Council Post: How To Conduct Reputation Marketing In A Local Area

By Matt Doyle, the VP and co-founder of Excel Builders, a truly unique custom home builder, creating homes that make every day easier.

Reputation marketing is the art of harnessing the attention you generate from having a strong brand. Every business can benefit from a good reputation, but businesses with small service areas can live or die based on theirs.

Reputation has always mattered to my company because we plan and build custom homes in a limited area of the northeast U.S. Due to the cost of custom homes, our potential clients will often read reviews, check with friends and follow up on references.

They expect to see evidence that our company deals honestly with clients and follows through on commitments. We partly develop that evidence through reputation marketing.

Ideally, search engines would promote this information independently, but they often don’t. You’ll need to take some responsibility for ensuring your reputation is not just good but also visible. Here are some steps you can take to build and promote your reputation in a local area.

Focus On Customer Service And Work To Drive Reviews

Public reviews are some of the most visible signs of your reputation. Thanks to the way that Google operates local results, nearly anyone Googling your company name is likely to see lists of reviews from different sources.

Providing excellent customer service is key to earning good reviews, but good customer service alone won’t necessarily encourage clients to create reviews. If you want to see your hard work reflected in reviews more often, you’ll need to encourage them.

My team has successfully encouraged reviews from customers by:

• Offering minor special incentives.

• Referencing reviews in a section of our invoices.

• Following up on a successful job with a thank-you note that references review.

The aim of all of these actions is to apply as light a touch as possible. Still, it’s necessary to do something if you want to build a reputation. As the next step, you should build your profile by advertising where your customers are.

Apply Your Regional Knowledge To Your Marketing

The way you reach your customers plays a large role in whether they see your company as a “local” institution or just another vaguely national brand.

The key is to focus your advertising in areas that are not just national platforms (such as Facebook or Google Ads) but also in areas that locals love.

For example, you can put ads in local minor-league stadiums or local circulation newspapers. These ads aren’t typically expensive, but they can signal to some of your target customers that you are engaged in the community.

It’s difficult to provide more examples because the best ones are often unique to your area. Examine your local institutions and the opportunities (such as billboards, page space and live reads) that exist there to make your mark.

Be Active In The Community’s Important Causes

Getting involved in charitable causes is a great way for any business to make an impression. It’s so much more important to businesses that want to create an impression in their local area.

Focus on the most important causes of the community, as that’s usually where you’ll be able to make the biggest impact. You and willing employees can collect donations, clean up local parkland or engage in hundreds of other ways.

Build A Reputation Locally

By using these steps, you can begin the long process of building a reputation. This will always matter for businesses like mine, where costs are high and trust is a huge factor. However, businesses of any size can benefit from putting thought into reputation.

Over the years, working hard for reviews, advertising locally and being active in important causes can help put your business at the forefront of people’s minds. From there, you’ll gather leads you never even knew existed.

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