Can you get back a lost reputation?

Trick question.

Reputation management is about more than scrubbing the Internet clean of any ill mention of you.

A reputation is something that is alive and active. Reputation is something that happens in peoples’ minds. And yes, while it’s true that your online presence can be scrubbed to some degree, you won’t handle effective reputation management until you know what it is.

What is reputation management?

  • Good habits. A good reputation comes about as the result of how you treat people over a long period of time. It’s not about any one interaction—which can always go sour—but about the aggregate. Good habits mean that you’ll tend to generate a more favorable reputation over time.
  • Creating value. When you create something of value, your reputation will be enhanced. It’s as simple as that. If you can find a way to give other people value, then they’ll feel indebted to you. This means they’ll tend to see you in a more positive light. Contrast that with the typical “salesy” approach, and you’ll discover just how powerful it is to create value, give it away, and let the customers come to you.
  • Embracing failures. No, we don’t want you to go around committing failures, because damage to your reputation can be harmful. But when Domino’s Pizza underwent an extensive rebranding campaign, they worked hard to embrace the fact that customers saw their pizza as low-quality. They revamped their recipe, launched new advertising, and won over new customers. They didn’t hide from who they were. They improved it.
  • Learning from mistakes. When you embrace your failures, it gives you a clear direction forward. If you can learn from your mistakes, you can slowly build up from a tarnished reputation—but only if you learn and put those lessons into action.

How do you rebuild a tarnished reputation?

How do you manage a reputation that’s already spotless?

How do you grow as a business without losing any reputation “points” along the way?

Here’s what you’ll need to know.

First Things First: Yes, You Have a Reputation

Whether you like it or not, you have a reputation.

That reputation might be small right now.

You might be looking to get an “edge.” To build an audience.

But as soon as someone searches for you, they’re going to find something.

That means that you should be concerned with reputation management. Don’t view it as something that only people with broken reputations do—the last resort. Instead, it can be a healthy habit. SEO hygiene.

These days, digital interactions are like currency. We exchange with other people and businesses all the time. And everything we do is another link in the overall chain. Step back, zoom out, and you’ll see what constitutes your reputation.

The only question is: are you happy with it?

Key Habits for Maintaining a Good Reputation in Business

Once you accept the fact that you have a reputation—and that it’s a good idea to guard it—then you’ll want to know what habits you can use to get started. How can you make reputation management automatic? How can you at least start taking the steps to build a good reputation as a matter of business?

Here are a few tips.

  • Transparency is one of the fastest ways to earn the trust and loyalty of your customers. Even when you mess up, people appreciate a company that is willing to admit its mistakes and humble itself. That comes through transparency. Invite your customers to understand how you do things. Let them know why a mistake was made. And update them on how you intend to get better. That transparency humanizes you and helps people feel empathy if there was a mistake along the way.
  • Be kind. As Neil Patel notes, a coffee company once received a complaint about the fact that they didn’t have outlets for their laptops. A fair complaint; people love to go to coffee shops and browse their computers. But the response was: “We are in the coffee business, not the office business.” True? Technically. But it showed an alienating attitude toward their customers. Hardly the welcoming atmosphere you might expect from a coffee shop.
  • Don’t fight fire with fire. One of the worst things for your reputation is to stoke the flames of drama by adding your own to the mix. For example, if you receive a bad review, don’t try to “get back” at them in the response. Instead, be kind to them, because people are watching you—and they want to know how they might be treated by you if they have a bad experience. With that kindness, you can also respond with details as to why the complaint exists in the first place.
  • Be fair in your dealings with people. In addition to online reviews, you should think about your offline interactions with people. Are your business-people fair? Do you deal with people in a straightforward way? What is it like when a customer calls you up and wants to know information? Are they shuffled around a frustrating call answering service, or do you take genuine interest in helping your customers?

How to Restore a Tarnished Reputation

Your reputation online may sometimes come under fire, even if it’s from no fault of your own. But there are some ways you can mitigate this damage.

  • Wash things out with plenty of great, new content. When someone searches for you, they might come across a page that complains about you. You can’t have this page taken down, try as you might. But if you inspire enough great new content for the same keyword—your brand—then you’ll eventually wash it out to the lower portions of the search engines. And the statistics suggest that once a page goes to the second page of listings, it starts to disappear. CTR results for page one can be as high as 71%, but combine to only 6% for the next two pages. If you can own the first page of results, you can own most of your reputation.
  • Ask your happy customers to help. If you don’t have happy customers, guess what? Then you might deserve a somewhat tarnished reputation. But we’re guessing you’re reading this because you do have happy customers, and you aren’t sure how to communicate that to people. Create promotional campaigns to invite your happy customers to leave positive reviews on sites like Google and Amazon.

Retargeting Your Campaigns to Adjust Your Reputation

You can’t control everything with your reputation, but you can control some things.

With Originator Everywhere, you can create a “stickier” brand that follows people as they visit other popular websites.

You can actively manage your reputation by choosing the ads that people see. And you can continue to engage with them even when they’re on other websites.

But it all comes down to having good habits.

Do you pester people? Or do you focus on offering them value?

With leadPops, we create great services that help you build a better reputation by offering genuine value to your customers—and letting them come to you. Visit our free trial to learn more.