This is a brand new way to look at (and build) your image, your brand, and your reputation.
Everyone wants to have a great image. Very few companies have one. Even fewer people have one. How’s yours?
Everyone wants to have a great brand. Very few companies have one. Even fewer people have one. How’s yours?
Everyone wants to have a great reputation. Very few companies have one. Even fewer people have one. How’s yours?
Everyone knows the great corporate brands, and everyone knows the great people brands. You don’t really care about them, UNLESS your loyalty to the brand is fierce (to a sports team, to a product, or as a fan): Coke vs. Pepsi; Miller vs. Bud; Phillies vs. Yankees.
And sometimes, great brands falter. Even die. How do great brands die? Low quality, poor management, market shift, and over the last twenty years, failure to take advantage of the Internet – pick one. Faltering leads to loss of image and loss of reputation.
The reality is that you care most about YOUR image, your brand, and your reputation. Your company’s brand, your product’s brand, and your personal brand. But, you can learn lessons from the big ones that falter.
A bigger reality: How do you create an image, build a brand and create a reputation? And what are the steppingstones and pitfalls as you build it?
The answer hangs in the balance of all the things you do that are NOT image- and brand-building. The answer lies within these critical reputation-building areas:
1. Quality of product
2. Availability of product
3. Ease of doing business with you
4. Friendliness and helpfulness of sales and service people
5. Enjoyment of product
5.5 Continuous improvement in each of the five areas listed above
Many people (especially advertising agencies) believe that the best way to build image and establish your brand is to advertise. They are only partially right. I believe that brand, image, and reputation are much more powerful than advertising. And I believe that word-of-mouth advertising is much, much more powerful than advertising.
The Future (or Is It Here Now?)
Why don’t companies establish two budgets: one for image and another for reputation? If companies invested money to create reputation-building actions, they could solidify the brand, and make any advertising pay real dividends.
The old concept is: Advertising brings brand awareness.
The question is: What kind of awareness?
EXAMPLE: If I see a billboard with the name and the picture of an insurance agent and an insurance company, as I drive by, I see the image, and it creates a thought or a statement.
The question is: What do I say, or what do I think, when I see it? And does it cause me to act?
Will the ad cause me to act or ignore? Will it create a good feeling or a bad one? Will I recall a good story or a negative incident? Or will it be nothing?
When I see the ad image, or the brand image, I will think or say one of five things:
Something real bad
So the challenge, from the chicken and the egg series, is: Which came first, the advertising, the image, the brand, or the reputation?
ANSWER: It doesn’t matter. In the end, image, reputation and word-of-mouth will win out.
The Real Questions to Ask
Do you make a sale by advertising or by word-of-mouth advertising?
Do you make a sale by advertising or by perceived image?
Do you make a sale by advertising or from reputation?
Do you make a sale by selling them on how great you are, or the prospect buying as a result of what a neighbor said or did?
These are the real questions to ask yourself after every sale.
REALITY: Ask yourself where and why you bought your last car. Or where and why you go to your stylist to get your hair done (if you have any). Or doctor, or dentist, or furniture store, or, or, or…
I wonder what would happen if companies spent as much money delivering great service as they do trying to tell everyone how great they are. Maybe they should double their marketing budget and invest half in advertising, and the other half in serving customers and creating reputation based on actions.
It’s Not about the Rep, It’s about the Reputation
I’m big on branding, and creating a great image, but I am bigger on reputation. If the reputation is there, the brand and the image will be supported and enhanced by the ad.
The best way to build an image and a brand is build a reputation that attracts customers. Take the actions necessary. Invest in the people necessary. Invest in the quality necessary to get the brand to build itself through the words and testimony of others.
Here are 4.5 ways to create an image
and earn a great word-of-mouth reputation:
1. Do everything you said you would do on time or sooner. To have any prayer for a reputation, you must be known as a person who does and delivers what you promise. Without this fundamental element, don’t bother to read the rest.
2. Be easy to do business with, and be friendly while you are doing it. Customers expect everything and they expect it when they need it. Not just when you can offer it. You have to be friendly when you are there and friendly when you are not there. This means easy telephone access and easy Internet access. How easy is it to do business with you?
3. Be proactively remarkable. When you stand out from other companies you will be talked about and earning a reputation (and a testimonial) will be simple. Being remarkable means going the extra mile and making service the forefront of your business, not an add-on. How’s your service?
4. Provide consistent help. If you get my weekly e-mail magazine Sales Caffeine, you know it is all about sales help. Each week I provide my customers an ability to help them learn and grow, and I do it for free. As a result, they are loyal, they think of me often in a positive way, and will proactively send me referrals on a regular basis. Do you deliver a weekly value message to your customers and prospects?
4.5. Get business for them. While this is not always possible, I can assure you it is the single most valuable thing you can do to secure loyal relationships, referrals, an incredible reputation, and testimonials that will flow like Niagara Falls. Figure out a way to help your customers by providing them with leads, referrals, and networking opportunities, so that they have an opportunity to get new business, and I promise you the most incredible reputation will come your way. Are you helping your customers in value-driven, business-building ways?