In Part 1 of Reputation Matters, we discussed how more and more consumers are checking and counting on online comments and reviews of local businesses before deciding who to use. It’s a growing trend. It’s also a huge reason why companies need to be pro-active in monitoring, managing and marketing their reputation.

To understand the perspective of their potential customers, a Kansas business owner needs only to ask him or herself, “Would you buy products or services from a company with bad reviews and ratings?”

Of course, he or she would be hesitant!

What types of reputations are there and what impact does it have on a business?

Well, reputation can be broken down to “bad”, “good” or “none” at all. Obviously, we know that is a negative thing to have a bad reputation and something needs to be done about that fast. But “no reputation” is just about the same as having a bad reputation, because it doesn’t get the phone ringing. If a business had hundreds or even thousands of customers last year, yet only a few, if any, wrote a review, you might wonder why the lack of feedback. In addition, a company would NOT stand out, or even look credible.

Then there’s a “good” reputation, which simply means some good reviews and maybe some not so good reviews, but it’s more good than bad. If a business had multiple good reviews but had one bad, especially if it’s recent, versus another company, with all 5 star feedback, which would you choose? Having a good review is not enough if a business wants to get the phone ringing.

The goal of any Wichita business should be to create a 5 Star reputation, positioning itself as a leader in its industry to that vast majority of consumers, who in large numbers are going online to do research before buying goods and services.

Here are 5 Tips to a 5 Star Reputation:

  • KNOW WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING. Monitor what is being “said” and written about your business online. (You can find out what’s being said right now with this tool). There are many services that can do this at wide range of price points, so you may want to shop around. There are some free options for monitoring, like setting up a Google Alert for the business name. If there are negative comments, address them as you as possible and see if you can adopt the feedback can make your business better. Many times a bad review can turn into a positive one by how you handle the situation. bigstock-Gold-stars-five-golden-star-se-39703408
  • EMPOWERING CUSTOMERS TO GIVE & COLLECT FEEDBACK. Encouraging consumers to provide reviews and comments. Feedback can be requested through postcards, business cards, emails and even hand written notes. Having a system to ask your customers and following up with them to request their thoughts about their experience with your business is key.
  • ENCOURAGE & EDUCATE CUSTOMERS.  Review sites have algorithms and filters that delete reviews that are posted from the same computer, so an owner posted review is a BIG NO, NO. But, educating consumers on to how leave their reviews is essential in a strong reputation marketing campaign. If you need more information, just let me know.
  • DISTRIBUTE & BROADCAST 5 STAR REVIEWS. Take reviews and post on your company website and social media assets (like Facebook, Twitter, and more). Include positive feedback in other business marketing efforts and advertising, including email, print ads, and sales support materials and flyers
  • CREATE A REPUTATION MARKETING CULTURE IN YOUR BUSINESS. Everybody needs to understand why reputation is important and be inspired to play role in the success of the business. Think of it as “The WAY you treated your customer yesterday is the reason you’ll get a new customer today”

As mentioned in my previous post, consumer opinions posted online are highly trusted, by 73% of consumers, ranking higher than traditional advertising like newspaper, TV and radio. And heading into 2014 and beyond, reviews are going to grow even more their potential impact on Kansas businesses, making it essential that every local company have a reputation strategy in place as part of their overall marketing plan.

Clark Schafer is Chief Marketing Strategist and Consultant at Strategic QB and works with local businesses to map out winning game plans surrounding reputation, video, social and local promotion.  You can connect with him at Clark@StrategicQB.com.

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