With 2014 in full swing, you’re probably sitting there thinking about what you will do this year to build your brand. The beginning of any calendar year brings thoughts of “new and improved” ways to market your business and in this article, I thought it might be fun to give you a quick review of a couple of books that I think will help you in that endeavor.
Highly Recommended by Paul Rand
I received a review copy of this book and wrote a full review of it on Small Business Trends. But in this article, I’d like to feature some of the points in the book that I think are worthy of QuestionPro readers and anyone interested in how feedback plays a role in being recommended.
The one thing Rand wants you to get out of this book is that to GET great recommendations, you have to BE recommendable. This is a sentence worth reading at least twice more. So how does a business like yours even begin “BEING recommendable”?
Rand has some concrete suggestions in his book:
- Know. Understand where and how your brand are talked about. This would require some research on your part and tracking and following mentions on social media.
- Plan. Create and articulate your brand story. Too many small businesses don’t give their customers the CONTEXT from which to love and recommend them. Creating a sharable story will make your brand memorable and recommendable.
- Identify. Discover and uncover your brand advocates and fans. Take the time to find out who the influencers are in your space and build relationships with them.
- Activate. Create compelling content and experiences that engage your audience.
- Protect. This is where reputation management comes in. Engage with your audience, be where your customers are writing recommendations and proactively address them.
This is definitely a book worth reading for 2014.
Romancing the Brand by Tim Halloran
In Romancing the Brand, Halloran shares practical tips that the big brands use to create a nurturing and authentic relationship between your brand and your customer. The three over-arching lessons in the book are:
- Make your customer feel special. You’ll see how Chick-fil-A introduced their spicy chicken sandwich based on a sampling to their most loyal customers.
- Create a bond. The example Halloran features for this lesson is “Smartwater, a brand that was not new in the water category, yet was able to leverage their biggest fans to spread its message powerfully enough to become the #1 premium water.”
- Rekindle the spark. Perhaps the most well known brand on the planet, Coca-Cola, uses the power of storytelling to reignite the passion for its product with their “Where will happiness strike next?” message.
- Break Up. Sometimes you have to abandon one market segment for another. See how Sprite broke up with their original audience of moms to focus on teen boys and doubled their sales.
I really enjoyed the lessons in this book because a lot of the insights these big brands got came from doing research and understanding their customers. In addition to that, there was a level of deep engagement with their customer that allowed them to build strong brand relationships. In the end, if you have a strong brand relationships, reputation management doesn’t have to play such a “critical” role — or the role of crisis communication. Instead, reputation management is really nothing more than good brand engagement.
Radically Transparent by Andy Beal
This is an “oldie but goodie” and perhaps it’s a book that was written somewhat before its time. I say this because in 2009 (the publication date of this book) blogs and content were the primary ways that people “managed their reputation”. As I said in a previous post, the general reputation management strategy was to overwhelm the internet with content that speaks favorable about you.
Andy Beal, who is the guru of reputation management, has a somewhat different philosophy — to be Radically Transparent.
What I like most about this book is the way Beal holds your hand and walks you through definitions of reputation management. Then he gives plenty of case study examples that will bring his points home — both good examples and bad ones.
Finally — in the second section of the book, he carefully walks you through a process of simple how-to strategies that will NOT overwhelm you and will help you design a solid foundation for your brand and your brands reputation.
I highly recommend this book as well.
Participate with QuestionPro and Andy Beal on a Google Hangout On Air, January 29, 2014 at 2:00 ET (New York Time) 11:00am PT (Los Angeles Time).
Now you have the opportunity to hear Andy Beal LIVE in a Google Hangout sponsored by QuestionPro. Join the conversation as Andy gives you practical small business strategies to manage your reputation on and off line and enter to win an autographed copy of his brand new book: “Repped!”