Over the last few weeks, we’ve shared our advice on how to best react when your business’s online reputation is at risk. While you’ll inevitably have to respond to one crisis or another, there are a few strategies businesses can use to prevent a reputation crisis from happening at all. In the fifth and final installment of Written In The Stars: Leadhub’s Reputation Management Guide, we will be going over tactics business owners can use to take a proactive stance on online reputation management.
Why Branding Is More Than A Buzzword
The first thing any business should do before diving deep into a proactive reputation management strategy is to identify your business’s brand identity. A consolidated and consistent brand will build trust between your business and your current and potential customers. Here are some reasons why branding is important to proactive reputation management:
Discover Your Brand Identity
When crafting your brand, it can be difficult to know where to start. There are many different types of branding materials home service businesses should have, but here are some of the basics:
- Logo assets
- Photo assets
- Functional website
- Brand messaging
- Social media
- Email blasts
- Truck wraps
- Branded uniforms
- Stickers and other leave-behind flyers or brochures
You should never over-complicate your brand identity. Choose two to three brand colors and stick with them for all branding materials. Always include your logo with your brand materials, especially on uniforms and truck wraps.
When it comes to branding, consistency is key. You will want to develop language that customers can associate with your business specifically. When creating this language, ask yourself questions like, “Do I want my clientele to be called customers or clients?” “Are my workers called technicians or is there verbiage unique to your brand like ‘Comfort Advisor’?” Once that language is developed, stick with it. Encourage your employees to use that messaging, even when they aren’t talking to customers. If done properly, people will begin to associate specific brand words with your business.
A Strong Website
For many potential customers, the website is going to be the first impression of your company. A functional, user-friendly website goes a long way in the amount of time a potential customer will spend on it. Additionally, the more functional and responsive a website is, the higher it will rank in Google’s search results.
Part of a strong website is consistent and regular blog posting. A study from Demand Metric shows that company’s who post blogs generate 67% more leads than company’s who do not. If you’re going to have a blog, make sure to post consistently – at least once a month. Blogs are important for SEO and can establish your company as an industry thought leader.
Social Media Isn’t an Option
With approximately 3.2 billion people on social media worldwide, it’s clear that social media is no longer optional for businesses. There are key audience members on social media that you could be missing out on if your business does not have a presence.
You can use social media to create a resource of information about your company, to build brand awareness, run ads and promote special offers. We also recommend using it to personalize your business to your audiences. Fun, lighthearted posts showing off your company culture endear your business to potential customers and may make them feel more inclined to go with your business when they are in need of home services.
The Main Social Platforms and Which One is Right for Home Services
Facebook: Right now, the largest and arguably most important social media platform is Facebook. A Facebook account is definitely a must for local businesses, while Instagram, Twitter and other platforms are generally secondary. There are caveats to this of course. For instance, a company primarily selling physical products could benefit from an Instagram account while a political campaign should have a Twitter account if they intend on sharing breaking news about the campaign. But for local businesses, Facebook should be priority number one.
Instagram: When using social media for business, a good rule of thumb is to remember what the social media platform is intended for. This is especially important on Instagram. Graphics or flyers are okay to use on Facebook and Twitter, but on Instagram, they should be used sparingly. Instagram is a platform designed for images first, messages second. If you’re going to create an Instagram for your business, make sure you have some good photos to share.
Twitter: Every social media post should be short and sweet, but this is especially true on Twitter. For one, Twitter has a defined character limit, but you shouldn’t be maxing it out. Stick to short messages and leave the informational posts to Facebook. We find that home service companies don’t receive as many conversions from social media platforms like Twitter, so generally, most home service brands don’t need to be on Twitter.
Social listening is an important aspect of social media. Social listening is simply when you monitor your social media, web presence and reviews to stay up to date on customer feedback. Staying on top of social media notifications, regularly reading reviews and keeping an eye out for your business’s name are the best ways to conduct social listening. We also recommend setting up Google Alerts with the name of your business, your name or any other notable upper-level employees at your company. Google Alerts will send you an email anytime any of those names you enter pops up across the internet or in the news.
Use Review Acquisition Software to Get Good Reviews
A recurring character in this whole blog series has been customer reviews. We’ve provided lots of examples and methods for responding to reviews, so now let’s dive into review acquisition. At Leadhub, we make sure our clients are set up with a good CRM or a review acquisition software that will drive customers to leave a review.
If you aren’t yet at the stage where you have a CRM or review acquisition platform, you can start by asking your customers for their feedback, either in person after a good job or through an email blast. We also suggest making “happy calls” AKA calling a customer you know had a good experience and asking them to leave a review. Online reviews are essentially word-of-mouth endorsements. Even the best advertisements can’t compare to word-of-mouth endorsements.
A powerful weapon in reputation management is good public relations. PR and marketing are often used interchangeably but there are a few important differences. The main goal of marketing is to drive revenue, whereas the main goal of PR is to build and protect a business’s reputation. Revenue is the result of good marketing and the side effect of good PR.
While there are hundreds of public relations strategies and tactics, at its core, public relations is about getting your business’s name in the news – preferably in a positive light. Building relationships with local media, pitching quotes to media inquiries and sharing press releases when you have newsworthy stories are all ways you can practice good PR.
Additionally, customers are typically more open to receiving PR messages. In a study conducted by Demand Metric, it was revealed that 70% of consumers would rather learn about a company through an article than through an advertisement. If you are able to harmonize your marketing and PR efforts, you are sure to see an increase in conversions.
Serve Your Community
A tried and true method of proactive reputation management is philanthropic initiatives. When your business supports a cause, it shows that it is investing in the community. When you invest in your local community, your local community will feel more inclined to invest in you.
Philanthropic initiatives should not be carried out only because you want a return on investment. We encourage our clients to find a charity or organization that they feel passionate about. The cause can even be something that relates to your business. For example, if you are a plumber you could support a cause that provides clean water to areas without such commodities. If you’re a home builder you could support Habitat for Humanity®. Whether your business supports Wounded Warriors Project® or the local animal shelter, your company and the charity organization are in a win-win scenario.
It’s Never Too Late to Start Managing Your Reputation
All of these strategies may seem daunting, but they are necessary for maintaining your business’s reputation in today’s digital media powered world. However, taking small first steps can help improve your overall proactive reputation management. If you’re interested in taking your home service business to the next level of reputation management, Leadhub has your back!
Get Caught Up On Written in the Stars: Leadhub’s Guide to Reputation Management
Looking for more reputation management tips? Leadhub’s got you covered! Check out the first four installments of our reputation management series: