As a marketing and sales professional, I constantly evaluate lead generation tools and I’m always on the lookout for new techniques and strategies for generating greater interest in my company, with the ultimate goal being increased sales. Like everyone else, in making my decisions, I rely heavily on the power of word-of-mouth recommendations. Along those lines, there’s no doubt that your message, or lack thereof, can spread virally without your control and have an impact on your brand reputation. Mark Smiciklas from the Social Media Examiner says it clearly. “Word of mouth marketing (WOMM) has the power to quickly build up or tear down the reputations of products, services and organizations.”
In my previous post – “How to Ruin Your Brand Reputation in 45 Minutes or Less“- I relayed an unpleasant travel experience that set the stage for a windfall of negative referrals for a company whose executives I sat next to on a plane. Their inability to represent their brands well is sure to lead to lost sales and damage to their credibility for years to come.
How can you get more customers while you make sure that your brand reputation remains unscathed, even as your team explores the vast expanses of social media, and travels the world – taking your brand image with them wherever they go? Below are my recommendations to ensure your company reputation stays strong and intact, and that you lay the groundwork for future product or service sales:
1) Always know your audience to keep your brand reputation intact
You are always selling, whether you are at Starbucks ordering coffee, waiting for your flight or standing in an elevator – your brand is always with you. You never know who you will meet – they could be your next customer or a person who impacts your brand in a positive or negative way. Be aware of that fact, and put your best foot forward at all times.
2) Establish a corporate code of conduct to ensure brand reputation
Do you have a corporate code of conduct in place? You can’t control how your employees live their lives, but you can educate them with a code of conduct that governs their actions when on the corporate clock. Your code of conduct should not affect your company culture or having fun, but it should set standards for how you communicate when you are inside or outside your corporate walls, speaking to clients or traveling. You never know when you will be sitting next to a potential customer or a person of influence. John Spiro from Inc. Magazine explains it well in his “How to Write a Code of Ethics” article. Don’t delay on this — implement your code of ethics policy today so that you aren’t worrying about damage control tomorrow.
3) Implement a social media policy
Tiffany Black from Inc. Magazine recently wrote a great article on how to write a social media policy. With employees tweeting, blogging and communicating on Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms, it is imperative that every company have a social media policy. Black’s article details corporate guidelines and principles of communicating in the online world. A social media policy is now more important than ever. Don’t let an employee social blunder affect the reputation of your corporate brand.
4) Check your message
How does what you say resonate with your target audience? In the LinkedIn Selling Services group discussion, “How Do You Sell a Renewal on a Service Contract?,” respondents agreed that their message and clear communication with the customer is ultimately going to secure the renewal of the service contract. Your entire company should be on the same wavelength, from the customer service department to the inside sales teams, sales representatives and call center staff. Make sure that their messages are uniform and united, and that their communications gels and represent the true value of your company.
Word of mouth is shared both offline or online, and make no mistake – it significantly impacts brand reputation.
Take my recommendations into account with your service sales initiatives. Know your audience, always be selling and check and edit your message. Your future commissions could be coming from the person you share a tray table with on a flight.