by Reputation Matters

IF YOU TREASURE IT, YOU WILL MEASURE IT

If your business means the world to you, then you really have to show it how much you care

ThinkstockPhotos-477569610.jpg

Strategy. Every business has one, or at least some version of one. Ask them what it’s based on and their answers can be quite surprising; often there is no substantial research behind their thinking that guides the company forward.

Research really does need to underpin your strategic decision. Unfortunately, too often companies don’t invest in research, firstly because they think it comes with a high price tag and, secondly, it’s daunting to put yourself on the line. No-one likes criticism and you would rather fumble along blindly than having to face some hard realities.

On my first point, yes, research could be regarded as quite an investment, but what is the actual cost and loss when you embark on the wrong route and invest in the wrong media and marketing campaigns to support this “strategy”? We’ve all seen it; companies spend millions on advertising campaigns.

We’ve all been drawn into those poignant, heart-wrenching Loerie award-winning adverts, promising you the sun, moon and stars. Facebook, Twitter, radio ads and even in the morning paper, all making the same promise and statement that you must have the latest product.

So… you decide to phone through to the call centre. An automated voice answers, you make your selection… and hold. Elevator music. More holding. At last you get put through to a human being, who can’t wait to put you through to someone else. More pan flute music. When you do get through to the right department, you can barely remember why you called in the first place, there’s a clash of personalities between you and Miss Unenthusiastic on the other side of the line - she really couldn’t be bothered about you or the sale, it’s just a job at the end of the day, right? And you really couldn’t be bothered to waste any more time. Sale lost. The ton of money that the company invested in to get you to call the call centre? Lost.

In the long run that company is going to see a decline in customer service and revenue (if they haven’t already), management is going to regard this as a crisis and approach the communication team to fix it with a press release, or puff piece; not thinking for one minute that it might be a low morale issue that needs to be addressed. By this stage there are bound to be bigger reputational issues to deal with. How ‘expensive’ does that initial research seem now?

A press release is not going to solve your business problems.

When working on a strategy for your business, you need to look at all the different components of the business. After all, if you are going to focus too much on one area then, ultimately, another area is going to be neglected. Let’s compare it to becoming fit. When you embark on your fitness regime you can’t just focus on one area of your body - you need to make sure that you train your whole body. We’ve all seen “the clouds” at the local gym who just focus on building arm muscles…

Your business need to get ‘reputation fit’ but, unfortunately, you can’t rest on your laurels without putting in the work. You can’t go out there and run a marathon without putting in the miles of training. If you try you certainly won’t get very far.

So how do you get reputation fit? You need a baseline to start off with. It’s the same when you embark on achieving a specific fitness goal, be it running a half a marathon or cycling your first big race. The first step is determining what exactly it is that you need to achieve (your vision), then identifying what it is that you need to do to get there. This is when you will download the latest fitness app and make sure you have the gear before you start measuring your progress.

You switch on your app and set off on your first training run. After the first kilometre, it feels like your lungs are bursting out of your rib cage and your legs feel like jelly. You think to yourself: ‘How on earth am I going to do another 20 of these?!’

But you make sure that you stop your watch and you start tracking yourself. Next time you’ll go a bit further and a bit faster. You see what you need to improve yourself, perhaps more core exercises, better shoes, maybe get a training partner. Then, before you know it, you’re casually finishing 10 kilometres as part of your training regime and then, soon after, the half marathon suddenly seems do-able.

In the same way, you need to keep track of your reputation. Yes, the first study is not easy (nor was that first kilometre), but as you progress and see the changes and growth within your organisation, you really get to grips with what it will take to elevate your reputation to the next level. The research will become less daunting and will guide you to understand where you need to focus on helping you to run a balanced, well-trained enterprise.

Wouldn’t you agree? If you treasure it, you’ll measure it.

Keen to continue the reputation conversation? Join Regine on Twitter @ReputationIsKey or Facebook www.facebook.com/yourreputationmatters. Visit www.reputationmatters.co.za for more information. 

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