Companies spend millions - large corporations billions - on marketing products to consumers and business customers each year. All marketers want their brands to stand out and have a competitive advantage. And at the end of the day, we want customers to choose our products and services when they make a purchase.
When shaping your organization's reputation, nothing beats high quality products and services, sound business policies and practices. It takes an entire company to build a credible brand. That includes operations and customer service, along with the marketing to create a reputation as trusting, reliable, responsible and relevant.
As you read on, we will discuss several public relations tools that play an important role toward building a reputation of credibility.
"PR is vital to build credibility - whether with news coverage, success stories, CSR or surveys."
- Ivy Cohen
Tell (Success) Stories!
It's not enough to base growth on strong customer relationships. With today's propensity for sharing business information, one of the best ways to "prove" value is with open customer testimonials. Quotes from clients to use in marketing materials and proposals are a good start.
Case studies are powerful - they don't have to be long - to tell the story of how you approached a customer's goals, opportunity or problem, the strategic solution you deployed, and the results. Publish it on your website, create one or more slides for your presentation deck, even find opportunities to jointly present a success story with a customer at a conference or in an interview with the news media. Third party endorsements, direct or implied, are very valuable.
Lots of research, not to mention experience, indicates that corporate involvement in social causes is a significant credibility driver. It affects customer attraction, repeat purchases, engagement, word of mouth and investor relationships.
Companies are seeing a correlation between citizenship, responsibility and consumer interest. Those customer value propositions tie to the public good, sound business practices, impact on the environment, public health, etc. In the book Grow, Jim Stengel proves how the brands that define and live out their essential reason for being -- beyond profits and market share -- are the ones experiencing the greatest financial success.
Choosing the right causes matters. It's usually not enough to recycle, reduce salt content or provide family-friendly employee policies. Customers want to see a deep commitment to support your value proposition. Today, they can choose between those making claims with incremental action and those whose brand essence oozes with their relationship to a cause with appropriate practices, policies and marketing platform.
Checkout these recent Tweets for great ideas, examples and research to support CSR as key to the credibility toolkit.
While referrals and endorsements are valuable to build reputations virally, something old is still in-style. Long respected news media brands via online, print, broadcast and digital channels continue to be important. Today there are fewer big news brands and many emerging smaller ones with devoted followers.
As media organizations adapt, many bring content sources and freelancers to provided editorial coverage. With millions of websites and blogs, the news media is increasingly fragmented and expanded. This means that sources, especially established, reputable news organizations and publications -- both formal and less so -- with respected voices generate visibility and bring 3rd party credibility that contributes to any brand's reputation.
It can be challenging to develop a compelling story to entice reporters and bloggers to write about your company, products or services. So, creativity is needed to develop the newsworthy content that presents our products or their attributes in the context of information about trends, product uses, or marketplace needs.
Customers appreciate the validation that media coverage brings. They derive knowledge, confidence and trust based on interviews, mentions in articles about trends and solutions with which a brand is associated.
A good survey gathers information meaningful to strategic customers that demonstrates both your company's expertise in a relevant subject and/or its competence at satisfying customer needs.
Companies like Harris Interactive and J.D. Power and Associates have fielded surveys for years that have captured attitudes and needs of consumers, as well as industry trends. They have leveraged their surveys to demonstrate credibility by conducting them scientifically and strategically, and then dissecting the results and communicating their meaning effectively.
Today, a company can affiliate with a respected research firm or even field its own survey, so long as the methodology meets the litmus test for objectivity and statistical validity.
Marketing Coach is a publication of Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications, Inc. ICCC helps companies build reputations and differentiate in a competitive market through brand building, public relations and strategic communications.
To find out how ICCC can help you and your company build your reputation