Guest Author: Bruce Williamson, Wild Goose Media
Do you remember back to when you first started your business? You did it because you loved it and people probably said you’re really good at that. You most likely relied on your early customers, friends, and family to help spread the word about how great you really are at what you do. Today, marketing has changed a lot. Everyone is fighting for a customer’s attention, and the customer knows it. They are much more aware and educated than any other time in history, and it’s not getting easier. Reputation marketing is essential for building a successful business.
Let’s be honest, online or offline, there are only so many ways to market (SEO, PPC, Deal Sites, Local Marketing, Direct Mail, etc.) The truth is, while those things all have their place, none of it will be effective if you have bad reviews or no reviews online.
What’s really happened is a complete flip-flop in online marketing strategy due to the fact that your customers have a say in the matter. Before you would spend money on marketing, then maybe if you had the time you’d work on getting some great reviews from customers. That’s completely the opposite of what today’s marketing is about.
Would you rather create a marketing plan for complete strangers who don’t know you, don’t like you, don’t trust you? Or would you rather create a marketing plan for people that know, trust and like you because they’re all presold on you through referrals?
For the first time online marketing can be just as powerful as referral marketing. Three out of four people trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. A recent Nielsen poll showed that 92% trust recommendations from people they know, and 72% of consumer opinions. That’s a staggering fact.
So how do you start building your reputation? Here are 7 simple things you can start doing to build your reputation marketing:
1. Research, set up, and claim local directories
Everyday thousands of customers search local business directories like Google, Bing, Yelp, Yahoo Local and dozens of other sites. The more you are found on, the more likely you are to be found when someone searches for your products and services.
2. Get more customer reviews.
Consumers will read an average of 10 reviews before making a decision and research shows that customers do not trust a company that has less than 10 five star reviews. Therefore, your company needs a strategy to quickly get more online reviews to show up on your directory listings. One way is to create professionally designed review post cards, business cards, or a written email campaign to collect customer reviews.
3. Diffuse any bad or poor ratings.
Each poor review not only is publically read by your potential customers, but it also brings down your reputation score on local directory sites. Many local directories such as City Search and Insider Pages aggregate reviews from other sites. Therefore both good and bad reviews can spread to other sites very quickly. The way you can diffuse the poor reviews is to get more 5 star reviews to bring your reputation score up and push the bad reviews off the first page of your listing.
4. Set up a private review page.
No matter what strategy a company uses to collect reviews; your company does not have control over the fact that customers may post bad reviews. Your business is only one customer a way from getting a poor reputation online. The solution, develop a private review page to collect reviews from customers. Create a process that gets bad reviews filtered out and sent to your company’s manager. Create a process to post 5 Star reviews online on important local business directory sites.
5. Monitor Your Reputation
This one is a little tougher. There’s plenty of different software that can monitor your social engagement, brand and company name, these technologies, like Google Alerts, cannot monitor your reputation. When people leave reviews on a directory site like Yelp, often they many not mention your name because they’re already on your business listing. Therefore, with dozens of review sites that are out there, there is no way for even the most sophisticated social or branding software to know if bad reviews are being posted and no way to follow up to get the bad reviews eliminated.
A. Create a process that daily monitors, tracks, and reviews your online review sites.
B. Setup protocols to review all your sites and notify a point person in your business to respond to good and bad reviews.
6. Market Your Reputation
Companies that get reviews from their customers cannot post those reviews online because local directories like Yelp, Google, Bing, and dozens of other have proprietary filters and algorithms to delete reviews that are posted from the same computer IP network. Therefore, if you post those reviews from inside your business, Google will delete them and flag your Google account as spam because there’s no way to tell if yours is real or made up.
Google in so many words discourages bribing your customers for leaving good reviews. So make sure you give great service, and then ask for a review. You can create a testimonial form to collect their info and review, and be sure to include asking for permission to post on their behalf. Once you have that, feel free to post them on your social sites and website.
7. Create a 5 star culture.
One of the most important things you need to do with your reputation marketing strategy is create a reputation marketing culture inside your business. So here’s the question. You expect your staff to give first-class service to every single one of your customers, right? Well, what’s your plan to inspire your staff to give first-class service to those customers and get raving reviews? Have a plan in place to train your staff how to execute on your reputation marketing goals.
If you’re not sure what’s being said about your business online you can find out right now at www.FreeOnlineReputationReport.com (A $197 value)
ABOUT GUEST AUTHOR: Bruce Williamson, Reputation Marketing Expert and CEO of Wild Goose Media, based in Telford, PA. Bruce advises businesses and individuals on how to leverage what you already have to build relationships, deliver value, create a 5 star reputation and tell your story online. He’s also a lover of great coffee, Chipotle, hockey, his wife, 5 sons, and a little princess due any day now. (but not necessarily in that order!) You can reach him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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