Monday, December 3, 2012

Online Reputation Management

Business Reputation Management as a Marketing Tool? Your business depends on two key items; Product and Marketing. A business must have both. How you manage your reputation is a key element in how you market your business. How you communicate with your customer/potential client is important to your reputation. Without spamming, more communication is almost always better to the client relationship and your reputation.

Marketing is Communications. Business marketing (to the client/perspective customer) goes far beyond advertising your product. Some communications you control: Advertising, and some you do not: word of mouth. How you present your company from word of mouth to how you answer the phone or where you place your ad communicates to the customer much about your business and reputation. 

Marketing Communications Have Evolved. Your ability to market your product to a larger audience (larger client/potential customer base) has grown tremendously. It has also become significantly more complex and fractured. Gone are the traditional forms where a single newspaper ad or direct mail piece would bring in customers. At one time newspaper advertising, radio and TV were the only way a potential customer was informed about your business. Today's consumer mostly ignores the ads, and if they do they frequently turn to the Internet for more information. If they are looking for a product (service or item) they look on the Internet. They see more than just your product – they find information about your business – your reputation. 

A Website is NOT Enough Anymore. If they come looking - you must be there, but its deeper than that. A website today is akin to hanging a sign on your building, it says little more about your business. Sure you want to drive potential customers to your website, and it must be content rich to keep them, but no longer is a website alone enough. They will visit your website and others in search of or to research your product. They will also visit your competitors. Consumers are savvy that in addition to researching your product, they will research you and your business. They have become accustomed to having more information available on both and not just from your site, but from independent sources. They will compare you to your competitors. They will read reviews. Your reputation counts online as much as ever. 

Online Reputation Management. If your customers are researching your business online, then it would be wise to know what they are seeing. Assuming your website is in order, where are they getting information about you? Its different for every business category, from professional associations to Amazon reviews to competitors website to personal blogs. You must thoroughly research your business online, research your competitors and assess what you find. 

Key to Online Reputation Management: COMMUNICATE Little or no information? Inaccurate information? The good news is you can control most of it and influence the rest. Without going into Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to raise your Google ranking, the best way to fight little, bad or inaccurate information is with more, good and accurate information. You can do this through your website, but also through other resources. For example Wikipedia. Why not start a Wikipedia page about your business? You can't control Wikipedia, but you can influence the information. There are tangible benefits too - search results on your product and your business. How about a blog? Its a good way to communicate information about your business in an informal way, address issues you may not on your website AND again you will likely result in more search hits. Make or correct listings on professional association websites. Join professional networking sites like LinkedIn and consider (based on appropriateness for your business) social networking websites like Facebook. And if relevant – ask your customers for an online review at an independent site.

Communicate And They Will Come.

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