Brand reputation drives the success of businesses, irrespective of what industry you are in. Currently, there are approximately 543,000 startups every month. 70% of these do not survive beyond two years, 50% do not exceed five years, and a third fail to cross the ten-year mark. Only a quarter of these businesses can survive beyond 15 years.
When you’re just starting out, your brand reputation is a blank slate. There is no negative yelp reviews, no social media meltdown, or inactive website traffic. But all this will change quickly. When you get positive customer reviews from the start, it becomes harder for negative reviews to weigh down the average star rating.
As a startup, you probably don’t have to worry about large-scale disasters. Your primary target should be to build brand reputation and positive associations. Here are 12 things you need to think about:
1. What Do You Want to be Best Known For?
What does your business stand for? What kind of a brand do you want to build? Give yourself the time to consider how you want to be perceived and what it is that you want to be known for. When you are clear on how you prefer people to see you, it will direct your business decisions.
2. Start With Your Website
If you’re looking for your customers to find you, your site should rank high in the search engine results. Poor online ranking can be a death warrant for your brand. Regularly add content to your website and collaborate with reputed sites. Make good use of tags and SEO keywords to give you the best visibility to the right search terms.
3. Have a Social Media Presence
You may not use all social media platforms, but it’s always a good idea to secure your company name on all the platforms and even purchase related domains if necessary. Keep your pages fresh and updated, and use your content to interact with customers besides cultivating brand awareness. This will not just help you build a reputation quickly but will also allow you to monitor how your audience responds to your brand.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett
Blogging is another excellent platform for you to control the information and messages you put out there about your business. Actively use your blog to share new information and updates about your business. Encourage your readers to make use of the comment section and actively interact with them.
5. Stay Responsive
Whether it’s on social media, email or the comment section on your blog, make sure to respond at the right time and with diligence. Interacting with customers through social media platforms or on the web is just another form of customer care, albeit better. Use this medium to connect with your customers on a personal level.
6. Tempted to Purchase Reviews?
Let’s be real, even Donald Trump has millions of fake followers on twitter. By starting early, it will give you a strong online presence that won’t be affected by a few negative reviews every once in a while, and you won’t have to buy fake reviews. From Presidential candidates to reputed Healthcare marketing campaigns, they have all shown that social media presence is not something you can afford to leave to chance.
7. Take the Reins Early
If you want to build a positive online presence, it is important to control your brand reputation early on. As a new business, you start with a blank slate. Take advantage of that and focus on cultivating a strategy for brand reputation management that will set you up for some massive success.
8. Build Trust
Great brands succeed because a) they offer quality, and b) customers trust them. The quality you deliver, the messages you send out, and your customer care, all affect the trust that your customers have towards you. Transparency is another way to win over your customers’ trust. Your customers will respect you for being honest and open even when you have made a mistake.
9. Focus On Proactive PR
Simply sending out a Press Release whenever you have a big announcement to make will not take you very far. Find ways to join the larger industry conversations even when you don’t have any company news to share. By actively recognizing PR opportunities, it will continually put you under the spotlight.
“Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.” – Richard Branson
10. Your SEO Strategy and SERP
There is no denying your search result performance has a massive impact on your business and its bottom line. SEO also plays a significant role in building a strong brand reputation for your business and overshadow any negative results. It doesn’t stop there. You have to continuously work on your SERP so that when someone searches for your Company, it is your content that they find first.
11. Know How to Handle Criticism
Don’t shy away from negative comments or criticism online. Negative feedback will make your business stronger and hence, more successful. If people are slamming you online, find a way to address them appropriately and quickly. Paying no attention to it will not make it go away. When you respond professionally and promptly, you are nipping the issue at the bud and saving your Company from a potential mess.
12. Accept That It’s Never-ending
Brand reputation management isn’t just for startups. You may have an excellent reputation today, but it could all go away in the blink of an eye (no kidding). Search engine results and algorithms, customers’ expectations and opinions are continually changing on a daily basis. If you want to maintain your positive brand reputation, you will have to keep working at it always.