Small businesses rely highly on reputation. The majority of their clients come from recommendations – nowadays found mainly online and rarely offline. But the good news is you don't always need large advertising budgets to drive sales. Word of mouth spread online can generate enough sales. Below we discuss the three steps that are important to every small business owner and that will hopefully inspire you to take care of your reputation online.
Small business reputation management tips
We're aware that small business owners take responsibility for quite many tasks in the company, including digital marketing. With online reputation management, you can use review platforms like Google or Facebook as your key revenue generators. So you not only work to improve your image but generate leads as well.
Online reputation management in general
ORM (Online Reputation Management) is all the activity taken to improve the opinion of your business in the eyes of customers – current and potential ones. It involves identifying online resources that customers use to learn about you and your competition and then taking action to appear there in a positive light. It doesn't mean that all reviews need to be perfect and you need to have a 5.0 rate in Google, but you have to aim high and not to leave negative reviews without a commentary.
Small business characteristics
Why is a small business different from a corporation, you may wonder. The thing is they don't have huge marketing teams and promotional budgets, and that's why they need to stick to the essentials. They rely highly on recommendations and general opinion online. For local businesses every review matters and might influence the customer traffic.
Business reputation management
Obviously, the general opinion about a company or brand affects consumer decisions. Business owners should always remember that every customer lost due to a negative experience, in fact, means a lot more that won't even try – because of a bad review given. That is why reputation management is crucial here.
The role of online reputation management
As we've already said – the role of online reputation while running a small business is crucial to its success. Below you'll find the essentials to manage it properly.
Step 1: Own your media
The most important thing to start with is to be in charge of your business channels. Don't let others take advantage of it and claim your online listings on review sites, such as Google, Facebook, Yelp, and Trip Advisor. Being in charge means that you can monitor comments easily and answer to them as an owner, which enhances your credibility.
Step 2: Be active online and build your reputation
Once you've claimed your pages on review sites you should be active there. Communicate with your clients, show your product, service, employees, and values. It's easier to have control and limit negative comments if they stay at your channels. Don't let them spread and try to keep them there. It's worth considering not to delete negative reviews as well, but rather convince dissatisfied users to change their mind.
Step 3: Online reviews
Last but not least, monitor and respond to any reviews – answer on review sites and encourage clients to generate customer reviews. Don't be passive, but discuss issues that might appear concerning your brand, ask for details, don't be afraid to say sorry it was our mistake, but also thank you to clients that are satisfied. Online reviews are often treated as personal recommendations – and thus the effect may be similar.