If you’re reading this article, you either accidentally landed here because you needed to learn “how to spell reputation management,” you’re planning on adding reputation management to your agency’s list of services, or you just want to sell more of it.
Agency people are smart people (I am one, lest you think I’m brown-nosing), so I imagine you’re here for one of the latter reasons.
If you know what you’re doing, you can provide a good amount of added value for your clients with reputation management services. It can also help you increase your revenue and offer more customization options to suit a client’s every need.
But how do you sell reputation management? If you already offer content marketing, social media, paid search, email marketing, SEO, or any other digital marketing service, you’re off to a good start.
But there are some key differences when it comes to selling reputation management.
Focus on Brand Integrity
I’ll keep this section short, but it’s possibly the most important item on this list.
You have to value your client’s brand. You have to innately understand the reason they’re worthy of a 5-star reputation, and you have to keep that reason in mind with everything you do.
Sure, a brand’s reputation is sometimes on the line with social media services and content marketing, but if you’re selling reputation management, it’s always on the line.
Your client has to trust you with their reputation. And for any business that’s not a bulletproof global enterprise, reputation is worth more than a dozen warehouses full of product.
You become your client’s behind-the-scenes brand ambassador. You won’t get the credit, in public at least, when you succeed… but you will take the fall when you fail.
Your client’s brand becomes your brand, and you’re protecting their reputation with your own reputation on the line. You can’t get lazy or take shortcuts when someone else’s brand integrity is in your hands.
Well, you can– but you won’t be selling reputation management for very long, if that’s the case.
Focus on the Benefit, Not the Service
If your reputation management services are effective, most of your clients won’t care about the nuts and bolts of how you do it. It’s good to offer up that information, and even better to be fully transparent, but they’re not buying your service because of your process.
Review911They’re buying your service because of how it benefits them.
In most cases, they don’t care how the sausage is made, as long as you’re taking their reputation and brand integrity seriously.
They’re not focused on how it works, they’re focused on if it works.
Instead of saying:
“We’ll increase your visibility through a greater number of positive reviews on key platforms.”
“We’ll monitor your reviews.”
“We’ll monitor the web for brand mentions.”
“We’ll help make your site mobile friendly.”
“More customers will land on your website or pick up the phone, which means more revenue.”
“We’ll eliminate nasty review surprises and help resolve issues with your customers, which preserves your good reputation.”
“We’ll help keep your customers happy across the web, no matter where they are.”
“We’ll make sure your website is accessible for the greatest possible number of potential customers.”
People who run businesses are strapped for time. Let them know the benefits of your services before you get into the nitty gritty. You have to support your claims, of course, and much of that is in your process. Just make sure you communicate the benefits clearly.
If you want to optimize your sales copy to highlight the benefits of your service, this is a great and quick read.
Your process is important to you, but the fine details aren’t always important to your clients. Lead with the good stuff.
Focus on Relationships
Relationships are important for businesses, because relationships mean repeat customers.
The better a business’ reputation is, the more repeat customers they’ll enjoy.
Once you get to speaking with a decision maker, let them know your reputation management services focus on those relationships. You may respond to social media inquiries and complaints, and you may respond to reviews. Whatever the case may be, you’re helping to form and maintain positive relationships on your client’s behalf.
This is important because selling to repeat customers is cheaper than acquiring new customers, especially for service-oriented businesses.
When asked about the cost of acquiring a new customer versus keeping an existing customer, Ian Kingwill had this to say:
“There is no definitive answer to this question, but most sources say the answer is that it costs between 4 and 10 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. Some sources say cost of acquiring a new customer is over 30 times that of keeping an existing one. A key element in the cost is probably the industry or market sector your customers are in.”
If you follow the link above, Kingwill lists many figures that estimate the cost of customer retention and customer acquisition. The numbers are astounding, and it’s well with a quick read.
If you’re helping your clients retain customers, you’re helping them save money. Relationships retain customers, and reputation is a key part of any business-customer relationship.
That’s a huge benefit to your clients.
Acknowledge the Pain, but Don’t Manipulate
Within the still-young online reputation management industry, there’s a saying: “It basically sells itself.”
While it’s true that your closing rate for leads may be higher with reputation management than SEO services, I still beg to differ.
When people need reputation management services, they tend to already know they need it. That does make the sales process somewhat easier. If someone’s been hit by negative reviews, or if their competition’s positive reviews vastly outnumber their own, they’re probably looking to buy.
They’re experiencing pain, and what you do with that pain is up to you.
You can hit on all their pain points, promise them the world, and maybe sign a quick client. But if you fail to deliver, you’re damaging both your own business and the reputation management industry as a whole.
You can manipulate your way into a deal, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
I founded RevenueJump because I knew the reputation-related pain my agency clients were feeling was a very real thing.
But I was also very cautious about trust and perceived manipulation.
If you start manipulating that very raw pain local business owners sometimes feel, you’re in danger of losing trust. Your own reputation is at stake here– remember that word gets around in the online business community.
And though your potential clients may know they need reputation management services, also know trust is not at an all time high in the reputation business. This includes both agencies and platforms like Yelp and TripAdvisor.
Business owners think everyone wants their money to help them with online reviews, and they’re frustrated because they can’t opt out of the whole thing.
Take a look at this lengthy, passionate post on RipOffReport. Just scroll through the highlights and you’ll see that we may be on thin ice, even right out of the gate.
You need to acknowledge your potential clients’ pain, but you also need to earn their trust by following through on your promises.
If not, word will get around that you’re a sneak or a manipulator.
Know Your Stuff
This section goes hand-in-hand with the last one, so I’ll keep it brief.
Again, people generally know when they need reputation management, so they’ll often come right to your door.
But they also expect you to know what you’re talking about.
No matter how long it takes, answer every question from every potential client. You won’t close every deal, and you may feel like you’re wasting time– but you won’t sign any clients if you can’t answer their questions and make them feel like they’re in good hands.
If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t bluff. Instead, be honest and tell them you’ll find an answer. Once you find the answer, contact them as soon as possible.
It’s true that business owners will shop around for reputation management services. But you have a much better chance of being the agency they choose if you give in-depth, compelling answers when they come to you.
Know You Can’t Cheat
Your clients choose you, but you’ll also have to choose your clients. It’s unfortunate, but you may have to turn some potential clients away to preserve your own reputation.
That’s because you can’t cheat at online reputation management.
If a business provides bad service, treats its customers poorly, and is always on the defensive where their reputation is concerned, it won’t be a good fit with any honest agency.
You can only help a business earn a five star reputation if they deserve that reputation.
There are many unethical ways to cheat and manipulate, such as paid and fake reviews. But how long will you get away with that? And how long will it be before you’re found out?
Realize that you can’t help a business turn its reputation around unless they are willing to take criticism to heart and change for the better. You won’t be witnessing their day to day operations, so you’ll always be on damage control duty. And it will get bad.
And then that company will blame you when you fail to deliver results.
An agency can’t make money on reputation management services if it works with clients whose reputations are unmanageable.
This is why I can often be heard saying, “We can’t promise a 5-star reputation to a business that sucks.” Harsh, maybe. But, true nonetheless.
A Complementary Service
Lastly, if you already provide other digital marketing services, such as SEO, social media, paid search, email marketing, content marketing, or anything else, then your reputation management services should complement everything else you do.
If you offer reputation management, then you can write great content with your client’s reputation in mind. If you also specialize in SEO, you can help monitor search results and make sure your client’s customers are finding the best, most relevant information when they’re surfing the web.
If you’re already established in social media services, monitoring and responding to brand mentions on social media will come even easier.
Reputation connects with every other digital marketing service, so your already-proven skills will only enhance your reputation services.
Every agency is different, of course, so you’ll have to figure out exactly how everything fits together. But I believe your sales numbers will only increase if you make an effort to integrate reputation management into what you already do.
Reputation management may be easier to sell than some other services, but I still urge you to sell it thoughtfully.
When you sell reputation management the right way, with benefit-driven marketing, solid knowledge, honesty, and transparency, you’ll improve your own reputation. There are many companies in the reputation management business that rely on manipulation and scare tactics.
If you can take the high road and provide value instead of provoking fear, you’re bound to sell more reputation management packages than your competitors. You can increase your own revenue and help your clients surpass their competition all over the web.
It’s one of the clearest win/win scenarios for an agency I can think of.
Thanks for reading!