How to Create a Reputation Management Strategy as a Small Business

By MBO Partners | ,

Updated Friday, July 26, 2019


Why reputation is important

Reputation matters.  For the solo entrepreneur, this statement is more than a mere suggestion. It is a mantra that drives all that you do. The stakes are even higher in the digital age when bad news not only travels fast and far, but lingers longer. 

When you transition from traditional employee to independent worker, your reputation and your brand go hand in hand. In the words of the esteemed Warren Buffett, “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” We have witnessed reputation failures of high profile politicians, sports stars, and other public figures. These failures erode trust and can have a significant impact on your earning ability. Similarly, people with “good” reputations can get jobs and opportunities not afforded to others, simply because of pre-established opinion.

As a solo professional, there is no greater tool than your professional reputation. A good brand identity and online reputation makes people feel good about doing business with you. Conversely, a poor online reputation can close doors and negatively impact your ability to profit in your profession.

How to build and control your reputation

Even if you primarily do business offline, any discussion of reputation management inevitably includes online management strategies. Your offline reputation is typically based on the relationships that you have developed with people, including family, friends, work, and associations. Your reputation is a result of who you have presented yourself to be through your words and actions. Those same people, however, may also have a role in framing your online reputation. A peer may tag you in a photo taken at an industry event. A client may post a comment on a
review site, or social media platform.

The 5 D’s of Reputation Management

It is important to develop a reputation management strategy. Personal branding expert, and author of Reputation 360, Lida Citroen, recommends using the Five D’s to manage reputation:

1. Discover. It is critical to understand your current reputation. How are you perceived today? What does your brand stand for in the market?
2. Desire. What reputation do you want to have? It is important to have a clear description of your desired reputation so that you can design a strategy to bring about your desired results.
3. Define your target audience. Citroen rightly emphasizes the importance of knowing and focusing on your target audience. This is the audience that will buy your brand, so you must ensure that your reputation is relevant and compelling to them.
4. Design. Take an active role in designing your reputation. Create a strategy that includes your goals and benchmarks. Your strategy should also include channels to promote your brand reputation.
5. Deploy. Once you have accomplished the previous steps, it is time to deploy your strategy. Your messaging, communications, image, and body language should all align with your brand strategy. Be consistent and true to your strategy in person and online.

To learn more about how to manage and promote your reputation, download our guide. 


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