Many local businesses spend thousands of dollars on advertising every year. Anything from TV and radio commercials to YellowBook and newspaper ads. But, in most cases they rarely return a good ROI. That’s why so many small businesses fail every year – they rely on traditional advertising that does not deliver customers and sales.
One of the most important, and always overlooked, assets a business can have is their positive reputation. Online business reputation is becoming the deciding factor if businesses will be profitable or if they fail. Business owners rarely pay any attention to their Google+ local page, Yelp listing, CitySearch listing and many other local listing websites.
The problem is, that’s where potential customers go to see if the business has a good reputation after seeing their commercials and ads. And if there are no reviews, or worse, negative reviews – you lose that customer.
70% of consumers say they trust online reviews, according to a recent Nielsen study.
That’s 70% of your potential customers that your negative reputation is driving away! Think about it.
Reputation marketing, not management, is how businesses can take control of their online reputation. Claiming all local listings of your business, and then optimizing your local listings should be a top priority. Potential customers think that your business is closed when they see empty listings. You don’t want that, do you?
Then you need to get your customers to begin leaving reviews, so you have positive reviews for reputation marketing strategy.
- Ask customers directly after purchase is made
- Have signs around your business asking to leave a review
- Drop a notecard asking for reviews into customers’ bag or with a receipt
- Send out post-purchase email asking for feedback and reviews
- Have an assistant call customers and ask for feedback and reviews
- Create a page on your website to capture reviews and testimonials, and include links to your local listings to get customers to leave reviews
When your advertising dollars do their job and get customers to Google your business, instead of seeing negative reviews or nothing they will see glowing positive reviews giving your business social approval and driving that customers’ decisions to do business with you.
It’s a simple math, yet we deal with clients that are completely unaware of their online reputation every week. It hurts us to see so many small businesses heading for the bottom because they rely on the old ways of placing ads and commercials and praying that it will work and bring in customers.
Once you do get customers to begin leaving reviews, now you can begin your reputation marketing efforts to use 5 Star reviews to attract new customers and give them social proof that you’re a fantastic business to do deal with.
It’s a new economy out there, reputation economy. You pay your customers with great quality service and products, in return they provide you with a stamp of social approval that will help your business flourish.
If every business takes a minute to review their online reputation (we try to help as much as we can by providing a free business reputation grader) and create a pro-active plan on pursuing customers to leave a review, I guarantee we would cut business bankruptcies in half. But, business owners need to take that first step and join reputation economy.
Photo by I See Modern Britain