Estimated reading time: 5 mins
Many people buy into a good reputation. Many big businesses make their reputation a crucial part of their marketing. There are a lot of ways to boost your credibility and make people trust you over other companies. Here are a few methods that are worth trying.
Appearance is everything
We shouldn’t judge people based on appearance, but we all do instinctively. How you present yourself and your company can imply a lot of things. This includes everything from what you wear to the vehicle you drive to the quality of your website.
Having an established brand is generally one of the most important rules if you want people to feel your business is official. The more you promote your brand, the more official it will seem. This could include signing off company emails with a special signature containing your logo, bringing a business card around with you or signposting your premises.
Online presence is now very important and having a good quality website and social media can make you seem modern and welcoming of the digital age, even if you really haven’t got a clue and have to rely on a digital marketing company to get you set up.
Your dress sense should match the formality of the clients you’re dealing with. Overdressing could make you come off too serious, whilst underdressing could suggest you’re not serious enough. Accessories such as a watch and umbrella for the rain can make you seem much more organised, and polished shoes can suggest that you embrace the small details. For jobs that don’t require you to be suited and booted, a branded uniforms or t-shirt can still do wonders.
If you have a company vehicle, this too can be branded. This vehicle can say a lot about your reputation – turning up to a job in a rustbucket isn’t advised. However, that isn’t to say you should splash out on a flashy sports car either, as this can sometimes suggest to clients in some trades that you overcharge.
Negotiating negative feedback
Feedback is important for helping your business to improve. Some companies will opt for an exclusively private feedback service such as sending customer satisfaction emails or providing feedback forms. However, public feedback is becoming harder to hide from due to the web. Online comments on social media, reviews on sites such as Trip Advisor and online press can make or break a business.
Negative feedback should be dealt with carefully. Genuine criticism should be responded to apologetically and is a good chance to redeem your reputation by showing off your customer service skills. In some cases, you may get negative feedback this is plain lies, either as a form of trolling or as a marketing stunt by another company. This type of criticism is much harder to deal with, especially if you’re not sure of the true sincerity behind it. You’ll find news about Chatmeter and other reputation marketing companies online that can help deal with this public negative feedback appropriately. Disabling comments and reporting reviews may be an option in some cases, but often disabling such feedback options can look worse on your reputation by making it look like you’ve got things to hide.
Promoting positive feedback
One way to outweigh negative feedback is to simply promote and show off your positive feedback so that it makes a bigger impact. Contacting all happy clients and getting them to leave testimonials is often very effective. These testimonials could be reviews on public review sites or private comments which you can then quote on your website or advertising with their permission. You can also approach local press and get them to run a story on you promoting your business. PR companies are worst getting involved with for this.
Another thing that can affect your reputation is your business’s size. Whilst some people may buy into the charm of a small business, to others it may show that you’re unsuccessful or haven’t been around long enough to trust. Even if you are a small startup looking for its first customers, acting big and established is important for protecting your credibility.
Social media may be a giveaway if you have a Facebook or Twitter page. Invite all your friends and family to follow and like you to make it look like you have an established following. If you have employees, get them to invite their friends and family to join. A social media agency may be able to promote your pages further and get you more likes and follows.
Your address may also be a giveaway of your size. If you work from home but want people to believe you have an office, hiring a virtual address for clients to send business mail to could be worthwhile.
As for business owners running solo without employees, a virtual assistant can be useful for creating the illusion that you have staff working for you. This assistant can be outsourced and can answer calls and emails for you, not just offering a point of call other than yourself for clients but filtering out junk mail and sales calls as well as taking some of the burden off your workload.
The internet has made it easier for many businesses to remain faceless, but a certain level of honesty needs to remain. Whilst virtual addresses and assistants can persuade people that your business is bigger than it really is, you should never explicitly lie about having an office in Canary Wharf or having a workforce of twenty people when it’s really just you. A leaked truth could get you into a lot of trouble and damage your reputation rather than gaining anything. Some tactics are simply shady such as buying likes (which has been proven to work negatively anyhow) and making up success stories with past clients. Most clients will respect a level of transparency in some situations – if something is too good to be true, you’ll arouse suspicion and could make things worse for yourself.