7 Ways to Make Your Reputation Indestructible

By John Hall (Forbes Contributor)

It seems that every time a new product comes to market, the hype is short-lived before consumers shift their gaze to the next emerging technology making headlines.

Using bleeding-edge marketing techniques to tout your latest product will likely get you the short win, but the companies that survive the industry highs and lows have established an enduring reputation. As they pivot, expand, or evolve, this prestige follows.

Through inevitable market fluctuations, you need to take precautionary steps to ensure your brand’s still standing when the dust clears.

1. Control the conversation.

Nearly every person you do business with will look at your LinkedIn profile at some point during the relationship. Others will come across an article your wrote or one that references you. With the high volume of contributors flooding the online publishing space, controlling the content surrounding your brand is more important than ever. Seed the Internet, and inject content you control into those channels.

2. Craft a reputation strategy.

It’s hard to implement anything unless you have an effective strategy in place. Look at the elements of a solid recommendation. These can range from thought leadership content to positive reviews to a brand advocacy program. If you want outside help, the Reputation Institute hosts impressive events to help brands build their reputation.

3. Be proactive.

I read a list earlier this year about the U.S. companies with the worst reputations. After looking at several others’ lists, the same brands kept appearing. This goes to show: Once your reputation is down, you’ll keep getting kicked, which makes it tough to get back up. Staying aware of media representations and taking a vested interest in your company’s image are crucial aspects of preserving your reputation.

4. Give your company a voice.

Pushing out your individual voice is easier than ever before. LinkedIn opened its platform so members can contribute content for their networks to see, and many other online publications are expanding their contributor models. And as social media use continues to grow, your employees have likely established their own online presence. Put systems in place that capitalize on these networks and amplify your brand voice.

5. Limit your damages, but don’t satisfy every unreasonable person.

Negative brand advocates can be a reputation nightmare. But that doesn’t mean you have to appease every naysayer. Pay attention to reasonable complaints or objections, and do everything you can to mitigate the damage — even if it costs you.

6. Remind people that you exist.

You can’t establish a great reputation if people forget about you. Staying top of mind is vital to securing brand advocates and becoming a mainstream name. Whether that means contributing content consistently or connecting with your audience via social media, you have to exert your influence and remain relevant to get noticed.

7. Improve some aspect of people’s businesses or lives.

Your brand should establish a symbiotic relationship with your audience. If they don’t see a direct benefit in interacting with you, why should they stick around? Find out what’s valuable to them and deliver, whether that means providing information, offering advice, or connecting them to a resource they need.

I always revert back to a method used by CF2, a debt collection company based in Tulsa, Okla., to determine a variety of ways to help debt customers. It assists customers by doing everything from providing résumé advice to calling cabs to pick people up for interviews.

Establishing a lasting presence involves a number of moving pieces — top talent, a detailed growth strategy, consistent communication, and more. But to make it in the long run, you have to develop meaningful, viable relationships. Gaining consumer trust isn’t easy, but if you can stick it out, the positive rapport you create will drive your company into the future.

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