You’ve built a strong brand. Your office is professional, every piece of collateral you give to prospects is designed with a specific purpose.
Your greeting area is strategically designed to match your corporate colours and your magazines for guests are continually replaced. You go crazy when the cleaners miss a spec of dust or things are left out of place. You believe a good first impression means everything. Or do you?
The way your company is positioned online is more important than ever. Today, most people visit your website first and then they may choose to contact. The reality is you may never meet 90 percent of prospective clients. Unfortunately it is not as easy as it used to be either. While your website is an important part of your online brand, there are many other ways people are learning about your business.
Here is a quick checklist of a few areas you can monitor to ensure you are truly creating a great first impression:
1. Website: This is by far the easiest to fix. Ensure you have a brand guidelines document and a content strategy plan. Ideally your website should match your marketing collateral look and feel as much as possible.
2. Twitter: Many people are taking their issues to twitter. Monitoring your name via the saved search or other software will allow you to stay on top of bad or good conversations about your business.
3. Facebook: Like Twitter, you can also monitor this. If you deal with retail customers, it is also a good idea to have your own Facebook account. This should be designed using the same brand guidelines.
4. Free Directories: There are many free directories that are now showing your company name. Monitoring these and adjusting incorrect information (spelling mistakes, address changes etc) are important. Again, this can be done by signing up for various website monitoring services.
5. Ratings and Reviews: Much like Twitter and Facebook, past clients may review your company or give them a rating on a free site like: Yelp.ca or Travelocity.com. Prospective clients frequent these sites to get an unbiased opinion. Monitoring and responding to bad or good reviews via these websites will help your reputation online.
Managing your reputation online does take time unfortunately, but is well worth it. Luckily there are many free and paid tools for this. Google Alerts (www.google.com/alert) is great for monitoring websites whereas Hoot Suite (www.HootSuite.com) is great for monitoring social media (Twitter, Facebook etc).
Remember, as bad feedback comes in, it is important to react professionally and not say what you really want to say! Be polite and diplomatic in your responses and start a dialogue. You will may be presently surprised at the amount of prospective leads you get as a result!