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Breaking Bad Reviews: How to Protect Your Small Business Online

 

It happens all the time: The hard-working crew at a small business loses customers thanks to the sour grapes of one person.

It could be a disgruntled employee, an angry customer or even a competitor, says V. Michael Santoro, coauthor with John S. Rizzo of Niche Dominance: Creating Order Out of Your Digital Marketing Chaos (www.NicheDominance.com).

“Anyone can post a bad review online and hurt your business,” says Santoro, who is a managing partner with Rizzo of Globe On-Demand, an internet technology company. “Unfortunately, most business owners are not even aware that these bad reviews are out there.”

Seventy-two percent of buyers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 70 percent trust consumer opinions posted online, according to a recent Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey.

“A bad review published in a newspaper, or broadcast on radio or TV, is short-lived, but a bad review posted online can live indefinitely,” says Rizzo. “With consumers now researching an average of 10 reviews before making a buying decision, and 70 percent trusting a business that has a minimum of six reviews posted, business owners need to be proactive in developing their online reputation. You need several positive reviews.”

Online searches have been streamlined, combining reviews with maps, pay-per-click advertising, local business directories and Facebook Fan pages, Santoro says.  As damaging as bad reviews can be, positive reviews can be equally constructive, he says.

Rizzo and Santoro offer an Internet marketing strategy called “reputation marketing,” described in the following steps:

• Develop a 5-Star Reputation: Begin by having your happy customers post great reviews about your business. Strive to have at least 10. Have each post to one of the following: Google Plus Local, Yelp, CitySearch, SuperPages, YP.com, your Facebook Fan page, etc. This needs to be a continuous process. Proactively ask your customers to post reviews.

• Market Your Reputation: Once reviews are posted, use a well-designed online marketing strategy to drive targeted traffic to your website. Ensure that your website can convert this traffic into customers. Additionally, showcase these third-party reviews on your website.

• Manage Your Reputation: Regularly check that the reviews being posted are positive. You can use Google Alerts for your business name; however, you will need to check the local directories, too, since they’re not picked up by Google Alerts. By building up the positive reviews, you can counter a poor one by sheer volume. You should also quickly post a reply to a negative review if they occur. Always be professional and indicate what action you have taken to remedy the situation.

• Create a Reputation Marketing Culture: Train your staff to proactively ask customers for reviews and to deal immediately with any customer who appears unhappy. A positive culture will encourage customers to post positive reviews about your business.

About John S. Rizzo & V. Michael Santoro

John S. Rizzo obtained his bachelor’s in business administration and spent three years as a consultant for Amazon.com’s publishing group. He has assisted several businesses with digital marketing strategy and has served in leadership positions for multiple initiatives for the Charleston, S.C.-Area Chamber of Commerce.

V. Michael Santoro has more than 10 years in the digital marketing field. His prior experience includes international senior marketing positions in technology fields. He has a master’s degree from Central Connecticut State University and an undergraduate degree from the University of New Haven. Santoro was an adjunct professor with the computer science department of Western Connecticut State University.

 

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Will All of You Writing Apps and Forming Social Group Pages Send Them all to me and THEN BE DONE!

My girls got me started on FaceBook after informing me that email was “so 90’s.” I never did get into the My____ thing, because I could never figure out what the heck the ____ was until they too were obsolete. Glad I didn’t invest any time there. After “friending” the entire family, the congregation of our church, half of Woodside High School and most of my kids friends, I was labeled as a lurch. Apparently overtly spying on your children’s activities by looking at the weekend beer-pong photos and tables filled with bongs is frowned upon in the current “hip” social circle. Too bad, I’m a parent – not their best buddy.

My first exposure to LinkedIn came from an ex girlfriend sending me an email that simply stated “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” That seemed simple enough. She was a colleague in a marketing role within a well known software company, so there seemed to be some value there. I’d never heard of LinkedIn but have been a relatively early adopter so I jumped on it. I signed up and promptly forgot that it even existed.

Having been around for a while (I actually remember key-punch cards, CP/M, Lotus 123, and DB5) I have seen lots of things come and go. My first desktop computer was an Apple II with a 2MB external drive – hot stuff back then. It was no earth shaking event to find a platform with a bit more professional atmosphere than the “well he was all.. oh my God, and she said…” banter that was FaceBook at the time.

I took a quick class on “social media” and came back stoked at the business implications of LinkedIn. I set a goal to acquire 100 professional contacts, and began emailing everyone I had ever worked with. The more I played with it, the more applications I found for connecting with associates, groups, chats, conversations, etc. It became kind of an obsession. I started teaching classes on the business/job search applications of LinkedIn and got even better at it. You know what they say: if you really want to learn something, teach it. I began broadening out with my associates at ProMatch and expanded the course work to include FaceBook and Twitter. I was asked to write for a social media blog with the State of California EDD, and taught a few additional adult education courses for the county. That was when the real fun began.

I took a Masters Certificate in Internet Marketing from USF and figured out how to integrate all this wonderful social media with websites to generate leads and attract business through the internet. I haven’t made a “cold call” since.

In the following years of helping my clients generate traffic to their sites, I developed a pretty good, tight little grouping of sites that I feel relevant. I use WordPress to create my blog/content, twitter to broadcast it, and my LinkedIn and FaceBook fan pages (FB is not just for High School students any more) as my portfolio sites. There are videos that need to be posted on YouTube, Slide Shows on Slide Share, we need to use Google alerts to monitor the feedback on our products and services, Yelp to express our opinions of others goods and services, and after a daily review of Search Engine Land and weekly webinar with the Internet Marketing Club, it is exhausting to keep up with it all.

Google + looks like it is going to be a “must have” in the professional quiver, and Stumble Upon, Digg and Redit, gain more attention by the day. Google + really looks like a good more intuitive knock off from FaceBook, except that adoption is still very sparse now and there really isn’t much on it.

Enough is Enough! Slow down and let me catch my breath. There are now 15 “share” icons below some of the articles I read, and more coming every day. To set up a social media suite there are 10 different sites, avatars’, and registers to complete profiles in to get a client started. I can consolidate all the proliferation through Postling, but for crying out loud! I spend 5-10 hours a week just keeping up with what I need to understand to help my clients, and the other 40 doing the work. I need a maid!

 

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Four Content Marketing Ideas for Business Blogs

Blogs are one of the most effective marketing platforms available for local businesses. Among the many tactics found in a local business’s arsenal of marketing strategies, blogs are unique because they allow businesses and consumers to interact with each other. The only problem with maintaining a blog is that it can be difficult to keep your content fresh and new. This dilemma is something which almost every company can relate with. Fortunately, there are a number of tried-and-tested solutions to this problem.

1. Oreo Cookie News Posts

With the help of Google Alerts, you can track articles and blog posts which contain keywords that are relevant to your niche. You can get hold of the newest and freshest articles without having to scour the entire Internet for them. What you can do is to create an introduction for a specific article and then include an excerpt of that article in your blog post. Finish your write-up with a conclusion or your personal take on the issue. Remember to cite your source to avoid plagiarism.

2. Interview Influential Individuals

Your article or blog post becomes ten times more credible and legitimate if you have an industry influential as source. But what do we really mean by influential individuals? You can pick out people who are “internet famous” as well as those who aren’t as popular but are regarded as experts. There are some individuals who are not exactly cooperative. For this reason, you might want to consider asking ten influential people one simple question. When these individuals find out who else are included in your list, it can motivate them to participate. Simply compile these answers and you’ll have your original content.

3. Crowdsource Content.

With the help of the Internet, consumers have become a lot more participative. In fact, you can get your consumers to come up with your blog’s content for you. Come up with a survey or a poll. Better yet, you can hold a contest. Gifts and special prizes can motivate your readers to join your contest. In order to join the contest, your readers must submit an entry which you can later use as blog content. This can be just about anything from videos to short articles. If your contest works out extremely well, then you can come up with similar promotions more frequently.

4. Short Lists

There’s something with short lists that can tickle anyone’s curiosity and interest. To get your readers to check out your blog religiously, you cannot afford to just give out a generic and boring list. Pack your short list with solid facts and meaty answers to keep your readers going back for more.

Your author Chris likes to write about local search engine marketing and provides local seo marketing to small businesses.

 

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