Did you know your agency’s reputation is one of its most valuable assets? Practicing proactive reputation management should therefore be at the top of your list! If it isn’t, take note—this crash course on reputation is my gift to you.
An understanding of reputation is essential if you want your agency to succeed because you will know how to build and maintain this asset.
Put simply, reputation is made up of two parts: identity and image.
Your agency identity is the internal behavior of your agency. This is determined by your organizational mission, vision, and goals, which form the foundations of your organizational culture.
This organizational culture is then communicated to your consumers, and other stakeholders, using tools such as your agency’s logo, tagline, headquarters, website, dress code, advertisements, which fuse together to create an identifiable brand personality.
This personality is then perceived by your consumers and results in your agency image—how your consumers see your agency.
Reputation management is about controlling this identity and image. Your goal is to ensure they always match. As a general rule, how you perceive your agency is the same way you want your customers to perceive it. You can control how your customers see you simply by putting your money where your mouth is—delivering on your promises. If your customers’ experiences with your agency constantly align with your agency’s identity, you will earn a solid agency reputation.
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But beware, a solid agency reputation is not something you achieve and then cross off the list! As well as being one of your most valuable assets, it is also one of your most volatile. A seemingly small mishap could cause a longstanding reputation to crumble.
Ongoing reputation management is key to ensure this doesn’t happen and legitimacy gaps (when you do not deliver on promises so your consumers lose faith in you) do not occur. Unmanaged legitimacy gaps lead to reputation damage, which is more costly than you may be aware. You lose trust, loyalty, and managements, and winning these back is no small task.
A striking example of costly reputation damage is the Lance Armstrong brand. As you know, Armstrong finally admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs, and everything his brand represented and promised literally vanished overnight. With his reputation destroyed, he lost his consumers’ trust and loyalty and, in this case, can never win them back. His merchandise sales plummeted, while his tales of victory now collect dust in the fiction section of libraries. This is reputation damage at its worst.
But you can breathe a sigh of relief. While such reputation-destroying cases can and do occur, most of the time potentially harmful legitimacy gaps can be repaired before any major damage takes place. Good reputation management closes these gaps, but proactive reputation management ensures these gaps never occur in the first place. This is what all business owners and principals should aim for.
So, to wrap up this crash course on reputation, I urge you to practice proactive reputation management by consistently and strategically allocating resources to maintain legitimacy in all areas of your agency, especially in those areas that your reputation is built on. Delivering on your promises ensures that your agency’s identity and consumers’ image of your organization are constantly aligned. This then reduces the likelihood of legitimacy gaps occurring and, as such, any costly reputation damage. Practicing proactive reputation management therefore results in proactively building and maintaining a solid agency reputation to win you loyal consumers and long-term success.Read more on Marketing