The most valuable asset of any company is its reputation in the marketplace, how it is known to its customers. The most valuable asset of your company is contained in the way your customers think and talk about your company when you are not there. Your company’s reputation, what people say about your company to other customers and prospects, is the key determinant of how secure your company’s position is in today’s marketplace.
The most successful companies invest a good deal of time and effort in their advertising, promotion, and public relations to assure that their customers, and potential customers think highly of them whenever they think about the products and services that they sell.
The Power of Reputation
Not long ago, a public opinion survey was conducted in Phoenix, Arizona. Shoppers were asked their opinions of various department stores. “Which department store do you feel offers the best combination of quality and service to its customers?”
It was not surprising that Nordstrom’s stores won 50 percent of the votes in the customer survey. Fully 50 percent of shoppers rated Nordstrom above all other department stores in the Phoenix area for its quality and service. Nordstrom’s reputation for customer service is the best of any department store in the country.
What was surprising however was that in Phoenix, Arizona, there was no Nordstrom store. The only experience that Phoenix shoppers had with Nordstrom’s was when they visited a Nordstrom store in California and then came home and told their friends about their experience.
The reputation of Nordstrom’s for quality products and service was so great that customers who did not even shop at Nordstrom’s rated it above the stores that they did patronize on a regular basis. This is the kind of reputation that translates into extraordinary success in the marketplace. You should be continually thinking about the things that you can do in the operation of your own business to create such a positive reputation that your customers are naturally drawn to preferring your offerings over those of your competitors.
The Battle of Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo, fought on June 18, 1815, was perhaps the largest and most decisive battle that had been fought on the European continent at that time. Because of Napoleon’s more than twenty years of brilliant military successes, the Duke of Wellington was the underdog going into the battle. The fateand future of the French Empire, the Prussian Empire, the Aus- trian Empire, and the British position in Europe all hung in the balance.
But even though the stakes were extremely high, and the odds were against him, Wellington took badly needed troops out of his main army and posted them as a reserve on the road to Brussels in the event that he was defeated on the battlefield. Wellington knew that, without a reserve, if the French overwhelmed his army, it could be destroyed as a fighting force and be incapable of regrouping and fighting again later. In Wellington’s mind, an orderly defeat was preferable to a complete disaster.
Meanwhile, the French committed their entire army at the Battle of Waterloo. They threw in every infantry and cavalry regiment and division. When the battle turned against them at the end of the day with the arrival of the Prussian troops under Blücher to support Wellington, the French had no reserves left. As a result, the French army was routed and destroyed as a fighting force in Europe. Napoleon was defeated. France was not able to recover as a military power for another hundred years. It had failed to secure against a possible reversal of fortune.