Perception is Reality for Small Businesses

branding and loyaltyWhy managing your company’s brand and reputation is important for customer loyalty and future business referrals

It is natural to think about paid advertising, building an online social presence, and finding the traction your new business needs in order to grow. Unfortunately, managing the reputation of your business may not feel like a priority until something goes terribly awry. Business owners must take control of the way the world views them in order to protect their bottom line.

One need only look at how quickly gossip spreads to understand how dangerous a damaged reputation can be. Psychology Today describes a reputation as an “animal designed by committee.” While you give birth to a reputation, it is the actions of others who determine how it’s going to develop.

Before the age of Internet, customer complaints were fairly easy to manage. Even when a customer walked away frustrated, the scope of the fallout was fairly limited. Today, clients can take to the Internet, and tell the world what they think of you – fair or not. Due to a proliferation of review sites, blogs, and open forums, consumers have a built-in platform for shouting their displeasure to anyone who will listen. In addition, these platforms give your competitors an opportunity to anonymously tear you down.

People seem surprised when they see a photograph of a super model without makeup or hear that a Hollywood “good guy” did something wrong. That’s because our perceptions feel like the truth to us. Advertisers understand that it is not the truth about a product but what we believe about it that matters, says Elite Daily. You can have the best carpet cleaning business in the world or serve the finest sushi this side of Tokyo, but if word has gotten out that you’re bad at what you do, that is what many people will believe to be the truth.

While it sounds daunting, no one can take control of your overall business reputation better than you can.

Make Reputation a Priority

Industry Week says that no company is free to go about business without concern for their reputation. No matter how large your business grows, your reputation will be vital to your bottom line. Even Ford Motor Company lists “reputation management” as one of its top issues on executive agendas. Each and every employee who comes to work for you must understand from day one that – now, more than ever – customers and clients must walk away feeling as though your business did everything possible to meet their needs. This may mean an extra trip out to their home to look at a sprinkler system or allowing them to return a purchase they were unhappy with. Each consumer must be viewed as a potential “marketer” for your business. What they say can make or break you.

In the event a consumer cannot be placated and takes to the Internet to bash your business, a third party company can help you manage your online reputation and get ahead of problems before they mushroom out of control. Industry leader offers advice on how to do so on their company Twitter page. In the meantime, do everything within your power to ensure things don’t get that far.

The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule of business is the same as the Golden Rule of life. Simply treat your customers as you would want to be treated. Teach your staff to do the same. In fact, accept nothing less of your staff. Just as bad reputation can sink your business, people are sure to tell friends and family about you after you’ve gone out of your way to provide exceptional service.

Learn to Listen

A good policy in life – and in business – is to spend twice as much time listening as you do speaking. No matter how silly a complaint seems, listen carefully to what your customer is saying. Most people want to know that they are being heard. Sometimes their complaint truly is minor, but just knowing that you heard their concern can go a long way toward building goodwill.

Guest Post: This post was contributed by blogger Bryan Bates. Bryan is the marketer of marketing. He can take Pepsi and sell it to Coke.

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Editorial Staff

This post was written by editorial staff.