BUILD IT, ENHANCE IT, FLAUNT IT, BUT WHATEVER YOU DO, USE IT. HERE’S HOW.
1 Harvest your reputation. It’s out there, but you have to gather it in. Your reputation is in the words of approval that your customers are prepared to give you. These are testimonials. The best time to ask for testimonials is straight after you have supplied a service, when your relationship with your client is at its highest point. If your client can’t think what to write, write what you would want her to say and ask if she agrees with it. That’s not only legitimate, it’s also more helpful to your next client.
2 Build your reputation. Communicate with your customers. People love you to follow up when you’re not trying to pitch for new business. It helps them to like you. Here are some good reasons to call:
Customer service check-up. “Can you tell me how we can improve?”
Something to add to a conversation you had with your client while working for them. “I just wanted to tell you about…”
Every employer is flattered that someone remembers their needs: “You know you said you were looking for a secretary/Swahili speaker/rare orchid supplier? Well it just so happens…”
Shake your contact tree and put people in touch.
3 Flesh out your reputation. Your customers may say nice things about you, but they won’t always say it the way you would like it. So write up a description of what you did for them in this easy-to-read format: What their need was (50 words), What you did for them (200 words), How they benefited from your service (50 words). You now have a case study. Be sure to check that they like what you’ve written.
4 Improve your reputation. Use customer feedback to ensure you deliver what the market wants and that you meet or exceed expectations. Make sure you don’t invest in new services that nobody values. Equally, don’t ignore services that set you apart. Don’t rely on gut feel – it may have got you going but to keep growing you need some measurable input.
5 Heal your reputation. If your reputation gets damaged don’t tough it out, make it better. Take some time out to understand not just what went wrong, but the underlying causes. If appropriate find a specialist adviser to help you put things right.
6 Enjoy your reputation. You’ve earned it so exult in it. Tell your friends, family and staff about your own and your firm’s successes. Enjoy the glow that comes from a job well done. Money isn’t everything so it’s time to feel good about your achievements.
7 Integrate your reputation into your go-to-market strategy. Don’t just tell people what you do, show them your testimonials and case studies – before they ask. This builds confidence and trust. Now they can buy from you or recommend you knowing they won’t regret it.
8 Proclaim your reputation. Make sure your testimonials and case studies are prominent on your home page and all other material. They are the most powerful arguments you can make to reassure customers to buy from you. Hand them out in print on every occasion.
9 Hallmark your reputation. Make sure your testimonials are CREDIBLE. Would you buy a gold ring without a hallmark? No, you want to be sure that it is really made of gold. In the same way if you date stamp and put your client’s name (and company name if possible) against each testimonial, its credibility and yours is vastly strengthened. An undated testimonial is virtually worthless.
10 Turn on your reputation. You turn on a tap to make the water flow. Same with your reputation. Find a way to get your clients to tell their friends and contacts about you. Let your reputation spread around like water from a garden sprinkler. A good word from a satisfied customer is worth a thousand words of yours. Make it easy for them. Make it worthwhile. Make it fun.