Despite the nearly ubiquitous nature of the internet and social media in modern America today, reputation management may be one of the least-appreciated facets of running a small business. When a prospective customer, employee, vendor, or supplier conducts background research into a company by using the internet and negative feedback surfaces, the consequences can be swift and drastic.
While the internet and social media have undoubtedly revolutionized communication between small businesses and their stakeholders, the reputations of those small businesses are now more easily vulnerable to anonymous commenters and unsolicited opinions. Even just one disparaging or potentially unfair review on a popular website can impact a small businesses bottom line, growth opportunities, partnerships, and ultimately, profits and losses.
The practice of reputation management for small business applies not only online, but offline as well. Consider the number of times in a given day a typical consumer probes the reputation of businesses through traditional methods (i.e., reviewing print and broadcast media, asking others their impressions and recommendations, or calling for references). Every time the average American asks their co-worker where they purchased a new piece of jewelry, hears a news story about choosing the best travel agent, or consults their neighbor about where to get the freshest local produce, reputations are being evaluated. Typically, if one has a choice between a business that comes recommended by another, and a business they know nothing about, one will most likely choose the recommended option because there is already a certain level of trust established.
Active reputation monitoring, measuring, and management programs can be a crucial part in the success of luxury small businesses today. If a number of small companies were proactive in reputation monitoring, measuring, and management, then best practices could be developed.
If you need help developing your reputation marketing and management plan, please contact Kristin at Kristin.Marquet@Marquet-Media.com.