In the last of our three-part series on how to build a great reputation for your business, we look at the real ‘crunch’ point of the whole process – generating business from all your efforts.
Whilst it’s great to obtain publicity, recommendations and opportunities to be ‘visible’ to your target market – if these don’t lead to new or repeat business, they won’t justify all the time and energy you’ve invested.
The key to winning business from a great reputation is by being proactive and using the ‘publicity’ opportunities you get as part of your business development or sales approach. Think of the output of your reputation-generating activities (such as press cuttings, newsletters, blog updates, social network updates, tweets, presentations, guides etc) as the fuel you use to:
- Target and approach new customers – convincing them to take your call and talk to you
- Keep your business on a potential customer’s horizon when the decision-making process becomes long and drawn out
- Support your new business proposals – so potential customers feel they are getting a valuable, ‘safe’ supplier
- Reassure your existing customers to stay loyal to you, repeat buy or perhaps try other products and services from you
- Keep your network of contacts and possible referrers up to date with your latest thinking, which might prompt them to forward more leads your way
- Follow up your networking efforts to keep yourself ‘front of mind’ with the new contacts you meet
- Secure more ‘publicity’ opportunities by reassuring those in charge of them, that you are a pro and a great contributor in this arena
Touch points to keep you in mind
As we’ve said before in this series, the best reputations are built by focusing very carefully on the market or audience they want to attract and by articulating messages that that audience will be keen to hear.
Once you have started generating content, create plans to ensure you use it to best effect. Consider which contacts, customers, referrers and/or influencers you want to keep in touch with. Unless they object, plan a series of points when you will send or do something that keeps you very much in their mind. It should be at a frequency they’d like and the content you use, from the bank you are building, should be very relevant to their interests/situation. Remember to select the medium, content and style that they are most likely to interact with. For example, if they are Twitter addicts, then tweet. If they would prefer an article or ‘how to guide’, then send one. If they’d love to attend an event you’re presenting at then invite them. And if they’d like a mixture of different media and messages, then put a cocktail of them together.
What you want to convey is that your business is active, it understands the market it supports and it is helping that market. This positive mindset will shine out amongst the current doom and gloom.
Another thing to consider is that, in the current recession, people are more risk averse in their purchasing. They can’t afford to buy the wrong/product or service. This means that they’ll seek recommendations from others when making the decision to buy. By creating a strong reputation as a positive and active business, you will reassure your referrers to keep recommending you. And if people do endorse you, then make the most of it – feature it on your website, LinkedIn, case studies, blog etc. Quite often it’s easier to grasp the strengths of a business from the way its customers describe them. So make sure your reputation is visible in:
- The words of your customers
- The experience people gain in dealing with you
- The help, support and knowledge you give to your target audience
About the Author: Michelle Daniels is the Managing Director of Extended Thinking. An experienced and effective business development and marketing strategist, Michelle has built a successful career increasing top line growth for service businesses and organisations. She helps her clients turn their marketing, business development and thought leadership plans into reality with her ‘hands on’ support and practical advice. A prolific writer, Michelle also combines creative flair with business nous to produce highly effective results. She has written (and ghost-written) for many professional and business publications and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and professional services marketing group.
Extended Thinking: Extended Thinking is a hands-on marketing and business development consultancy. Bringing together great minds and great ‘doers’, we help our clients devise and implement plans that achieve real business growth. Our clients come from a wide variety of backgrounds and sectors, but invariably are those who are too busy or lack the resources to action their marketing and business development plans. We roll our sleeves up and muck in to free them up to do what they really want to do and are good at doing.