Credibility, Relationship and Reputation
I have been in the marketing field for more than 15 years in a variety of roles and positions. I am more convinced than ever that marketing has everything to do with interacting with customers and clients. There are three primary areas that companies can interact with clients with a marketing focus: before, during and after a client engages your business.
Any activity that a business performs to build credibility, relationship and reputation is a marketing activity. Some feel that sales is all about building relationships, but I would say that the activities that build relationships are within marketing and the better your marketing, the easier it is to make sales.
When I discuss credibility, I am referring to how clients perceive your company, products or services before they use or need them. Most traditional business marketing that builds brand, awareness and identity is all about building credibility. Some believe that credibility and reputation are the same thing, but I think there are significant differences. If you have a good reputation, it enhances your credibility. If your client tells a colleague that your company is amazing, your company has credibility with your new prospect.
Building relationships is very important in marketing and sales. I believe that sales requires marketing, but marketing is not always designed to get an immediate sale. Relationship is how your client views you while you are working or interacting with them. When building relationships, you are establishing credibility and sometimes even reputation. If you are establishing a good relationship with a prospect or client, it will lead to opportunities for more or future business from them or people they refer. Don’t tarnish the relationship by trying to sell too early. Wait for them to express a need and then offer a solution.
Managing reputation is a monstrous task in today’s instant communication world. How people think and interact with you is key to whether they will promote you in the future. Reputation is how a client feels about you, your company, or your products and services. As I said earlier, don’t confuse reputation with credibility. Reputation can help you keep a relationship and can help build credibility, but in the end it is the relationship that you establish with a client that will build your reputation the fastest.
Understanding that every marketing activity will develop or build a mix of credibility, relationship and reputation can help you streamline your activities to maximize their effectiveness. It is important that your marketing plan includes activities in each of these areas to grow your business.