The reputation of a business is one of its most important assets. This is what makes a difference between people looking to do business with you and having them avoid you like the plague. On the other hand, reputation goes both ways and while ruining it may take hours or days, establishing a strong prestige in your industry may take quite a lot of time and effort. With that in mind and without further ado, here are top five ways in which a small business can improve their reputation in a relatively short time-span.
While some may immediately nod their heads believing that adding honesty to the list is clearly cheesy, they couldn’t be more wrong in their assessment of the situation. Namely, in a world where companies constantly push for shameless self-promotion and hard-sell techniques, someone speaking honestly about their product and service may gain an incredible amount of support and respect. The perfect example of this could be seen in the iconic Avis slogan: “We’re No.2. We try harder.” The very fact that someone admits not to be at the very top of the industry (which is usually the case regardless of the size of the company) is enough to captivate a lot of people.
More importantly, when talking about pricing, honesty can give you a lot of gains in terms of sales and traffic. Namely, the inability of e-store to include the cost of shipment or taxes into the final price of the product is one of the main reasons behind shopping cart abandonment. By being honest and transparent, you can easily circumnavigate this problem. By telling your audience exactly what to expect, you’ll have an easier job of getting them to trust you.
Show that you care about more than just profits
The first thing you need to understand is the fact that committing to a cause, donating or even investing in the local community may help your reputation but, this is probably not where you should start. Sure, altruism has its practical value as well, but, deep down inside, every consumer cares the most about their own benefit. This is why it’s probably more efficient to create a lenient return policy first. This will show your audience that you care about retaining them more than you do about any one-time purchase.
Outside of this, it’s also important that you understand one thing – if you don’t treat your employees right, no one will care even if you single-handedly end world hunger. First, you should tidy up your own backyard and then focus on the outside issues.
Don’t be afraid to invite people over
It’s in human nature to be suspicious towards anything that seems… well, too good to be true. So, if you have an office (you’re not an online or home-based business), you should definitely try to invite people over in order to check the office out. Sure, you can take a photograph of your staff and display it on your home page, yet, no one believes a staged, scripted photograph. Instead, make your office presentable by improving your layout, ordering high-end office equipment from Winc online store and redesigning your reception area. In this way, you’ll do more to boost your credibility than you ever could with traditional marketing.
Networking with your competitors
One thing you have to understand is the fact that animosity between competitors usually isn’t a good sign. Sure, it may entertain your audience, but it will also give them an impression that they, for some reason, have to choose. In some industries this may be true (Coke vs. Pepsi, iPhone vs. Samsung), yet, in most fields, this is not necessarily the case. In the fashion industry, there’s probably not a single person out there (unless they’re heavily sponsored and with an ironclad contract) that’s exclusive to one clothing brand. Therefore, getting along with your competitors might be the way to go.
Ask for reviews
One of the first things that people do when they learn about your business is to go online to look for reviews. You see, chances are that they don’t know anyone you’ve done business with on a personal level, so these reviews are something closest they can get to a genuine word of mouth recommendation. On the other hand, a lot of people simply won’t leave a review on their own, which is why you should always ask for them.
Improving the reputation of your small business is not a complex matter, yet, it requires you to adopt the right mindset. Sometimes, this requires you to do counterintuitive things like fraternizing with the competition, directly asking for “spontaneous” endorsement or displaying a higher price. Still, all of this pays off in time.