Building reputation from scratch can be easier than rebuilding a damaged reputation: Winnie Brignac Hart & Lorrie Brignac Lee

Interview with Authors, Stand Out

Winnie Brignac Hart & Lorrie Brignac Lee

Sangeeta Tanwar
In purpose-driven organisations, the goals are clear, established and communicated. It's not so much a capability as an immersion into the culture of the organisation that determines if its leadership is the proper fit, Hart and Lee tell Sangeeta Tanwar

In your book, Stand Out, you claim that the shortest course to being different is "to be more of who I am". What are the ways in which brands can be more of themselves?

Being more of who and what you are sounds like a simple idea, but the process of applying this concept to grow your business's bottom line is more complex. You have to re-establish who you are as a company based on the accumulation of all you have learned. We have found that evaluating where you are on eight fundamentals of standing out can re-establish the truths of your authentic brand. What are these? First, purpose. The organisation knows and lives its purpose, knows what it stands for and is true to its beliefs. Second, reputation. There is continuous and ongoing awareness of the organisation's reputation and top competitors. Third, visuality. The outward appearance of the brand truly reflects who the organisation is and the value it delivers. Then comes authenticity. The organisation's messaging is consistent, true, genuine and communicates value propositions. Next step, ideal leads. There is a consistent funnel of ideal leads that are defined, nurtured and managed.

The last three are about distinction, strategy and mindset. The organisation stands out among its competitors, influencers and industry thought leaders. A 12-month marketing plan is in force and aligned with the organisation's goals. Finally, there is focus and commitment to achieve desired results.

Once you determine your distinct advantage as a brand, you can learn to leverage it successfully to stand out from the competition.

In a social media age where a wide universe of respondents shapes your brand reputation, what does it take for brands to start, stop and continue to engage with various stakeholders, particularly during a crisis?

Today, a customer's negative opinion about your company or its products can be spread around the world within moments and remain there available for others to read for years. How do you protect your reputation in this kind of world? An online communication strategy should be a component of any effective marketing plan. Also, building a reputation from scratch can be easy - no one knows who you are. You can build your brand up to be anything you want it to be. But a damaged reputation is much harder to rebuild. Customers are more likely to remember and discuss bad experiences over good experiences.

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If your reputation is damaged, there are steps you can take to begin rebuilding if it's not beyond repair.

Take responsibility: The first step is admitting that something is wrong. If a customer writes about a bad experience with your company, apologise to that customer on the same review. By doing this, the customer - and other consumers - will see that you are serious about fixing your mistakes. This alone could start to reshape the customer's opinion about your company.

Don't ignore the negative: Learn from customers' negative reviews. After all, reputation is based on what customers perceive to be true about your company. Understanding the source of negative perceptions can assist you in repairing possible weaknesses within your systems and processes.

Monitor continuously: In order to maintain a positive reputation, you must monitor your online footprint frequently. This can help your company become proactive in sustaining your brand's reputation.

Although bad reviews and press can seem terrible at the moment, a bad reputation can be turned around with conscientious effort and sincere concern. These are a few tools that are especially useful in monitoring online conversations to give insights into what is being said and where. Some have features that allow you to track over time and respond to comments and questions within the platform in addition to monitoring Google alerts, social mention, Trackur, Meltwater and Radian6.

With ever-decreasing consumer attention span and shorter product life cycles, how can marketers understand the pain points, motivations and goals of consumers?

We have to say that we agree with Seth Godin when he says, "Everyone is not your customer." It is here that the concept of what we call an "ideal lead" comes in. This is a prospect who is interested in what you have to offer, sees value from using your product or service and appreciates the differences your product or service offers compared to competitors.

So who is your ideal lead?

We strongly advocate spending some time creating your ideal lead profile. Examples of information that you may include in your lead profile include a set of demographics that includes job level and seniority; a day in their lives; a list of their pain points, motivations and goals; last but not the least, where do they look for information.

Your research will allow you to refine your ideal lead profiles over time and make it clear what qualities best identify your true prospects. Once you understand that you can develop content directed to them - information they are looking for to solve problems or overcome specific challenges. The more information you can provide, the more helpful you can be, the better. Providing them with useful information builds trust so that when they are ready to buy, you are top-of-mind. This is marketing through attraction; marketing through relationship building.

First Published: Jun 13 2016 | 12:09 AM IST

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