We all know what bad or dull publicity can do to a business. You need to create something exciting that attracts new customers and keeps the old ones.
Be it a popular corporate brand, or a small time venture, or an individual offering services as a freelancer – today every business form needs an online presence. For consumers, it’s a blessing. Before they opt to do business with you, they can pull easily information about the way you deal. Social networking sites and blogs provide reviews and feedback through their forums for free. But this often creates tricky situations for all sorts of business entities. Sometimes a minor issue with your product or service can annoy certain customers and before you get to know or fix it, chances are that the negative feedback might have already spread like a wildfire all across the web. If you’re caught in the snares of what is known as ‘bad press’ or have newly started a venture, read on, we have some valuable suggestions to offer.
What do search engines say about you
Popular search engines – that’s where you need to start from. Type in your business credentials and check the search results. You’ll find the list of all the sites where your business or service has been discussed or mentioned. Visit all the links to sites where people have left feedback. If you come across a negative feedback or a complaint, make sure you add a professional response offering an apology along with an explanation or resolution. Consumers have the tendency to forgive business entities who have the courtesy to respond and acknowledge criticisms.
Also, complete absence of information about you and your business through search engines is part of negative publicity. When consumers can’t find links related to you from popular search engines, they doubt the integrity of your brand name and presence. You need to register your business with the widely accessed social forums and create a business domain/website too. Also, regularly update your website for visitors to check your latest offers or the newest version for the products you deal in.
People talking negative about your business or not discussing your brand at all – both the scenarios are problematic.
Most businesses focus on advertising and marketing campaigns which only promote their brand names. Often, these campaigns offer very minimum information related to the product and services you have to offer. As an entrepreneur or a freelancer, you need to ensure that your website and forums on social networking sites provide all the relevant information which a consumer needs to know. And the materials offering important information should be structured and drafted in a way for all sorts of consumers to comprehend easily.
Quite a few times, customers leave negative feedback due to a certain misunderstanding about a particular feature of a product. Now, there are customers who in spite of reading negative feedback (when the complaints have more ranting and less specific), check the concerned product or service’s website to get the appropriate information. At this point, a well-organized site becomes a life-saver for the respective business owner.
If you go through forums which provide review and feedback for consumers, you’ll often find customers having an argument with each other about a certain product. Such situations are a positive sign because nobody can defend a brand’s reputation, from a troublesome customer, other than a satisfied and content customer. These are the instances when potential customers refer to social networking sites or the product’s website for clarity. So, maintain as much transparency and clarity as you can with your customers.
Your online ‘image’
No business is immune to negative criticism – some deserving, some undeserving – but maintaining a trustworthy ‘image’ often provides second chances with customers, in troublesome situations. No matter how negative a feedback is, never fail to acknowledge it. If you check on the leading brands of various different industries, you’ll find one thing in common – timely communication. These days, it’s not a good gesture or practice, it’s a requirement. Secondly, you’ll never see a professional organization tackle negative feedback with negative response. They always provide clarification, and whenever feasible, offer solution or compensation. Follow this practice with utmost commitment and dedication. Many renowned brands have lost their share of revenue to upcoming smalltime businesses due to ignorance of these factors.
Also, don’t be present online only for advertising, or for responding to customers. At times, contribute to sites where information related to your business industry is offered for free. It doesn’t have to be financial contribution; instead, it should on the lines of educating consumers about the services of your industry. Let the consumers know what they should expect and what they shouldn’t. Or what does a new revolutionary product or service has to offer. When consumers go through a paid advertisement of yours and later come across an informative and helpful article presented by you, they build up a positive and healthy perspective of your brand. They consider you to be different than your competitors.
Other areas to work on
- Subscribe and set alerts for immediate updates on any new comment or article on the net mentioning your business credentials. Popular search engines and social networking sites offer such services.
- Regularly check your rankings on search engines’ lists and take necessary precautions to maintain your ranking. This might require upgrading your web content with latest SEO tools.
- Pay attention to the review scores provided by sites conducting reviews for products and services. Work closely with them to avoid low scores.
- Try to keep up with the latest trends in your business industry. You do not want to add ‘outdated’ to your organization’s name tag. If you are working on improving a certain feature or change of service, let your website and related blogs inform your customers that you are upgrading and enhancing things at your end. Sometimes your competitors might be ahead of you in implementing changes in their services, but it still doesn’t hurt to inform the customers that even you are working on similar lines.
Follow these best practices that are common across all modern industries, and guard your business from negative and dull publicity. The suggestions mentioned here might require you to put time and effort, but at the end of the day they won’t fail to pay off.