to its success.
Google yourself – Its not narcissistic to keep an eye on what is being said about you online – its good business sense to be aware of how people are talking about you, as well as providing you an opportunity to respond quickly and, where possible, fix anything that could become a larger issue. You should do this at least daily. Blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Yelp are a good place to start.
Prevention is easy – know what expectations people have of your business and put strategies in place to manage those expectations. Develop a solid social media strategy that can make your brand more attractive and can drown out the noises that may be affecting your brand in a negative way.
Be proactive – Rewarding people who positively comment on your business or brand makes good sense. It can be as simple as thanks via social media or send a small voucher and elevate their experience even more. They become your brand ambassadors and activists. Develop plans around creating and delivering exciting and engaging online content, publish frequently and be more active in your output. This affects online search results about you and frames your brand in a more positive light.
Be kind – it’s hard to read negative feedback about you or your business, but it is best to respond in a kind and positive manner. This encourages those people who have had a negative experience to think differently about your brand. Every negative experience can result in a positive outcome if managed correctly.
If you don’t have time to manage your reputation, then hire someone who can help to monitor and manage how your brand is considered and spoken about. It’s a small price to pay for potentially big results. It will be money well spent.