Despite what most companies and individuals believe about reputation management, it’s not just for businesses that are dealing with a reputation problem. With the advent of sites like Ripoff Report, Angie’s List, and Yelp, which all provide places for customers to leave reviews and feedback regarding the quality of product and service providers, companies and individuals need to be more careful than ever that their website—the place where their company lives online—doesn’t get outranked in Google by a slew of nasty reviews that could make or break the business.
Here are the facts: Sites like Ripoff Report, Yelp, and Angie’s list rank highly in Google search because they have thousands of pages. Most company websites have fewer than one hundred, so they are already at a disadvantage in Google search results. Add to that the power of user reviews and how they affect the bottom line: on Yelp, for example, the difference between a 3-star rating and a 4-star rating is about a 20% difference in traffic to your website. If you own a restaurant, you probably know that 20% fewer customers could be the difference between thriving and going bankrupt!
Why Good Companies Get Bad Reputations
Now, there are plenty of companies that do a bad job, have poor quality service, and wholeheartedly deserve their bad reviews—the problem is, your company is probably not one of them. You provide great products and great customer service, yet there are always those problem customers who are ready to trip you up. The internet has opened up your business to new opportunities, but it’s also opened you up to many different types of people, including customers and clients who can act crazy, bitter, or threatening in order to get their way. These customers and clients may write false accusations online as a way to strike back at your company, or may hold a bad review over your head to get special treatment—an extension on your 100% money-back guarantee, or a refund on the perfectly good product you’ve sent them.
You see, customers know that these sites are a weakness for companies, because companies are already at a disadvantage in Google search. They know that companies have no way to take down reviews on Ripoff Report or Yelp, even if they are full of false accusations. They know that the internet is competitive and that a company’s success depends heavily on owning every single search placement on Google so it can show customers and clients that it provides great products and services. This is where reputation management comes in handy, because it helps companies and individuals protect themselves and build a strong defense against these “crazies” who will manipulate the rankings to get their way.
Reputation Management is Not Just For Companies
All companies need reputation management, but it doesn’t stop there. Individuals need reputation management too. When I first started my blog in 2007, I focused on personal branding and building thought leadership in my areas of interest online. I talked about my experience with marketing, public relations, sales, and startups, with the original intent of sharing my knowledge with the world.
But as my audience grew, my thought leadership and personal brand brought new opportunities right to my doorstep, without any outbound work. Thanks to these opportunities, I was able to speak at conferences, land clients like LG and Levi’s, recruit team members for startups, and even raise $150,000 in seed funding—all because I was putting out content and owning all the placement slots for my company, Jun Loayza, on Google.
At the time, I didn’t realize that while I was writing all those blog posts, what I was really doing was reputation management for my personal brand. Over the last five years, I’ve worked with many company brands, but my personal brand and reputation is what I’ve leveraged to get each of these companies to profitability quickly by getting more clients, customers, and users online.
Who I Am
My name is Jun Loayza, and I’m the president of Reputation Hacks. I’ve raised over a million dollars in angel funding, successfully sold two internet companies, and led social technology campaigns for major brand names like LG, Levi’s, Activision, Sephora, Whole Foods Market, Clippers, the Lakers, and numerous other companies.
I’ve also provided reputation management for a number of large companies in the rehabilitation industry. Each of these companies faced specific reputation management problems due in no part to the services they provided, but due to the industry they are in and the types of patients they work with.
What You’ll Learn in this Reputation Management Guide
I wrote this guide with one goal in mind: to teach companies how to protect their online identities. If you are a company that interacts with or finds customers and clients through the internet, this guide will help you build a first line of defense that protects you if you are ever attacked online, despite providing a great product or service to your customers.
This guide is not just for companies that are having reputation management problems right now, but also for any company that interacts online. Any company can benefit from this guide because the best way to protect your company is by building thought leadership. In addition to protecting your company’s reputation, thought leadership helps you get more customers, reach more people (who are searching for you online anyway), and utilize content marketing to get inbound leads. So while you’re protecting your business, you’re also generating new business, which is another major win for your company.
Here are some of the many things you’ll learn from this reputation management guide:
- How to build a long-lasting defense for your company online
- How to set up your social media channels and your blog
- How to build your personal brand with public relations, video, images, and more
- How to structure your content so your potential customers get relevant, positive search results when they Google your name
- How to leverage your personal reputation to get more opportunities and customers
Who Will Benefit From This Guide
In the past, our society has looked to credentials and external vetting services to determine whom we should listen to and go to for solutions to our problems.
How a Lawyer can use Reputation Management
For example, in the past, if we wanted legal advice we simply went to someone with a law degree. We didn’t know or care what he specialized in; we didn’t check his grades or transcript to see if he really knew his stuff. We simply assumed that if we needed legal advice, we should go to someone who had studied legal advice.
But what if we needed legal advice about getting a pre-nuptial contract written, and our lawyer specialized in commercial property? What if the lawyer who practiced family law worked on the other side of town and had no way to share her expertise with us? Wouldn’t our lives be better, ultimately, if we went to a lawyer who doesn’t just have the credentials to handle our problem, but also the experience and expertise to do a great job handling it?
In this scenario, the lawyer with the struggling family law practice is the person who will benefit from learning about reputation management because she has a great service and the people who need her service do not know about her. How will reputation management help? By getting her message out to people who desperately need the exact solution she offers!
Imagine how different the scenario would be if the family law lawyer had a blog where she offered tips on family law topics like divorce, adoption, marriage, estate assets. Imagine if she used Twitter to build relationships with other professionals in her town—real estate agents, family counselors, priests, nannies, hair stylists (yes, people vent their marital problems to these people!)—all of whom could help her cross-promote her services.
By providing useful advice through online content, she would begin to establish a reputation for being an expert in her field, which she could then leverage into speaking at local events, “new parent” classes, marriage counseling seminars, and more. Quickly, she would become the go-to person for anything related to family law. Not only would she gain clients that should have come to her in the first place from the commercial property lawyer, but she’ll also protect herself against the new family law lawyer who sets up shop in her town, because she has established her credibility beyond merely passing the bar exam.
How a Real Estate Agent can use Reputation Management
Let’s look at another example of a real estate agent who spends most of his days cold calling, sending out email blasts, or doing outbound marketing with TV and radio commercials. Imagine if he, instead, started a real estate blog that was relevant to his local area? Imagine if he started educating potential homeowners through his email list, rather than sending them a hard sell blast every time? Within six months, he wouldn’t need to cold call or do any outbound marketing. His pipeline would be full of clients who valued his expertise and wanted the very best from their realtor.
A Real Example of Reputation Management in Action
I’ll leave you with a third and final example from one of my own clients in the rehabilitation industry. When a patient is disgruntled, despite having been provided great service by the rehabilitation company, they often take their anger with themselves out on the company. A common scenario is this: the patient has smuggled drugs into the facility, even though they know it will get them kicked out of the program with no refund or a partial refund only. When they get kicked out, their first instinct is to blame someone else—so they do spiteful things, like going to Ripoff Report to falsely accuse the rehabilitation company of having a fraudulent program that doesn’t work (even though it does work—remember, it only didn’t work for them because they didn’t follow the rules).
I’ve helped companies in this industry by establishing their thought leadership and reputation online. I’ve put together their content strategy for them, so that when someone Googles their programs, the first results are always positive, useful content that establishes their credibility as a service provider. The Ripoff Reports are pushed back to the double digit pages because the useful content ranks much higher in Google search results. Furthermore, I know several different methods to get fraudulent reviews on Ripoff Report delisted from Google search results—a topic we’ll dive into in depth in this guide.
As you can see from these examples, reputation management is much more than just defending a company that has a bad reputation online. Reputation management is about proactively creating value and building a solid reputation online, because that’s what helps a business weather the ups and downs.
The Bottom Line: Your Reputation + Your Company’s Reputation Directly Affect Your Level of Success
I want to really hit home with you this idea that your reputation is closely tied to your company’s reputation. If one of them is bad, they are both bad. But if people trust you and you are the face of your company, then you will see a much greater level of success than you are now by diving into reputation management.
I’ve told you how this has worked with my blog, but here are three more quick examples of people who have built businesses by building their own reputations first:
- Yu-kai Chou – My good friend and business partner Yu-kai Chou writes a blog about gamification and has landed dozens of consulting deals because of it. He recently spoke about gamification at eBay, which is one of the largest e-commerce companies in the world, and one of the first to rely heavily on gamification in their business model.
- Cody McKibben – Another friend of mine, Cody McKibben, writes his Thrilling Heroics blog from all over the world. He is a location independent traveler and has used his knowledge and thought leadership to build the Digital Nomad Academy, which helps others who want to pursue a similar lifestyle as him. This sole offering allows him to work from anywhere, attracting the perfect clients to him.
- Per Wickstrom – My client Per Wickstrom is an entrepreneur with strong religious convictions. He’s built his business in accordance with his beliefs and philosophies, which rubs people the wrong way when they don’t agree. I helped him show other facets of his personality, including his entrepreneurial skills, his life struggles, and how he overcame those life struggles to build a community that helps people. The results have been fantastic; his true spirit is really resonating with the community of people he has solutions for and he is getting more clients because of it. Furthermore, the bad reviews on Ripoff Report that were once at the top of Google search have now been replaced with these inspirational stories about his life. We even connected him to an opportunity to write for the Huffington Post, which show up at #1 in search results for his name. How’s that for establishing credibility?
I can’t stress enough why this is so important, but Per Wickstrom is an excellent case study. Not only has reputation management helped his on a personal level, but it has also helped his business tremendously. Because he is the face of his company people are really buying him when they buy his services. If he has a bad reputation problem, then his company has a bad reputation problem. But if he has a great personal brand, then his company has a great company brand, and the amount of business he does will shoot up. Which is exactly what happened.
I want you to be the next success story featured on this blog. In this 34-part guide, we’re going to take you through each step of our entire reputation management framework so you can get results like the ones Per Wickstrom has. The next post is about how we’ve done reputation management for a variety of different companies, with more real-world examples so you can see exactly how these same tactics will get you the results you want. We post every Monday and Thursday at 7am Pacific Time. We’re really looking forward to getting to know you and answering any questions you have about your company’s (or your own) reputation online.