When it comes right down to it, there aren’t many things, if any, more important than your brand’s reputation. Whether it’s with senior adults, their adult children, your referral sources, your employees or your potential partners, the credibility and viability of your brand impact just about everything that is critical to operating a successful senior living community today.
Brand reputation management is not a new concept. It has also been referred to as public relations (PR) and word-of-mouth marketing. But, the world is changing. Today, social media means instant communications and reputation management has morphed into real-time direction of conversations and feedback about your community. So, what course of action should you take?
In a recent MarketingProfs.com article by Lorna Walkden titled, Brand Reputation Management: Your Seven-Point Game Plan, the author asserts that having a good defense, as well as an attack strategy, is required. A comprehensive brand reputation strategy should contain several key components.
- Search Engine Dominance – When users type your business’s name into a search engine, your company website should be the first listing they see.
- Brand monitoring – People may be talking about your brand online. Regardless of how many, it is important that you stay aware of what is being said. You may need to respond to inaccurate stories, deal with an aggrieved customer or simply reply to an unanswered question. Many monitoring tools are available to help you with this.
- Social Media PR – A key aspect of brand management is to portray a positive image to your clients, prospects, referral sources and staff. Social media provides an excellent platform for doing so, allowing you to create your desired public personality. Strive to create a reputation as an authority or thought leader in your area.
- Testimonials and Recommendations – If you have excellent feedback from your residents and families, take full advantage of them across your entire platform of communications. Customer testimonials and endorsements have been proven to be extremely credible in the marketplace. Investing in this area can help all aspects of your business.
- Customer Service and Culture – In the HealthLeadersMedia.com article, What’s Your Brand?, the authors assert that “your brand walks on two legs.“ It is crucial, therefore, that your employees understand the significance of that statement. Rightly or wrongly, every interaction they have with a customer or referral source is viewed as a direct reflection of your brand.
- Negative PR Management – Some negative feedback from customers is probably inevitable. What is important is how your community responds to it. Negative comments should be followed up with and responded to — in a timely manner. Never underestimate the benefits of strong service recovery. Sometimes you can make lemonade out of lemons.
- Brand Advocacy – Cultivate your relationships with your best customers and referral sources. They can be your best advocates and marketers. In today’s social media world, having positive endorsements of your community and staff go viral provides a great return on your investment in excellent service and care.
Key Implications for Senior Living Providers
The reputation of your brand in the competitive marketplace is your community’s greatest asset. For sustainable success, it needs to be cultivated and managed actively and continuously. In an era of instant gratification and instantaneous communication, maintaining a strong brand is more challenging than it has ever been. If your comprehensive reputation management efforts require outside assistance, be sure to look for an experienced organization that operates exclusively in the senior living marketplace and has the specialized expertise and experience required to succeed.