In some respects, the more things change, the more they stay the same. For example, repeat and referral business (word-of-mouth) is as important today as it was 20 or even 50 years ago. Almost inevitably, potential clients will prefer to do business with an organization with a good reputation, and that reputation has always been best defined by experience; especially from clients who share the news and — most significantly — return for more.
The difference today relates to the diffusion/communication pace for this word-of-mouth reputation. Previously, you could screw up, alienate all your clients, and quite easily return to business under a new identity in perhaps a slightly different location/market segment, and start over. Now, the negative stories about your business will spread at lightning speed, through social media and review sites, and before you know it, you are ruined.
However, this challenging circumstance has a flip side — the good news about your good deeds and great service can spread equally quickly, and if you are responsive to client complaints and concerns, even less-than-perfect story starts can end well.
Significantly, also, you don’t need the mass media to act as a gatekeeper on your reputation. Positive publicity of course is helpful, but now you (and your clients) can control the story through social media, website testimonials and the like. (And specialized media such as our publications can certainly help build and maintain your good reputation; especially when the traditional print content is repurposed into social media references and messages.)
As well, you should be never underestimate the value of face-to-face and personal connection/communication, and the value of conferences, trade-shows and seminars and educational programs where you share the experience with others. Notably, for example, Alphabet (formerly Google) allocates signficant resources for meet-ups and summits of various communities within its orbit. It is quite an experience to be invited to one of these international events, where hundreds of people are flown in from around the world and the meeting room resembles the United Nations, with perhaps a dozen simultaneous translation booths.
Why would a business that made its fortune through online search and advertising spend such resources on human contact? The answer: We have a need for community, connection, and the first-hand experience. The old reputation-building concepts remain the same; the difference today is simply that things move more quickly.