Perception is not the same as reality. Yet, for all intents and purposes, what your customer base thinks of your business will determine your success (or lack thereof). Sometimes businesses are unfairly saddled with a negative stigma for reasons outside of their control. Still, regardless of how your business achieved its current reputation –– either good or bad –– business leaders should recognize that it will affect their ability to grow and generate revenue. We’ll expound on this point here:
There are few things more damaging to a new business’s standing than bad reviews on sites that are crucial to their industry. Indeed, even a few poor reviews can sink a new startup before it gets properly up-and-running. The problem with negative reviews isn’t so much the dissatisfaction of a few customers –– no business can guarantee 100% positive customer experiences –– but rather the reticence of new consumers to patronize the business.
Note also that a “negative” business reputation can occur for a variety of reasons. Some, like poor customer service, can be amended in-house. Others, though, like a lack of professionalism, may require more extensive measures.
Of course, some businesses make large, obvious mistakes that earn them ridicule. You never want to be the company that misspells its own name on monument signs, for example.
Earning a positive reputation is not easy. Even if consumers are willing to give most new businesses the benefit of the doubt at first, companies have to provide high-quality products, services, and support to sustain a positive brand perception. Thankfully, the pay-offs are potentially massive. Businesses with high-quality reputations are able to expand their services, take more creative chances, and attract more talented professionals to their team. Plus, businesses with great reputations don’t have to worry so much about making a mistake or two –– because they can bounce back relatively quickly.
Perhaps the single most financially irresponsible thing an entrepreneur can do is to fail to invest in marketing and advertising for a new venture. Businesses can’t afford to exist without buzz. Naturally, no company should seek to garner a negative reputation, but having no impact on your customer base is arguable even worse. Consumers have to recognize your brand and know that you exist first and foremost. Remember that it’s always possible to rebrand or to rehabilitate a tarnished image, but it’s next to impossible to get people to care about something that’s totally bland, anodyne, or unexciting.