Todd Martin

Todd Martin

Sales Strategy

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Are Yours Ears Burning? Your Company May Be Getting Trashed Online

May 4, 2016

Do you know what people are saying about your company—and YOU—on the internet? You should.

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Your company’s reputation is a part of its brand. Yes, you have your consistent color/text/logo scheme on your website and blog, your sales and marketing materials and documents. Your values and your corporate culture are known to your customers. You provide useful products and/or services to your customers. You have a strong online presence and word-of-mouth referrals.

But the internet is a big place, and it never keeps its mouth shut. You can’t hope to know everything that’s being said about you, good and bad.

But you need to try. Preserving your company’s reputation is critical.

Going It Alone

There are companies that do nothing but reputation management. They exist to help maintain the perceived integrity of companies and salvage broken images. Some charge a lot and succeed sometimes. Others are inexpensive, but may be ineffective.

Your sales team is your company’s front line. You’re often the first and primary contact for prospects and customers, so if there’s a complaint to be made, you’re going to hear it.

But what about the negative comments you’re not hearing? Reputation preservation should be a company-wide effort. If there’s no employee whose job responsibilities include regular searches for unflattering content on the web (true or not), consider doing some sleuthing yourself and encouraging other team members to be on the lookout.

Be Proactive

There are any number of reasons why some individuals take it upon themselves to make their negative thoughts and opinions public. Some may have legitimate criticisms of the product or service you sold them. Or maybe they were treated less-than-cordially by another employee. You already know how to handle these.

But some people may have it in for you for some unknown reason. Maybe they’re a competitor posting under another name. Or they just like to stir up trouble and have zeroed in on you for some reason.

If customers come directly to you with a complaint, thank them for handling the problem that way and giving you a chance to fix it (you don’t have to add, “…instead of trashing us online”) and help them solve it, or direct them to someone who can.

It’s the vitriol floating around on the web that you don’t know about it that can slowly tarnish your reputation. I’d suggest taking the initiative on your company’s reputation management as you poke around the web throughout the day.

  • Every now and then, enter your company name into a search engine and add the words “complaints” or “reviews.” Go at least two pages deep to see what you can find.
  • Solicit feedback from customers. They might just be busting to call a problem to your company’s attention, but they think their comments won’t make any difference. Give them a chance to air disappointments before they take them to Twitter.
  • If someone has posted something about your company or its products that simply isn’t true, gently direct the individual to a page on your website that clarifies the misunderstanding. You don’t want to get pulled into an online argument, so state your case and move on.
  • Worst case scenario: Someone is being malicious or vulgar or otherwise unacceptably unpleasant about you, your company, or its products. Contact site management and direct them to the post.

One of the best ways to keep your online reputation intact is to make sure that you’re posting a lot of positive content, solving peoples’ problems and interacting with your audience and pointing out the benefits of your products or services. Encourage feedback on your own sites. Create some lighthearted posts and make visitors feel welcome with a friendly user interface and navigation tools. The best defense truly can be a good, proactive offense.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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