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
Do you need marketing help from the ground up? Don't know where to start? I love to help with that.
I ask you, "Do you have a slogan?"
You say, "No, not really."
I ask, "Have you done much advertising before?"
You say, "A little here and a little there... but nothing has ever worked very well."
I ask, "Are you happy with your website?"
You say, "No."
I ask, "Do you get many leads or sales from your website?"
And you say, "I have no idea."
I love helping smaller businesses get straightened out and set up with their branding and marketing. From the ground up. And many times you may have some things in place, but would prefer to start over from scratch.
I'd like to discuss your situation with you. Oh, and have you ever been "pitched" by anyone about marketing and websites and stuff? The way I do business is the farthest thing from ... "a pitch".
Looking to the Future...
That was an ad slogan I heard on the radio the other day. And the business had nothing to do with time travel.
The thing about slogans is... don't even bother having one if it's not going to give people a clue as to what kind of business you are or what kind of company culture you cultivate.
When your slogan is nothing but a cliche phrase, it means nothing to people. It's invisible. Nobody's going to say, "Oh...well I should buy from them because they're looking to the future."
For a slogan to be worth having, it needs to be unique to you. It needs to give people one or two great reasons why they should do business with you. And if you're paranoid about offending one person out of a hundred thousand with your slogan or any of your marketing messages, you're going to have a tough time getting anything OUT of your marketing.
If any other business could attach your exact slogan to the end of their business name, pick a new one. Make it fit YOUR business only. Then, you're on the right track.
Make Friends with Potential New Customers
What if you're doing everything right...but you just aren't growing like you think you should?
Then I'd say, you probably have ample competition, dividing your market into a lot of little slivers. Your plan of attack then, is to implement a long-term advertising strategy. Instead of all your potential new customers wondering WHO TO BUY FROM, make them think of you first. Help them get to know you in your ad campaign and feel most comfortable buying from you instead of someone else.
It's called LOCAL BRANDING. It's the best way to make the name of your business a household word in your market. And it takes patience. This isn't going to be a "slam bam thank you ma'am" advertising plan. This is relationship building with a group of people who you can afford to advertise to, day in and day out...forever. Or as long as you plan on being in business anyway.
Why a long-term strategy? Because not everyone needs what you offer right now. Most of your prospects probably won't be ready for months or even years depending on the length of their purchase cycle. Grocery stores will see a faster return on a good ad campaign than an electrician or a mattress store because we all need groceries a heck of a lot sooner than a good electrician or a new bed.
The first step is to figure out what you can say to potential new customers to help them trust you and feel more confident in YOU versus their trust in your competitors.
Did my wife trust me enough to marry me the day after we met? No. There were a lot of long hours of talking and getting to know each other before we felt comfortable enough to consider marriage. Every day...for months and months. Do you still have friends from high school? They'll always be your friends. You'll never forget them. But that didn't happen quickly. You developed a deep relationship with them over a period of years.
It's the same thing when you're trying to "make friends" with new customers. If you're good at what you do, and treat your customers right...then start building relationships with your prospects. Start communicating things to them in your advertising that would move them closer to trusting you and doing business with you. It's a process. It takes patience. But when you finally get over that hump of branding the essence of who you are into people's brains, you'll start getting more of their business when they need what you offer.
Local branding isn't telling people who, what, when, and where...it's telling stories. When you tell stories in your advertising about a customer's great experience or about how you helped someone out or about someone with a specific problem that you provided a solution for...then people begin to trust you. This is not awareness advertising. That won't work for someone with a lot of competition. Putting up a billboard with your business name on it is not going to cut it. You're trying to build relationships.
So whether you're embarking on a Radio ad campaign or a Direct Mail campaign, you're going to need ads with emotion, that tell a story, and that make people want to be "your friend". It's a process that takes patience and persistence...but it also holds the key to GROWING more than you ever thought possible...and climbing the ladder of increased market share.
Have a great day!
Serving Sioux Falls SD, Brandon SD, Brookings SD, Luverne MN, Madison SD, Sioux City SD, Mitchell SD, and everything in between.
Local Marketing Cafe | Sioux Falls