Why Reputation Management is Vital to Your Business
Your business is going well, but not as well as it should be. The growth seems to have slowed, and you’re not quite sure why. Have you checked your online reviews lately?
If you’re like the average business person, you spend a lot of time on your business. You deal with the urgent first and at the end of the day, may not have much time left over to see how your business is doing socially.
The trouble is however, that your social (online) presence may be a fire that you are completely missing. Online reviews can literally make or break your business. The reason is that people trust them. Nielsen did a report in 2012 that looked at advertising, and one of the items that stood out was that 70% of consumers trust online reviews as much as feedback from friends or family. This is huge, yet many business persons are completely unaware of these stats and how they can affect their business.
The reality is that given an equal product or service offering, consumers will usually choose the business with the better reviews. It makes sense. After all, why risk visiting a business with bad reviews. This means that if you have bad reviews, or no reviews, your business is probably suffering.
Reviews Mold Your Reputation
Not only do reviews influence consumer decisions online, they mold your reputation. Bad reviews give you a bad reputation, while great reviews create a good reputation for you and your business which creates immediate good will, helping to pre-sell your potential customers.
When these customers walk in your door, they are already pre-disposed to purchasing from you. This means that you have a better chance to sell them more, and at better pricing for you. Most people are willing to pay a little more for that ‘trust’ factor. This elevates you from the pricing wars that you may otherwise suffer from.
Your Reputation is Your Brand
Further, if you are a small business, your reputation is your brand. There is really no need to spend a lot of money branding your business. Focus on building a great online reputation and this will take care of your branding. In fact, If you are a local business, this arguably the most important place to spend your first marketing dollar.
Focusing on Your Reputation Should be Your #1 Priority
The power of online reviews means that you should be focusing on building, managing and marketing your reputation online. Every dollar you spend on advertising could be wasted if you neglect this first step. Why? Because your advertising will normally drive shoppers online to find out more about your business, and if they find bad reviews, or no reviews, they are unlikely to visit you. First build your online reputation, then market your business to get more customers.
Here are some tips on marketing and managing your online reputation:
- Depth: Don’t just rely on Yelp and Google+ for your online reviews. Broaden them out by adding sites like Yellow Pages and local review sites that might be specific to your area.
- Genuine: Make sure that you only use genuine reviews on your website. If someone offers to get you reviews on Google or Yelp as a paid service – run. These can come back to bite you, and frankly, the practice is unethical.
Fresh: Stale reviews are less valuable. People want to know how you are doing this month; this week. Encourage your customers to leave great reviews for you so that you have at least one or two great reviews a week. Train your staff on the importance of getting reviews, and make it easy for your customers to leave them.
- On Your Website: Make sure you add your reviews to your website. Depending on how consumers find you, they may not see great reviews before visiting your site. Don’t’ disappoint them.
- Beware Third Party Services: Some third party reputation marketing and management services collect reviews for you, but do not market them in a manner that is actually good for your business. They have stand-alone sites where people can go to read all reviews for your business. This is really not much different than Google or Yelp, merely collecting reviews – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Do you really want to pay a company to display your bad reviews? Let’s be honest, even the best businesses get the odd bad review. Why advertise it? People can find them easily enough with a search on the web. Focus on the good, and downplay the bad. This is not dishonest, but smart business.
Build a Five-Star Reputation
The benefits of having a great reputation online to keep customers and attract new ones are no longer debatable. The question is “when are you going to get started, if you haven’t?” Building your reputation by getting great reviews from happy customers and marketing them on the web should be a priority. Managing your reputation by watching for what customers are saying about you online is step two. Do you have a reputation marketing and management strategy in place? If not, I highly recommend you set one up today.