- Creative (and Free!) Ways to Grow Your Business By Alan Melton
- The Best Business Coaching Programs: Getting Referrals
- Selling: Ten Things to Know and Do Before Making a Proposal By Alan Melton
- Measure Twice – Cut Once: How a Carpenter taught me successful marketing!
- Your Customer is looking through a different Windshield than Yesterday
- Design A Bonus Program for Your Team
- Selling: The First Meeting with your Prospect By Jim Sullenger
- Selling: The Art of the Business Conversation By Jim Sullenger
- Make Your Business Networking Count!
- Creating a Sales and Marketing Plan
Reputation Marketing, Social Proof and Getting Testimonials
As a business coach I stay on top of current trends. One of the latest changes in today’s rapidly changing business arena is a term called “reputation marketing.” You may have searched online for a hotel or restaurant and found directories such as Orbitz or Yelp that provides a list of merchants and service providers along with ratings and comments from users. Consumers are increasingly using these sites to make buying decisions. These directories typically have a one to five-star rating, and they are multiplying like crazy. Furthermore disgruntled customers freely use these sites along with internet blogs and social media to vent and “get even” with employees of companies that have offended them.
Social proof, that is having others who endorse your service or product, is becoming more and more important. A few years ago Google acquired Zagat, a restaurant rating organization and has integrated Zagat into Google Maps and Google plus. Now they are rating local businesses. For now, Linkedin is one of the most important social media sites for business owners, business coaches and professionals to be listed and endorsed.
What all this boils down to is that we business owners are going to increasingly come under customer scrutiny. The way small businesses are rated may become more important than having a website or perhaps any other marketing method. Good or bad, customers will know how we rate with a simple internet search.
What are we to do about this cataclysmic change? Reputation marketing is what. We need to become great at getting great ratings. The good news is this is really pretty simple stuff if we are proactive with our clients. Below are some steps to looking great online:
- Deliver great service. I know I know; that’s a big duh! But the fact of the matter is we have to maintain great relationships with our clients. Under promise and over deliver.
- Begin to get client testimonials. The process is very simple:
- Grab a pen and notepad.
- Call up or visit your past and present clients.
- Catch up with how their life is going.
- Ask them for an appraisal of your service.
- As they describe your service, write down what they said. All you need is two to four sentences.
- Read back their statement to them, using their exact words.
- If their testimonial is favorable, ask them if your service is worthy of five stars.
- Thank them for their kind words.
- Tell them that you will send them an email with their testimonial to confirm that this looks acceptable to them.
- Once they have approved the testimonial, ask them if they would be willing to copy and paste the testimonial into the website/directory of their choosing.
- Ask to use their photo along with their testimonial.
- If you want endorsements on Linkedin, go to your profile link and click on “recommendations.” Send the request to your customer, asking them to copy and paste their testimonial into the provided field.
- If you want a testimonial placed on another review site, send a link to your customer of the URL in which your business is listed, requesting them to copy and paste the testimonial along with giving you a five star rating.
- Use these testimonials on your website, in your marketing materials, in company newsletters and in the stories you tell about your service.
- Accumulate many testimonials. These stories from your clients will sell you faster and give you more credibility than advertising could ever buy for you.
- If you become aware of an unhappy client, contact them immediately. Face to face is best, and telephone is the next best, next best would be email. Avoid online communications! Listen with complete calm and empathy to your client and do what it takes to win them over. Repeat back their complaints to make sure your client knows you have listened to them and understand them and ask their forgiveness.
- If you get a negative rating, don’t ignore it. Contact your client to rectify the situation. I recommend that you do whatever it takes to make them happy, even if it means a refund or free services. Respond online to the rating to show what you have done to rectify the situation. Finally, overwhelm the negative rating with lots of positive ratings by doing the steps above.
- Springboard into client referrals. The next most logical thing to do with your customer is to ask them “Who do you know that could benefit from my service?” You have in essence, trained your customer about how to sell you by developing the testimonial. Now they are ready to use it by calling their contacts and referring you.
In the past the saying in business was “Cash is King.” That certainly is still true, but your reputation may be even more important. A proverb tells us; “Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.” In the future this wise saying is certain to become a guiding light to successful business owners.