As a consultant (for nearly 21 years), I see time and time again how many business owners fall short in meeting their client’s expectations.
Today’s consumers have changed dramatically over the last several years. Consumers are highly educated on a wide array of subjects thanks to the internet.
Unprecedented access to information means consumers are in the driver seats, and in control of how, when, and why they purchase products and services.
It starts with you, but it’s not about you
Today, consumers buy mainly on reputation, not just your brand. A strategy based on reputation (i.e. ethics, honesty and integrity) is the emerging trend behind successful businesses. Reputation adds a new element that a brand strategy (i.e. the entire experience your prospects and customers have with your company, product or service) doesn’t consider.
In fact, “reputation” is required to get and keep business in today’s internet-driven era. This freshly retooled perspective presents the kind of experience that will keep people engaged and generate tomorrow’s water cooler buzz.
So how can you apply a reputation strategy to your marketing and branding efforts?
1. Evaluate your current reputation
We use a few different method to gather data to understand our reputation. It takes some time to study your target market. Start by looking at past clients and what you’d like from future clients. Who are they, where do they “hang out”, and how do they buy?
These are critical questions and are starting points in the discovery step. We recommend taking a behavior assessment tool, like DiSC. Many business owners get caught in tunnel vision. It is important that we understand ourselves before we can build healthy relationships, in business and life.
2. Define where you want to go
We start this step by defining our goals. A written goal with a logical plan will help you reach your goals. Research and investigate new target markets. There needs to be a level of validity before we commit time or money developing a new target or expanding into new markets.
3. Develop a plan
Create a plan to meet your goals, including a smart marketing message. Create a message that goes beyond stating what you do. It needs to communicate how and why it helped others with a similar problem. Identify which communication channels will best reach your target market, website, social media, print, etc.
4. Defend what you built
Every business needs a written, tested and common sense emergency and a recovery plan. A plan that asks and answers the questions “What if?” and “What now?” Like liability insurance it is a safeguard if the unthinkable happens.
What if a client claims to be injured or if something happens to taint your industry, what are you going to do? A plan needs to be written before an emergency happens and needs to include steps and assigned responsibilities.
These steps to attract, connect and keep the clients you need are not time intensive or expensive to incorporate into your business. Not to mention, they could save you thousands of hours of time and dollars. Why not start today?
This article has been edited.
Pamela S. Gockley is a business consultant and speaker, co-founded Vigilant Corporation, founder of Reputatus and creator of the award-winning program The Reputation Factor. She’s the go-to girl when you want to transform your customer service, sales, and marketing. Using speaking as her primary marketing platform, this technology entrepreneur launched a business over twenty-one years ago. She helps her clients put an end to under producing and over working turning their business into a process driven with a plan. Connect with @pgockley on Twitter.