Managing your brand’s credibility

Image via Incredible Adventures

No matter how large your marketing budget may be, and regardless of how cool your packaging is, and even if your social media efforts are out of this world, CREDIBILITY will always be one of the very most important assets your brand has. In this very social world, consumers seek the opinions of their friends and their online social communities. They also rely heavily on ratings and reviews to make final decisions about making purchases.

What does this mean for brands?

It is absolutely imperative that you be aware of conversations taking place that involve your brand. If the conversation is a negative one, you can take a number of steps.

  • Put yourself in the conversation and find out why your brand is being viewed negatively.
  • Be gracious about the feedback.
  • If the conversation is held away from your platform (for example if a complaint was discussed in a tweet, but your brand wasn’t mentioned directly in the tweet), encourage the issue to be reported to a platform that you control, like email, and respond in a speedy manner
  • Let the person know that their feedback will be taken into consideration.
  • Always pay attention to your reviews and star ratings and respond to negative ones. While a bad review can send a bad first impression for a first-time consumer, a thoughtful, sensible response on behalf of the brand may convince a newcomer to for try to form their own opinion.

Put your positive feedback, reviews and results in a place that is highly-visible to the consumer.

  • Don’t bury great product reviews and star ratings in the product detail pages. Bring those great assets to forefront and flaunt them! A simple “5-star rating!” callout can intrigue a customer and make them want to find out what others consider to be so great.
  • Make it easier for consumers to find the top-rated or most-preferred items that you offer – even if it means putting gold star or a thumbs up beside the item to call attention to it. Always be prepared to discuss your best sellers.
  • Showcase testimonials that consumers send in and share via social media in an attention-grabbing manner. Take the time to have a graphical treatment used to make the best ones stand out (display via banner advertisements, wall photos on Facebook, Instagram images, etc) and always give credit to the person who provided the testimonial. Not only will this allow you to leverage your credibility, but it will also encourage others to send in their thoughts as well.

Credibility is crucial. Address those issues that threaten your credibility quickly and effectively and leverage the positive feedback that you receive in a tasteful manner that will help take some of the guesswork out of purchase decisions for your consumers.

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Update: Case studies can help tremendously with credibility. Check out this article I came across and learn how you can use them: 3 Methods to Use Case Studies to Attract More Clients

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10 reasons your brand leaves a bad first impression

Image via WP Clipart

First impressions are important. People say don’t judge a book by its cover, but when you first encounter something, especially something that is requesting your time, attention and/or money, you better believe the cover will be judged and it better be perfect. With that said, I wanted to stress how the simplest things can leave a bad first impression for your brand.

Cluttered, unappealing website design
Putting too much stuff (stuff=copy, banner ads, images, etc) on your website’s homepage can be overwhelming to a person who is making their first contact with your brand and consequently, could turn them away. Also, if your website looks like it was just thrown together without any consideration for organization, logic or style, that can have a negative reflection on your brand. If you have a smaller budget for web design, at least consider getting advice on how to organize and lay out your site from someone who knows their stuff.

Low-quality images and advertisements
In case you haven’t noticed, pictures have become a big deal. From Pinterest to Instagram, people are looking at and engaging with hundreds of images everyday. With this new phenomenon, consumers are encountering their introductions to brands everyday, just not necessarily through a platform that the brand itself houses. Therefore, all of the images associated with your brand need to be of high quality, so that if Jane Smith happens to pin it, and her all of her 120 followers on Pinterest see it, they won’t be left with a negative impression.

Grammatical errors in your copy
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to proofread. If your site is visually appealing and organized perfectly, but contains a glaring spelling error, a first-time visitor may get a bad impression. Not to say that they won’t ever want to have anything to do with your brand, but any chance you can avoid giving consumers (as skeptical as they already are) something negative to say about your brand, take it! I’ve even posted grammatical errors, and I understand that it happens – but always try to avoid it. When possible, always try to have anything that is disseminated or made public on behalf your brand proofed for errors.

Missing elements that are generally expected and sought out
If you’re in retail, chances are consumers that encounter your brand will want to know about the return policy. If you’re in the food industry, chances are consumers that encounter your brand will want to know about ingredients. Provide the consumer with everything that they might need to determine whether or not they’d like to pursue a “relationship” with your brand or company. Leaving out pertinent information could leave a negative first impression with someone exposed to your brand for the first time. I think that it’s important to be as transparent and helpful as possible.

Website malfunctions, broken links
Always double-check the links that you send out. If a person is taking the time to open up an email that you’ve sent them, the link that they click on from the email should get them the results that they’re expecting. The same thing is true with printed materials. Always be sure to double-check and double-check again any URLs or email addresses that you have listed.

Also, it crucial to do (at a minimum) weekly audits of your site to be sure that everything is showing up as you intended. Broken links and dropped images can leave a negative impression.

Poor social media efforts
If a person first encounters your brand through a social media network, only to find that you haven’t made any updates in two weeks, they will very likely become disinterested and move on without subscribing or following. Develop interesting, relevant social media content and post it consistently so that if someone encounters it, they’ll immediately want to join in the conversation and learn more.

Poor customer service
One of the biggest things that can deter consumers from making repeat encounters with a company or a brand is bad customer service. Not only will it leave a horrible first impression, but in this age where people can share their horrible experiences with the masses, one bad customer service incident can lead to negative first impressions of your brand to millions of consumers. It is so important to train your team (and I mean your entire team) on the proper tactics to use when dealing with customers.

Lack of cleanliness and order
If you have a physical, brick and mortar location, it’s so important to ensure that the environment is as welcoming and clean as possible. A person’s first encounter should not be an unattractive display of littered cigarette butts. Always make sure that both the outside and inside of your establishment are both clean and organized. If you have a website only, make sure that your categories make sense and that your consumers will be able to get to what they’re looking for easily.

Pushiness or nonchalance
If you have a team of individuals whose job is to get your brand’s name out there, they should be trained on how to effectively inform people about the brand without being pushy, but at the same time, have a level of enthusiasm about what they’re doing that interests and intrigues whomever they’re speaking to. We’ve all heard tales of the “pushy salesman” and that is not how you want your brand to be presented. You also don’t want it to be presented by someone who looks completely detached and uninterested.

Ratings
People pay attention to ratings. While there is nothing that you can do about ratings that have already been submitted, you need to address the low ratings and see what you can do to make them better. Don’t just ignore them and don’t spend time trying to make the consumer understand why their review isn’t indicative of the brand/company/product, etc. If a person goes on your site for the first time and reads a negative review, but then sees a comment from a representative of your company apologizing and stating what will be done to try to make things better, there won’t be as bad a first impression left.

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