Perceptions play a key part in the way that your customers and clients interact with you and your business, so making sure you are presenting an image and a brand that represents the right things is paramount.
When you’re a digital marketing professional or a business owner, it can be easy to lose your sense of perspective, especially when you’re heavily invested in a project or campaign. Having often spent weeks of late nights and early starts to get something off the ground, its very easy to forget that the average person on the street won’t view what you’re doing with quite the same reverence as you. Perceptions can become skewed, especially when you’re trying to look at a product or service from the perspective of an everyday consumer and if you’re not careful, you can end up presenting the total opposite of what you had set out to do. This is our quick guide on how to make sure your online presence is perceived in the most positive way possible.
Audit Yourself and Your Online Presence
Take a good look at all of your social media posts, blogs, website copy and video content but try to do this from the point of view of a consumer. You may need to be a little bit brutal, but this can ultimately be a good thing in the long run. Ask yourself questions about what kind of message you’re sending out into the digital world. Though your brand message may be absolutely on point, it’s important to check for subtle undertones that could be construed as negative or at odds with your core values. It can be difficult to do this as an individual, so consider asking employees and other professionals in the industry for some feedback. You could even survey your existing customers anonymously as this is a great way to get objective, impartial criticism on campaigns or specific pieces of content.
Compare Yourself to the Competition
Though individuality is important, no matter what kind of industry you work in, there will inevitably be certain trends and conventions that you need to follow in order to appear professional. Take a look around at your closest competitor’s websites but focus on the way they use language to present information. Similarly, look closely at the way they produce videos or use images. Do they make jokes to appear a little more human? Are they trying to present an authoritative presence by demonstrating their in-depth knowledge of a product or concept?
Is their approach casual, formal or somewhere in between? These are all essential questions that can take time to answer but thinking about communication on this level is paramount if you want to take control of your digital identity as a business.
Identify Your Unique Features
There will be a number of specific elements that make your business unique. It could be the way you present your products in your online store or your personalised messages to your customers after a sale. The key is to identify how these idiosyncrasies are perceived. If they come across as deliberate marketing gimmicks rather than something genuine that helps to solidify your identity in the minds of your customers, they won’t generally be received in a positive light. Think about the most successful marketing brands: Apple, Innocent and Nike all have very different but very distinct identities online. You wouldn’t expect the fruit smoothie makers to command you to “Just Do It” any more than you would expect Apple to provide you with a humorous and whimsical take on the key components that make up their latest device. These brands work because they capitalised on what makes them unique and maintained this brand voice throughout all of their campaigns.
Check All Social Media Posts Carefully
Though this is generally more of an issue for larger companies with several employees any poor quality or badly written social media posts can be extremely damaging to businesses. In addition to the absolute basics like spelling, grammar and tone, you should always be mindful of how the information you post online reflects on your perceived identity. An unintentional slur or misread joke can spell disaster in some cases. The same can be said for any posts that seem disjointed or out of step with your brand identity. For example, posting a series of blog entries about organic food and healthy eating while your employees are chatting to customers about how much they love eating high-fat snacks in their spare time will send the worst kind of confusing, mixed message to anybody who has just discovered your business.
Avoid Negative Associations
This is something that can be easily overlooked but it has caused severe problems for businesses across the globe. Even if it’s unintentional, when a customer or member of the public associates your brand or product with something they consider negative, they are likely to look elsewhere. Any overtly political messages will instantly lose your business. Similarly, appearing to support controversial or unpopular opinions will present you in a way that repels people. Checking the colour and design schemes carefully and exercising a little common sense can work wonders here, too. In some cases, businesses have gone ahead with a marketing campaign, only to realise that their website URL spells something inappropriate or their logo looks something that has been used to promote ideas that are completely at odds with the core values of the company.
Always Account for Criticism
No matter what you do or how well you perform, there will always be people who don’t like the way you operate. Instead of ignoring this criticism, try to use it to your advantage and accept it objectively. Ideally, you could pre-empt any negative comments by trying to look at only the bad points of a campaign or piece of content. This isn’t a particularly enjoyable experience for anybody, but it will allow you to see things from a new perspective and to look at the way you and your business are perceived by everyday people who don’t view the world through the eyes of a digital marketing professional.