The new “dinner party”

In the 1970s, my parents’ friends gathered each weekend to catch up about life, their kids, and what plumber they were using. 

Today, that same “dinner party” occurs on Google reviews, Facebook, and other online review sites. And while the people aren’t friends in real life, the collective wisdom gives people enough confidence to call the plumber that’s getting lots of thumbs up.

It’s super-important that someone in your business is in charge of managing the online review process.

First things first:

Most importantly, spend time making sure your business is consistently creating happy customers.

If customers aren’t consistently happy, spend your time fixing your business. Full stop. 

Good service = the best marketing because it will generate repeat and word-of-mouth business. And you also won’t have to find new customers to constantly replace your unhappy ones.

Once you’ve got happy customers, put someone in charge of online reviews:

I use 5 Star Business because it makes it easier for my customers to leave a review. Since the software on 5 Star Business “senses” what platform a customer is already signed into, there’s less chance of a customer abandoning the process because they forgot their Facebook password.

Any way you do it, reach out to all of your customers and ask them if they’ll do you a favor and post an online review.

Once you get a review, respond to it

If you go here you can see my exact responses to Google reviews, but here’s my response “structure:”

  1. Express “joy and appreciation” for good reviews, “This review made my day!”
  2. Express “concern and appreciation” for the feedback on bad reviews, “This is so helpful for me so I will address it with my whole company at the next Team Meeting…”
  3. Point out something specific about their experience with your company: “I saw photos of the mahogany deck that Jay stained, it looks fabulous.”
  4. Mention the person at the company that made them happy – this shows that I’m not an absentee owner.

Why generate online reviews?

  • Your competition is already generating reviews, and it’ll be hard to “catch up” to a competitor with tons in a few years.
  • At some point, someone is going to leave a bad review online. This is normal and expected. Having lots of good online reviews and great responses to reviews helps to “water down” the occasional bad review. 

Be patient!

I aim to generate just two online reviews a month.  Please re-read that sentence and set your expectations low. This is not a sprint, but a marathon.

Understand, it’s much better to consistently get reviews than to get them in fits and starts.

Don’t:

Gather at the holidays and get your relatives to post tons of reviews in one week. Not only are fake reviews against the rules, putting tons of reviews up at one time is a signal that they’re fake. 

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, leave them in the comments.

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Bonus for my CertaPro readers – I paid to digitized CertaPro Logos at Lands’ End for your staff clothing and gifts!

“I’m not getting social media leads.”

This is the first post in my series, “Is my small business normal?”

As you may know, I own a house painting company in the Boston area, and I post to 4 social media accounts each day.


A friend of mine saw me post so often on Social Media for my painting company that she assumed I was getting tons of direct, measurable painting leads from the posts. She said she was even thinking of hiring a marketing associate whose sole responsibility would be to post on Social Media for her business.


I assured her this would not be a good use of her finite marketing dollars.


You see, I get almost NO direct business from social media posts. For me, posting on social is 99% for “awareness” and not as a natural lead source.


This is worth repeating – in my case, posting 4x a day on Social Media does not bring in any measurable amount of painting business. I consider Social Media as a way for prospects to become aware of my painting company’s brand, in case they need a painter in the future.


This way, if someone gets my direct mail, sees a Google Pay-Per-Click ad, or sees one of my lawn signs, they might think to themselves, “That logo is familiar to me,” in a way that your neighbor’s face might be familiar.


If the internet is a highway, then my Facebook and LinkedIn posts are billboards.


Like driving down a regular highway, there is customer awareness a brand can capture by having an outdoor billboard. And while you probably wouldn’t pull your car over to buy an iPhone or life insurance from the billboard right then and there, the advertiser is hoping the billboard makes enough of an impression on you that you remember their brand when it is time to buy.


Since I’ve already maximized my marketing budget in other lead-generating ways like direct mail, pay-per-click, and SEO, using social media to give another brand impression of my company works for me as part of a larger strategy. Remember, it takes a person seven times to see your message before they take action – Social Media, for me, is just one of those times.


A tenet of my blog is to explain what’s “normal” so you’re not comparing yourself to some unrealistic metric.


So, if you’re posting on Social and not getting any quantifiable leads, you’re not doing anything wrong.


I publish small business ideas weekly. To receive future posts by email, subscribe here.

Popular posts:

SEO for Rookies

Can invoicing your customers be a marketing opportunity? I think so!

How does your small business serve your life?

So darn hard.

In the mid-2000s, car dealers often asked, “have I done everything to make this a 5-star experience?” I always felt put on the spot, and I hardly ever answered truthfully.

Assuming we only have a handful of genuinely 5-star experiences in our lives, getting my oil changed hardly felt like one of them.
As a small business owner, I never want to game the system and get flattering ratings without merit. I consider it my only job to identify the messy truth about the goings-on in my business and fix them, and so that’s what I’m going to share here in this blog.

I’ll do my best to get quite granular and not sugar-coat the truth for you, so you’ll understand why running a small business is so darn hard most days.

Job security.

When a dreadful project that nobody will touch comes across your desk, snatch it right up.

Dig in deep, untangle the knots and understand every nuance.

Become the person that does this time and time again.

And in no time you’ll be indispensable.

 

 

Better than before.

The book Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin is life-changing.  After all, that’s all we can ever hope for – to be better than we were yesterday.

This week I struggled for hours with a nonsensical technology problem (I couldn’t get Microsoft Word to download onto my new PC!).

Now that I’ve fixed the problem, I can leverage my newly acquired information throughout my small business, so nobody else wastes their time on the same issue.

What if we looked at all problems as a way to bypass a future struggle?   A way to  become “better than before?”

Stated in this positive way, problems, mistakes, and issues would likely become a more welcome part of our days.