What is reputation marketing?

Although the term is often used interchangeably with online reputation management (ORM), it doesn’t mean the same thing. As a business owner or executive you need to know the difference, so here’s a more accurate definition:

Reputation marketing highlights and amplifies positive brand content like customer reviews through traditional and digital marketing channels to boost sales. In short, it’s a strategy to promote your brand’s existing good reputation rather than repair a damaged one.

That’s an important distinction to keep in mind. While reputation marketing does have a positive impact on brand image, it generally won’t improve your search results. Since your marketing initiatives will prompt consumers to research your brand on Google, you’d better have positive content on page one for them to discover.

Reputation marketing vs reputation management

Let’s dig a bit deeper to understand the differences between these two services.

Reputation management uses SEO, content creation, social media, public relations and so much more to establish positive search reputations for individuals and companies.

There’s a common misconception that ORM uses negative SEO to push down search results. In reality, reputation management strengthens a brand’s online presence in a natural way so search engines are compelled to show users your most favorable content.

Once a business has earned favorable media mentions and positive online reviews, reputation marketing services can then spin that content into campaigns and case studies. To sum up:

  • Reputation management establishes a positive brand presence online.
  • Online reputation marketing leverages it in sales materials and campaigns.

How online reviews drive reputation marketing strategies

Customer feedback has become the “Mr. Wilson” of consumer advice. Shoppers place enormous trust in feedback from faceless individuals on review sites. Sadly, fraudsters take advantage of that misplaced trust to manipulate the system.

That all boils down to bad news for brands that have been crushed by 1-star reviews. Staggering corporate reputation management statistics indicate that negative comments and bad star ratings drive potential customers away by the busload.

But let’s look at that from another angle: Online review sites can be a powerful marketing tool when filled with positive customer reviews. Why?

Great reviews improve conversions throughout your entire marketing funnel:

  • Awareness: Prospective customers learn about your brand through review articles such as: “Best Online Reputation Management Services.”
  • Interest: People begin to search for your brand to learn more about your company through customer reviews.
  • Consideration: at the bottom of the funnel, shoppers compare your product vs your competitors’ to see what worked for others like themselves—and what didn’t.

Consumer reviews are at the core of all reputation marketing efforts because they heavily influence a brand’s reputation and purchasing decisions. In the next few sections, I’ll reveal how you can make them work for your company.

Handle negative reviews

Don’t be an ostrich. Review websites rank very well for branded queries, so if you have negative reviews online then potential customers will see them.

In most cases you can’t delete negative reviews unless you provide hard proof that they violate user guidelines. What’s worse, sites like Ripoff Report won’t remove bad reviews even if you have evidence to prove complaints are fake.

While you can’t remove most customer criticism, you do have plenty of options. Check out our guide on how to handle bad Google reviews for a complete strategy to fix complaints.

Earn positive reviews

Once you’ve got your bad reviews under control, it’s time to build up a reservoir of new reviews that your marketing team can leverage for promotional material. The good news is that there are countless ways you can acquire good reviews. You can use in-store comment cards, website feedback, social media interactions, digital surveys and obviously review websites such as these:

  • Google business reviews
  • Tripadvisor
  • Yelp
  • Angies List
  • Facebook
  • Better Business Bureau

CMOs and small business owners alike know that good reviews are important, but they rarely ask happy customers for feedback. Since the majority of people write reviews when they’re angry, you could have an imbalance of opinions if you don’t actively solicit feedback. In fact it can take ten times as many good reviews to offset one bad review.

Remember, online reputation marketing won’t work without lots of great reviews. So set aside some funds from your marketing budget to aggressively earn and manage online reviews.

Brand reputation marketing goes beyond customer reviews

Most businesses focus on consumer reviews because they’re a quick and easy demonstration of social proof. However, the best reputation marketing companies think bigger than customer feedback.

Employee reviews

For example, do your employees love their jobs? Issue surveys to find out how people feel about working for you.

If they’re unhappy, address their concerns to improve employee morale. Then, request feedback on Glassdoor, Indeed or other employee review websites. You should also get certified as a “Great Place to Work.” Doing so will give your reputation marketing company positive content to promote.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR)

Stories about “brands that care” earn tons of favorable press, so if you need to stockpile positive articles, talk about the good your company does. Here’s a list of effective CSR examples that you may already be doing but not promoting.

For instance, did you convert your office to use more efficient lighting? Less paper? Perhaps you made a commitment to hire veterans, or your staff volunteers within your local community.

Social and environmental stewardship is a very powerful reputation marketing tool that shouldn’t be downplayed or ignored.

Leveraging word of mouth

Word of mouth advertising hasn’t died, it’s just evolved. The “Mr. Wilsons” of the world are still openly reviewing companies; they’ve just moved from backyards to broadband.

What’s more, the average consumer’s voice drowns out advertising with a megaphone of trust that brands can’t match with commercial campaigns.

So in order to make reputation marketing work for you, you’ll first need to heavily invest in review management and online reputation management. Without a solid foundation, your marketing strategy won’t be successful.

Contact our reputation marketing experts to see how we can help build your digital fortress.