Every business has a product and/or service, which is what they deliver to their customers to meet their needs. Every business has a brand, which is how they want people to feel when they encounter or engage with it. Every business also has a reputation, which is how people actually perceive your business: your brand, products, services, and more.
All business owners know that their reputation is important, but they don’t always know why it is important, or just how important it is. In this post we’ll cover what your business reputation is and the implications it has that makes it so important in a business.
You know how you feel about your business, and you know how you want your business to appear to others. But that doesn’t necessarily equate to how others experience or perceive it.
Your business reputation is made up of what others think and feel about your business, based on their experience with your business, what they’ve heard about your business, and the facts they’ve gathered about your business—true or not. It exists both online and off, in loyal customers and in total strangers to your business.
People don’t wait until they know they have all of the information about a business to decide whether to engage with it, or make sure that the information they do have is accurate. They use whatever information is readily available to them to make a decision. Your business reputation is that readily available information.
As a business owner, of course you want others to think highly of your business, but your reputation extends far beyond just how you appear.
Your business reputation is important because it is impacted by everything you do. Every decision you make throughout the day, every action you take, interaction you have, every last detail, right down to your body language, is a factor that affects your reputation.
At the same time that your business reputation is determined by everything you do, it determines the things you do as well. Your business reputation makes it easy or difficult to conduct certain business and marketing activities, influencing which ones you decide to carry out and which ones are not as feasible.
Another indicator of the importance of business reputation is that it is everywhere: Your online reputation is is in your business blog, website, social media engagement, online customer reviews, and in others’ blogs, websites, and social media channels. Your offline reputation is in your store or office, in the members of your town or city, in your customers, at your events, and in your phone calls. It is everything you do even outside of business hours. Your business reputation is so pervasive, its importance is hard to ignore.
You care about how your target audience and customers perceive your brand, but you need to care about how everyone perceives your reputation: that includes your target audience, your niche markets, your customers, your competitors, community members, employees, strangers, those who support it and those who don’t. Your brand affects how your target audience engages with your business, but your business reputation affects how your entire network interacts with your business.
As a member or owner of your business, it can sometimes be tough to stand back and view it purely objectively. Your business reputation helps you get a more realistic picture of how your business is actually being perceived by others, regardless of how you think they are perceiving it, or how you personally feel about it. It can serve as a guide in your efforts to stand out from the crowd and distinguish your business from competitors.
Your business reputation is also important because it can alert you when to take action when you might not necessarily have known to. For example, if you find a particular product or service is not getting as many positive reviews at it used to, or that people are writing negative reviews on it, it’s probably time you made improvements or updates.
Given the power it has over your business’s success, the importance of managing your business reputation is a no brainer. Managing your business reputation is a combination of both building it and monitoring it.
Building your reputation consists of the activities and strategies you can implement to develop a positive and accurate view of your business among outsiders. Reputation building exists online and offline, and can be facilitated in just about everything you do.
While reputation building focuses on what you want people think and say about your business, reputation monitoring focuses on what they actually are thinking and saying about it. Monitoring your reputation involves keeping a close eye on the various channels people use both to engage with your business, and to engage with others about your business.
Your business reputation is less concrete than your products, services, and brand, but no less important. In fact, it may be the most important aspect of a business. Understanding not just that it is important, but how and why it is important, will keep you on track with painting the best and most accurate picture of your business to outsiders.