• Business Reputation Management 101

BUSINESS REPUTATION MANAGEMENTA business reputation important, but also complicated. While it has many aspects that you can’t control, it also has many aspects that you are responsible for. As a result, your reputation management activities should be diverse. They should employ a mix of proactive, reactive, and daily efforts to ensure that your business stays true to its values and gets represented accurately and positively. In this post we’ll go over the basics of business reputation management: why it’s important, how to form structure around it, and how to do reputation management effectively.

Why is Reputation Management Important?

You may earn your reputation, but it is never set in stone. It is subject to change due to factors both within and beyond your control. So, while having a good reputation is important, maintaining that reputation over time is even more so.

It is also important to always be managing your reputation, not just sporadically or when you have to respond to a negative review. Just like with exercise, your business reputation requires regular maintenance in order to stay in good condition.

Creating a Reputation Management Plan

While your business reputation is meant to be an organic product of your business’s behavior, you do need to put some structure around it. A reputation management plan will help you to stay aligned with specific values. It will also help you to distinguish your business from competitors.

You can’t be the known for or good at everything. Focus on what is most important to you and your target audience. This way, you can deliver a more clear and memorable message through your reputation management activities. Here are some questions to ask yourself when forming a reputation management plan:

•  What are the values and vision of your business?
•  What three words do you want to come to people’s minds when describing your business?
•  What is most important to your immediate audience. That is, your surrounding community, target audience, first network connections.

The above questions will help you to set the foundation for your reputation management goals. The below questions will help provide direction in the activities you perform to achieve those goals:

•  How do you want customers to feel when interacting with your business?
•  What do you want strangers to think when learning about your business?
•  How do you want social media followers to react to your posts?
•  What thoughts do you want people to walk away with after interacting with you or a team member?

Think carefully about the thoughts, feelings, and needs of the people who come into contact with your business, and see if you can identify common threads.

How to Do Reputation Management

Reputation management will look different for every business. Some businesses are focusing on building their reputation. Others are repairing after an unfortunate setback. Some are looking to pivot into a new direction, and yet others simply want to maintain where they’re at. There is no one way to do reputation management, but there are four fundamentals that are essential to every reputation management plan.

Stay Simple

As mentioned above, you don’t create your reputation. Nor does it form overnight. It is the bigger picture of your business that forms from long term patterns. Rather than doing flashy activities or one off campaigns, focus on carrying out the regular activities of your business through the lens of your values. You can get more proactive, but put your daily habits in place will ensure success in larger efforts.

Be Consistent

Slow and steady is the key. If you try to win the approval of the masses or gain favor quickly, you’re likely to have spikes in your performance. The most effective way to do reputation management is consistently over time. This will ensure that your reputation is structurally sound and will remain stable in the midst of challenges. People will also trust a business more if it has consistent average customer reviews rather than a polarized mix of great and bad reviews.

Be Honest

The only way to conduct effective reputation management is with honesty. You should accommodate your audience’s needs, but do not conform or change just so that certain people or groups will like you.You can’t meet everyone’s needs, so target the ones whose needs you can meet, and send the others along to other businesses that can. Being real and honest is what will make your business likable.

Be Realistic

The success of your reputation management depends on your ability to act with integrity. Be realistic about your expectations and goals, so that you can do what you say you’re going to do, keep promises you make, and follow through on everything. A business that stays loyal to a few simple standards will get chosen over a business that ebbs and flows in sticking to a lofty M.O.