Just like back in high school, a bad reputation can ruin you and your business. Even if they’re not merited, negative customer reviews and word-of-mouth can slow sales to a halt. That’s when it’s time to step in and rebuild that brand identity.
How do you know it’s time to do that? Look for these warning signs.
1. Your Yelp Stars are Dwindling
You might have started out doing well on review sites like Yelp, but maybe you got one or two negative reviews, and since then you’ve noticed more complaints and low-star scores. What’s happening?
The fact is: If you’re repeatedly getting bad reviews, there’s likely a reason for them. Read them with an open mind to get to the underlying issue. You might ignore one customer complaining about slow service, but once you have several customers complaining of the same problem, it’s time to do something about it. Figure out what the issue (or issues) causing the bad reviews is and remedy it.
Then go back to Yelp, apologize to those unhappy customers, and find a way to make amends. You could offer a free meal if they’ll give you another chance, or a refund. Ideally, they’d come back to your business, have a better experience, and update their review to reflect the experience. Don’t be shy about asking them to do just that.
2. Your Website is Old
If the last time you updated your business website you had a flip phone, it’s definitely time for an overhaul. Remember: Your website is your introduction to new potential customers. If they land on your site and feel uncomfortable because it’s outdated or they can’t easily navigate to find what they want, they’ll go elsewhere.
Since it’s been so long since you had your website design updated, you might assume it will be costly. Not true. You can easily create a professional-looking site with affordable website builder tools like Weebly, even if you have no design skills.
3. People Talk Nasty about You Online
If you’re having more flashbacks to high school when kids would whisper about one another in the locker room, take a step back. First of all, it’s great to use media monitoring tools to stay on top of what people say about your brand online. But it’s what you do once you discover what people are saying that really matters.
Let’s say a Twitter influencer shouts out to the world:
Ug! My shoes from [your company] just arrived and they’re totally broken! What a rip-off!
You might be frustrated that she decided to publicly criticize your brand rather than contact customer service, but hold your aggravation inside. Simply respond publicly to her tweet. Apologize. These are some examples of superb apologies from businesses. Then offer to overnight her a new pair of shoes.
This does two things: First, it disarms her. She may not have thought you’d see her tweet. Responding to her removed her bite. Second, it shows others who are following the conversation that your brand is proactive at addressing complaints and that you’re working to remedy the problem. She should accept your offer and tamp down her public complaints.
4. Your PR Strategy Hasn’t Changed in 10 Years
You might follow the “if it ain’t broke” school of thought and think your PR strategy has worked pretty well this far. The problem is, you don’t really know if it has worked, because it’s only recently that media measurement tools have come into the marketplace to help you truly understand the effectiveness of your PR.
Publishing a press release online no longer generates the desired effect it once did. Now it’s more important to understand:
- What websites, blogs and offline publications and broadcasters are mentioning your brand.
- The reach of those publications and other news sources.
- The potential sales impact of your PR campaigns.
With this kind of deep data, you can truly have a better understanding of whether you’re hitting your goals with your PR efforts (you do have goals, right?). You can tweak future campaigns to target media coverage more carefully and stop wasting time pitching to journalists, bloggers and other influencers who won’t mention your brand.
If PR is part of your brand identity, make sure it’s up-to-date, along with the rest of your marketing approach.
5. Your Marketing Approach is Single-Minded
For years, you had great results with pay-per-click advertising. Or email. So you stick to it. You, put all your marketing eggs in that one basket. And now you’re wondering why it’s not working as well as it used to?
Technology isn’t the only thing that’s changed over the years. Customers have, too. They now want to have a seamless interaction with your brand, no matter where they are. Mobile, desktop, social media, your blog, email, ads … these should all be a part of your omnichannel marketing approach. In fact, the more places you can connect with your audience, the more you’ll reinforce that relationship and build trust.
Your brand identity and your strategy for reaching customers need to continually evolve to reflect what customers want. Leverage new tools and technology to make your rebuild simpler.
Bottom Line: Often, there are clear signs of when a business needs to revamp its PR and marketing strategies to rebuild the brand’s reputation. Heed the signs and make the fixes.
Christine Soeun Choi is an SEO associate at Fit Small Business specializing in digital marketing. Currently based in New York City, she has a background in business studies and math and a passion for business development. When not helping small business owners, Christine enjoys taking photos, exploring artwork, and traveling.