Reputations can either make or break an enterprise, regardless of its shape or size. There are rarely any exceptions, and it is fair to say that every company cares about how people perceive them.
However, SMEs need to pay particular attention to the impact they are having on others. In July 2020, CNN reported that small businesses were running out of time and money, already fielding enough problems with the pandemic and an unstable economy. For many SMEs, their reputation is all they have left, and it may make the difference as to whether they can come through all of this intact.
A great company reputation is crafted meticulously over a great length of time, while a bad one can be earned in a matter of moments. There are many steps that SMEs take to err on the right side of caution here. We have listed what some of them are below.
Developing a Robust SEO Strategy
SMEs may have a smaller presence in a brick-and-mortar sense, but online they can cast an exceptionally large shadow indeed. This all depends on their IT infrastructure, and the strategies they implement around it.
For example, search engine optimization (SEO) can be a valuable tool in helping SMEs get seen. It is what gets them to the front of the line in a search engine result, establishing their firm as a knowledgeable and legitimate resource for the masses to utilize. Good SEO can be worn like a badge of honor, online credentials to fight back against a world of misinformation.
Business Opportunities.Biz can help entrepreneurs learn more about how businesses make use of their information technology this year. The perks of SEO are all detailed by them, alongside other innovations like AI automation, social media strategies, and cloud storage. Using this resource will help SM companies educate themselves, embolden their performance, iron out the creases in their online marketing, and reach new heights in their successes. SMEs that read up and prepare for the challenges ahead will always excel further than those who act on gut feelings alone.
Once visitors arrive at a site and like what they see, they can reissue links of the site to their own contacts, thereby generating yet more traffic. The baton of spreading awareness gets passed to word of mouth qualities, to an extent, as links get fired back and forth over email, social media, or text messaging. In the end, the building of a positive online reputation, and thus a higher influx of web traffic, all starts with SEO.
Undertaking Charity Work
People respond to the businesses that care about something other than themselves. SMEs have an advantage here, in that people tend to think of them as a comforting community presence, rather than a faceless, multinational conglomerate.
As more and more of the big names donate huge sums of money to charitable causes, sometimes this can be something of a tasteless ‘flex’ of sorts. All generosity is to be commended, but SMEs can get to the heart of matters by not only donating money, but by having boots on the ground where issues are most critical. They may do any of the following:
- Work with local charities: SMEs and charities can have much in common, from their community led endeavors to the humbler size of their operations. They can work with each other organically and will be more familiar with one another’s work.
- Employee volunteer programs: Some employees of SMEs use their skills for free to support community-led projects. They could run workshops so that young up-and-comers can be more skilled, or lend their expertise in construction, home renovations, or in any other relevant sector.
- Ask for donations at the door: Instead of donating huge amounts of money from their own pockets, SMEs may ask customers to leave a small contribution as they enter or exit their premises. Online prompts may also feature. After the collection, the funds get passed along to the relevant charities.
- Offer employment opportunities or placement schemes: If charities work to get more people in work, an SME can open a few of its doors to help people lead sustainable and fulfilling lives.
There is a breadth of activities here that SMEs can undertake and follow through on. It all builds a caring and welcoming identity for smaller firms to enjoy, and for their local communities to appreciate. That sense of ‘giving back’ is what SMEs are largely associated with, whereas bigger and more famous firms can be perceived as being greedy or money-orientated. If that can be tapped into, SMEs can gain a distinctive advantage in bolstering their reputation.
Implementing Environmentally Friendly Practices
Caring about the climate is a sure-fire way for SMEs to become more reputable. People are attracted to ethical practices, and for SMEs, their impact on the environment is a great place to address those concerns.
There are many things to attend to when it comes to running an eco-conscious SME, and some are easier to achieve than others. Some of the practices they may adopt could include:
- Recycling waste: Having designated bins for recyclable materials is a good way to signal to any staff, customers, or visitors that the SME maintains eco-friendly practices onsite.
- Introducing eco-friendly packaging materials: If an ecommerce SME doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar presence, then eco-friendly packaging can be a great opportunity to remind customers of the company’s ethics when they receive their delivery.
- Creating products from waste: Some businesses have begun making products from trash, and while the economics are uncertain, its certainly drawing the attention of many activists.
- Providing informative materials: Supplying customers with leaflets on the eco-friendly measures being taken is not uncommon. It can also be quite common to see a designated section of an SME’s website detailing all their efforts and achievements in environmental pursuits.
More businesses are going green, proud of becoming sustainable. Such endeavors generate a considerable degree of kudos, as the firm’s responsible receive significant coverage in mainstream media outlets. Because these business practices are still somewhat groundbreaking, they can also set a precedent, with SMEs potentially becoming proud achievers of many ‘firsts’ in their respective local industries. In the end, going green softens the business, and shows they are in touch with today’s world issues.
Companies are constantly littered with lies, regularly making way for overblown promises and nonsense statements. Few of them get a second chance to rectify their blatant deceptions, even if they were conducted out of desperation.
The best thing an SME can do to combat this ugly common thread in business is remain truthful. Every sentence in a mission statement should be able to be annotated with facts, statistics, and data backing up the claim. Honesty can be like a breath of fresh air in business, and once the SME’s is proven, then customers, clients, and business partners will be more likely to trust in, and spread the good word of, the firm.
Ultimately, customers are not stupid, and they certainly know when they have been bamboozled. Late deliveries, hiding major issues with a product, and including vast amounts of small print in services is enough to lose a customer’s goodwill forever. Instead, SMEs can choose to be the friendly face on the street corner, or corner of the internet, that always remains true to their word. In this day and age, that counts for a great deal.