Online Reputation Marketing Services for Local Businesses
If you own a local business you have many demands on your time. You also have a lot of demands on your advertising budget. Some of that budget is probably allocated to getting new customers. Knowing where to spend it, and how much can make a huge difference in how successful you are in attracting new customers, while keeping your cost per customer reasonable. After all, the less you have to spend on gaining a new customer, the more dollars you keep in your pocket.
Strategy Session Outline
In this strategy session I’m going to give you some take-aways on marketing your business online to get more customers. These include the Yellow Pages and should you use it, the importance of your reputation online, Google alerts, four game-changers that your competition may not have heard of, and the biggest shift in marketing in 10 years. So stick with me as we look at these – I think you will find it well worth it.
Yellow Pages Still Worth It?
Let’s start by looking at the Yellow Pages. In times past the pages were the ‘go-to’ when it came to getting business from local customers. However, times have changed. More and more of your customers are going online to find information about you and your business. Perhaps you have downsized your presence on YP already. If not, I recommend you consider doing so.
I’m not advocating you get out of the hard copy or online YP completely, but to evaluate how much business you actually get from it and consider whether your ad dollars could be employed elsewhere more effectively.
Here’s a Tip: You can set up a phone number specifically for ads like YP to gauge how many calls you are actually receiving from them.
What Shoppers Online Are Looking For
As I’ve already mentioned, your shoppers are going online to find out about you. And what are they looking for? Our research has shown that people are looking for information about your business. Specifically, they are looking for are reviews by others about your business. The second thing they are looking at is your website.
Now, given that reviews online are top-of-mind with shoppers, how do you compare with your competition? Let me ask you this: if you were shopping for a product or service online, and you found three businesses you could shop at, and all else being equal they had differences in reviews, wouldn’t you go with the business that had the best reviews? I mean why take a chance on the others right?
Well, that’s exactly what your potential customers are doing right now, and if you don’t have great reviews about your business (five-star reviews) you may be losing out to your competition.
Four Game Changers
Now, let’s look at four big game-changers in online marketing that your competition may not be aware of.
First Game Changer
The first game-changer is that Google has merged 80 million Google plus pages with each company’s website. This means that in most cases, Google reviews – or the lack of reviews – are visible to anyone doing a search online for that business. Have you done a search for your business online lately? You might be surprised to find that you have Google reviews and ratings showing below your web site listing. You may also see reviews from other sources like Yelp on the page. These reviews are powerful, and are either helping you or hurting you. By-the-way, although Bing and Yahoo get search traffic also, I am focusing primarily on Google since it gets most of the traffic on the web.
Here’s a Tip: Make sure that your Google Plus page is set up properly including your correct address, business information and pictures. If you don’t have one, get one. Without one your business will not show up in the Google Places listing – that’s the list of businesses (currently seven) that Google often pulls up when someone searches locally for a product or service.
Second Game Changer
Game-changer number two is that reviews provide a major presence on the web. They are all over the place — they show up on Google + maps, local directories, pay-per-click ads, and more. That means that your business exposure on the web is dramatically increased. And if this exposure is not good, the effect is multiplied over-and-over, damaging you.
Third Game Changer
Game-changer number three is that most of the advertising you are doing now may be working against you if you have no reviews, or bad reviews online. Why is this? Because as we have already noted, search for goods and services has moved online. That means that even if someone hears a radio ad, or sees a video ad, or reads a newspaper or magazine ad about your business, they will normally go online to find out more about you. And if they don’t find great reviews about your business, they will likely shop with someone else.
What’s the answer? Well, first build a five-star reputation online; then market to drive traffic to your business.
Fourth Game Changer
Game-changer number four is that online reviews give you pre-sold leads. And this power of online reviews is the Biggest Marketing Shift in 10 Years. Why is this? Because research has shown that 72% of buyers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations. They trust them even more than TV ads, and editorial content such as newspaper articles.
How Yelp Ratings Grow Can Add Customers
And an increase in positive ratings can actually increase your business. A review by economists at the University of California, Berkley found that a half a star rating increase in Yelp can increase a restaurant’s business during peak hours by 19%.
Similar research at the Harvard School of Business puts the increase in revenue for one a star improvement for independent restaurants at between 5% and 10%. So, figures will vary, but the point is that higher star ratings will generally improve your business revenue. So is it worth getting great reviews? I think the figures speak for themselves.
What is Reputation Management and Reputation Marketing
This leads us to marketing your reputation online through great customer reviews. But first, let’s talk about reputation management. While reputation management is an important aspect to marketing your business online, we believe that it’s only part of the story. We believe that marketing your reputation is the most important. That’s the part that makes you money. Managing could be described as passive, while marketing is active. Don’t just manage your reputation – market it.
So what is reputation marketing exactly? Wikipedia defines it this way: “The reputation marketing field has evolved from the marriage of the fields of reputation management and brand marketing. In the socially connected world of the new millennium a brand’s reputation is vetted online nearly in real-time by consumers leaving online reviews and citing experiences on social media websites.”
And what is brand marketing? Well if you’re a small business, I believe it’s your reputation.
Here’s a Tip: You can get a free alert service through Google Alerts at www.google.com/alerts. Using your free Gmail account you can set up an alert on just about any topic and receive an email from Google whenever your topic is mentioned. If you enter your name to track, Google will alert you if it is mentioned online. WARNING: this will not alert you in the case of reviews placed on the web since these are on directory sites and Google + and reviewers don’t normally mention your name or business name. You need a dedicated reputation tracking service for this.
Hopefully I built a solid case for getting great reviews about your business from your customers and marketing those reviews online to build your reputation and get more customers.
Strategic Approach to Reputation Marketing
Now let’s take a look at what a properly developed strategic approach to reputation marketing. Bu-the-way, this is how I would approach creating and managing a strategy for you.
The first step is to create a 5-star culture by educating your staff. The second step is to build your reputation by getting feedback and great reviews from your clients or customers. The third is to market your reputation by placing customer reviews on your website and all over the web on various social sharing sites. The fourth step is to manage your reputation by monitoring it and collecting data you can use to evaluate your progress.
In the fourth step our team monitors your reviews and sends you alerts of the feedback you get on the web page form we create for you. We also monitor the important sites and directories and alert you when any reviews are made of your business so you can respond to them immediately.
We then collect data on the process and email a report to you monthly.
Our Process in a Nutshell
In a nutshell, it would look something like this: staff education, feedback and review collection, reputation marketing, and reputation management and reporting.
Of course, you could do this all yourself, if you have time and the expertise. However, if this isn’t your area of expertise, and you would rather spend your time elsewhere, then hiring me to manage and market your reputation would be the wise choice.
Free Reputation Report
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