Do Customers Really Trust Your Business?

Do Customers Really Trust Your Business?

I’m sure your gut reaction says that yes, they do, but how can you prove it?

 

Let’s look at this from the customer’s point of view. If they are looking for the kind of service you provide, how does your business prove to those customers that you’re the best company for them?

 

The answer is, they look at your track record, and the quickest way for them to get a good idea is from your past clients who have already employed you to do the job that this new customer wants. So, they look at your reviews.

 

Online reviews and recommendations are now incredibly important, in fact they have contributed to the biggest shift in consumer buying in the last 100 years and few businesses are really harnessing their power.

 

Do you know how many reviews an average consumer will look up before making a decision?

It’s 10, yes that’s right, TEN.

 

If your business doesn’t have 10 reviews online then you’re giving your next potential customer their first reason not to get in touch with you (Source: Brightlocal).

 

Taking this one step further, the number of reviews that a consumer wants to see before they trust a business is actually very similar. Studies report that consumers want to see between 6 and 10 5 star reviews before they think a business is trustworthy (Source: Searchengineland).

 

The bottom line is that without those 5 Star reviews, your business isn’t trusted online. And that’s what we’re here to help you solve: How to Build Your 5 Star Reputation.

 

You might think that this sounds a little extreme, after all, how many people really read reviews?

 

Astonishingly, 97% of consumers aged 18-34 read online reviews to judge a local business (2015 local consumer review survey). This age group are the millennials, the next group of buyers. When 97% of them are using reviews to judge a local business before they call, or before they set an appointment, and way before they spend any money, it means improving your reputation is the most critical thing that you can do online for your marketing and to get customers.

 

If you’re sitting there feeling quite smug, knowing that millennials aren’t your target audience therefore online reviews and reputation needn’t concern you. WRONG.

 

If you widen the statistics for the whole population, that is ALL age groups, it’s 92% of consumers now read online reviews for local businesses (2015 local consumer review survey).

 

So how does increasing your positive reviews actually translate to an increase in business?

The University of California Berkeley published the results of a study of 328 businesses where they found that by increasing the rating by just half a star could increase revenues by 19% (Source: Economic Journal).

 

More importantly when we asked consumers – when you’re searching for a business online who would you call first? Only 18% said they would call a business that actually showed up at the top of the search results. 27% said they would choose the cheapest service. However, the majority of respondents said they would call the business with the best reputation.

 

The game of marketing has changed dramatically. You don’t need to be the business with the best SEO, and you shouldn’t have to offer the biggest discounts to attract peoples’ attention. What your customers are looking for is the most reputable company to do business with. Which is something we all should have been aiming for all along!

 

The next step for you to take is to implement a 5 Star Review strategy. Find out how to do this by signing up for our free report below.

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Why Are Reviews So Effective At Winning New Clients?

Why Are Reviews So Effective At Winning New Clients?

Being Found Online Is Tough.

No Question. But been found online and getting new clients to select your business over your competition is even harder. Especially when there are very few differences between the services you offer.

 

While many business owners leave it down to chance, there are ways that you can dramatically improve the chances of your business winning those new clients ahead of your competition.

 

One of the most powerful ways to set yourself apart from your competition is by highlighting your positive customer reviews online.

 

So Why Are Online Reviews So Effective?

 

Online Reviews build trust. Whether your customers are raving about what your product has done for them, how the results from your service changed their life or just how friendly and approachable the staff were. These reviews come from a third party not from the business owner, not from a copywriter. They come from the heart and are often filled with positive sentiment and emotion that truly connects with people who are in the same circumstances the reviewer was in prior to engaging with your business.

 

74% Of People Say Positive Reviews Make Them Trust A Local Business More (source)

 

So people trust and read online reviews but that isn’t the only reason why online reviews are so important.

 

The number of Online reviews you have is considered to be one of the major influences on how well your business ranks in local search.  You can see how many reviews you have by Googling your business name. If you have any it will show underneath your website. If you don’t have any, it will simply say leave a review (You can also check your reviews by logging into your Google+ dashboard and clicking on the reviews tab and that will show you).

 

Where Can You Use Your Google Reviews To Increase Conversion?

Local Google Search Results

If someone in your locality searches for the services that you provide, then your star rating is front and centre for everyone to see. In order to get a star rating on Google+ you need to have 5 reviews. Once you get those five reviews, then your star rating will appear within a few days, although sometimes it may take a few weeks.

 

Google Pay Per Click Ads

In order to get your Google+ reviews to show on your PPC ads  you need to enable location extension in Adwords. You can find the full list of benefits and instructions here. You can also use seller ratings.

 

braces_london

 

Organic Search Results

If you have reviews and testimonials, you can help search engines understand them with schema markup. In short you provide the search engine with specific code that it can use to identify reviews. Having reviews displayed on your search results won’t necessarily impact your rankings, but it does improve indexing and can increase click-through rates and conversions to your website (See Google’s support page, Reviews Rich Snippets for details.)

 

The Importance Of Reviews For SEO?

The more reviews you get the better your chances of being displayed in the top 3 of the new Google snack map. Why? – to get a little technical here each review is a 3rd party citation for your business and services.

 

Google always wants to know that it will send its clients (searchers) to the most trustworthy and reputable search results. If your business has 12, 18 or 25 positive reviews from users in the catchment area of your business then you stand a much higher chance of being listed in the top 3. So if you have a better star rating then your competition you will be seen as trusted and win the business.

 

In essence getting reviews for your local business on Google+ works two fold.

 

  1. It is a key factor in the ranking of your business in local search.
  2. It increases the social proof of your business and thus your conversion rate.
Tip: Google loves fresh, unique content, and user reviews are a great way of getting that new content. The more up to date reviews are, the more relevant they are to both users and clients so keep it current!

 

 

Where Is The Best Place To Get Clients To Leave Reviews?

 

Google+ is the key directory where your business should get reviews as this has the biggest impact on search however there are other 3rd party review sites that can influence both potential buyers and your performance in search.

 

Some of these key directories we mentioned in our previous post about the importance of local directories in search, in short there are directories relative to your niche that have potential clients and aggregate and share reviews about your business online.

 

Having a great reputation across a plethora of these sites will be a huge advantage in helping clients overcome scepticism and also to improve the authority of those individual listings of your business and the relevance to your position on Google maps.

 

Business Listings to place your NAP

 

What If There Are Bad Reviews?

 

Ok, let’s start by saying that not everyone is perfect and on occasion for whatever reason things do go wrong resulting in a client not getting the service they deserve.

 

When this happens. internet savvy clients are likely to vent their anger by going online, finding the first portal they come across and sharing their discontent with everyone.

 

And while no business owner wants bad reviews, Revoo suggested that 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad reviews. Especially if the business has reached out to attempt to rectify the situation.

 

To get more information on how to deal with a negative review read this post on Reevoo.

 

How Can You Improve Your Reviews?

 

The best way to improve your ratings is to make sure that your customers receive excellent customer service. Happy customers attract more happy customers, who are willing to rate you well and tell others about your business or products.

 

In short, rather than fretting over one bad review reach out to the reviewer express your concern and ask them to contact you directly so you can help solve the problem. To potential clients it shows that you care, to the reviewer you are taking ownership of the situation, attempting to take the situation out of the public arena and also leaving the ball in their court.

 

Even better than simply reacting to negative reviews when they appear, a positive and proactive approach to your online reputation and reviews is far more favourable.

 

After all one bad review from a total of one review is BAD. One bad review amongst 10, 15 or 20 positive reviews is not an issue at all.

 

Therefore make it an ongoing business concern to ask clients to leave reviews about your business, monitor that feedback and be proactive about resolving issues raised by your customers with an outcome that reasonably satisfies all parties, including you, as and when it happens.

 

Note: There are filters set into the review sites that are there to monitor any suspicious activity. Going from no reviews to twenty reviews overnight may alert the filters and could result in genuine reviews being removed from your listing.

 

Tips For Getting Reviews And Making Them Count.

  • Be a Great Business – The best way to get positive feedback is to make sure that your customers receive excellent customer service. Happy customers attract more happy customers, who are willing to rate you well and tell others about your business or products.

 

  • Ask for the review – A lot of businesses believe that reviews will appear on their own. The truth is that most people who have a positive experience need to be asked to leave a review as they don’t understand how important it is for your business.

 

  • Send an email to the user asking for the review shortly after they have experienced your services and are feeling the positive impact of the results you have provided. The sooner the better.

 

  • Send a follow up email. People have great intentions but often don’t realise how important to your business these reviews can be. A gentle reminder can increase the number of reviews dramatically.

 

  • Don’t worry about getting reviews on all the websites that your business is listed in as this will prove too difficult to manage. Focus on those sites that are deemed authoritative by the search engines. Yell.com, thomsonlocal.com, 192.com, Google, Facebook.

 

  • Make the process as simple as possible – Don’t ask the user to jump through to many hoops in order to leave their feedback, make it as simple and unobtrusive as possible.

 

Other Ways You Can Leverage Your Reviews To Help You Get More Clients

Earlier in the post we discussed how you can use reviews in search to elevate you above the competition but what if, as with many of our clients, customers send reviews and testimonials to you in the form of letters or cards or gifts?

 

What you should do with a Thank You message from a customer

 

  • Take a photo of the cards and gifts and publish them on Social media.
  • Leave them in your reception area so everyone can see.
  • Reach out and thank the customer who left the review and ask them if they would be as kind to share their message with the world by adding it to an online review site.
  • Add the reviews to your website.
  • If you can, get a photo of the client and add their testimonial to the image.
  • Put several of these testimonials together and create a small slide show video which could be added to your website and social media.
  • Add a selection of reviews to your newsletter
  • Add the testimonials to the footer of your email.

 

There are many creative ways to leverage reviews to position you as an expert and a provider of excellent service but ultimately it comes down to asking for them and marketing them so that everyone, including new and existing customers, can see the great work that you are doing.

 

7 out of 10 Consumers Will Leave a Review for a Business If They Are Asked To!

 

It’s not always easy to get reviews, but focus on what the reviews will give you: A business with a fantastic reputation online, lots of user generated content for the search engines to boost your rankings and best of all, you will be building a referral business based on trust.

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What does your Feedback REALLY tell us?

What does your Feedback REALLY tell us?

Feedback

Online Reviews are now used by consumers for almost all products and services to help them make purchase decisions, choose holidays or restaurants and to help make informed choices about local service providers such as Dentists, Estate Agents, Car Dealerships or Solicitors.

Genuine reviews are an incredibly valuable tool for businesses as they boost customer confidence, show social proof of good relationships and provide an ongoing narrative of business performance through the eyes of its users. One statistic that we love (so much so that it’s on the back of our business cards!) is that 70 per cent of consumers trust online ratings as much as a personal recommendation (Local Consumer Review Survey).

Taking this into consideration it’s a good idea to put a system in place to make sure you are capturing this valuable feedback from your happy customers so that you can display it and use it to encourage more customers and business growth.

Having said all this, there is a darker side and that is fake reviews. There are plenty of less than scrupulous businesses out there who try and promote themselves and their reputation by adding false, positive sounding testimonials. These can not only reflect badly on the business that is doing it, but leads to a level of consumer distrust that can spill over to businesses whose reviews are genuine.

Luckily for everyone, there are some key indicators to look for in reviews to help weed out the fakes from the real thing. Here are my top guidelines for eagle eyed review spotters:

How many reviews are there?

The more reviews, the better, especially if they stretch back over a few years. Adding hundreds of fakes over a long period of time is incredibly hard for anyone to keep up, so if the company you’re looking at has a long track record of reviews then they are probably the real deal.

Look for the Not so perfect comments

In real life, nothing is perfect. Real reviewers, even those who’ve had a good experience will often leave a review that is only 3 or 4 stars out of 5, or a comment along the lines of “overall our service was good, but XXX wasn’t exactly what I wanted.”

These less than perfect scores actually add a degree of authenticity. After all, who would go to the trouble of leaving a fake review that was only 3 stars?

Has the company left any replies?

If the company you’re looking at has a string of reviews online and has made some effort to comment back then you know they’re monitoring their reviews. Typically this means that they’re interested to know what their clients think, they may even be asking people to leave reviews on certain sites. Again, if they were leaving the positive comments there themselves they probably wouldn’t also be commenting on them. Likewise, if they are commenting on negative reviews you know their reputation matters enough to them to try and put things right.

Are the reviews on third party sites?

We’ve all seen company websites with a testimonial page filled with positive messages from “Mrs D” or “Anonymous, 35”. Although these pages seem to be popular with many businesses they don’t actually prove anything – the business can choose what to post on its own website and by not showing real names or customer profiles it’s difficult for anyone to decipher if these comments are real or how long they have been there.

Instead, look for reviews on third party sites such as Google, Yell or FreeIndex. These sites are incredibly hard to hack with fake reviews and you should be able to see some profile details of any reviewers you are interested in.

How much detail is there?

The majority of real reviewers don’t actually write very much detail in their review. Often it could be something very brief, such as “Thanks for the great service” or “Brilliant, would recommend”. While these short recommendations might not be very helpful to people thinking of using that company, at least if there are plenty of them it should give some idea of a general pattern of service.

On the flip side, real negative reviews tend to be long because the person has genuine problems to vent or rant over.

Finally, remember that MOST reviews are positive. It’s hard for companies to leave multiple fake reviews! If you have any questions about a particular company then why not ask them to put you in touch with a previous customer or patient who can tell you about their experiences?

What are your thoughts on reviews? Do you read reviews of businesses you are planning on using? Leave your comments below!

 

Your Reputation Is and Always Has Been Your Biggest Competitive Advantage

Your Reputation Is and Always Has Been Your Biggest Competitive Advantage

Your Reputation Is and Always Has Been Your Biggest Competitive Advantage

Business ReputationReputation has always been important to any business. For many businesses, word of mouth and referrals from customers has been a big part of their growth strategy. Even companies with teams of salespeople and generous marketing budgets rely on their brand name and reputation to help seal their deals.

In the last few years thanks to the growth of the Internet and social media we’ve seen huge changes to how people interact with brands, and businesses that have struggled to adapt to the change of pace have seen their online reputation out of sync with their real world persona.

Businesses of every type who don’t take care of their online reputation are missing out on customers. This may sound like a bold statement, but it’s true.

Think about when you last wanted to buy something, or the last time you were looking for cinema listings or a restaurant. What about the last time you needed some information? The chances are you Googled it. Every time we need inspiration and turn to the internet what we’re really looking for is articles, videos, reviews or blogs to show us the answer, or let us know that what we’re interested in is approved or enjoyed by others too. Or the opposite!

The point is, that what we’re searching for is actually the human connection, because people want to connect with other people. We go online to share information and ideas, to find out on social media what our friends have been doing and to see what is liked, what is popular and what is newsworthy. We are connecting with other people, and brands that we like and are interested in.

This is where business reputation becomes even more important because increasingly, the businesses we are most likely to spend our money with are the ones we have the biggest emotional connection to.
When people are looking for opinions and recommendations whether it is for a Dentist, Lawyer or Cake Shop, the online opinion will be formed by the online content that is shared by your brand well before they get to the point of considering speaking to you in person.

And no matter what kind of business you have, increasingly, we’re using online content and social connections to help us with our buying decisions. Think about the three most used websites right now – Google, Facebook and YouTube. All of these sites are about Content and Connections. So if you want your business to stand out from the crowd you should make sure that you stand out where it matters online. One of the most obvious features that can set you apart from your competitors is Online Reviews.

If your business has had a great offline presence but has never focussed on its online presence, all it takes is one person to undo years of hard work by leaving a bad review and sharing it on social media. A bad review is someone telling the world that you don’t care about your customers and in a world where social connections are the new word of mouth, caring about what people say about you is your Strongest Competitive Advantage.

Please get in touch to find out how we can help you with bad reviews online

How to Get Maximum Impact From Customer Testimonials

How to Get Maximum Impact From Customer Testimonials

How to Get Maximum Impact From Customer Testimonials.

customer testimonialsNo business can function without customers, and the best customers are happy customers. As a business owner, or Account Manager there is often no better feeling than getting glowing, positive feedback from a customer or client, especially when that customer testimonial is written down and can be posted for all the world to see.

Why is it then that so many businesses who go to the trouble of collecting this valuable feedback from happy clients then just add it to a file and never let it see the light of day again?

Positive feedback from customers is one of the best assets that your business could have. It allows you to differentiate yourself from your competitors, it proves you do what you promise, and it shows potential new customers that others have tried and tested your process and are happy with the outcome.

Perhaps one of the most common uses of customer testimonials is to create a Testimonial page on your company website. Whilst this is great and it certainly means the reviews are in the public domain, it’s not a proactive use of your great asset, as it relies on people already being on your website in order to see them. Instead, go the extra mile and use the great reviews like a magnet to draw people into your business.

How?

Local business review sites such as Yell and Yelp are great for collecting reviews, not least because these sites rank well with search engines. Reviews that your business gathers on directory sites can be used to help strengthen your search engine position, particularly as Google + Local now collates information from many of these directories and displays them on your business’s Google + page. By encouraging happy customers to leave reviews you can also negate the impact of any negative reviews that have already been left there. Unfortunately, people are more likely to leave a negative review than a positive one, so if this has happened to your business then don’t bury your head in the sand. Encouraging positivity is one way to deal with this.

If you are asking a lot of customers to leave reviews (and you should be!) it’s a good idea to set up a specific page to capture their reviews. This way there is one clear place for customers to go and post, rather than giving them a choice of multiple review sites. It also saves your customers from having to take the extra step of signing up to the directory site as a member before their review can be accepted. We have our own site, www.reviewbigthinkingonline.com to collect reviews from clients. This means that we can direct all customers to one place and ensure we capture all reviews whether good or bad. Once you have reviews and permission to reproduce them you need to try and get them seen by the biggest audience possible.

If you already send out email updates or a regular newsletter you could add your new positive testimonials on to that.

Marketing Material such as brochures, posters and leaflets is great to put testimonials on. If you are at a trade show, or somewhere else where people might pick up your details for the first time a quote from a happy customer can be really eye catching. You could even put quotes on the back of your business cards.

Social Media is another area that you can use to spread the word about your happy customers. It could help you with creating a buzz around your brand, and the more people who see others talking about the great service they’ve had then the more likely they will be to get in touch themselves.

Using your testimonials to market our business can be very powerful, the possibilities are only limited by your creativity.

So whether it’s putting the positive reviews together in a video on YouTube, or having them printed on pens just don’t leave them on a forgotten page of your website, or even worse in a filing cabinet draw.

Do Customers Really Look at Online Reviews?

Do Customers Really Look at Online Reviews?

Do Customers Really Look at Online Reviews?

Your website might be a shrine to the great work that you have done for past and current customers. There may be a host of glowing testimonials from clients saying how great your product is, how fantastic the service is and how they would recommend your business to anyone. But what about when people are searching for unbiased reviews of your business on websites that don’t belong to you?

reputation management

According to a survey by Lightspeed Research, 61% of consumers have read a review online for a product or service. Reviews are the second most popular online research by clients behind price comparison. This could suggest that if price is similar between you and competitors, then the one thing that will sway a buying decision in your business’s favour are glowing testimonials on third party sites.

Of the vast number of consumers that search for reviews, 70% use search engines to find them. Think about the search terms that potential customers might be using to find reviews about your business:

  • Review of “business name”
  • Review of “product name”
  • “business name” review
  • “product name” review”

There are hundreds of sites online that provide a facility where past users can leave a review about your business, from well known directory sites such as YELL right the way through to niche specific websites that give consumers the power to air their feelings about your business. With the increasing number of these sites it can be increasingly difficult to monitor what is actually being said about your business.

Many businesses either don’t know that these review sites exist, or they know about them but do nothing to manage their online reputation, allowing negative reviews to damage their online presence. Between one and three bad reviews about your business will deter the majority (67%) of consumers from purchasing a particular product or service.

online reputation management

Two out of every three people who see a negative review about your business may in fact choose to find someone else to work with. That is a huge number. If you are concerned about conversion rates and cost per customer acquisition, and let’s be honest as a business owner who isn’t, then this could have a dramatic effect on both the number of leads your business gets and more importantly the number of conversions or new clients.

Not everybody is perfect.

At this point you may be thinking that you should hunt down all the negative reviews and look to get them removed from the internet. That in fact is the wrong thing to do, unless of course the review is simply defamatory. Take the opportunity to enhance your online reputation by responding to the reviews and offering to understand the customers concern in greater detail. This shows future prospective client that you care about the services you deliver and you want everyone to have a 5 star service. Getting all the negative reviews removed simply looks unnatural. Nobody is perfect and if prospective clients see twenty five star reviews and no negatives then they may start to think that some form of censorship is occurring.

What people say about your business is vitally important. Managing and monitoring what is being said about your business is one thing. Taking the time to dissect the reviews, both positive and negative, and making changes to the day to day operations and culture of the business can have a far greater effect on business growth.

2013 Is The Time to Make Your Local Marketing Digital!

2013 Is The Time to Make Your Local Marketing Digital!

2013 Is The Time to Make Your Local Marketing Digital!

A recent study commissioned by Balihoo of 384 brand marketing executives in North America has shown how national brands will be prioritising their local marketing in 2013 with Digital tactics playing an increasingly important role.

Balihoo’s survey results are in line with other industry research showing the growing importance of local marketing for national brands,” said Pete Gombert, Balihoo’s CEO. But why is this?

One answer could be that the emergence of tools such as Google + Local means that local customers are now more inclined to leave reviews, search for local alternatives and expect more from a business they intend to spend their money with.

The strength of the Internet and Social Media now means that Local Marketing has gone global. A customer with a national base, for example a law firm with sites in several different cities, has good reason to focus their marketing in each local area as customers from Manchester will want to know what other Manchester customers think, not necessarily what a customers in Bristol found. Likewise, a bad review in one area could damage a reputation nationally and businesses need to be aware of how to best manage this.

expected_2013_marketing_spend

With 91% of the businesses surveyed expecting to spend the same or more on local marketing in 2013 as they did in 2012, local reputation, localised blogs and mobile sites are only going to become more relevant.

In fact, the top three areas earmarked for additional spending in 2013 were

  • Mobile,
  • Local Blogs,
  • Online Customer Reviews.

use_of_local_digital_tactics

*Images via Balihoo Research Micro Study: National Brand Use of Digital in Local Marketing

Interestingly, these are also the only three areas where 2013 spend is predicted to be higher than 2012 spending.

So where does this heightened interest in Local Marketing leave the existing Digital Marketing spend? Perhaps only time will tell, but companies that expect to spend more on local marketing in 2013, are currently using less digital tactics than ones not planning to spend more, and two of the biggest spending drops predicted for 2013 are Facebook and other Social Media sites.

At the moment, it has been the businesses with the largest turnovers that have placed the highest importance on Digital Marketing, perhaps because they have the biggest budgets to invest in what has been seen as emerging technology. This may all be set to change, as less than 5% of businesses ranking Digital Marketing as “Pointless” or “Unimportant” to their National Marketing success.

One thing that is usually certain though, where big businesses spend successfully, smaller businesses are generally quick to follow so it seems that 2013 will be the year of Digital Local Marketing!

Do you think 2013 will be the year of Digital Local Marketing? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

Writing a Press Release that Makes a Bold Statement

Writing a Press Release that Makes a Bold Statement

Writing a Press Release that Makes a Bold Statement!

writing a press release

PR is all about getting positive, fact-based stories about your company, its brand, its products and its people appearing in the media. But it is also about fending off and managing negative stories and potential bad press. Online PR is now right at the centre of the marketing story because online reputation has never been so important.

Press releases are a great way to get your business both increased exposure online and to generate good one way links.

When writing a press release it is important to remember to:

Include a punchy title

Unless the headline is sexy and compelling in itself you will never attract readers, let alone get the reader to click on and read the entire press release.

Include contact details in case any further information is required

If you have presented the news in a way that sparks curiosity then give that reader every way to contact and get more information. Name, address, telephone, email. Make sure they are all included and more importantly make sure there will be someone on the other end to answer replies and build relationships.

Ensure you include targeted keywords

People read content, not search engines, so make sure that your keywords don’t detract from the message that you are trying to convey. Yes, include keywords in the title, in the body of the text and use the keywords you are trying to rank your website for as anchor text but don’t do this to the detriment of the copy. The priority when writing a press release is to make sure the copy is great and compels readers to get in touch.

Ensure it is newsworthy and if possible tie it into something current

When writing your press release, remember there are a lot of competing companies out there who want to get their company some free publicity too. Make sure that the news that you put out is worthy of getting to the top ahead of your competition’s.

Ensure it is free of typos and grammatical errors.

If you are sending your press release to an editor and it has not been checked, double checked and triple checked for typos and grammatical errors, the chances are it will not make the press. Editors can’t tolerate poor work, and neither should they have to. Give the editor the courtesy of making sure your press release is perfect.

Spin?

It’s nothing more than putting your best slant on what you have got. You are expected to dramatise things, of course, but don’t lie. And remember not to that say that something is “Amazing”, “the best in the country” or “spine chillingly great” unless other people already say so. Filling a press release with too many superlatives might alert the editor to your release being an advert more than a news item.

Never Assume

Press releases are a necessary evil, which more often than not get binned by journalists because they are boring or blatant pieces of selling. Never assume that a press release itself is good enough to be syndicated in the news.

Some ideas for newsworthy press release content;

  • New website or significant upgrade
  • New office opening
  • New Executives
  • Free consultations, trial offers and samples
  • Expert opinion on trending topic in your industry

Five final tips on writing a press release.

  1. Keep them brief and always support them with good material – photographs, research and contacts.
  2. Get them in the hands of the right person – better still, someone you know and are building relationships with.
  3. If possible make them exclusive – especially if it is an interesting story.
  4. See things from the journalists view point. They want to look good. Help them by providing them with something that is new, edgy, funny or interesting. Make it look as if it is for them and not for you.
  5. Local press want to fill their pages. Indulge this need by giving them great pictures and well written material. They will be grateful. A local slant is always helpful.

Ultimately, when it comes to writing a press release don’t be shy. If you have a great story to tell then tell it, print it, make it look important, publish (online, in print or both) and be proud, be praised and be prepared to attract more attention for your business.

How to Deal with Negative Online Business Reviews

How to Deal with Negative Online Business Reviews

How to Deal with Negative Online Business Reviews

negative online reviewsThanks to the success of sites such as Amazon, Ebay and Tripadvisor where consumers are encouraged to leave reviews of the experiences they received, more and more online platforms like Yelp, Google+ Local Business and Yell Local Business, have adopted the review process too. These reviews, whether you like it or not, mean more and more people have the opportunity to provide feedback, positive or negative, about your business letting others know exactly what they can expect before parting with their hard earned cash.

On the positive side, these review sites like Google+ Local can offer a helpful service to the general public and give small local businesses a chance to gain valuable word-of-mouth credibility that no ad money can buy. But this open platform also means any customer who was not 100% satisfied is provided with the means to slate your business, tarnishing yourreputation and ultimately affect sales.

The good news is that as a business owner you are not powerless to the wrath of unsatisfied customers. Actively monitoring and responding to any negative reviews before the problem has the opportunity to escalate can do wonders for the image of your business and leave future customers with a positive slant on what could have been a deal breaker for your business.

If you have received a review from a less than satisfied customer that is severely damaging your online reputation then follow these 5 steps that can correct and enhance your online reputation.

1) Regularly Review Your Profiles

At a minimum you should take a few minutes every week to review your online profiles. Sites like Google + local actually mine other sites and provide users with all your information in one place, sometimes from places you didn’t even know existed.

This exercise also acts as a great way to assess what people are saying about your business and identify any areas that could use some extra attention moving forward to improve the level of service the customer receives. Likewise you can take some time to see how your competition is fairing and if there is something that they are doing that is prompting a host of rave reviews then it might give you an idea as to your next marketing campaign.

Don’t wait for your friends or a loyal customer to let you know that somebody is slating your business online. Proactively monitor your online profiles and be the first to see it and the first to respond. Regularly interacting with users both positive and negative will show other people that you are genuinely interested and care about the service offered and received.

2) Assess the Nature of the Complaint

Some businesses dismiss negative reviews out of hand. Don’t. Take the time to assess each review and work back to see if there is any genuine reason that could have caused this issue to happen that could be rectified so that it does not happen again.

3) Respond directly to the complainant

If after assessing the complaint you realise there is something that you could do better, then respond to the complainant. Let them know you have the addressed the issue, say you are sorry and let them know what procedures you have put in place so the same experience does not happen again.

Go one step further give the person your personal number and say if there is anything your business can do moving forward then you would personally like to be the one to do that. The chances are the complainant will not respond but by extending the olive branch you are showing you are willing to go above and beyond to make a difference and that in fact the problem was more of a one off than a frequent occurrence.

4) Leave a Public Response

Once you have offered to rectify the situation personally, make it known to the wider public that you have addressed the issue and reached out the complainant to rectify the issue.

Your response is not to attack the reviewer it is merely to acknowledge the experience, thanking them for bringing the poor service to your attention, highlight what you have done to rectify the situation and demonstrating to everyone else that your business cares about customer service and its reputation and as such this will not happen again.

5) Try to Get More Reviews

Not everyone will be happy with your service and 100% positive feedback is almost unheard of. With this in mind, concentrate on getting as many positive reviews as possible. Rather than having 3 reviews, of which one is bad and two are good reviews, aim to get 10 or 20 positive reviews. That way when somebody experiences a service that is less than satisfactory, the bad review is diluted by all of the other positive reviews.

Put in place a system where your staff encourage customer feedback. Make it easy for the user to access a review site and leave a review, leverage QR codes, hand out review cards with a pen, ask patrons to sign on via their mobile phone leave a review and get a free Coffee or 10% off their next bill.

Whatever strategy you have in place to encourage and monitor reviews make sure that you follow through with it. Online reviews are becoming increasingly important. More and more people pay attention to what others have to say about a product and service before committing to a purchase and search engines are paying more and more attention to what is being said about your business when offering up niche related,local search results.

Build Your Brand Reputation and Blossom Online

Build Your Brand Reputation and Blossom Online

Build Your Brand Reputation And Blossom Online

brand reputationThe Internet and Social Media has meant that it is now much easier for people to build their own business brand reputation, spread their own messages and connect with a much wider audience. Your reputation has never been more important.

Whatever business area you are involved in I’m sure you can name someone who is a leading expert in that field. You may or may not know them personally, but their reputation precedes them. People follow them on social media, read their articles and wait with baited breath for a new opinion. You may find yourself disagreeing with some of the things they say, or you may think their every word is gospel and I’m sure you’ve wondered on how they managed to create such a successful brand reputation for themselves.

Similarly, for potential customers who know nothing of your niche, when they look for advice and information who is it that they find? That’s right, your competitor with the really strong online reputation will be the first one they find. Having a great reputation goes hand in hand with growing a successful business brand.

So How do You Grow a Successful Brand Reputation?

Successful people and successful businesses all had to start at the bottom. The playing field isn’t always level, some people will have access to better funding, skills, knowledge or even a better business idea in the first place, but even so a successful reputation and brand cannot be built overnight. It takes time, effort and persistence to be the best but it’s not impossible!

Whatever your field is, if you want to be known as the best, the steps you take to spread your reputation and grow your brand are fairly universal.

3 Things You Can do to Enhance Your Brand Reputation

1. Have a blog.

Blogs are fairly easy and cheap to set up and run.  A blog will give you an online presence that can be found by anyone, it also gives you a chance to air your opinions, thoughts, advice, information and skills. A blog is a great opportunity to advertise yourself and your business 24 hours a day, every day. It means people can contact you and ask questions whenever they need to. A blog is also your own platform, meaning that you can run it as you choose, and not according to the rules of someone else (as in the case of some social media platforms).

Setting up your first blog may be daunting, particularly if you’ve never written or published work before. Take it easy at first if you find it difficult, something like a “how to” guide or a “top 10” list might help you get in the flow. If you’re stuck for ideas try these 25 Blog ideas that will rock your readers world

2. Network

Networking both online and offline is very important in growing your reputation. People need to know you as the “go to” person, and they won’t know that unless they know who you are! Look for networking events in your local area, this will give you the opportunity to  meet other local business people who you can swap ideas with. Think about how you can work with people from different industries to create joint ventures that will boost both of your businesses.

Online networking on social sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Linked in can provide you with valuable contacts from all over the world. This can be particularly interesting as someone on the other side of the world who does the same business as you may not be a direct competitor in the way that someone from across town might be. You can learn what works for each other, and see if you can put it into practice yourself.

Let’s not forget business networking is also a great way to win customers! Treat everyone with the respect and courtesy they deserve, answer questions, face criticism fairly and remember that online, anyone can be watching, so even if you don’t directly speak to someone they might still know of you and remember the time you gave great advice to a friend of theirs, or a time that you didn’t….

3. Offer opinions & Give Advice

What better way to prove that you know your stuff than by sharing what you know? Generosity goes a long way, particularly in business. By offering help and advice to people for free you’re giving them a reason to remember you. If you’re know as someone who has helped in some small way, then when that same customer needs something more they’re more likely to come back to you.  Knowledge can be shared in so many ways, it doesn’t have to be you going out of your way to physically help someone (although if that’s what you prefer then go for it!). If you’re a plumber you could film a video showing people how to seal a bathtub, a lawyer could write a guide on easy ways to avoid fraud, or a recruitment firm could have a template for a perfect CV.

Think about organising a Webinar or help group for a number of customers. This way you can share tips and strategies, answer questions and take calls. This is a great way to really highlight your expertise while at the same time showcase your website, products, services and get feedback from multiple people at the same time.

Encouraging a solid brand reputation is about positioning yourself as an expert in your field. If you make a lot of noise but can’t back it up with real success stories people will quickly see you for what you are – a fraud. If you follow the advice above and represent yourself in an honest way then you’ll find that in time, you will be seen as an expert in your field, and people will start talking about you, thus attracting word of mouth marketing for your brand. After all who else know more than you about your own brand?