Last Updated on August 25, 2016 by Tim
Although image and reputation take a long time to build, they can be destroyed much more quickly, thanks to things like an unfavorable comment broadcast on social media channels, an incorrect assumption, or even a destructive campaign launched by a competitor. Reconstructing your startup’s image is tough, and it’s sometimes even more difficult to maintain progress you’ve made. Fortunately, there are several things that make either goal easier to manage.
Use Metrics to Gauge Progress and Find Weak Spots
Before launching a dedicated campaign to maintain or improve your startup’s reputation, it’s necessary to discover which areas need work. You can do that by conducting surveys and focus groups with both customers and employees. Remember, happy workers are sometimes your startup’s strongest brand ambassadors. After evaluating feedback, you may discover new revelations that guide future actions.
Once you’ve compiled valuable insight into a usable format, create a baseline set of metrics. Then, monitor them across time to see whether what you’re doing is helping, hindering, or stabilizing your startup’s image.
Engage With Customers in Meaningful Ways
It’s not enough to merely see what customers think, then keep your plan of action under wraps. Make it clear you really care what your audience perceives about your startup and are working hard to keep them satisfied. One of the most accessible ways to do that is by engaging with customers on social media.
The floral delivery company 1-800-Flowers learned about customer engagement the hard way when it failed to promptly respond to customers who dealt with Valentine’s Day orders that were late, damaged, or not as described. Customers flooded the company’s social media feeds to express their dissatisfaction, causing a huge public relations disaster.
Whether your startup has already weathered a similar storm or you’re trying to prevent one from occurring, always show customers you’re attentive to their experiences with your business. Don’t allow social media posts to go unanswered, and always update your website with the latest news about the company.
It’s even more important to do that when trying to polish a tarnished reputation. You might use a blog entry or social media post to describe how your company is handling a debacle. Generally, customers would much rather know a situation’s being worked out rather than ignored.
Consider How Decisions Could Impact Your Image
Reputation building and maintenance require long-term perspectives. That’s even true when you’re rushing to do damage control. Get into the habit of always thinking about how the business decisions you make could impact how people see your startup in the future, and figure out whether the potential positives outweigh the negatives.
For example, if you’re thinking about partnering with a company for a joint project and know that business went through a reputation-damaging battle five years ago but came back from it strongly, it’s smart to think about whether customers might feel confused or wary once they learn of this business relationship. It is likely customers will realize the company has bounced back after the past fiasco, but some people’s opinions are so badly marred by bad press, they decide they’ll never again buy certain products or give patronage to the respective companies.
Broadcast Consistent Messages
It’s crucial for your company to keep a uniform tone when in the public eye. That includes being aware of messages broadcast through online, print-based, and televised means. You may recognize robust training is necessary to help your team know what to say, and when, especially if those employees deal directly with customers. When people hear different things based on the time of day, season, or month when they contact your startup, they’ll probably start to feel doubtful and wonder what to believe.
Besides maintaining consistent messaging across all channels, aim to connect messaging with your brand’s ideals. A food technology company called Hampton Creek does that particularly well through its Instagram profile. The business focuses on making it easier for people to eat well, and this particular social media feed features images of enticing food, plus links to media that helps you make the culinary creations at home. When your company’s values match up with the messages you send, it’s more likely the public will see your startup as a standout establishment that’s worth their time and money.
Fixing your startup’s image or keeping it appealing in an ever-fluctuating marketplace is undoubtedly challenging. However, you now have some effective ways to go about ensuring your startup’s reputation is the best possible, now and into the future.