It used to be that a company’s reputation was a very local thing that no-one outside of their customers in the same postcode area probably knew much about.
In many cases, the worst that could happen was that the local gossip could let everyone in the neighbourhood know about their bad experiences with a certain business. In the same way, good news about what a company did was similarly limited in terms of how far it could spread.
Yet, these days it is very easy to gain an international reputation, for better or for worse. So how does this happen and why does it even matter?
The importance of a good international reputation
If you have been actively trying to appeal to customers in foreign countries then the reputation that you have abroad will play a big factor in the level of success that you achieve. Just imagine someone hearing your strangely unpronounceable company name and looking you up online because they know absolutely nothing about you.
What will they find to help them decide whether you are a reputable global firm or a foreign scam artist?
If you already enjoy a good reputation in other countries then this will make any attempt to go global a lot easier to get started with and to carry on with. In addition, everything that people write about on internet is going to stay there for a long time and can be seen by anyone who goes looking for information about you.
You might wonder why you even need to worry about your international reputation right now if you mainly operate in your home country. If you aren’t particularly focused on dealing with foreign markets then you might not think that it matters what people think about in Outer Mongolia, Bolivia or Tanzania.
However, who knows what the future holds for you? What if you make a serious attempt to break into a foreign market in the future only to discover that you are already unpopular or a laughing stock there?
How to find out where you stand
A good place to start finding out about your international reputation is on social media. Are people moaning about you on Facebook in Spanish, laughing at you on Twitter in French or poking fun at you on Instagram in Italian?
Of course, there is also an equal chance that you have gained a solid reputation abroad. It would certainly be fantastic to discover that you are already well-liked in the social media sites of the world, even if it is in places that you have made no real effort to conquer.
In terms of the corners of the globe where you have been working hard to make an impact, the kind of reputation you enjoy should match up with the success you have been having there. If you have been selling well but don’t have a reputation to match then this is definitely something to worry about.
How to get a better reputation abroad
Now for the tricky bit. If you want to enjoy a healthy international business then it is vital that you boost your reputation.
One way of doing this is to show that you care about the local market. This means letting them use your website in their own language, getting an audio translation of any audio on your site, giving them a customer service option that they can understand and basically showing that you care about them.
You might even decide to go the extra mile by writing a blog post in different languages or by making an informative video translation that is tailored to specific global markets.
A good way to look at this issue is to picture yourself on the opposite side of the deal. How do you feel when you buy from a Chinese website, for example?
Does it matter to you if the whole website in in Chinese or if you have no way of speaking to a customer service agent if something goes wrong? Would you mind taking a crash course in Mandarin just to find out when your novelty sock are likely to finally arrive?
By paying attention to these little details you can make your foreign customers feel more comfortable dealing with you. If you go on to expand in their countries then there may come a time when you want to consider having a physical presence there.
For the mean-time, you might find that hiring a foreign freelancer lets you appeal to the local market. Maybe they could run a social media campaign that appeals on a cultural level, rather than confusing them with British humour and bizarre references to Mr Blobby and our favourite breakfast television presenters.
You could also hire someone to add local flavour to the website. In addition, you can get your favourite voice over agency to tailor your content to the market too.
You could also find out if there are local standards that you could meet in terms of processes and quality. If you are also already ISO or BS certified then perhaps you can explain how this meets or exceeds the local certification standards.
Once you enjoy a solid international reputation then you will feel that the sky is the limit for you in the future.
If you are looking to up your international rep then contact us today to find out about localisation options.