All businesses need to communicate a consistent story that describes who they are, what they do and why customers need their products or services. But even relatively small businesses count on a number of employees to deliver the story in everything from advertising to bids. Add social media to the mix and your business can become victim to issues ranging from sales errors to serious legal concerns. To avoid potential financial losses or hits to your company’s reputation, you need to take control over every aspect of your business messaging to keep it correct and consistent.
Here are three methods for ensuring that the public hears the message that you intend to send.
Provide a Single Source of Key Company Information
When a newspaper ad shows a 20 percent discount until July while your website shows a 10 percent discount until May, you have to honor the better offer. You also have to honor bids offered to customers by sales reps who quoted lower prices shortly after you increased prices across your entire product line. These can be costly errors that you can control by developing a better communication system with your employees.
Everyone in your company needs to turn to a single source where they can find the up-to-date information that they need to do their jobs effectively and accurately. Here are two of the most typical examples of systems that can be worth the initial effort:
- Marketing information can be maintained in word processing documents on your company’s network. With an easy-to-follow organization and identification system, your employees can copy and paste this content into their advertising or other business documents to deliver a consistent message to the public. But to be effective, the content needs to be up-to-the minute, so make sure that timely updates are a number one priority for the individuals who are responsible for them.
- Product pricing information can be easy to find if your sales staff members can use their smart phones to gain instant access to a secure online database. If your company’s growth requires you to find a high-tech solution to help your sales reps, this type of system might be a good investment to consider. But even if your young company is operating on a shoe string budget, your reps should make a quick phone call to confirm prices before handing a quote over to a customer.
Channel All Important Communications Through One Person for Review
No matter how many safeguards that you use to ensure consistency, the most current information may not always be available. In fact, your employees may not even be aware of your plans to target new types of customers or change prices within the next few weeks.
This is why you need to select a very small group of inner-circle staff members to have signing authority for the release of important messaging,- even if that “small group” consists of just you!
Reserve Social Media Messaging for Employees That You Trust
Even in the hands of experts, social media campaigns can unexpectedly go wrong, as was the case in 2012, when McDonald’s launched a Twitter campaign and customers decided to use it to post complaints. But social media has become an important part of company marketing tools, especially for small businesses looking to get maximum return on their limited advertising dollars.
Twitter quickly becomes a double-edged sword in the hands of your employees, even if their intentions are honorable. What would happen if a loyal employee decides to respond in kind when a customer tweets a rudely-worded complaint? The original complaint will likely fade out in a short time. But a snarky response issued under your company’s name can catch the attention of the news media, causing serious damage to your brand.
Rule of thumb: Grant permission to only a few individuals to broadcast messages on social media accounts that bear the company name. And, while you may not have control over their private activities, strongly encourage all employees to keep your company name out of their personal Tweets, as well. Also, consider putting together a style and communications guide to minimize the potential for off-message posts.
Never Underestimate the Power of Your Words
Clearly, the words that you broadcast to the world can make a tremendous difference to your company’s reputation and bottom line. Taking control over your company’s message takes some effort, but it is a task that you should make a priority.