If you’ve been following the blog for awhile, then you know we’ve been talking to some of our favorite marketing experts about the ways they use and read reviews.
Here are some of the previous installments:
You also know, if you’ve been following along for awhile, that you can influence the things that reviewers say about you if you take the right steps while crafting your review strategy.
To do this effectively, you have to know what makes a business really stand out in the consumer’s eye. Thus, our final question for our experts:
“Share a time you saw something in a review that made you think: I really need to check out this business!”
Their answers will tell you how to craft a review strategy that helps you stand out in an ecosystem that’s getting increasingly noisy (just like nearly every other marketing channel out there).
Specific details in an online review are powerful!
“I find myself in this scenario most often when traveling. You’re always looking for something you need in a town you don’t know when you’re on the road. When a review lets me know that some business is a good bet for a particular need, that’s truly helpful. For example, on a trip to the Sierras, reviews helped my family understand which little store had an organic bulk section (hard to come by in that region). It would be great to see more reviewers think of travelers and newcomers when they write reviews, to act as guides to people who don’t know the area and may not know how to find what they need.”
How to make it happen:
When you ask for reviews, mention the travelers and newcomers! Say something like: “X # of people pass through town/move into town every day. Would you consider leaving them a little information about my business?”
You can get this information from the tourism board or Chamber of Commerce. Which do you choose? It depends. If you’re in or near a tourist destination, or on a major trucking route, you might pick the former. If you’re in one of America’s “best cities to live in” or have a hopping job market, you might pick the latter.
Not sure? Just say something like, “Would you mind leaving a comment on your favorite review site that helps newcomers and travelers understand what we’re all about?”
I’ve seen this in action by the way.
This year, I moved from Louisiana to the PNW. This meant passing through a no-name town in Wyoming and staying at a local hotel. In the little binder full of local info that local motels everywhere leave in rooms, they had a big green sheet of paper with language very similar to what I just wrote out for you.
Here’s the result:
I wrote this review at 4 AM, before I even got on the road for the final 14 hour drive of my long cross-country trek. The fact that the reminder was right there played a huge role. So did being impressed by the place, but without that reminder I probably wouldn’t have been compelled to do so.
While chatting with me (chatting with me!) the owner also asked me to do the same, personally. I can’t remember her name, but I remember her face, her Avengers shirt, her friendly demeanor, and the fact that she asked me, straight up, to share my feedback while I was still checking in.
If I had thought about it, there were a few other places in Buffalo, Wyoming that I should have reviewed: namely the local Mexican restaurant next door to my location (it was god-awful) and the small store whose name I have now forgotten, where I stocked up on supplies (it was a solid 4-star option turned 5-star option by a host of friendly folks).
Thing is, I was only in the mindset of thinking about the hotel. Had any of these other places asked me, I would have expanded my view of what travelers needed to know about. Which probably wouldn’t have been a boon in the case of the Mexican restaurant…but “don’t suck” is kind of a prerequisite of a good review strategy anyway.
Walk Like a Person, Talk Like a Person
“Some of the reviews at Levinson and Stefani Injury Lawyers really stand out to me (full disclosure, I serve as Of Counsel to their firm). Here’s a recent example:
‘My family and I live outside of St. Louis. During a difficult time, my family and I needed the best attorney possible for our case. Through a lot of phone calls to other attorneys, we have found the best attorney for our case. Ken had taken the time and worked with us. He even traveled to us and got to know my family and I on a personal level, not just an attorney/client level. Ken truly cares. Even after our case is over, Ken does check to see if our family is doing well. I am very blessed to have found him and his firm as our attorney and as a friend.’
The personal connection is part of what really helps their firm stand out.”
How to make it happen:
We’ve kind of all been brainwashed into thinking professional=brisk, cool, standoffish. That showing a personality is…kind of dangerous, really.
In fact, this cultural perception has found its way into our bedrock, to the point where doing it a different way feels a little…weird. Uncomfortable.
Still, if you can find a way to take a genuine interest in your customers or clients, you’ll come out ahead.
You’re not just serving customers, you’re making friends.
Treat people like your friends, and it’s all but certain that the fact that you’re going above and beyond in this fashion is going to make it into your reviews.
Note that you don’t have to be overly effusive to make this work.
It’s okay to be who you are. In fact, it’s better, and not just for the purposes of scoring great reviews. Forget reviews for a second: let’s talk about scoring (and keeping) clients and customers.
I’m a deadpan snarker at the best of times, and can be open and honest to a fault. Nevertheless, I’ve found that every single time, and I mean every single time I have allowed myself to be a blunt deadpan snarker with my clients, they seem to like, trust, and respect me like 200% more.
People can just tell when you’re genuine. Granted, I’ve met maybe 5% of my clients face to face, but I’ve still found being a person (even the socially awkward, anxious, dorky deadpan snarker with ASD who I happen to genuinely be) has served me well every time.
If being who you are can serve me well, I bet you, who statistically probably has way better social skills, can knock this right out of the park.
Meanwhile, every single time I get all insecure and try to go all Madame Professional on people, I tend to lose business to other consultants. Every. Single. Time.
Everyone hates to hear “be yourself” advice, but…seems like it works.
Almost everyone who knows who this guy is loves this guy. It can work for you too.
Become the Top Spot
How to make it happen:
Obviously there’s no direct way to make people start mentioning OMG this is my top spot in town in your reviews.
You’re going to have to go indirect. You’re going to have to dig a little deeper.
You’re going to have to create…a talk trigger.
There’s no way I’ll give better advice on this than the literal writers of the book. I’ll just encourage you to head here, to check out what Jay Baer had to say about them, and here, to check out what Daniel Lemin had to say.
Then, pick up a copy of the book and start doing some brainstorming.
Go Above and Beyond
“I like to see reviews that talk about the business going beyond the call of duty. We try to do a bit of that at my agency, Bowler Hat. We often get small business owners who are in trouble and it’s something we can fix relatively easy, so we will often do so. So, any business that goes beyond the call of duty to help people, well, I am a sucker for that, so they will get my business.”
How to make it happen:
Let’s assume you’re already a super cool person who will also go above and beyond the call of duty.
Let’s also assume you’re not a 1-person shop, because if you are, great, there’s nothing more for me to fix here. If you’ve got employees, what are you overlooking?
If you’re like most businesses, you’re probably not giving your employees enough power to go above and beyond. You might even be pushing policies which punish them for doing so without realizing that’s what you’re doing.
A few years before Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon made cord cutters out of nearly all of us, I worked for an inbound call center where we were supposed to sell satellite TV. We were graded on a whole bunch of metrics, one of which was call time. The “ideal” call was supposed to last 15 to 20 minutes.
I got a call that was not a sales call. It was a customer service call. It was a real mess. I ended up in a 3-way call between this customer and Direct TV, which we only sold as a third party, to try to get the caller’s problem resolved. Good news, we did it.
Bad news, I got chewed out and written up for having a call that not only lasted 45 minutes, but which did not result in a sale. Apparently the fact that I made $0.00 on my commission-only job for ¾ of an hour of time wasn’t punishment enough. Pointing out that the lady who got the help might well tell people about our company after that didn’t help matters.
As a result, being a young single parent who had a six year-old to support, I really had to think twice and thrice before doing anything like that ever again. I’m sorry to say that I ended up passing the buck when I got the next, similar, call. I had groceries to buy and couldn’t afford to get fired.
Look for places where you (or your managers) may be implementing similarly short-sighted policies, and correct the problem.
Inspire People to Say More
“To be honest, I have yet to come across a review that has inspired me to visit a business. With the gamification of reviews, there is often a slew of quick-fire “it was great” reviews that don’t inspire any action for me. Perhaps I am jaded after years in the review trenches.”
How to make it happen:
It’s probably not just the review trenches that make Tim a little “meh” about “It was great” reviews.
We probably all know it takes nothing at all for a fake reviewer to put out something non-specific like that. Besides, this type of review tells us precisely nothing about whether this business will meet our needs.
This is where you go back and tweak your ask with specific details you’d like them to mention.
There’s no right way to say it unless you’re running counter to your brand (the last one’s great for some sort of really weird tourist attraction, not so great for a law office), but you need to say it. Otherwise you’re going to get a whole lot of 5-star reviews that just say, “Cool place, bro,” or, worse, nothing at all.
Talk Less, Listen More
“I’m interested any time a reviewer explains how a business owner took the time to understand his or her needs and situation before recommending a specific service or product. Of course, that’s not applicable to restaurants and the like, but it’s particularly applicable to most doctors, lawyers, contractors, and others in service industries (which is also where reviews tend to matter most). A “measure twice, cut once” quality makes me less hesitant to get in touch, and more likely to do it sooner. That’s because I have more faith the business won’t waste my time, or accept my money for crap they know I don’t need.”
How to make it happen...
Self-explanatory! It’s not part of your review strategy so much as it’s part of a solid sales and customer service strategy. Still, it’s all connected, and you need to stay conscious of that.
Photos, Photos, Photos!
“It’s an obvious one – but I use reviews to help me find good places for food and drink when I am travelling and checking out new villages, towns and cities. I love fresh, wholesome food with the emphasis on provenance – also I bloody love cakes, & strong coffee. To that end, when I was away last week looking for a breakfast spot I came across these reviews for an organic, sourdough bakery in Dublin.OMG get in my tummy! Suffice to say I made the half hour walk from my apartment and spent the best part of 2 hours there – 2 flat whites, a plate of sourdough and wilted greens, a pain au chocolate and a cardamon pastry later I rolled out of the doors to explore Dublin!
How to make it happen:
If you’ve got a product that really shouts amazingness, then you’ve got to find a way to use it! A simple prompt to take a photo and share it in the review can go a long way. Google makes it easy to include your customer’s photos, but many times, they just aren’t aware of the possibility.
If you strike up a conversation at the point of sale, just mention it in the conversation and your Google My Business listing will instantly become a visually enticing marketing tool.
Which reviews make you sit up and take notice?
Didn’t see the review type that would really make you go out of your way to see what a business had to offer?
Let us know in the comments below, or give us a shout-out on social. We’d love to hear from you!