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Can I Yelp You?

In today’s world, companies can no longer rely strictly on their advertising messages to drive home the benefits of their product or service. Well shot TV commercials, celebrity voiced radio ads or perfectly framed photo shoots are great for attracting potential customers but complete reliance on these traditional forms of advertising is a mistake.

More often than not, today’s consumers are doing their homework before reaching for their credit card. A quick check of Yelp or Google can decide where you go to eat for dinner and whether you have tacos or tuna salad. These all encompassing review sites grew to be wildly popular so sites with more specificity were soon to follow.

Ad space on these sites tends to blur the lines between review and promote… but make no mistake, consumers know the difference. For the first time in the history of marketing, consumers have a legitimate and audible voice.

As a business owner, you are now faced the need to manage the conversation. This is a critical component to a well balanced marketing strategy. Remember, people who complain are much more likely to post their displeasure than people who are satisfied. It’s best to be diligent in your efforts.

Here are a few simple tips to help your business in this exciting new world we market in:

1. Be proactive. Encourage and incent your customers to talk about you. There are many ways to promote positive conversations about your company.

2. Be prompt. Positive words should get a response and a ‘thank you’; negative ones need immediate attention and reconciliation. Remember, written excuses are just as bad as spoken ones.

3. Win the war, not the battle. Positive customer reviews will over-shadow the few people who are never happy about anything. Work to keep your positive to negative ratios in the 90% range.

4. Use your traditional advertising to support your social initiatives and to drive consumers to your online reviews.

5. Train your employees. It’s a new world out there. Consumers have a voice; let’s make sure that all of your customer contact points understand how important customer service is.

In my opinion review sites are second only to spoken testimonials as far as consumer influence is concerned. A well run marketing plan puts forth the right types of influential messages and backs up the position by making sure that customers are exposed to positive conversations about their goods or services.

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