It’s usually in the minds of three key types of people. You and your colleagues. Your clients. Your prospective clients.
But what is in your minds may differ from your clients. Hopefully not too much. And it may surprise you to learn that it’s often much more positive than you realise (based on my experience of interviewing clients’ clients over many years).
It’s important that your reputation is positive with your clients. But to drive growth, it’s more important that your reputation precedes you positively in the minds of prospective clients.
You want to project your positive reputation to prospective clients. So that leaves you two options. Your own perspective on your reputation. Or that of your clients.
Which one is best? My article on the words used about a restaurant experience can help to illustrate this more, but the views of your clients will almost certainly resonate with significantly more impact.
1. The first step is to bottle your reputation through the eyes of your clients.
Interview them about their experiences of working with you. Or use a third party expert. What you should focus on is the results of working with you. What impact did your intervention have on them?
This can be direct, indirect, immediate, medium term or long term. For example, collecting a long overdue invoice may have boosted cashflow and helped the company to grow – see a sample fictitious article here (opens in new tab).
It could be more emotional. Such as the peace of mind a partnership agreement, those improved invoice terms and conditions or better contracts of employment gave your client.
But when you approach your client, and write the article, give your client some coverage. Profile them. Create a link to their website. This creates a win-win for you and your client as you take the next two steps.
This includes publishing it on your website. And include it as an article in your client newsletter. But also have them designed and laid out as magazine-style articles.
Get them as electronic pdfs. Use them in new client proposals by email to illustrate what you do through the eyes of a client just like the prospect you are writing to. And also get them printed. They can be used as appendices to posted proposals.
Get a clear-pocket folder for your reception area and print multiple copies of them for people to read or even take away with them.
You will likely unlock stories which can create an additional win-win – potential press coverage. If you unearth a story similar to the example I linked to in the first step, it’s newsworthy.
It will need adaptation so it is press-friendly. But create a press release and send it to the local press, or more widely if it’s a topic of broad or specialist interest. Perhaps even of national interest in some cases.
But also look for local online forums or online-only publications. Send it to them – this has the added advantage of being linkable – and some channels will retain those links to both you and the featured client (local newspapers and print publications will more often disallow external links in the online version of articles they run).
And finally, publish the article on your LinkedIn and Facebook pages. And encourage your staff to share the story too so you get wider coverage.
And that’s it.
Of course, bringing in an expert on building reputations through social proof can make this much easier. It can be awkward for you to ask your clients to talk about how wonderful you are. For a third party specialist like me, there’s no such hesitation.
Of course client confidentiality is always respected. I give you a suggested email invitation that you send to clients seeking their permission for me to interview them for a mutually beneficial story.
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