Marketing Viewpoint by Ruth Winett
How To Build an Enviable Business Reputation*
"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently." Warren Buffett
Shakespeare wrote about destroyed reputations. Now, businesses exist to help other businesses improve their reputations. Following are some tips for building a good corporate reputation:
Provide high quality products and services.
Most people will get to know companies through their offerings. Satisfied customers will become repeat purchasers, and they will also provide referrals. As the quality of Fords and Chevys has improved, so has the reputation of Ford and General Motors.
Grow at a reasonable rate and be profitable.
Wall Street insists that public companies grow and profit. Private companies are under less scrutiny; nevertheless, they still need to profit in order to be able to invest in developing more products or services and to invest in marketing and selling existing offerings. All these activities contribute towards a positive company image.
Employ a management team known for personal integrity and honest business dealings.
The personal behavior and business behavior of a company's management team reflect on the company. If managers are dishonest, people will question the integrity of the companies these people lead (e.g., Wells Fargo).
Value your employees.
Employees who feel exploited will tell other people, and some of these people are potential employees or potential customers. Many refuse to shop at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. because the company has the reputation of mistreating its employees and of discriminating against female employees.
Treat customers well.
Mistreated or otherwise disappointed customers supposedly tell nine people why they are unhappy. Employees treat customers well when management emphasizes customer satisfaction and when the company treats employees well.
Earn respect within your industry.
Employees move around, and they talk about previous employers. As a result, companies in the same industry know which of their competitors are good companies and which companies have weaknesses. Each industry is a microcosm where everybody knows everybody else.
Have an effective Web presence.
Websites are the face that companies present to the world. Having a good web and social media presence is essential to any business's reputation. This means providing specific information about company offerings, company executives, mission, contact information, and customer support information.
Be a good corporate citizen.
Support local causes financially. In addition, encourage staff to participate in volunteer projects that benefit community organizations. Often these volunteer projects take place during the workweek. Many community banks are generous supporters of local non-profits and schools.
Be a good steward of the environment.
A reputation for polluting can outlive a company. For years, Nyanza Color and Chemical Company released carcinogenic materials into the environment in Ashland, Massachusetts. While the company went out of business in 1978, Nyanza's history of polluting cropped up recently during a move to build housing near the former location.
Quickly acknowledge problems, investigate, and when necessary apologize and make amends - without prodding
For years Johnson & Johnson has been high on the list of most admired companies, largely because of how they responded to contamination of Tylenol pills. The company quickly admitted the problem, issued a product recall, and developed safety seals for their medicines.
*[Reprinted by permission of the Worcester Business Journal. A similar article appeared in the 9/12/16 WBJ.]
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