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Reputation management has been around for longer than the internet. It's not new. In the past, it's been considered public relations, branding, customer service, word of mouth; the list of different components associated with old school reputation management is huge.
In the automotive industry, it's become a buzzword that encompasses all of these things to some extent. It has been more easily quantified in the form of online reviews on sites like Yelp, Google+, and DealerRater, but it's still pretty much the same thing that it's always been. Treat customers right, fulfill their needs, address their concerns, and ask them to tell others about their experience. That's how reputation management has always been and that really hasn't changed.
What has changed is the way that we go about "managing" it. Don't get me started about why it really isn't about managing... that's a whole other topic. Today, let's take a deeper dive into what reputation management should really be doing for your dealership. It should be helping you promote your brand in a way that helps to sell more cars.
The concept of "identity marketing" is pretty simple. Rather than just going out and getting reviews so that your star rating will be higher, you're trying to get good reviews and let people know about them. The sad, undiscussed truth about the reviews that we get is that so few people actually read the good ones. When they go to these review sites, they're not looking at the 5-star reviews. If they're interested in doing business with you, they're looking for dirt. They're skipping right past the good reviews and looking at the 1- and 2-star reviews.
Allowing your brand identity to be appropriately visible to your market goes far beyond just asking for reviews. Monitoring your overall image, keeping a temperature of what is being said and responding appropriately, and dispersing reviews to the right avenues will help you create the right identity marketing strategy.
You want to promote your positive reviews. The star rating is defensive. The positive reviews, positioned properly, can be great for marketing an exposure, things that were always a big part of old school public relations up until recently when reputation management companies started pushing it as a pure threat rather than a promotional opportunity.
In the future, I will be going over in more detail this concept and why it's important, but for now, here are some tips that can help you get your thinking in the right place:
If you start treating your online reputation as you public identity, something that needs to be promoted and nurtured, you'll find that success is more than just sending out emails and hoping for the best.