Campaigning for the Future of Your Brand
Business owners can be tireless in their preparation, in their planning, and in their proactive approach to cultivating their brand. The one thing they can’t do is see into the future. That’s always been true, of course, but it’s even truer now that the Internet is such a major force of influence and import. Simply put, no business owner can predict what the Internet holds in store for his brand.
The Threat of Online Defamation
Sure: As a business owner, you will do everything you can to keep consumers from disparaging your brand on the Internet. You can ensure that your products are superior, and that the way you treat consumers is above reproach. Even these very good, very smart business actions do not guarantee anything about the kinds of online reviews your business will receive, however, nor do they leave you exempt from the threat of Internet-based defamation.
The reason for this is simple: People can say whatever they want to say on the Internet. They don’t have to be factual and they don’t have to be kind. A disgruntled consumer, an angry ex-employee, a frustrated staff member, or even a business rival could post something negative about your brand online, and the consequences could prove dire.
The Consequences of Bad Online Press
The consequences of bad online press can be dire, precisely because the Internet is so powerful in shaping consumer behavior. Money is tight for a lot of consumers right now, which means they are more than willing to do whatever it takes to ensure they are making smart purchases. You can bet that they will take the time to search for a business or brand online before spending any of their hard-earned money.
If what they find about your brand is positive, then you’re okay—for now. But if it’s negative—and remember, it can turn negative at any time—then the effects could include lost customers, diminished sales, and increases in refund requests.
Campaigning for the Future
All of this goes to show why it is so important for business owners to take a proactive approach to online reputation management. ORM is not just about reacting to PR crises or to bad reviews. It’s about looking to the future of your brand, and doing everything you can do to ensure that it is a bright one.
Here’s how it works, in a nutshell. You cannot prevent people from posting negative or defamatory comments about your brand. The Internet simply does not allow us that level of censorship. What you can do is, really, the next best thing: You can ensure that the negative listings that make their way onto the Web do as little damage to your reputation as possible.
What this means is keeping them off the first page of Google, Yahoo, and Bing; if they are relegated to page 2 or 3 or 4, then, statistically, very few people will ever see them, and the damage done to your company will prove minimal. Online reputation management techniques allow you to do exactly this; by cultivating a strong, vibrant online presence—by building a positive brand reputation through written online content, press releases, blog entries, and social media posts—you can effectively erect a wall of positive press, one against which these negative listings will, hopefully, post no real threat.
Online reputation management is not just about reacting to negative listings, though that is a big part of it. No, it is about creating a reputation for your brand. It is about actively campaigning for the way your brand is perceived, both now and in the future, regardless of whatever negative online listings may come your way.
Rich Gorman is a long-time entrepreneur and a pioneer in the direct response marketing world. Additionally, he works alongside Cliff Stein, Reputation Changer CEO, in expanding the possibilities of online reputation management.