Reputation Marketing

They days of looking up a business address or telephone number in phone books are over.  A testament to that fact is the number of phone books left in piles on doorsteps, racks in the free publication section of convenient stores, and the fact that you yourself probably haven’t opened one in ages – unless its to check the advertisement for your own business.

The availability of up to date information online has been a valuable resource for consumers, but for many businesses it can be a killer.  Why? because along with the business listing, name, address, telephone number comes a new friend or foe – reviews.

Reviews are extremely important to business owner because they communicate to the prospective customer how well he does in the consumers eyes compared to his competitors. If your reviews are positive, then great! You’ll want more of them than your competitors.  But, if you have poor reviews or even harsh negative reviews it becomes even more important that your satisfied customers or clients review their experiences online.

Unfortunately it is human nature to take action only when we’re dissatisfied rather than when we’re pleased, thus the bulk of reviews for any given business tend to be of the negative kind – not to mention negative reviews fabricated by your competitors, activists, or disgruntled employees.

bad-reviews

This is where reputation marketing comes in.

Reputation marketing is simply a defined plan and system to market your true reputation online.

The key distinction between reputation marketing and reputation management is that reputation marketing is primarily a plan and system to promote the positive views and reviews of your satisfied customers or clients, whereas reputation management is historically aimed at flooding the internet with your marketing messages and assets to combat the negative results that appear in the search engine results for your name, your company name, or brand.

See the difference?  One is promoting your customer’s views and reviews, while the other is promoting your own marketing messages.

72% of buyers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations

trust-reviews

Since most people who leave reviews will always be the unhappy kind, it’s extremely important to have a system in place to ethically encourage and assist happy customers and clients to share their positive experiences with prospective customers on the internet.

Left to chance, you’ll see a negative to positive ratio of reviews for your company at about 9 to 1 – and that’s just based on those from real customers, not competitors, disgruntled employees or activists who wish to harm your business and reputation.

Reputation Management

Everyone’s heard of reputation management.  The anonymous nature of the internet has been a blessing for those who want to express their opinions without fear of retribution, and a curse for individuals and business owners who do wrong in the sight of their customers or clients.

Anyone can post reviews, comments, and even create entire websites to try and manipulate the online reputation of a business or individual.  Some for good (meaning a positive effect to the reputation) and some for bad (a negative affect to the reputation.)

So how does anyone know the truth?  The answer is – you can’t.

When businesses or individuals are hit with negative reviews or negative search results for their names or brands they often turn to reputation management companies for help.  The idea is to have the company create tons of mini-sites, social media assets, blog posts, etc. throughout the internet and link them in a way that will cause them or other “good” pages to rank for the search term or name thereby “pushing down” the negative or harmful content in the search results where it is less likely to be seen.

Does it work? Yes, but isn’t just a bunch of keyword optimized, meaningless mini-sites and fake pages just adding to the “junk” that shows up in the search results?  It isn’t generally good content either – only content favorable to the subject.

It’s just noise, not information.  Trying to do it this way is like trying to yell louder than the opposition – yelling anything, just louder.

There is a better way to do reputation management.

One that not only helps the problem it doesn’t call your credibility into question.

First, if you’ve done something wrong own up to it.  Fix it.  Fix the people, the process, the situation that caused it in the first place.  Hiding behind the noise doesn’t make the problem go away, it only hides it.  If you don’t do this you can count on a never ending cycle of noise generation.

Second, if you want your search results to be positive you are better off showing the world the real version of what’s going on in your business, not a bunch of meaningless pages of noise.   Real photos, real reviews, real interviews, real people – real.

Everyone wants a shortcut so they throw easy junk out there.

Unless you have nothing of merit to show or tell about, it’s much easier to show off the truth about your business than it is to make it up.  Not only that, it’s maintainable.  Do it the other way and you’ll soon run out of combinations of things to post and promote.

If you truly care about your reputation or how you’re percieved online, it’s critical to do it right, do it well, do it consistently, and do it truthfully.  There are no shortcuts that have long term value.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint.