No matter what the size of your small business, it is essential you have plans in place to protect your reputation and manage any potential crises. Many small business owners mistakenly think reputation management is only for the big brands, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Having the right strategy in place to manage your reputation and taking a proactive approach, can have a positive impact on your revenue streams.
Small business reputation management is the act of improving the perception of your business in all the places where potential customers or stakeholders (employees, competitors) are likely to be searching to find out about you.
According to the Retail Buying Survey, 76% of UK consumers say they do research or get inspiration online before they make a purchase. This means it is more important than ever to manage what is found about you when your potential customers or clients type your business name into the search engines. Anything that people say about you, positive or negative, has an impact on your reputation. If nothing at all comes up with a search of your business name, but you do see lots of search results for your competitors, it’s time you took your small business reputation management into your own hands.
Do you know what people are saying about your small business online? As an absolute minimum, every business should have a Google Alert set up so they are alerted every time the business is mentioned online. This means comments can be responded to and managed immediately and any potential reputational crisis can be mitigated. Similarly, you should have business profiles set up on review sites enabling you to respond to comments as the business owner/community manager for the business.
Managing the reputation of your small business should be a long-term strategy and not something you pull together in a panic when a crisis occurs. Monitoring comments and reviews online should be carried out daily.
Negative comments and reviews, whether fair or unfair, should be responded to in a measured and thought-through way. Shooting from the hip and writing something you regret could cause major damage to your small business. Just as important is responding to positive comments and reviews left about your small business. People will see the way you’ve responded and made a judgement about you and your business. You want that judgement to be a good one. Seeing regular responses will also make other readers more likely to leave you a positive review. In a 2017 survey by Podium, 93% of respondents said online reviews impacted their purchase decisions.
It might be outside your comfort zone, but if you have a happy customer, get into the habit of asking them to leave you a review. If you have a restaurant for example, and a family has complimented you on their meal, tell them you would really appreciate them writing a couple of sentences about their experience. You’d be surprised at the number of people happy to share positive experiences.
According to the BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey 2018, consumers read an average of ten reviews online before they feel they can trust a business. This shows that when it comes to reviews, quantity is just as important as quality, so ask away.
Your small business reputation management should be considered a long-term strategy. It should have a plan for managing all articles and comments written both online and offline about your small business. These could be in newspapers, comments left in forums or on social media channels or in blog posts. Developing a strategy to help you use your stakeholders to build your reputation online will pay dividends should you ever face a reputational challenge.
At Reputation Matters, we have extensive experience in advising small businesses on their reputation management strategy and in helping them manage any immediate threats to their reputation, including negative comments written online and offline. Acting swiftly in such circumstances is essential, so fill in our contact form or give us a call on 07881 772960 today if you’re facing a reputation management challenge.
I thought the problem would go away if I ignored it. It didn’t. I was reluctant to use you but can honestly say, your support and advice helped pull me back from the brink. Your patience, clarity of thought and advice were just what I needed to get me through the emotional roller coaster.
Your calm and steady approach was everything I needed when my business was being unfairly criticised in the national press. You stopped me from responding in haste, which I realise now, was the worst thing I could have done! Thank you, thank you, thank you.
My business was facing a torrent of unfair criticism on Facebook. It stemmed from one negative post by an ex-employee and escalated like wild fire. Your level-headed, practical advice helped get the negative comments removed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
One of my co-directors was found guilty of drink driving. I was concerned that if it got out, we’d suffer from negative press and loss of business. As it happened, there was no backlash but being able to contact you and have some pre-prepared statements and letters ready was reassuring.