Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Andy Beal – Enjoy!
An ongoing theme in my new book, Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation, is that your offline actions greatly influence your online reputation. No matter how hard you work to improve your social media engagement, online reviews, or customer satisfaction, it can all be undone if you don’t follow these five important offline marketing strategies.
#1 – Offer a Congruent Experience
The brand experience you sell online should match up with the one which you offer customers in real life. A flashy website, engaging Facebook Page, or a content-rich blog will only lead to disillusion and disappointment, if someone visits your business, or meets you in person, only to find that you don’t live up to the hype.
Take away – be congruent in the branding experience you provide your customers. Does your offline marketing campaign sync with your online one?
#2 – Sell the Expectation
On a visit to Seattle, I stayed in a boutique hotel for a couple of nights. Unlike a hotel chain, you never know what experience you’ll receive from independent lodging. The hotel took no chances, and upon reaching my room, I discovered a card that thanked its guests for making the hotel the number one ranked in the area. It also went on to explain, that if I felt the same way, how I could submit my vote.
Before I’d even had the chance to make up my own mind, the hotel had used social proof to suggest that I would have nothing but an amazing stay.
Take away – you only get one chance to make a great first impression. Don’t leave that to chance.
#3 – Train Your Employees
Make sure you hire employees that really want the job. Hire those that are passionate about your industry. As part of their training, remind them that they are always representing your brand and its reputation.
I recently shopped at a Mattress Firm store, despite reading some negative online reviews. My sales associate was one of the nicest, honest, and trustworthy salesman I have ever worked with. Not only did he change my opinion of the mattress chain, but I share that experience often—including a chapter in Repped!
Take away – get your employees to buy in to the fact that they are an important part of your brand. If they let down the customer, they risk the future of the company—and in turn, their own job!
#4 – Capture Feedback Early
Most online complaints are the result of a customer being mistreated during their business dealings with you. All it takes is for the manager to be too busy to take a customer’s call, or a staff member too arrogant to apologize for a mistake. The next thing you know, you’re reading about their experience on Yelp—along with millions of others!
Instead put in place a feedback system that ensures a customer never finishes their transaction with you without being asked if they were completely satisfied.
Take away – even an automated email survey could help uncover a festering negative experience that might ignite a reputation attack.
#5 – Improve Your Marketing Messages
All customer feedback can be used to improve your marketing messages. When you see a common trend in positive reviews about you, start highlighting those traits in your TV, Radio, and print ads. Likewise, when you a see a competitor come under attack for a weakness that happens to be your strength, capitalize on the event by adding those strengths to your marketing and PR efforts.
Take away – let your customers—and your competitor’s customers—help you craft your marketing focus and product messaging.
Lastly, remember that your offline reputation is intertwined with your online one. A bricks and mortar business is often reviewed and rated online, while an internet business is still discussed in coffee shops and at water coolers. You can’t afford to ignore either reputation.
Andy Beal is the CEO of Trackur and is considered one of the world’s leading authorities in reputation management. His new book, Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation is available now, and you can also catch his “Reputation Roadkill” keynote at ClickZ Live New York.