What is it going to take to double your business in the next six months?
It won’t just be having great ideas. No matter how awesome your thinking, someone, somewhere in the world, has probably already come up with the same thing as you.
It won’t be hard work alone. Working longer and harder won’t mean a thing if people have never heard of you.
It won’t even be having loyal customers. People can get pretty much anything they want, any time they want, courtesy of good old Dr Google. Competition is everywhere.
So, what IS going to make the difference for you?
It’s the credibility factor.
That’s right – we’re now operating in the Reputation Economy, and our credibility is our currency.
Our currency? Surely offering competitive prices and great customer service is what makes money? Nuh-uh. Maybe that was the case last century, but it takes more than that now.
Having an awesome reputation isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a gotta-have if you want to survive in business or continue to exist as an organisation.
Your potential customers must not only know about you, they must trust and believe in you before they decide to do business with you.
Think about it. These days we’re all hugely influenced by people’s recommendations. We read reviews on travel websites before we book a holiday. We’re put off certain restaurants because of what complete strangers say about them on social media.
The same goes for your business, and it also applies to not-for-profits and government agencies. What people see when they Google you, or see comments about your business on social media, has more impact than what you actually do.
Your reputation not only precedes you, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, it IS you. They may never meet you or find out close-up, what you have to offer. They’ll pass judgement based on your digital footprint; particularly what others say about you.
Can you get instant credibility?
Well, ah, no. You have to be the real deal to start with; excellent at what you do and with a solid handle on how to treat your customers. But that’s only the first step. It’s about being great, and then being KNOWN for being great.
Now, when I talk about being “known” most people jump straight onto their Facebook or LinkedIn account and start pumping out a frenzy of plugs for their business or organization. Social media might be economical, easy and everywhere, but there’s one problem. Everyone is trying to do the same thing. If you’re using social media as your only tool to get known, chances are you’re just contributing to the massive cloud of noise that swamps most of us every day. No-one’s hearing you.
So if social media isn’t the ultimate solution to building my reputation, what is?
Well, it’s a funny thing. I’m not suggesting you don’t use social media – that would be crazy. What I am saying is that posting on social media doesn’t mean instant credibility. What you need is for other people to say positive things about you and your business. And the most drop-dead powerful type of testimonial comes from someone who actually doesn’t care whether your business succeeds or fails – someone who is simply telling a story that happens to include how amazing you are. Even better, they are prepared to publish their story through a recognized, public channel for all to see.
When I talk to university students about ‘the media’, they think I’m only referring to Facebook. Their idea of media doesn’t stretch any further than that. With so much focus on social media, it’s easy to forget that old-fashioned media outlets – television, radio, newspapers and magazines - are still out there. Some of them are doing it tough in the digital world, but they’re still around.
There are still phenomenal opportunities for businesses and organizations to get free, positive media coverage, yet this is becoming a neglected element of the way we communicate.
In the social media age, it’s even more important that you continue to actively promote yourself through the old-fashioned media.