When I launched CyberStockroom in 2011, my idea of building a reputation for the company was to project a professional front. We did this by landing articles and reviews on reputable websites, publishing press releases, blogging about news and releases, and (I’m a little ashamed to say) trying to brute force our name into various Social Media networks. These techniques did work to a certain extent but they became the launching pad for more sophisticated and less dubious strategies. I would like to share with you 3 keys that we have learned since then to establishing a REAL reputation of quality and trustworthiness for our business.
1. Listen to your clients
The internet is a very, very, very large place. You can certainly try to make yourself so visible that you can’t be ignored but this will always be a small drop in a vast ocean. Instead, you should focus on the people who are already interested in you. At our company we use a very liberal definition of the word ‘Client’. It’s not just our paying users but also those who have shown any interest in our service and anyone who engages with our content. In the enormous online world, these are ‘our people’ and we make a determined effort to listen very carefully and to help as much as we can. And here’s the key: it’s not only about trying to SELL our service. It’s about being a resource and an ally. Thinking like this is a long term strategy that pays off in surprising dividends. You might not close that sale today, but you will nurture a relationship and a community that will bloom down the line for your business.
2. The Personal Touch
Many business owners, especially new entrepreneurs, have a very misguided notion that being too personal is somehow unprofessional. Social media is littered with business accounts that continuously spam their followers and hope to somehow become more trustworthy in this way. The truth is that even if these types of accounts gain a following, they remain the outcasts of social media networking. People want to communicate with other people, not nameless accounts. This doesn’t just mean that you should use your name as your handle but also that your messages, tweets and posts should be the kind that a human being, not a machine, would make. There is no better way to open up a real channel of communication than by making a personal overture about something that someone has said or done. An extremely powerful way to make other people interested in your business is to make them interested in you. So don’t hide behind a corporate account and hope for real engagement. Share, comment and laugh with other people and they will be irresistibly drawn to you and all your endeavours!
The third key is very much in line with the second. Business owners are fond of strategizing and wondering how they can persuade others to make a purchase, leave a comment, like a post or sign up to a newsletter. The worst mistake you can make is to underestimate your clients. If you want your business to succeed, then you should also want intelligent, well-informed and engaged clients. These clients will not fall for disingenuous marketing tricks or obscure agendas. The fastest way to appeal to them is by being honest, helpful and professional. When you use underhanded methods to grow your business’ reputation, the only person you’re deceiving is yourself. Be honest, open and engaged and people will naturally want to talk about you. Think about the last person or business that you excitedly told someone about. Did you do it because you had been conned into a sale? Definitely Not! You talked about it because you felt good. Maybe you liked the way you were treated or you had a pleasant personal experience. That’s what we like to talk about and that’s what will take your business reputation to the next level.
What techniques have you learned to grow your business’ reputation? I’d love to hear from you!