For any given industry, you can immediately think of one or two companies that dominate – they're synonymous with their industry and their reputation is unparalleled.
But those companies tend to be worth hundreds of millions – or billions. How can a small business pull off anything like that?
Well, while large corporations can pour millions into dozens of marketing channels, for small businesses, the (generally) inexpensive publicity and freedom of the internet is where the opportunities lie.
And while some businesses still choose to hire out companies to build their online presence, there are plenty of ways to promote your brand online yourself.
Read on for some ideas to help you get off the ground in crafting a powerful reputation for your brand.
Understand your audience
The fundamental first step in any kind of marketing is to understand who it is you're marketing to.
Are your products more appealing to women or to men? To teenagers or adults? To people who lead active lives? To people with pets?
Ask all of these questions and use whatever data you have at your disposal to help answer them.
Then think about what your audience wants and needs that you can provide them. Put yourself in their shoes and evaluate your content from that perspective. Are you speaking to them effectively – or even at all?
There are things everyone wants in a product or company, of course – good quality, reliable service.
But it's important that you understand the unique needs of your specific audience and consumer base before you move a muscle toward building your reputation.
Create quality content with a unique voice
Your company's blog is the place to start for building your reputation online – and if you don't have one, start one immediately.
Because no matter what you sell, content is key.
And not just any content – no one will come back to your blog if every article and post is self-promotional sales copy.
No, you need quality content that readers want to sit down and read. Content that tells them something useful and demonstrates that you understand them and your industry.
Not only does this build your credibility as an industry expert, but it also gives them something to share.
While you're at it, make sure to establish a unique – or at least consistent – voice for your brand.
It can be funny, quirky, high-brow, or anything in between, but most importantly it should be identifiable as your brand.
Interact with your customers
Now you can take that voice and put it to good use – responding to inquiries, on social media, and everywhere else.
Interact with your followers on whatever social media channels you choose to focus on – the brand voice in concert with these interactions helps your company have a more human element.
Not every brand can be as entertaining as Wendy's Twitter, sure, but the reason that works is because their voice carries over even into their commercials.
Are those commercials grating sometimes? You bet. But they are who they are, their style is recognizable, and they own it.
Be smart about it, of course; if you're responding to a complaint, you don't want to be making fun of your customer at the same time.
But while you should shift your tone depending on the situation, interacting with customers and followers with an established voice breathes life into your brand as something unique.
Monitor your reputation and address negative feedback
You should always ask your customers for feedback on how you're doing, and while that helps build your credibility, of course it opens the door for negative opinions.
Some of those are spam – but plenty will be genuine bad experiences, too.
And while those reflect negatively on your brand, you can alleviate some of that negativity by responding to it appropriately.
Not only that, but a great response to a genuine negative review can even reflect positively on your company by demonstrating that you care about your customers' experiences.
And this works even better if you remember to…
Go the extra mile
This one is simple – but the results can be exponential.
Whenever you can, surprise your customers with something nice.
Write a personalized note, give them something extra, and just generally take care of them.
This works well as a response to a negative experience, but it's even better when you manage to do it out of the blue.
And while it's especially effective once you've gotten more of a presence on social media, it should really be an established practice for your company right from the beginning.
Because oftentimes when customers feel they've been treated right, they want to tell someone about it – and recommendations are your best friend.
When you're just starting to build up your brand, it can seem like the most daunting task.
But once you understand the resources you have at your disposal, and as long as you constantly consider your audience's needs and maintain your brand's persona, the road to an impeccable reputation will be wide open.
About the Author
Isaac works from home and has helped companies all over the world over the last 7 years develop and implement winning marketing strategies. You can connect with Isaac directly via LinkedIn here to discuss more productivity hacks, marketing and working from home.