No Time to Think Small: Innovate on SMB Reputation Management

A small business’s reputation is the company’s most valuable intangible asset. During this current climate, we are seeing successful brands adapting quickly to their customers’ change in lifestyle and priorities. They’re catering for their isolation with services that make their lives not only easier but also more entertaining. By remaining engaged and keeping conversations fluid, small businesses will be able to weather the storm as well as keep and attract new customers.

A trustworthy and actionable understanding of local communities is now more important than ever.

Here are a few ways small businesses can build and sustain a healthy reputation.

1. Engage with your community. Brick-and-mortar small businesses have in some ways been forced to become online communities as a method of advertising. As people are on their phones and online more than ever, they have time to engage in reviews. Interaction with brands creates a level of anticipation for when customers can finally visit them again. It’s up to you to tell your loyal customers how to engage with you during this time to help your business. Encourage them to write these reviews, or purchase a gift card for later use. (Note that Google has temporarily suspended reviews, but reviews written by customers may pop up when Google reinstates them.)

According to a recent Fundera Small Business Marketing Report, 41% of local businesses depend on social media to drive revenue. While driving traffic to the store is still a priority for small businesses, with this new climate of consumers spending more time in the home, engagement over social media is paramount to keeping them aware of new products, services, and especially promotions in which they can actively take part. Small businesses can promote word of mouth through incentives and strategically timed interactions. If your business does not have a social presence, now is the time to build one. 

2. Talk to your partners. A recent Goldman Sachs survey of more than 1,500 small business owners found that more than 50% of them said they didn’t think they could continue operating their businesses for more than three months under the current climate. Small business owners should talk to their marketing and financial partners to ask for guidance during this time. Partners want you to be successful, and many are now offering programs to help SMBs weather this storm. 

3. Take advantage of the down time. How are you planning for success when it is time to reopen your doors? Have you developed a rebooted website or created a cache of impactful content? A well-thought-out advertising calendar and social media post arsenal tailored for moments in time will go a long way in preparing you for the next wave of shoppers, and now is the time to tackle these projects to ensure you’re stronger than ever to rebound.

4. Shift your strategy. This is a crucial time to shift marketing strategies to awareness and reputation management. SMBs should be open to operating in new ways, as there is no one approach that will fit all businesses right now.

While there may be a downturn in customer spending, there is an increase in customer touchpoints and attention. The message is this – your customers will spend again. If you can adapt and offer them value in this time of uncertainty, you will win their loyalty, and when normal life resumes and they do spend again, it will be with you. 

Rosie O’Meara is SVP, Platform, at GroundTruth.

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