What to Do When Word of Mouth Turns on Your Business
Word of mouth is the best marketing campaign that money can’t buy. It’s true; a bunch of
enthusiastic customers who love your brand is a great thing. They can do the one thing that
your own marketing effort cannot: give an objective sense of what it’s like to do business with
you. You can buy up all the ad space you want, but it will only serve to increase people’s
awareness of your brand. Credibility comes from the experiences of the people who use your
service or buy your thing.
Have you ever had a great experience with a company, so much so that you couldn’t stop
talking about it? There is only one experience that provokes the average person to be even
MORE talkative about their experience. And that’s when they use your service or product, and
have a terrible time! Yup, there’s no more prolific writer than the miffed consumer spreading the
word about how much he hates your business on Yelp. Sometimes these are isolated incidents.
But other times, these complaints catch fire and start to jeopardize your brand’s reputation in a
fundamental way. Some businesses never recover.
What do you do if this happens to you? First let’s talk about what not to do. Never jump into the
fray and start to lash out at everyone who says anything bad about you. You’ll see this happen
pretty frequently, when a young business owner notices someone speaking ill of his or her
brand online. It triggers defensiveness, which can come across as shrill and desperate to
people who witness the unfortunate controversy online. Simply put, it rarely works out if you try
to defend yourself.
There are alternatives. The first is to ignore haters, correct the problem they’re complaining
about (if it exists at all), and continue into the future as a better company. This is a great
strategy, and the world’s most successful companies have done this many times in their
existences. But sometimes a business is too small, and the growing negative sentiment online
Businesses in this position need to seriously consider reputation management. Reputation or
brand management is a way of removing or retracting negative material from the internet, in the
places where it is hurting you most. Reputation management companies also might take the
publicity reins for a while, seeing to it that positive material is put up in its place. This is no long
term solution, as only good work on the part of your company will cement a long term good
reputation. But in the short term, it may be all that separates you from bankruptcy and disgrace.
Click through for an overview on reputation management. It is no one-size-fits-all system.
Instead, any good company that can offer this service will be able to supply many different ways
of patching up your brand’s damaged reputation. It’s worth the time and money to get them to
do this for you, especially when you have no other way to turn. In the end, you’ll have a much
longer career as a result.