How do people think about you?
You hear business pundits talk about the importance of marketing and branding all the time – and if you happen to be a huge multi-national conglomerate you likely have a large team of people and a huge budget to help you with your ‘branding’. For the rest of us, branding is really your reputation (what people think of you)…and marketing (or creating that brand / reputation) is all about influencing what people think about you. It’s driven by how you interact with those around you – clients, customers, employees, vendors, partners, businesses in your building, anyone you come in contact with.
So with all of that in mind – how do people think about you and your business? When’s the last time you gave that any thought?
Maybe they don’t think of you. If that’s the case, you’re probably having a difficult time with lead generation and sales.
Maybe they have a negative impression of you – it doesn’t take much…an employee who’s rude to someone, a bad review on social media for any reason or a miss on what you deliver versus what someone expected. Whatever the cause once you start having a negative reputation…a negative brand…it can be very difficult to overcome. (Think about the last time you were considering trying a new restaurant and you saw a couple of negative reviews…were you excited to check it out?).
Of course you don’t have to be perfect (which is a relief…because that’s not going to happen) but you do have to be purposely trying to build a positive reputation on an ongoing basis…or the negative stuff is likely to overwhelm you.
How to build a better reputation
There are lots of ways to build a great reputation – but here are 3 things that are worth considering as a starting point:
1. Find a way to add value (in addition to your product or service)
Presumably you have a great product or service – if not, then building a better reputation is going to be impossible. But beyond delivery of your core product and service, how could you add value to your potential clients (or to others)? A few quick thoughts:
- Educate me – you’re an expert in your field…teach me (via blog, video, ebook, etc) stuff I don’t know but should know…or teach me how to solve related issues or simpler issues on my own.
- Give me tools or resources – create an app that would be useful to me or a checklist to help me identify my problem…or a list of great books or articles I could read to become smarter about my challenges.
- Show me what goes on behind the curtains – you don’t have to give away trade secrets, but let potential customers in on how you work your magic or do the cool stuff that you do.
When you can help others, not only will they appreciate it but they will likely tell others…and you’ve also established yourself as a go-to expert / resource which is a great place to be when they are ready to buy.
2. Be a connector
You’ve likely heard the saying…”It’s not what you know, but who you know that makes the difference.” Everyone is looking for the right connection – maybe they need a great banker…or CPA…or they’re looking for an investment to make…or they want to get in shape and lose some weight.
You already know a lot of great people – through personal experiences or just meeting them along the way and if you make it something you focus on, you can actively start building up a very valuable list of people who are worth introducing. And from there it’s just a matter of trying to find ways to connect people you meet with others in situations that have potential to be a win-win.
It seems like a straight forward thing to do – but very few people actually do it (so it’s a good opportunity to stand out).
3. Always exceed expectations
This is also a simple idea that can be challenging to pull off consistently. There are actually two components to exceeding expectations – you have to Under Promise…and Over Deliver. Under promising is often very difficult because it’s human nature to want to say ‘Yes’ to things and to make people feel good up front.
When a potential client asks if they can get that by next week – your instinct will be to tell them ‘yes’ and then scramble on how you might possibly achieve that. Instead – tell them it will take 2 weeks but it will be great…and then surprise them by doing it in a week and a half.
The best way to consistently exceed expectations is to make Under promising and over delivering part of your overall process. Hold regular brainstorming sessions on different ways you can surprise your customers and build that into your daily operations.
At it’s core, marketing is all about building that better brand…that better reputation, but it doesn’t happen on it’s own – it has to be something you are doing on purpose and working on all the time.
What other ideas do you have on building a better reputation? Do these make sense to you? We’d love to hear your thoughts – share them in the comments below.
Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach