With the competition that brands face online and in person, the reputation you have with customers can have an enormous impact on your bottom line. Learning how to cultivate positive feedback and nurture good customer interactions becomes essential.
Customers look to online reviews and search engines to learn more about the companies they consider doing business with. An estimated 90 percent of consumers report that they will look at online reviews before making a purchase, and these reviews influence more than 2/3 of buying decisions.
Given the importance of customer perception, you want to do everything you can to help your organization appear as helpful and trustworthy as possible in the eyes of potential customers. Brand management can help you better understand how to influence these customer perceptions and build a positive reputation for your company.
Here is what you need to know about brand management.
Components of good brand management
- Know what sets you apart
- Pay attention to the culture you create internally
- Make customer service a priority
- Practice thought leadership
- Cultivate brand advocates
1. Know what sets you apart
For better brand management, you must first identify what sets you apart. You should clearly identify what makes your organization unique compared to the rest of the competition. The better you are able to identify this important piece of information, the easier it will be to build a strong brand reputation. You will have the foundation you need to build a brand that stands out in the crowd.
To gain greater insight into what makes your company unique, consider speaking directly to your existing customers. Ask them about their purchase decisions, what brought them to your organization over the competition, and what would inspire them to continue to buy from you.
Compare their answers with the goal the business had when setting out. Look at the initial business plan and what your organization wanted to provide for customers and see how well they align. Then, create content that highlights the unique traits of your business.
2. Pay attention to the culture you create internally
The culture you create internally can also greatly impact your brand perception. When employees feel happy with their work environment, they become more likely to spread positive opinions of your brand to those around them. This can have a tremendous impact on your reputation and the level of trust that prospective customers have in your organization.
Also consider that it is your employees who have the most facetime with your customers. An estimated 70 percent of the perceptions people have about your brand comes from the experiences they have with the people at the company.
In other words, when you create a positive employee experience where people are happy to come to work each day and feel empowered in their jobs, they naturally pass those feelings along to current and prospective customers. They perform their jobs better, leading to more satisfied customers, and they help to spread positive ideas of your organization.
3. Make customer service a priority
Companies lose an estimated $62 billion each year because of poor customer service. Additionally, 62 percent of customers report that they share their negative experiences with brands with others. On the other hand, 72 percent of customers also say that they would share a positive experience with a particular business with those around them.
For proper brand management, you want to make sure that your customers have an excellent customer service experience. Customer service must prioritize addressing the customer’s needs at each stage of the buyer’s journey, including after their initial purchase and while they use the product or service.
Creating positive customer experiences means focusing the factors that matter the most to customers. For example, customers today place high value on privacy. In the age of constant data collection, customers want to know that the information collected about them will be used responsibly. When brands offer them strong privacy policies and have a reputation for guarding that data, it helps to provide a better customer perception.
4. Practice thought leadership
Engaging in thought leadership best practices can help to demonstrate that you are a brand worth listening to in your sector. It encourages people to believe that you have the answers they need to solve their pain points. This in turn helps to build trust and goodwill.
Consider thought leadership best practices like:
- Posting high-quality content that addresses some of the most important topics and trends that matter to customers
- Producing original research or analyses that will help demonstrate your place at the forefront of the industry
- Attend speaking engagements and other opportunities to get your name and qualifications in front of more audiences
- Write regular guest posts for popular industry publications that help you broadcast your ideas
5. Cultivate brand advocates
As you build your brand culture and perception, you also need to focus on creating brand advocates as a part of your brand management strategy. A study by Edelman found that 61 percent of people said that they find ‘people like them’ to be the most credible when relaying information. In other words, customers become more inclined to listen to fellow customers over official brand advertisements.
Focus your efforts on identifying customers that will make great brand advocates and begin to nurture them on the proposal. Taking a satisfied customer and transforming them into a brand advocate can also be seen as selling to them again.
Let the customer know the benefits of upgrading their relationship with your brand. For example, you might offer benefits such as insight or influence over product development. This inner circle of advocates might also be the first to access new product developments or enhancements. Outside of product benefits, brands might offer to cover fees for events or offer dinners and face time with the leaders of the company.
As you begin to build your list of brand advocates, consider the variety of ways you can put their positive reviews to work. Case studies can be an excellent way to showcase the abilities of your product or service. Speaking at events or providing references for prospective customers can also benefit your organization.
Remember that once your enlist a customer to serve as an advocate, you need to continue to nurture the relationship. Make sure the advocate feels and experiences the benefits of boosting your brand. Solicit feedback about their continued usage of your product or service as well to ensure that you continue to be on the same page.
How to measure and track your brand management
As you begin to focus on brand measurement, you will want to measure your progress so that you can easily see your rates of success. We recommend these strategies as a means of better understanding customer perception and how it changes as you work to build your brand’s reputation. Here is what you should use to track your brand management:
- Social media engagement and followers
- Market share and share of voice
- Reviews and advocates
Google wants to focus on sites that demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness, and trust. Building a strong reputation that encompasses these characteristics. Creating regular content that captures the needs of your target customers, offers original research and thoughts, and demonstrates your authority will help you improve your reputation in the eyes of Google as well. Watch to see if there is an increase in your SERP rankings, along with any increases in your traffic and engagement rates.
2. Social media engagement and followers
Social media has become an important part of branding. Customers turn to social media to connect with friends, follow brands, and otherwise tap into the modern watercooler. As you build brand recognition and trust, this will generally be reflected on your social platforms.
Use social media as a means to further broadcast your brand and promote your high-quality content. Look at the engagement and the number of followers on your various social profiles to better understand how your content and efforts are received by your target audience.
3. Market share and share of voice
Measuring your market share as well as your share of voice can also provide you with valuable insight regarding how the industry in general perceives you and where you stand compared to the competition. Monitor your market share and share of voice as you build your brand management strategy to monitor your progress.
4. Reviews and advocates
Throughout your brand management efforts, cultivating more positive reviews and building a strong list of advocates remains an important part of the process. Therefore, you should continually monitor your progress in both areas.
Track the popular review sites for your industry. Invite satisfied customers to leave your reviews and thank people for their feedback through the platform.
As you nurture your customers and convert them into advocates, track the demographics where you have the most success. For example, you might find you do well with cultivating advocates from one particular industry over another. This could signal potential steps you should take to improve your service in that industry.
Regularly also track the engagement and interest of existing advocates. You want to ensure that your brand continues to meet and exceed their expectations. The number of advocates you have and their enthusiasm about the brand will give you a clear picture of how well your brand management and brand reputation initiatives progress.
Managing your brand provides you with the positioning and tools you need to better understand how customers perceive your organization and modify it in your favor. You will know how to better tap into your customers’ needs and adjust your service to help you become the organization that your customers can trust.