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Business website floundering? Try George Clooney-izing

George Clooney in a tuxedoThere’s an amazing phenomenon out there which, at first glance, seems hard to comprehend.

It’s a phenomenon called George Clooney.

Everybody knows George.   Women go crazy over this guy.  Men wish they could be him.  Even teenagers rave about being George Clooney fans.

If you stop and ask elderly women on the street, odds are they will tell you that, oh yes, George is definitely their favorite leading man.

What’s George’s secret to such amazing success as a celebrity?  It might be that he’s a good actor, but I doubt it.  This man has a talent for something far greater than acting.

Cut away the wealth, the fame, the girlfriends, the jet-setting and what have you got?  More than a just a player who looks good in a suit.   George has that one elusive, precious commodity that’s literally worth more than gold in the marketplace.

Reputation.

People look at him and think:   Fun, sexy, straight up kind of guy, enjoys a good time, exudes charm and class no matter what’s going on.  You know what you’re getting with George Clooney and it’s a popular, well put-together product.  The stuff that only comes from a solid reputation.

Highly successful celebrities like George thrive on their reps and businesses must build one in the marketplace in order to survive.

Especially in the e-marketplace.

Today, new websites are emerging constantly on the Web.  Sites exclusively devoted to generating good and bad reputational buzz for businesses.  Do a fabulous job and you’ll get recognized for it – somewhere.  Fumble the ball? You’ll be immortalized – everywhere.

People are Facebooking, Twittering, Angie Listing – you name it.

The information superhighway is rife with negative business chatter.  And a lot of it gets stuck in blogs or on message boards where a bad business reputation has the power to not only last forever, but outright kill your business.

How to prevent that from happening to your business?

You can always try George Clooney-izing:

*When you make a promise, deliver.

George has been quoted as saying about his own stardom, “This is your chance to put your considerable money where your considerable mouth is, signed Your Fan.”

It means, take care of your “fans” –  i.e. your customers.

Make a promise?  Keep it.  If you can’t give them what you promised, offer that customer something better – even if it means taking a loss on that sale.  You’re saving a relationship here that is worth more than money.

For instance, a big local furniture company that carries an unconditional satisfaction guarantee came to install mid-range carpeting in our house.  We were unhappy with the seaming that had been done and asked to have it fixed.

When the company could not fix it, they didn’t break their promise for “unconditional satisfaction.”  They simply installed higher quality carpeting as a replacement at no extra charge.

They realized the individual who had come out to do the estimate couldn’t deliver on the promise for the carpeting we had selected.  Rather than risk losing our future business, they provided a better product at their own expense.

We’ll never forget this company for that.  And they’re sure to get our future business.

*Make your customers feel important.  All of them.  Even the grumpy, demanding ones.

“The only failure is not to try,” George has reportedly said.  And he’s right, when it comes to quality customer service online.  Every customer is important.

Imagine these customers walking through your business’s virtual front door. Are you going to sit and ignore them?  Stay too long on the phone?  If you do, don’t worry, those customers will go away.  They’ll visit your competitor and buy what they need.  And bring that precious repeat business to your competitor, over and over again.

So making them feel important means that you don’t let email pile up unanswered.  You don’t neglect to get orders processed correctly.  You troubleshoot.   And you don’t forget that even the way a refund is handled will mean all the difference in the world whether that customer returns to buy from you in the future.

Therefore, when you make a mistake, admit to it and put forth every effort to make up for it. Offer more, give an apology and do everything you can to turn a momentary failure into success.

*Ensure that your website reflects your own best values and beliefs, use it to make your reputation in the marketplace shine.

George said, “I’m a Method actor.  I spent years training for the drinking and carousing I had to do in this film.”

Of course he was kidding, right?  But don’t you be kidding.  Become a Method business owner. Pretend you are a potential customer walking up to your virtual storefront.  What does that potential customer want to see on that website?  What does that customer want from you in a business exchange?

If it’s excellent customer service, make sure that’s what you deliver.

If it’s quality products for a reasonable price, make sure you aren’t selling junk.

If it’s business services each customer can rely on because you have integrity, make sure that’s what they get.

Reputation.

Wikipedia defines the word as, “The opinion (more technically, a social evaluation) of the public toward a person, a group of people, or an organization.  It is an important factor in many fields, such as education, business, online communities or social status.”

Reputation can be considered as a component of the identity as defined by others.

Can one simple website accomplish all of that?  Sure, it can.  Reputation is ‘the result of what you do, what you say, and what other people say about you’.  Which brings us to the most important item on the list:

* Learn how to listen.

George has said, “You never really learn much from hearing yourself talk.”

Listen to your customers to learn what they want.  Listen to your competitors to see what they’re missing, offering you an opportunity to fill that need for the customers they’re losing.

And when it comes to your business website, listen to your designers – the ones who help you build the visual representation of your business.  They are ones who understand internet presence and how to best characterize your business in more than just pretty pages.

Debi Ketner is a professional internet marketer.  Read her here each week and share your thoughts!