Your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are.
—John R. Wooden
I couldn't agree more with this quote from the late great coach Wooden. The reality on the Internet is that very few prospects will ever care to find out who you really are deep inside as an organization, business, or individual.
The busy, overwhelmed public will make snap decisions based on a quick glance at your online reputation.
Whether your online reputation or brand is accurate or not matters very little to the masses. Which is why you can't afford to ignore it by thinking that it's entirely based on your good character, or the handful of testimonials on your own website.
Monitoring and managing your online reputation has recently become just as vital as any other marketing you may be doing. It's time to play defense.
The term reputation management may be new to you, but it's a term that you must embrace because of the new rules of the Internet economy. Under the old rules if you upset a customer we were all told to expect that they would tell seven of their friends. The implied conclusion was that an occasional upset customer was acceptable and expected, but certainly not potentially devastating.
Now things have changed. If someone has something bad to say about you, their comment could be posted semi-permanently on page one of Google for months or years. This seemingly insignificant act on the part of one customer ...