Everyone seems to have come to understand the power of the internet in this day and age. To find where to eat out next or a plumber to fix that leak in the kitchen, we start by Googling phrases like “Chinese restaurants near me” or “best plumbers in South Dunedin” on our smartphones. So it makes sense that one of the first things a new business owner does is to put their business online with the hope of tapping into this incredible power of discoverability.
But the business owner soon realises it’s a massive, competitive pond out there, and standing out from the crowd takes more than just having a perfect website or the best product or service in town. Your brilliant business offering is inconsequential if nobody knows that your business exists in the first place.
However, most New Zealand entrepreneurs usually don’t mind this type of challenge. The same energy that got them to start a business would often drive them to look for answers in the true entrepreneurial spirit of Kiwis. In their quest, they would soon find that it’s vital to get the word out there and go from “Hello world” to “Here is why you should care” in the most impactful ways.
Creating a bankable online brand reputation is an art that takes time, and it’s neither easy nor cheap. They would get plunged into the world of Content Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Paid Search etc. Navigating these is usually a steep learning curve for new business owners. But business owners would be the first to acknowledge the importance of making the right first impression, so they get busy crafting and perfecting their brand story, branding, and rebranding.
Beyond forging an impactful brand identity, they would also need to put some work into building out their online footprint by creating social media profiles and adding their business to Google Business Profile and local business directories like Business Directory, which is fantastic for promoting Kiwi businesses and building their online reputation. All that is recommended is valid best practice.
But despite all the hard work and resources that go into building an effective online reputation, I often come across businesses that still have their old logo on their Facebook page, with the last post from eight months ago. And the link to their website from their Twitter profile goes to their old URL, which has expired or is now home to a porn site. These things hurt a business’s reputation, and how common they are is alarming.
It would have been such a massive waste of effort when prospective customers found themselves in the middle of the chaos. It would take quite a committed buyer to put some extra work into piecing together the fragments of your broken brand scattered all over the internet. But why would anyone want to do that when they don’t know you, and there are too many other brands to choose from?
When it comes to your brand’s online reputation management, trust is key. And building trust and credibility requires consistency over time. Therefore, the real strength of a brand’s online reputation lies in the power of its consistency across all channels ALWAYS.
So, although a buyer may have come across your brand on several channels in their research, it would all come together as a single story in their experience, with every touchpoint adding to the authenticity and strength of your brand. This is incredibly powerful.
As a small business, you may not have the budget for fancy marketing campaigns, but you do have control over your brand’s online reputation. So take control. Pay more attention to the content you put online, use affordable tools like Canva, or employ the services of great branding specialists who do not cost a fortune to make simple logos, profile images, etc.
In summary, a chain is as strong as its weakest link. Coming across those “weak” (or broken) links in a consumer journey could be all it takes to leave a damaging dent in your brand’s credibility and cost you yet another sale. Why lose money to simple things you can control?
Seek professional help. Develop a brand guideline and ensure your brand images, colours, content copy, tone of voice, and style are consistent across all channels. Make each touchpoint a strength breaker. Your online reputation’s real value lies in your brand’s consistency; often, the simple things make all the difference.