When I’m not in the office, you can find me out and about running through town. Running is my passion. I ran competitively in college and loved every second of it. However, I had an awful habit of getting hurt and ending my season early. These injuries were a result of me jumping into races too soon without proper preparation, leaving me to sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else compete. My teammates, my opponents, everyone around me found tremendous success on the same track where I knew I belonged. Why am I telling you this? Simple, I don’t want you and your business to experience what I did by not building a strong foundation early on.
Here at Suite 4, we have come up with a baseline to marketing. These are the two most basic marketing practices all businesses need to address to achieve success.
1. Local Listings
In an earlier blog, Chase, Suite 4’s Digital Marketing & Analytics Manager, discussed local listings and why your business’s information needs to be consistent and accessible across multiple listing sites. For anyone who hasn’t read his blog, however, allow me to explain the basics of a local listing site. A local listing site is a website that serves as a business directory for people looking for specific products or services. In short, they are the websites like Google, Yelp or Bing that put your business’s information right in front of the consumer.
With the ability to showcase your products and services to millions of consumers every single day, local listings are a powerful tool for any business. Be vigilant, though. If your business’s page on a local listing site hasn’t been claimed by you, you’re opening the door to let anyone edit your information. Just like that, your business located in rural Oregon could have a Wisconsin address and a phone number missing two digits. With incorrect information, how do you expect any potential customer to pick up the phone and call you?
Local listings need to be continually monitored, updated and reviewed in order to give your future customers the most accurate information. This powerful tool is only half of the equation, though. To truly get your business to the starting line, you need to establish a good reputation for your business with high quality reviews.
2. Online Reviews
In the eyes of today’s consumers, the most reliable and useful information is word of mouth. Consumers don’t want to feel pressured by a forceful salesperson when they’re simply trying to acquire information about a product or service. In fact, consumers feel so passionately about high quality reviews that, according to a study by the Harvard Business School, an increase from 3.5 stars to 4.5 stars equates to a 5-9% gain in revenue.
Do I have your attention yet?
Reviews are important, which is why we encourage every business to develop a system that will drive customers to leave a review. Post these reviews to your website, your social media pages and every local listing site possible (those pesky local listing sites again, am I right?). Getting those reviews immediately boosts the credibility of your website and business as a whole. Think about the last time you chose the business with no reviews over the one with five star reviews. Can’t remember? That’s probably because you never have.
I know what you’re thinking, “What if I get a one star review? Won’t that hurt my chances of customers choosing me?” Not necessarily, a negative review offers you an opportunity to respond and show how you handle a negative situation. This can potentially sway not only the disgruntled customer but also any future customers who see your response. You will never be able to please 100% of people 100% of the time. Everyone knows that. How you respond to negative customers though can actually increase your credibility if you handle the situation fairly and professionally. This is what makes or breaks your reviews section.
Always be sure to comment on posts as necessary, thanking a customer for a great review and apologizing or responding appropriately to those that have a negative experience. Attempt to answer their complaints in a professional way, and, if that’s not possible, encourage the disgruntled customer to contact you (the owner or manager) personally. That way, you can discuss the matter in more detail. Often times, a call is the best way to resolve a conflict, as it stops both parties from posting negative or private information online for all to see and possibly interpret out of context. Always remember that you are the professional and should portray yourself as such.
Off To The Races:
You see? These are two easy steps that will build your marketing foundation and give your business the platform it needs to succeed. Obviously these practices will only get you to the starting line, but you still have the whole race to go! Get your business on the track to success with smart advertising, content and promotions because those are what will propel you to the finish line.
Whew, I know that was a lot of information! Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t know where to start. If you need any help or direction, contact us today! We’ll answer any questions and show you how your business looks across 60+ local listing sites. Every success story has a starting line. Let us help you get off to the races!