Online Reviews: Beware
I'd like to think that most consumers are wise enough to be able to sift through your online reviews to know which are fake, sincere, or just some pissy customer who didn't want to pay their bill or something. I'll remain optimistic, but I thought it was worth writing a little bit about.
I have some really great clients. They're good at what they do. Good people. Good employees. But once in a while you'll see a review that doesn't fit. So, I ask them about it. I've heard some explanations that just go to show that sometimes you can't please people. At all. Ever. Some people don't like to pay full price for anything. Even if it's the service they asked for. Or they are whiny and mommy and daddy gave them everything, and they're not used to not being treated like princes and princesses. Some people just like to complain no matter what. It's in their nature. And they'll always have a crappy life.
Here are a few examples of why people leave a bad review that's not warranted:
Didn't pay their bill. Now, they're getting calls from the business trying to collect and they feel they're being harassed. Hey... wake up... and pay your bill! Pay for what you received in product or service!
Disgruntled employee. Sometimes you have to let people go. That's business. Not doing your job... you'll probably get asked to go find another place to not do your job. So, then, they'll put a bad review up and usually make up or exaggerate something about the company or owners. Grow up. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. : )
Complainers. You can't satisfy these people. Nobody can. It's not your fault. It's what they do for a living. Too bad for them, it doesn't pay well.
They didn't understand what they were paying for. These people had something in their mind about what they were getting before they purchased a product or service from a business. So, when the job was finished, they say, "No, that's not what we agreed to." But they just weren't listening. They didn't read the estimate. They assumed they were getting something that wasn't agreed upon. The variables are all over the place here, but there was a miscommunication. I would just advise business owners to be very clear in describing what the customer will receive. Put things in writing. Go over it with them and say, "Do you understand?" "Do you approve of this?" Something to that effect. Consumers shouldn't assume things and neither should business owners. Just go over things a second time to make sure. Measure twice, cut once.
Family Members and Friends of the ticked off reviewer. It really sucks when you get a bad review that's not a truthful picture of how the transaction went down. But sometimes, they'll get their family members and friends to post bad reviews on your behalf, basically making up their own bad stories so Google or Facebook "thinks" it's real. Now, instead of one bad review, you get 8 of them within a week. Boo. Again... grow up, people.
A Competitor. Your competitors aren't all about appreciating good competition. They're out for blood. And sometimes they go down the darker paths of spreading false rumors or giving a bad review as if they were a customer. These people have a special place reserved for them in heaven where they don't get to ever have ice cream again or something. I'd say "Hell"... but that's a bit harsh I suppose. But needless to say, I really don't like these people. If you want to increase sales and take a bigger slice of your market, then how about just running a good business that treats their customers well? Try that.
I suppose there are many more reasons, but I'll stop there. You get the picture.
So, how do you fix a bad review? Sometimes, you can inquire with the Goog and FB people about getting a bogus review taken down. But don't bet on it. Hard to prove. Here's what you do. Give your customers the opportunity to give you good reviews. People are more apt to search you out when they're pissed off. The happy customers are satisfied with everything, and the thought of giving you a good review doesn't even cross their mind. So, you have to remind them. You give them an easy way to give you a review. Whether it's an after sale email with a survey on it and a button to click that takes them to a review spot, or just asking them if they'd mind giving you one as soon as the transaction is complete.
Yes, you'll also be asking for some bad feedback... but if it IS warranted... that gives you great information on where you need to improve service. On the flip side, if you're a GOOD business who does good work... then you're going to have about 99% happy customers. Even if just a small portion of those give you a review... those good reviews will far outweigh the bad ones.
And this brings me back to hoping that consumers are smart enough to sift through the good and the bad. If they see a heck of a lot more good reviews, you're going to be just fine, even if there are a few weirdly bad ones mixed in there. Just drown out the bad with good.
But that also takes effort on your part as the business owner who gets a bad review here and there. You need to be proactive in harvesting / asking for reviews. It's the world we live in. And bad reviews and bad word of mouth travels faster than ever now.
Local Marketing Cafe
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Because you want more business? More customers?
You call up some place to advertise then. You say, "I'd like to run some ads." And a lot of times, you have no idea how the whole process works. Maybe you place a few ads in a shopping news publication, or put some coupons in some mailing pack, or in a local magazine, or on the radio, etc. Your choices are overly abundant, which is confusing as hell. Everyone seems to have the answer for you. But they really don't have the answer, do they? They want your money. You want results. They get what they want... but you don't. Happens all the time. Then, whatever place you decided to advertise with, you say, "I doesn't work." But they didn't know how to make it work. They just knew how to place your ad and take your money.
Let's go back to the original business problem you have. You want or need more customers. Maybe sales are down. Maybe you have more competition in the area and it seems to be affecting your number of new leads coming in. Let's break this down about
When you don't have as many customers as you'd like, it means your business is not anchored in enough MINDS of the people that could be your customers. So, then you should ask, "How do I get in more MINDS?"
This is what true branding accomplishes. And branding isn't about buying "awareness" ads that you may have already tried. It's about having "bonding" ads created and put in front of people on the proper advertising medium.
In my experience, radio is one of the best platforms to do this. But how do you create "bonding" ads? How do you get people to bond with your company so they think of you first when they need what you sell?
You get them to like and trust you.
And that's not by telling them that you're dependable, quality, and you have a knowledgeable staff to serve their needs. These are the crappy "awareness ads" that don't work. You have to PROVE those things to people - not cram those cliche words down their throat. You have to tell stories, give PROOF that your product is great or service is superior, play to their emotions, and be sincere as possible. As if you're chatting with your best friend.
These kinds of ads are harder to create. Which is why they work better. Doesn't it make sense that if we put more thought and time and research into your marketing message that it will actually work better? Of course it does!
Don't just buy some advertising. Buy the means to help you reach your goals. WHAT YOU SAY in your ads matters 10x more (or is it 100x more?) than where you decide to put some advertising.
If you decide to advertise in the Sioux Falls or surrounding areas, first, set an annual advertising budget. You have to. This is a process. You'll get far better ROI if you do it consistently with a great message. No more of this "shooting from the hip" and hoping you hit something. When you do it right, you'll love it, and you'll do it forever because of the new customers you consistently attract.
Want more help? Just let me know. I'd be happy to.
Local Marketing Cafe
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
How Much Money Are You Wasting On Your Marketing Efforts?
Of course, there's a saying, "I know half of my advertising works, I just don't know which half." I'd like to help you fix that.
Most of the problem usually, is because there's no solid game plan. There's no strategy behind the money you throw into the wind hoping that new customers will come back in replace of it.
The cause of that "waste" is because you've been taught that WHERE YOU ADVERTISE matters the most. But the cold, hard, truth is... the people who believe that are naive and under-educated in the world of marketing.
Oh, sure... there are better places to advertise than others... but the "degree of better" won't be very large if the ideas you're communicating to the public in your advertising isn't hitting any hot buttons. When you advertise, you have to ask yourself if your "target" is going to give a crap about what you're saying to them.
I'd like to help you do 2 things.
1) Help you create a smart strategy that gives your advertising at least twice the traction it currently has.
2) Help you spend less on advertising and get more back.
The first one has a lot to do with your strengths, weaknesses, your competition's strengths and weaknesses, and why your current happy customers truly do business with you right now. If you don't have a lot of happy customers, you're in trouble.
The second one can be accomplished through a smarter online marketing plan. I'd like to evaluate your online presence. There are so many things you can do to your website, your online listings, and any online advertising you're doing to trim the fat and make everything a heck of a lot more efficient.
In the end, your marketing simply needs to communicate things that will persuade people to buy from you. Or at least move them closer to buying from you. But what most business owners think is "persuading"... is usually "pushing" or saying things in their marketing and advertising that nobody really cares about. A good marketing person will help modify your marketing to help it say the things that people will react positively to.
When all you do is say Who you are, where you are, what you sell, and Buy Now... you're going to be very disappointed. It means you're WASTING A LOT OF MONEY ON YOUR MARKETING EFFORTS. Let's change that. And move the needle.
Successful advertising doesn't manifest because of the advertising medium you choose (Radio, TV, Billboard, Digital, etc.). It's all about your ads.
Think about it. What if you wanted to run a Radio ad, but your ad talked about how to make the perfect pot of coffee and nothing about your business? That's obviously not going to bring you any new customers.
It's the same thing when your advertising message (your commercial / ad) doesn't shine a very pleasing or persuasive light on your business. When the ad message and ad strategy stinks, then your ROI stinks.
Most advertising mediums can work to some degree as long as it as an "audience". Radio, Television, Online, Newspaper, Billboards, bus benches, sandwich boards, etc. are just a place to get the word out there about your business. You're basically just renting an audience.
Yes, most options CAN work, but rarely do... because of the poor ad writing, poor strategy, no thought put into it, no research on competition, and poor research on your current customers.
When you hire LMC for your advertising... before we even consider deciding WHERE to advertise, we're going to talk about WHAT to advertise. Meaning, we'll talk about your overall branding, your goals, your competition, etc., in order to figure out the best things to say to your potential, new, profitable customers.
Restaurant advertising is a tough one. Right?
Naw. Not really. The only thing that's tough is making a profit if your only ad strategy is the use of coupons.
Restaurant ad strategies:
If you're a unique restaurant, with not much competition in terms of the kind of food you serve... then all you have to do is describe your food. But do it in a fun way in your advertising. Have you tried a radio campaign? Radio gives you free reign with the creative. You can make people actually SEE IN THEIR MINDS whatever you want them to.
If you're a restaurant that's a dime a dozen... you'll have to kill'em with kindness. Customer service and friendliness flippin' matters! Especially when you ain't nothin' special in the Food area. You'll have to talk about being a gathering place or get emotional or really creative with your advertising. But most of all... you'll win over all the other restaurants that have some similarities to you by being CONSISTENT with your advertising. While all the others will be couponing people to death, you can establish a relationship with people by helping them get to know you in your advertising. Become something COMFORTABLE to your customers. Be the ONE THEY CAN COUNT ON.
If you're a restaurant with a great "back story" or if you have a "secret method to your madness", then that's what you talk about in your restaurant marketing and advertising. It's all about setting yourself apart from the others when it comes to the big marketing picture... so whatever you can snag that's unique to talk about, DO IT.
What if you'd like to CREATE something unique about your restaurant? GREAT! That's a superb idea! Most restaurant owners are too lazy to do that. Maybe you want to name some new menu items something wild and crazy. What about decorating one half of the restaurant in ____ colors and the other half in ____ colors. "Would you like to sit in the polk-a-dot section...or the rainbow explosion section?"
I'm just making things up off the cuff. Doesn't mean that's what you have to do. You need to brainstorm with about 7 people or so. It's something I love to do if you're interested in having me help with your marketing.
I think the best advice for restaurant advertisers is to NOT get hooked on the COUPON. It's a profit killer. I use coupons at restaurants that I already love and have been eating at for years. And I eat there even when I don't have a coupon. I don't remember the last time I CHOSE A RESTAURANT based on what coupon was available to me. If you want the profitable customers...appeal to their taste buds creatively and to their emotions.
Hey... come on... this is Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We're known for having an abundance of places to feed our face. I bet there's a pretty big statistic for Sioux Falls restaurants failing too. There are a lot of options out there for you in regards to promoting your business... let me help you wade through all of it. We'll keep what we need, and toss what we don't.
That's all for now. I have lots of other restaurant marketing and advertising ideas if you're interested. Thanks!