“Build Your Reputation–Or Your Brand–For Free”

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I couldn’t agree more with this quote from the late great coach Wooden. The reality on the Internet is that very few prospects will ever care to find out who you really are deep inside as an organization, business, or individual.

The busy, overwhelmed public will make snap decisions based on a quick glance at your online reputation.

Whether your online reputation or brand is accurate or not matters very little to the masses. Which is why you can’t afford to ignore it by thinking that it’s entirely based on your good character, or the handful of testimonials on your own website.

Monitoring and managing your online reputation has recently become just as vital as any other marketing you may be doing. It’s time to play defense.

The term reputation management may be new to you, but it’s a term that you must embrace because of the new rules of the Internet economy. Under the old rules if you upset a customer we were all told to expect that they would tell seven of their friends. The implied conclusion was that an occasional upset customer was acceptable and expected, but certainly not potentially devastating.

Now things have changed. If someone has something bad to say about you, their comment could be posted semi-permanently on page one of Google for months or years. This seemingly insignificant act on the part of one customer could potentially impact you negatively in front of hundreds or even thousands of prospects. The fact is, people are increasingly using search engines to research the industries, people, or businesses they are considering doing business with and, like it or not, your business, name, or organization is on the list of those that will be impacted. And it gets worse before it gets better, because on Google bad news floats.

The stakes are high. All it takes is one angry customer, one disgruntled employee, or one bad business partner acting on your behalf and your reputation could take a semipermanent hit. Maybe it already has and you don’t even know it.

Tough Reality

A public that rarely takes time to investigate the background of the news reporters they listen to isn’t likely to devote any time to researching the motives of the random strangers they encounter online who have something negative to say about you or your company. They’ll just believe the negative and move on.

But there is good news. Take a deep breath. You can proactively manage your online reputation whether you are a small local business or a big player with customers worldwide. You don’t have to be perfect either—which is good news since none of us are.

In my online businesses I’ve sold services, products, and downloadable goods to well over 100,000 customers in the past few years with my name and business name proudly attached to every transaction. The price points have ranged from $7 special reports to tens of thousands of dollars for multiyear coaching or consulting contracts. In other words, my own business has been a good testing ground for my theories of reputation management.

The big question: Is it possible to keep 100,000 people 100 percent happy on that many various transactions? The answer is no—that’s impossible. No person or organization is perfect.

The realistic goal for your business should be to fix every problem fast, and allow no one to become so upset that they post glaringly negative things about you online. On the occasion where a situation gets away from you, you need to be prepared to combat the negative comment strategically It is possible to manage your reputation through a large numbers of transactions and customers even if you have only a tiny staff like I do.

The other component of a good strategy involves intentionally flooding the Internet with the good news and testimonials about you and your company to help drown out the inevitable bad news. You’ll need the help of loyal customers to do this part correctly (and of course 100 percent ethically).

 

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