You don’t have to have a website. You don’t have to create a Facebook page for your company. You don’t have to even market online if you do not want to. However, what you have to do is to manage your online reputation. In other words, there is simply no way you can avoid this type of communication you have with your current and potential customers.

The reason is very simple. Any one of your clients can decide, at just about any time, that they have something to say about your business. And, they can easily do it online without your permission. That means that your customers can create a profile for your company on a site like Yelp and talk about their good or bad service without your permission. What that also means is that other customers, including potential ones, are going to read information about your company.

Be Proactive Instead of Reactive

Because there is no way to turn off your company’s information online so that prospective customers do not see it, you have to be proactive. That means that if you just sit around and wait for customers to write reviews for you, you’ll quickly find that you’ll have a stack of complaints to deal with. Here’s what you need to realize about reputation management even as a small company with little or no other online presence.

  • You can learn how to react properly to comments made about your business online.
  • You can use your online reputation to help boost the company’s credibility and overall success both online and offline.
  • You do not have to spend a great deal of time managing your company’s reputation (that’s why it is always helpful to hire a third party company to do the work for you, inexpensively!)
  • You do want to create a positive vibe online about your company whenever possible.
  • It is one of the most important tools when it comes to marketing. If you want a way to inexpensively tell the world about your local company, in the hopes of generating business, this is the route to take to do just that.

When it comes to online reputation management, you just have to do it. If you ignore it, you could end up struggling with more trouble than if you just took the time to consider your reputation today.

Mark van Berkel is Founder and President of Hunch Manifest Inc. While managing business operations he also leads the team in designing semantic technology to provide personalized online presence and reputation management services. Prior to forming the company, he was consultant in enterprise software projects to companies including Panasonic, Shell, and General Electric and was an Architect for a world leading human capital management software-as-a-service. Mark holds a Bachelor of Information Systems from StFX University and did his graduate studies at University of Toronto, getting a MEng Industrial Information Engineering and an MBA, Strategy and Innovation from the Rotman School of Management. In 2006 he published a 170 page report as a researcher at the Semantic Technologies Lab at the University of Toronto and built a semantic technology prototype for SAP Research Labs. Connect with Mark on LinkedIn or Twitter. Mark is also certified in Google Analytics.