You have been building your business for years. You have invested lots of tears, sweat and time. As you have been working so hard to create it you have missed your kids soccer games and dance recitals. You finally felt you could relax a bit, until the day came and the phone calls stopped coming, new customers disappeared, and you don’t understand why this happened.
Your existing customers all love you and you are providing great service still, but your business has started to struggle. Finally, you discover from one of current customer’s that there are some very negative reviews about your company posted online. It finally occurs to your that your online reputation is showing a very twisted version of what your company is all about and is destroying your business.
Does this sound a plot straight from a B-grade movie? Unfortunately for thousands of businesses all over the country it is true.
Your Reputation Is Equal To Local Business Reviews
What people are saying about your business online is now the most important reflection of what your company’s skill, reliability and quality is considered to be.
Whether you are a painter, a carpet cleaner, a plastic surgeon or a dentist, it doesn’t matter. In the most recent Nielsen study called Global Trust in Advertising, 66% of global consumers stated they trust online reviews written by strangers when they are making their purchasing decisions.
Your No. 1 Marketing Priority Is To Improve Your Reputation
Building a 5-star online reputation should be your top marketing priority. Why is this? Because all of the other marketing that you do, whether it is online like PPC, social media or SEO, or offline like TV, radio, magazine or direct mail, will ultimately result in consumers learning more about your company online. Once there, if you have a non-existent or less than stellar reputation, it will drive them away.
A majority of business owners don’t realize that the thing that consumers want most of all is information that can help them feel confident that they are making the best and most well-informed purchasing decision. These days, a lot of this confidence comes from online reviews that reflect the experiences of other consumers.
The 3R’s and 2Q’s of Reputation and Local Reviews
There are five major points to keep in mind when it comes to building, developing and protecting your online reputation:
- Range – Although it may seems like all you need to do is get a couple of positive reviews on Yelp or Google+, we recommended taking a wide-ranging approach to your online review management. You will understand why, if you visit the We Hate Yelp Facebook page. Your business is too critical and important to you and your family to allow a couple of companies who have no vested interest to dictate its success.
- Real – Be sure that real client reviews are written and posted online. It can be very tempting to try and game the system and have some glowing reviews written for you. However, it is unethical and you will also most likely get caught if you try it, and that can have serious unintended consequences for your business. Encourage your customers to really be specific in their reviews. Fake reviews tend to be very vague.
- Recent – More recent reviews appear to carry more weight with the search engines when it comes to ranking. That is why it makes sense to have a steady stream of positive, new reviews coming in. Also, more recent reviews provide more powerful social proof than older reviews for prospective customers, so you want to have systems in place to help you gather reviews continuously.
- Quantity – Ask yourself if there was a dentist who has a 4-star average with 25 reviews and another dentist had only one 5-star review, which one would you call? Consistency is what proves reliability, especially when it comes to reviews.
- Quality – Your status is going to be better, the higher the ratings your reviews are – at least within reason. If a business has only 5-star reviews, it can look suspicious. However, generally speaking, the more favorable your reviews are, the better off you will be.
Reviews Should Be Part Of Your Comprehensive Reputation Marketing Strategy
Although reputation and review building may be the most important online marketing strategy for local businesses, the most successful don’t just stop there. Given the fact that reviews are most prominently shown in the search engines’ hyper-local amps, they don’t tend to generate a lot of leads outside of the local area.
For most businesses that serve multiple cities from one location, reviews need to be only one of the building blocks that is part of a more comprehensive reputation marketing strategy. SEO should be employed by this strategy to make sure that the company’s website is ranking close to the top for all of the cities that its serves for all of their most valuable buying keyword phrases. Fortunately, there is a synergistic and positive relationship between having an authoritative website, well-optimized local pages and a strong online review presence.
With mobile devices dominating local purchasing these days, companies need to ensure that their websites are mobile-friendly in addition to ranking highly, and incorporate easy to get around engagement features such as click-to-map and click-to-call. You need to make it as easy as possible for customers to contact you.
A Hidden – Yet Powerful – Benefit Provided By Positive Reviews
Your business clearly needs to have reputation marketing and review-gathering processes in place. Your return on investment from new customers you attract will be well worth it. However, there is another “hidden” benefit that comes from having a great online reputation: pricing power.
Most businesses have been struggling for years now to defend their prices with all of the “me too” competition recently. Just think of how easy it will be for you to respond to questions of why someone should pay more for your services when you can point to your online reviews and all the positive things that your customers are saying about you.
Companies need to have the ability to leverage the power that comes from having a 5-star reputation. You worked really hard to get your business established, and along the way made a lot of sacrifices. You don’t want all of your hard work to go to waste due to one competitor or single unhappy customers.
Get a system developed to help ensure that your greatest fans are a lot louder than your fiercest competitors and enemies. Your efforts will be well worth it.