Do you long for the good, old days when there was no internet? Are you running a small or medium sized business enterprise? If the answers to both those questions are “Yes”, the chances are that you’ve been stung by a negative review posted about your business on review sites like Yelp.
The “good, old days” belonged to the corporate giants, who had too much muscle and capital that could enable them to dwarf most other business rivals. The arrival of the internet evened things up, in the marketing world. Where posters could fade away, advertizing jingles on the radio and television could be forgotten and print advertisements became stale with the passage of time, the internet showed up as a marketing billboard that never slept. Further, it ensured that your products and services could be seen across the globe. It worked for the giants of the corporate world; it also worked for small and midsize businesses.
Along with the internet came online shopping and then, online reviews. Surveys conducted by various internet marketing firms have established one fact beyond any shadow of doubt: people do search for reviews on products and services on the internet. Even worse, they do tend to go by other people’s experiences – whether good or bad – in making their decision.
The internet can never be switched off and it can never be erased either. A negative review posted years back, can well manifest the reality of the proverb “Old sins cast long shadows”. So, how can you ensure that your online reputation remains spotless and serves to bring the customers in?
- Monitor: Avail of Google Alerts so that you get to know what’s being said about your business online. Check Yelp regularly as well as other social media sites.
- Deal with the Negative: Negative reviews do not necessarily need to be bad. They give you an insight into the mind of your customer and what they want. When the gap between expectations and reality is not bridged, a negative experience (and review) is born. Analyze the negatives. See if solutions have been suggested or come up with ways to improve. Behind a negative review is a comforting thought too: “People are speaking about your business”. Why not convert them into positive customers?
- Appreciate the Positive: Use positive remarks made by your customers as testimonials on your marketing material. Engage with such customers and encourage them to post reviews of their experiences on other review sites as well. You’ve already won their appreciation; win them over completely by giving your loyal customers special offers etc.
Former US President, Abraham Lincoln, said: “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing”. In today’s world of online reviews and reputations, the shadow can well be your online reputation, even as the tree is what your business really is.