The importance of reputation
If you are interested in a new product or service, or a particular supplier or customer and want to find out more, what do you do? You visit Google. (other internet search engines are available!) The internet means that if you want to find out about pretty much anything, you can; and that means people can find out about you and your business too! It has never been more important that your core presence on the internet – and for most businesses that means your website – truly reflects your business now – and not your business as it was 2 or 3 years ago when your site was launched! Many modern websites include sophisticated content management systems (CMS) (our favourite website platform – WordPress – can deliver phenomenal levels of easy to use CMS functionality at surprisingly modest budgets) but it is important that the CMS is used! By keeping your website up to date, regularly adding new, relevant content (and removing out of date material) you are demonstrating your business is active and progressive and delivering current products, services and information. all good for your reputation. Having an up to date website is important in building a strong reputation for your business, but there is a problem:
You control your website and what goes on it
Your can say pretty much what you like on your website and there are numerous cases of businesses pushing the positives about what they do while gently sweeping the negatives under the carpet. This doesn’t help anyone as whenever we hear about the ‘bad-guys’ some of the negativity can rub off on the rest of us.
Can we trust a company reputation based on what we read on their website?
The rise of the review
Review websites are everywhere. Sometimes it is a business looking to build it’s own reputation as ‘Honest John’ giving truthful opinions of products and services and in other cases a website is set up to allow anyone to write a review (Trip Advisor is perhaps one of the best known names in this area). More and more, sites are also allowing customers to write their own comments about products and services (Amazon positively encourages this). Reviews have their own issues as people with malicious intent can write ‘false negative’ reviews on a site though most have a process of moderation where review are checked by independent specialist before they are published (no one wants to face a libel claim!) But what if my business receives a legitimate negative review? This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You should have the right of reply so that your side of the story appears alongside the review. All reviews tell you how customers view you and your offering. Maybe a negative review highlights an unknown issue you need to deal with? As with anything on the internet, you need to learn to read reviews. A handful of poor reviews in a sea of praise may not be too significant. If you are seeing more negative comments maybe you have some work to do.
The power of case studies
It’s perhaps not surprising that the vast majority of reviewing goes on in the retail/consumer market where typical web traffic is so much higher than in B2B – which is where case studies come in. I said earlier that an issue with your website is that you control the content. Your own words about how great you are can have a bit of a hollow ring! It is so much better if you can get someone else to sing your praises – and who better than a client where you have delivered your exceptional service! It is possible to write a case study using only your words and your point of view but it is so much more powerful if it includes a quote from your client as a testimonial which supports and reinforces what you are saying
More than just a testimonial
A testimonial is great, it is always good to have someone saying how good you are, but a case study can put the praise in context of particular products or services which can demonstrate your particular expertise – showing not only that you deliver but that you deliver in a particular field – and if that is what your reader is looking for…..
The anatomy of a case study
Case studies can be written in many different ways but I always start with 3 headings:
- Issue – What was the problem faced by your customer?
- Solution – How did you solve that problem?
- Benefit – How did they really benefit? – This is where the testimonial works best.
If you can write a paragraph or 2 under each heading and round off with a testimonial from your customer you have the basis of a strong case study – and some great new content for your website A final idea: If they are willing, video your client giving a verbal testimonial (phone video is fine) You can either use this as part of a video testimionial or embed it as part of a written post. – Both work well.