The Benefits of Having Fans Online
One of the problems with being a small business is that there just isn’t a lot of money for marketing and/or advertising, and even less money (if any) for branding. Most small companies can only afford to do marketing or advertising that has an immediate payback in contacts by prospective or current customers, which then results in some increased sales.
One great way to work around this problem is to harness the power of the internet and leverage the affection your customers have for you in tandem, by encouraging your clients to write reviews of your company and its products on Yahoo, Angie’s List, Yelp, Google, etc.
Now I’m certain some of you have a Facebook page, and therefore you are saying to yourself, “We’ve got a lot of likes. That’s just as good, right?”
No, it really isn’t. First, let me point out that a lot of people don’t use Facebook. Second, even the ones that do, what is the value of a “like”? I think we can safely assume that whatever it is, it doesn’t equal the value of a written testimonial by one of your customers.
Third, leaving Facebook behind, everyone that does a search online is using the internet, and the internet search engines give prominence to third-party reviews, thereby upping the odds considerably that the searcher (your potential new customer) is going to see a link to the review of your business, no matter where the review is posted.
One of the other advantages of having reviews online is that those reviews just stay there forever (branding, anyone?). And, because of the way human psychology works, having a few reviews online begets more reviews – people read a review and then want to add their opinion to the mix.
Customer testimonials as to how wonderful your business is, and how great the employees are, and how nice your restaurant or orthodontics office or carpet store is, well, those are powerful to people that are looking for some kind of way to pick a firm to do business with when they’re doing online searches.
Last, but hardly least, these reviews work all day and all night for your company at a cost of approximately zero.
Okay, so how do you encourage your customers to write an online review?
You can always ask them in person, of course. You can put a link on your website that goes directly to the page where they can post a review. You can send out a mass email to your customer list, and include the links to Google, Yahoo, Angie’s List, Yelp, etc. in that email, along with a nice message about why you want positive reviews for your business. You can have all your employees (including yourself) put the link in the signature tag on their emails, and that will look something like this:
“We use reviews on Yahoo Local to track our progress in providing our valued clients a great product and excellent customer service. If this describes your opinion of us, please visit our company page on Yahoo, click on the “Write a review” button, and tell us how we’re doing. If you are not happy with our product or service, please contact me immediately, so we can work to resolve the issue right away.”
“We use Angie’s List to assess whether we’re doing a good job keeping valued customers like you happy. Please visit AngiesList.com/Review/2280375 in order to grade our quality of work and customer service. If you are not happy with us, please contact me immediately.”
You get the idea, and the process is the same for Yelp or Google or any other place that collects reviews.
That’s the advice for today. And by the way, the links in the examples above are live links, and will take you to a page where you can write a review about Sareen and Associates if you have a moment. We’d appreciate it.