Using online reputation to successfully launch new products

O Brand reputation is a point of contention for many marketers.

For one thing, a strong brand can drive sales and engagement better than a team of marketing experts. And since 59% of customers prefer to try new products from companies they trust, your brand is like an organic powerhouse that basically propagates itself ... assuming you take care of it.

On the other hand, you are never in total control of your brand's reputation. That same organic nature that you love also takes away your power. It is hard to build a good reputation and even harder to change a bad one.

But, if used correctly, your brand reputation can help you create better products. It can give you a read on what customers want, help you get early data on use cases, and even find the best channels to generate awareness of certain products or features.

In fact, there are four key ways in which you can use your brand's reputation to develop launch successfully new products. And since knowledge is power, these steps are also things you can (and should) implement as part of your regular communication cycles.

 

Four ways to use brand reputation in product launches

Your brand reputation is not just what people think of your company. I mean, sure, that's a big part of it. But the saying goes that you can only give a first impressions. That became especially true after the rise of social media, and it certainly affects how and where you leverage your reputation when creating and launching new products, services or features.

Brand reputation also affects how people perceive what you offer, which means it will affect whether or not people pay attention to a new product. And if you are investing time and budget in a new product launch, you cannot afford to take unnecessary risks.

That's why you will want to (and perhaps even you need ) to make the most of your brand reputation at this important time for your business.

1. Evaluate the conversation

Social listening tools give you unprecedented insight into what people are saying about your company. Yes, your brand conversation shapes that dialogue in a big way. But the only way to hear what they're saying is to pay attention.

Whether you pay for social listening tools or hire some community managers, this is a key part of managing your reputation. And since social media is the platform that is most closely related to reputation, it is where you will get the most out of this investment, especially at an early stage in product development.

Because that's part of the whole process. You can't just try to get brand marketing in at the final stage of a product launch; you want to use it as early as possible. Listening to the conversation about your company will tell you what people want or expect from you.

And those conversations occur among customers who are most passionate about your brand, which adds extra weight to what they are saying.

2. Interact with naysayers

We are often tempted to disconnect from negativity, either to eliminate negative comments or to minimise their influence. But as Warren Buffett said, "it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it".

The worst thing you can do is to try to ignore unhappy customers. After all, people with complaints tend to be valuable sources of information. Think of it as James Bond sifting through the villain's lair after being invited for tea and biscuits.

When unhappy customers share their feedback with you, it gives you an opportunity to engage with them directly. Even if it's a private message or a comment on a general post, any negative voice is an opportunity for you to push back and rewrite your brand impression.

After all, a positive experience could change their minds.

These interactions will increase your brand reputation and also help you better understand the pain points people experience, which will help you steer clear of similar problems when trying to launch a new product.

3. Collect lots (and lots) of data

This is a no-brainer for most marketers and product owners. But when it comes to brand reputation, you don't need to be so interested in the kind of data that SEO analysts love. What you're looking for is old-fashioned data: customer reviews.

Developing a new product requires many moving parts, both inside and outside your company. But it's easy to overlook what customers, or even the customers potentials have to say.

I'm not saying you need to recruit thousands of people to test every feature. But involving your customers during product development gives them a sense of ownership. It encourages organic conversations across your audience and allows people to have positive experiences with your brand and then recommend it to their friends, family, etc.

77% of customers have a positive reaction to brands that collect and use their feedback. And since 94% of people remain loyal to companies that are transparent, you must want people to see behind the curtain and feel part of your company's future.

As an added benefit, engaging with customers also provides use cases and testimonials about why your new product is better than other options out there. This allows you to turn user engagement into product marketing.

4. Develop a marketing plan around the brand.

Even once you understand why customers love your brand, it will still be tempting to focus marketing efforts on products. But modern customers care less about why Product A does Feature B better than a competitor: they are more interested in connecting with a brand they can trust and support for years to come.

This has led to a market shift towards brand marketing. For some companies, this means giving the brand a more personal and people-oriented feel by putting people at the centre of an advertising strategy. Other brands rely on what makes them unique, whether it is a company mission or a link to their community.

What matters here is finding out what makes your brand special, which you can do by trying the other three tactics on this list. And once you know what works for your company (and, more importantly, what makes your brand special), you'll be able to do it, why works), you will know what part of your brand you will be marketing as you push your new product into the wild.

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