Your reputation is what your business is built on. Well, that and a hefty dose of a marketable product or service. In the digital age, it’s often the case that prospective clients or customers will find your digital footprint and get to know you via social media, your website, email marketing, and videos long before you ever meet them in person—if at all! In fact, Google’s data shows that the average consumer has five to 12 touches with a company before they decide to purchase. As a result, making sure every digital touch you have with them is both on-brand and positive should be a top priority.
We all know there are thousands of marketing and PR tactics out there and a new campaign idea can spark like wildfire and quickly become the new “must-do” campaign, best practice, etc. But in reality, we don’t all have time to be testing out every new theory, gimmick, campaign idea or tactic.
What you need to make time for is an overall streamlining of your digital presence (and a regular health check of it too!) in order to ensure your business and its reputation are reflected online as you want them to be. Here are the six steps, each one building on the last, you need to do just that. (And yes, these tactics can also apply to your personal reputation as a working professional.
1. Clearly define your brand values
What does your brand stand for? What are the values you believe that you want to convey to the world? Take 10 minutes to write out everything that comes to mind. This can also be done in a group scenario with key stakeholders each writing their own lists. Then compile those lists, circle the duplicates and use those to develop a singular set of common values.
2. Identify your ideal client
It’s always exciting when a company gets a new contract. Yay sales! But if that client doesn’t renew, it’s often flagged as an issue with the sales team’s ability to close. However, the real issue may stem from the marketing and PR department. If your tactics are targeting “a potential client” and not “your ideal clients,” then no amount of smooth talking or value selling on the sales associate’s part will turn that one-off sale into a recurring client. It’s the recurring clients who become your brand ambassadors, positive Yelp and Facebook reviewers, referral network and public success stories—all of which lead to a positive reputation and more business.
Cut the sales team’s laborious back-and-forth process with the wrong client off at the knees by ensuring all of your marketing and communications speak directly to your ideal client. To do that, you need to identify who that person truly is. What do they care about? What is their age/marital status/interests? Do they live in a city or suburbs? How do they spend their money? Do they have time to shop around or do they need a quick fix in an easily accessible online search?
These questions all help you create your client persona so you know exactly who you should be targeting.
Even if you’ve done this before, it’s helpful to recheck yourself every quarter or halfway through the year to make sure nothing changed. Every industry fluctuates and changes throughout a year and you want to be sure you’re not missing an opportunity for positive, and helpful, reviews and press.
3. Audit your website
Go through your website with a fine-tooth comb. Does the copy speak directly to your to the ideal client you just identified? Are the images something they can relate to or does it still target a wider net?
If your site is very large, start with prioritizing the homepage, top product or service pages, and your conversion pages—the ones that require an action by the end user. Then you can work through the others as time allows.
The more your ideal client can relate to what you present, the faster they move through the sales funnel and can then become the brand ambassador you need.
4. Evaluate your social media accounts
To begin with, are you using the platforms where your ideal client or customer is active, or are you using ones where you want to be active? The latter is an all-too-common mistake that is the first answer to, “Why am I not getting leads from social media?” More often than not, you’re not hitting your ideal audience where they gather, but rather where you want to do so.
Update the graphics and the language on all of your accounts to reflect the same tone of voice and values you’ve just done on your website. After all, many people will see you on social media before they click through to your website so be sure it’s a seamless experience from one to the next. Consistency is key to building a business and a positive reputation. People like to know what they can expect when working with a company.
5. Check out what others say about you online
OK, you’ve updated your website and your social media profiles. Now comes the fun of evaluating what people are saying about you outside of your pages. Google Alerts are clearly helpful for monitoring this in real-time, as are many other communication software platforms, but don’t overlook any common misspellings of your brand’s name and or the hashtag. Hashtags are a treasure trove of info when someone may not want to tag your company directly or can’t find your handle on their platform.
If there’s something negative out there, get in Olivia Pope mode and handle it. Then ask that person to delete whatever they said. You only want positive comments to be found, so do whatever you can to make the negative go away.
6. Make the ask
You’ve defined your brand values, identified your ideal client, cleaned up your website and social media, evaluated what other people say on their website and social media. Now, let’s get more positive press out there. Enter: client testimonials and reviews. A surprising number of clients would be happy to provide a testimonial about your product or service if you simply ask them. If they can’t share their full thoughts on the record, ask them to simply use the five-star rating system on your company’s Facebook page or Yelp. Search engines love both of these and the more you have the more it’ll boost that online reputation.