20 March 2019

Nigeria: An Unmitigated Reputational Damage

The term reputation management always evokes negative emotions, because most times it always connotes that something bad has occurred. Boeing today, is going through a very rough patch managing the crisis that has happened with the recent Ethiopian Airlines crash after the Indonesian crash. Since the unfortunate incidence, the company has been more focused on managing its reputation which has sunk lower every day and continues to damage its brand equity. There are strong doubts on whether Boeing will regain its stellar reputation in the aviation sector.

Boeing known to be the undisputed leader in the aviation market in recent years, with Airbus struggling to keep up is unikely to maintain its positioning in the industry. The consensus in the sector was that Boeing was arrogant and felt invincible to outside views or influences. "A belief in Boeing's own invulnerability and a greed for ever-higher profits must have led Muilenburg (the CEO) to think that a simple phone call to President Trump would be enough to limit the damage. Passengers, pilots and crew members reacted indignantly, and thus Muilenburg's phone call plunged the company even deeper into crisis".

Boeing's greatest mistake was that it did not take responsibility and own the situation, instead it allowed other organisations and countries to take the steps it should have taken first. China grounded the Max 737 8 aircrafts, several European countries did the same and Canada stopped it from flying across its airspace and also grounded the model. It was after all of these drama had taken place across the world that the US finally also grounded the aircraft, with President Trump making the announcement and not Boeing's CEO. This was an unmitigated disaster in reputation marketing as customers and stakeholders were observing and making purchasing decisions now and for the future.

According to Steve Olanski, "individuals and organisations need to note that stakeholders and consumers have immediate and total access to information at their fingertips, there's a sea change afoot in how we think about our reputations, both personally and professionally. We must quickly control the conversation and impressions about our products and activities. Otherwise, our reputations would be at stake!

Reputation, consisting of mentions, comments, recommendations and reviews across a buzzing, shape-shifting universe of online publishers and apps isn't a problem center but a value center for brands and businesses. Increasingly, brands and business owners recognize this fact: every day, our reputations are bringing opportunities to our doors or diverting them to our competitors.

In today's environment, it's no longer sufficient to think about reputation management like we think about crisis management. We need to think about our reputations as a constant, competitive advantage; a driver of growth and prosperity; and a strategic asset. We need to think about reputation marketing".

How can you shift to reputational marketing versus management, Olanski suggests the following:

The first is to focus on the highest impact

What happens when you start thinking about your reputation the way you think about your marketing? Well, the first issue you confront is that as a marketing channel, reputation is an odd one. It's not like any other. A brand's or business's reputation relies entirely on what others say (or don't say) about it. The "voice of the customer" is not something you can buy or control or will into existence.

This concept is not new. For decades, marketers have tried to leverage customer "word of mouth" with mixed success. What is new, though, is the prevalence and power of word of mouth in the digital age: it is now amplified a hundred-fold.

We know, you've heard this one before? "You have to be on social media! But this phenomenon goes beyond social media or even search engines and SEO. Online review sites like Google, Yelp, Amazon, TripAdvisor, Holler! Angie's List, etc. have become beacons for consumers seeking to discover and evaluate companies, products and services. And, for better or worse, consumers trust what other consumers like themselves have to say more than they trust you, your ad writers or even the experts.

Online reviews therefore have insane influence over consumers' beliefs and behavior. Reviews determine not just whether a brand or business is visible in search engines and social media, but how people perceive it and whether or not they would buy from it.

So if you want to start somewhere with reputation marketing, start with customer reviews: that's where you'll see immediately the power of devoting some attention to this channel.

What Does Reputation Marketing Look Like?

Monitoring: Know What Your Customers Are Saying. Keeping your finger on the pulse of customer reviews can be a challenge, especially when your brand or business footprint stretches across dozens of online review sites. But given the stakes of the game, marketers and business owners absolutely must know what's being said about their business in online reviews. Why? Because those reviews are being voraciously consumed by potential customers at the very moment of their highest purchase intent, directly alongside reviews of your competitors.

Acquisition: Get More Reviews. Getting positive online reviews is a challenge for every business. Ideally, we'd have passionate and engaged customers who would sing our praises without our prompting. But reality is, well, reality -- it sometimes stands in our way.

Ask happy customers why they didn't write a review of a business that deserved one and they'll tell you: They didn't think to do so, or they forgot to do so, or they just found the process too difficult.

Each of these objections suggests an obvious counter-tactic: simply ask, remind and guide customers through the review process. In fact, these three things alone can be surprisingly effective as a review acquisition strategy in a "no duh" kind of way. Try them and you'll wonder why you haven't been doing them all along.

Amplification: Use Your Reviews In Your Sales and Marketing Funnels. While online review sites provide an important vector through which customers discover and evaluate a brand or business, "social proof" is the broader force at work here. Why should consumers choose our product or service over a competitor's? Because it's better. And how do they know that it's better? Because a strong social signal confirms that it is better.

Today, a reputation is one of the most valuable marketing assets a brand, indvidual or business can have. But too many marketers and business owners remain in the mindset of "managing" our reputation, that is, we tend to it only if problems arise, like overconfident and arrogant Boeing. Let's change this behavior.

Nigeria

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