how to build a powerful profile and reputation for your business
Few of us face little or no competition for our products and services. So in a difficult economy, when buyers are reducing and purse strings are tightening, how do you get your business to really stand out from the crowd? How can you build a positive and powerful profile that makes your business considered over others? And how can you do this, whilst also controlling your own finances?
In uncertain times (and when people can’t afford error or risk) they tend to favour those they know or those who are leaders in their field. Reputation offers some security to the risk adverse. They can see a track-record of satisfied customers or clients, who reassure them their investment is wisely spent.
So what are the key ingredients that build a great reputation and how can you convert that profile into profitable revenue for your business? Over the next 3 months, we’ll be examining just that and giving you hints and tips to help you stand out from the competition and build a very loyal and happy following.
What’s at the heart of a great reputation?
It’s true that different customers, clients or even contacts will like you for different things, but there will be some similarities across them. It is also fair to say that great reputations are never built on:
• Poor quality products or services
• Letting people down
• Communicating in a way customers, clients or contacts don’t understand
• Inefficient systems
• Unsupportive after-sales support
• Being late
If you are going to try and build a fan-base, the quality of what you do and how you do it has to be great. You don’t have to be exceptional at everything – just the things that matter to your customers or clients. But it isn’t just the content of your products and services you need to consider. People gain ‘an experience’ when they buy from you or seek your help. How that experience feels will very much influence whether they want to use you again, let alone recommend you.
The total experience
So in trying to build a great reputation look hard at what you do. Look at the total experience one of your customers or clients gains by interacting with your business. Consider the whole process from enquiry through to purchase and beyond to after-sales support/contact and (hopefully) repurchase. Talk to your customers and clients and ask what they like and dislike about the experience. What is it that makes them come back again and again? What, in their lives, are you satisfying or helping? The answers they give you start to flag your strengths (and yes your weaknesses). They start to give you an indication of the key points of difference your business has over others and, very importantly, from your following’s perspectives.
What will your reputation be for?
This knowledge helps you look to the end game of your reputation-building efforts. What exactly do you want to be known for? If we looked ahead in 3 years time, how would you describe your profile (as you’d like it to be)? What would you like your business to be famous for? What sort of customers/clients would you attract? Who would be your following? Whilst it is good to be ambitious, the descriptions you come up with should have some link with your current strengths. Otherwise it’s going to be a long-haul in building up this reputation as it will have little bearing to where you are now. Often we find it much easier to build and improve on our strengths than rectify our weaknesses. Consider this when you decide on the profile and reputation you want to secure.
Focus on that following
It is very important to think about your following – current and potential. You need to be absolutely clear who they are, so you can focus what resources you have to grab their attention and build your profile.
If you can, try and define their characteristics and similarities. What issues affect them? How would they like to interact with you and your products/services? The more detailed a picture you can put together, the easier it will be to put yourself on their horizon. Also consider how your ‘message’ (what you want to be known for) needs to be adapted to grab their interest? What key things do you need to say or do? And what language, tone and approach do you need to use to appeal to them straight away?
So now you’ve identified your following. You’ve also defined what message(s) you need to make your own, in order to grab their attention and motivate them to become your fans. Next month, we’ll look at how to select the best and most cost-effective channels to bring that message straight to their door, so to speak. We’ll examine how to best to position that profile and start to turn those reputation ambitions into a reality.
About the Author: Michelle Daniels is the Managing Director for Extended Thinking
An experienced and effective business development and marketing strategist, Michelle has built a successful career increasing top line growth for service businesses and organisations. She helps her clients turn their marketing, business development and thought leadership plans into reality with her ‘hands on’ support and practical advice. A prolific writer, Michelle also combines creative flair with business nous to produce highly effective results. She has written (and ghost-written) for many professional and business publications and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and professional services marketing group.
Extended Thinking: Extended Thinking is a hands-on marketing and business development consultancy. Bringing together great minds and great ‘doers’, we help our clients devise and implement plans that achieve real business growth. Our clients come from a wide variety of backgrounds and sectors, but invariably are those who are too busy or lack the resources to action their marketing and business development plans. We roll our sleeves up and muck in to free them up to do what they really want to do and are good at doing.