Reputation Marketing Blueprint

Market Your Reputation and Manage Your Reviews

Today’s marketing environment is dramatically
different from that of only a couple of years ago. Before, you could advertise
or use coupons to get customers in the door. People would “give you a try” if
they had an emotional motivation or incentive to do so. Treat them well and
they would come back.

Today, people don’t have to give you a try. They
let others try for them. All they have to do is look you up on line and dozens
of review sites will have the opinions of perfect strangers who are all too
happy to let you know the good, bad and, sometimes the ugly. It is great for
the consumer. He or she does very little work to get lots of
information. When you consider how many searches are made every day, it
may be surprising to realize that 25 percent of them are for local
businesses
.

You have heard radio advertising offering to
bury bad online reputations or even to eliminate them. People who respond to
those ads are already in deep trouble and are hoping to fool the public into
thinking they are not. Rarely can a legitimate negative statement be erased.
Illegal or libelous statements can be, but they are rarely the cause of anxiety
for the businesses involved. The cost of fixing these things can run into the
thousands of dollars. This is reputation management in the extreme.

For most businesses, however, negative reviews
are more likely to deal with a burned hamburger, messed up billing or a surly
employee. Some are totally true; some are just the opinion of a cranky
customer. Prospective customers see these things in context. If the negative
comments are surrounded by glowingly positive ones, very little damage is done
to the business being accused of burning hamburgers. In fact, because reviews
are generally posted in some chronological order, the negative ones can be
“buried” by the positive ones. But, letting negative review sit “on top” is a
damaging oversight.

In fact, that is exactly what those companies
who charge thousands of dollars actually do. They create or encourage lots of
positive “noise” on the Internet to literally bury the negative on the back
pages of Google making it much less likely that a prospective customer will
ever see it. The negatives don’t really disappear, they just get buried.

That falls into the category of “Reputation
Management”
. It is more of a defensive posture; reactionary to
overcoming a negative event. On the other hand, 
Reputation Marketing is inherently proactive.
It involves actively promoting the positive about a business — and encouraging
customers to express that positive experience online. In some ways it is the
difference between simply lying around and exercising.

Unfortunately, the customer just expects a
positive experience when he or she patronizes a business. So, when the business
delivers great service, it is “normal”. Only when there is a slip-up of some
sort does the customer pay particular attention. That is why it is 41
percent more likely that a review on line will be negative than positive. 
It
is simply human nature.

Proactively encouraging patrons to report on
their good experiences will turn the process from Reputation Management to
Reputation Marketing.

With some review systems, a single positive
review from a single customer is viewed with some suspicion — simply because it
is positive. People just don’t do that normally and review systems like Yelp
and Google factor that cynicism into their algorithms. Negative reviews,
however, are viewed with less suspicion. It is just normal to complain more
than compliment.

Using various systems or even outsourcing can
help business owners to garner positive comments in far greater numbers and
learn about negative experiences before the customers leave the premises.

Monitoring Your Customers/Clients Perceptions

There are easy (and free) ways to monitor your
reputation online. One program is right in   your Google
Dashboard
. Start by finding the “Me On the Web” section and click where it
says “Set up search alerts”. Then select the checkboxes beside the alerts you
want to receive and include your name and email address.  You can
optionally add any other information for which you want Google to alert you
when it shows up on  the web.

You can select how often you want to be alerted
and tell Google where to send an email when an alert is available. Make sure to
click “save” when you are done.

Microsoft offers another free program that
allows you to track when and where your business shows up online which is
called “Brandify”. This is easy to set up, too. Just go to
www.brandify.com and enter your email address. Immediately, you will receive an
email with a live link to the sign up page.

There are services that will keep an eye out for
you, as well, and notify you by email when you have a review posted on virtually
any review site. Todays businesses live and die on their reputations. Any organization the does not quickly grasp this and stay on top of it will soon be left behind.