Most local business owners know that positive online reviews are good for business, but many aren’t aware of just how much of an impact they have. Some think just because they serve a local customer base that what people are saying on the web is irrelevant.
The truth is that the online reviews on sites like Yelp and Facebook can mean the difference between making a sale or losing one. Today’s consumers increasingly rely on reviews to make decisions about the products and services they purchase.
In the last ten years, significant shifts have occurred in the way consumers seek out and use customer reviews when searching for and selecting a local business. They are becoming more review-savvy, preferring businesses that receive lots of high-scoring reviews.
But how exactly are consumers using local search services and online review sites to find and evaluate businesses?
• 68% of consumers wrote a local business review when asked
• 67% of consumers say that at least half of their searches result in a visit to a local business
• 63% of consumers trust businesses with overall ratings of 4 or 4.5 stars (out of 5)
• 32% of consumers read local reviews on mobile apps in 2017 (up 14% from 2016)
Why Reviews Are Important
Getting reviews of your business is a great way to demonstrate proof that your company does what it says it does and that your customers are happy and willing to share their experiences.
With all the scams out there these days, people want to be reassured when they’re searching for products and services online that your business is legit. They’re looking for a reason to choose you over the competition, so you need to give them one.
How To Get Reviews
The key to getting reviews is to be proactive and to make it easy for customers to review you.
• Create a template email to ask for reviews.
• Use a tool like Grade.us (not free) or GetFiveStars (also not free). These programs allow you to set up a review page for your customers to visit.
• Add links to your Houzz, Google My Business and Yelp pages on your website to make it easy for people to find you on those sites and leave a review.
• Put a link leading to a review site in your email signature, business cards, and invoices.
• Write reviews to get reviews. Give reviews to companies within your referral partner networks because what helps them will, in turn, help you. Google and Linkedin are great places for getting reciprocal reviews.
Where to Build Your On-line Review Presence
You need positive reviews to boost your local SEO efforts. SEO dictates which businesses your customers see first when they search online for a specific product or service. In addition, Google takes reviews into consideration as one of the things that determines which businesses show up in the Local 3-pack.
For the biggest impact, reviews on Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp are a must.
Google My Business requires at least five reviews before they will display your review stars in local search results. As can be seen in the graphic below, Houzz and Home Advisor reviews get shown in the Knowledge Panel.
Local industry-specific review sites, like HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, BBB, etc., are also great places for your reviews to get seen.
Manage Your Reputation
1. Never write, buy, or encourage fake reviews. With all the talk of “fake news” and “post-truth” these days, people are increasingly skeptical. If you’re caught with fake reviews, the damage to your business may be irreparable. Nobody likes a liar.
2. Best practices say you should respond to everyone who reviews you. For positive comments, all you have to do is thank them.
3. For negative comments, don’t panic. Address the issue in a professional manner and possibly call the person to work things out. This shows your audience that you care and are respectful, even with negative reviews. Resist the temptation to delete, ignore, or censor negative feedback, critical reviews, and low ratings.
Having a couple of negative reviews actually makes customers more likely to trust your business. No place can be 100% perfect. Consumers often perceive ratings close to a perfect 5.0 as too good to be true, and they appreciate less-than-perfect reviews as an important element in their research and decision-making process.
4. Having no reviews at all can have a huge negative impact on your business’s potential. Finding little or no information tells consumers that you’re either a new business or that you’re not even on the radar. It only takes a few positive reviews to reassure potential customers that you’re worth checking out.
You can’t afford to ignore the benefits of online reviews. What customers say about your business in their online reviews - and how you respond to them - can influence purchase decisions more than just about any other marketing tactic.
Think of online reviews as modern day referrals; having them available for your prospects to see is a great way to stand out from your competitors.
People will always trust what is said about you more than what is said by you.
As we start 2018, what is the state of direct mail and its effectiveness in a social media- dominated world? Is direct mail marketing still alive and well? Or has it finally reached its often-predicted end?
Linked In profile, Houzz presence, Pinterest boards, etc. and, in turn, they will want to buy from you and recommend you to their friends, family and co-workers.
Social media is an excellent way to build your brand and establish connections, yet direct mail offers its own benefits. Social Media and direct mail are increasingly used to complement one another and can be a powerful combination.
Where online marketing efforts are generally low-cost and low impact, print is higher-cost and higher impact. Where online marketing is passive, direct mail is proactive; it demands that the recipient do something with it.
No, direct mail is not “dead.” But, it has declined in volume over the past 10 years. As we rely more and more on digital communication and going paperless, it makes sense that direct mail would be used less frequently.
However, this is the exact reason why direct mail is still vital.
As more businesses promote themselves online, the advertising clutter has become overwhelming. People are tuning out online ads and using ad blockers. In response, more marketers are once again adding mail to their marketing mix because people are paying attention to mail again, as the amount of junk mail declines.
Messages on Facebook or Twitter are seen and then vanish. Print media sits on a coffee table or kitchen counter. It can be seen multiple times by multiple consumers. They might not look for a deal in the moment, but the printed piece keeps your business in their consciousness.
When it comes to big-ticket purchases that require thoughtful consideration — like a new kitchen — the combination of print and digital is especially relevant.
Print can be both interesting and powerful. A small business that never mailed before may find it worthwhile for both attracting new customers and keeping existing ones.
Direct mail creates a physical, tangible message. Studies show that the ability to hold and touch something printed leaves a deeper impression in a person's brain and results in better levels of recall than merely seeing something on a screen.
There are three reasons this happens:
1.) Content is more intuitive – everyone knows how to read printed text.
2). Something printed helps the reader to create a better “mental map” of the information.
3.) Reading text on paper makes retention easier. There’s no distractions from other things happening on screens like pop-up ads and PM alerts.
Direct Mail marketing does cost more than on-line advertising, so creating an impact is crucial. If you keep in mind that customers don’t want to be bogged down with detail, that they are looking for solutions that will enhance their life, you’ll do fine. Provide consumers with value, address their needs, desires and pain points and you’re sure to get noticed.
Keep your mail piece concise and to-the-point. A person’s brain seeks simplicity and order when it processes information.
Direct mail that creates a simple decision path with limited copy and lots of pictures and graphics always gets a better response.
Another plus for direct mail is that it’s one of the most measurable of all media. You’ll know when your mail is going to be delivered so you can use this knowledge to activate other parts of your campaign, like email and telemarketing follow up.
Some Things You Can Do To Get Started
Use Facebook insights to find out who your most active social media followers are and collect their email addresses and their mailing addresses.
No need to invent the wheel: your social media content can be used in your direct mail. Quotes from reviews or posts are perfect for your direct mailers to demonstrate your credibility, talent, expertise and experience.
Direct mail can also be used to promote social media contests (“Ugliest Kitchen” contest?). Ask for stories that tell how a new kitchen or bath improved a customer’s life. Or how about soliciting suggestions that can be published in future mailings, on your social media sites, or in your email newsletters.
As further proof that direct mail and social media work hand-in-hand, consumers on social media use direct mail coupons (“No commitment, free, in-home evaluation!”), they keep direct mail pieces for future use, they visit or call a business after receiving a direct mail invitation, some even pass their direct mail pieces on to others. Direct mail can also be used to invite consumers to create or share content online.
In a world of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram, HD touchscreens, video conferencing, virtual reality and streaming video, digital communication threatens to take over how businesses communicate and interact with their prospects and existing customers.
This increased use of technology, paired with changing demographics, is reshaping the kitchen and bath market. The number of homeowners researching products and services online has caused a major shift in how consumers shop. Digital tools have changed how kitchen designers display and demonstrate products.
It seems like the wave of new digital products is endless. What consumers want is constantly evolving, along with their lifestyles, family make-ups and buying trends. But even in this changeable, changing environment, some traditional selling strategies remain constant in the kitchen and bath business.
Design professionals can’t afford to become so taken in by or dependent upon technology that they forget how to turn prospects into clients.
It’s vital that business owners and their employees never lose sight of the effectiveness of a human-to-human, handshake-to-handshake relationship-selling strategy. It can be too easy to get caught up in the excitement generated by all the digital tools and allow them to replace tried-and-true sales techniques.
The State of Sales Survey done by LinkedIn in 2017 reports that the #1 contributing factor in making a purchase decision is if a buyer has TRUST in the salesperson.
People do business with people, not with computers, not with companies.
There’s no denying that online shopping is very helpful in educating prospects, but it doesn’t prepare them to make purchase decisions. Much of our industry’s new sales technology has limitations when it comes to selling kitchens and baths.
Buying a new kitchen or bath has always been an emotional and sometimes painful purchase. People need to see, touch, feel, compare and discuss products and design ideas.
More importantly, they need to connect with a sales and design professional who has the experience, expertise and ability to reduce their anxiety and inspire confidence in the big-ticket investment they are about to make.
Relationships remain the key to selling in this ever-changing market.
The need for relationship-building can be considered the single most important constant in an industry that’s changing all the time.
Because of the complexity of what we sell, your relationship with your clients can actually be more important than the product. It is, in fact, the key differentiator between you and your competitors. In many cases, the quality of your relationship with your customer is the competitive advantage that enables you to edge out other competitors who have products and services that are similar or are selling at lower prices.
Are you knowledgeable, likable, transparent? Can you point to proven experience? Will you be a collaborative partner? Can you offer a unique package of products and services that “speaks” to clients in a personal way? Can you be trusted to keep promises?
Those are just a few of the questions people ask as they make buying decisions. They should be answered the same way successful design professionals have always answered them: with honesty, by using your reputation, skills and competitive differences to your advantage, and by turning your interactions with prospects into lasting client relationships.
As a kitchen and bath designer, you’re selling more than products and services, more than lifestyles or status or dreams. Beyond any of those things, you’re selling yourself and your business: your philosophy, your vision, your talent and expertise.
If you’ve let your infatuation with technology take over your sales approach, try getting back to the basics of relationship building. Listen to your clients, create and deliver value for them. Offer solutions for their unique needs. Integrate technology into your proposal, but don’t let it take over your personal approach.
Personal connections have always been the foundation of the kitchen and bath business. Creating those connections is a sales strategy that should never be forgotten, regardless of how the industry may change.
When talking to potential customers, having an understanding of their thought processes and the psychology of how purchase decisions are made – why people buy -- can be very helpful when it comes time to close the sale.
Homeowners considering a new kitchen experience two types of pain --
(1) the pain of living with an inefficient, out-dated kitchen, and
(2) the pain of having to pay for a new kitchen.
Using brain-scanning equipment, scientists in the field of neuroeconomics have discovered that they can predict whether subjects will make a purchase. Neuroeconomics is a relatively new discipline that combines neuroscience, economics and psychology to study human behavior and choice making.
The accumbens, a pleasure center, lights up when people are contemplating a purchase, and the insula, a pain center, lights up when they are thinking about how much that purchase is going to cost. These studies suggest that each buying decision is a fight between a pleasure center seeking the happiness of acquisition and an aversion center seeking to avoid the pain of paying.
This is all very interesting, we hear you saying. But what does it have to do with getting homeowners to buy a new kitchen from me?
Based on the neuroeconomic findings, you have to start considering part of your job description to include that of a pain reliever.
Pain is particularly present when consumers are facing a complex, expensive purchase, such as a new kitchen, especially since they can’t see or touch what the finished product is going to be. At this stage in the process, they are buying something intangible, which increases anxiety.
Pointing out what buyers will gain by buying your product requires them to picture themselves in a better place after having bought from you. This type of imaginative leap isn’t easy to take, and can be painful when they start to think about how much a new kitchen or bath costs.
How can you overcome their pain of purchasing?
You as the pain reliever can go to work at your very first meeting by getting them to like you and feel comfortable with you. Finding similarities between you and your prospects will help to relax them. You already know this, of course, but now you can know why it’s important.
An expert on purchasing behaviors reports that women measure their self-worth by the quality of their relationships, and they evaluate purchases by the impact they will have on family and friends. Buying to help the quality of their relationships eases the pain of a major expenditure.
You must demonstrate how your solutions will relieve her pain and enhance her relationships. Ask her to imagine herself in the space you’re planning. This is powerful because when you ask someone to imagine something, the brain takes ownership of it, and the person becomes emotionally invested in the solution. “Imagine how nice it will be to have the space to entertain your in-laws in your new kitchen.” “Imagine having a place for the kids to do their homework while you make dinner.”
Another way of easing the pain of buying is to give clients the opportunity to do good at the same time. Studies show that the affluent care about the social and environmental responsibility of the companies they do business with, so tell your clients if the cabinets you sell are certified “green” by the KCMA, are formaldehyde-free, etc.
Still another way to ease purchase pain is by story telling. The logical side of buyers craves facts and figures, while their psychological side craves stories and pictures of past successes.
Storytelling is a way to alleviate pain because it creates and/or strengthens emotional bonds. When people read or hear a story, their brains experience it and remember it, as opposed to merely hearing a recitation of features and benefits.
Stories of past successes resonate strongly with buyers because they can picture themselves in the situations of previous buyers. This is why “Before And After” case studies are powerful influencers.
For example, when showing a deep drawer under a cook top, you can tell a story about a client who incorporated one into her kitchen. Now she’s thrilled because it’s easy to access her pots and pans and cooking is more fun.
Be sure to use the word “you” in your presentations when addressing pain points. “This drawer makes it easier for you to get to your pots” or “you won’t kill your back reaching for a heavy pot.” Speak to the pain and how you’re going to relieve it.
In addition to being a great designer, you have to become a pain reliever. Relieving your prospects’ pain starts by getting them to feel comfortable with you.
Then you can move on to demonstrate how your design solutions will enhance their relationships and allow them to support companies that care about the environment.
And finally, you can close the sale by sharing “Before And After” stories that tell through words and pictures how your designs relieved pain points for other customers.
Most every sales person in our industry is trying to figure out how to win the business of the millennial consumer, the generation expected to account for $1.4 trillion in spending in the U.S. by 2020. No wonder companies are scrambling to adjust their sales and marketing strategies to reach this generation.
You’ve probably heard that millennials are disloyal, that they jump from product to product, just like they jump from job to job. However, this is a big myth about the millennial generation. Over half (50.5%) of millennials say they are loyal to their favorite brands.
While this generation has major brand loyalty potential, earning that loyalty is a process. You need to woo these tech-savvy consumers with authenticity, not sales-speak, as they are the most educated generation in history.
The Millennial buyer can be intimidating, but the challenge to gain their trust is not impossible.
Here’s a few tips to help you confidently sell to your newest generation of buyers.
#1. Do Your Research
You have to know your customer. A ton of market research exists regarding millennials that you can use for reference. (Start here.) Read up on their buying trends and preferences and what’s important to them so you can develop a targeted sales approach.
Millennials care about purchasing products and supporting brands that align with their values. Authenticity is #1 most important with Millennials; 72% of them are willing to spend more on brands that support causes they care about.
One of those causes is the environment. This is your chance to tell them how the cabinets you sell are made in America and are certified “green” by the KCMA. If your company sponsors fund raisers in support of reducing poverty or feeding the hungry, get that mentioned somewhere, as well.
If you are researching them, you better believe they are researching you. They can (and do) Google your name and gain instant access to all of your information.
Being authentic has to do with the persona you and your company portray both online and offline – do they match up? They had better.
#2. Don’t Try to Hard Sell Them
When this generation entered the world, it was assaulted with “Buy Now!” types of advertising, and they’re tired of them and pay no attention.
Millennials know they have options, so they do their research, and they will either confidently make a purchase or walk away.
You need to convince them why they need your product, how it will benefit them.
Millennials crave personalization and collaboration. They want to participate and they want their opinions heard, so include them during every step of the sales process and beyond. Listen to and respect their opinions.
#3. Communicate Like Millennials
They’re constantly connected. They don’t remember what it’s like to not be connected. Forget about TV and radio – not on the millennial radar.
Several studies have shown that Millennials have short attention spans. Witness their preferred communication tools: text messages, Snapchat and Instagram are all short, concise and visual.
This generation is used to checking online before buying anything. Their first impression of a company or product comes from website design and functionality. With their short attention spans, you simply must have a modern, convenient, smooth-working web site and mobile app. Their on-line experience with your company must be seamless, no matter the device they are on.
#4. Be Informative, But Be Quick
Your goal is to convince them why they need your product in the least amount of time.
They’ll fact-check what you’re offering them, regardless of what you tell them, so it’s wasted effort trying to explain everything, rather than letting them explore.
#5. Don’t Try To Con Them
Millennials search the Internet to learn more about what you are trying to sell them so they aren’t caught in any unpleasant surprises. They can spot a fake and won’t hesitate to switch brands if they sense something isn’t genuine or trustworthy.
Millennials want real, down-to-earth people who can truly connect with them and give them the truth.
Be consistent and transparent with whatever you tell them about your services, and if their fact-checking reveals that you were right, they will be more willing to listen.
#6. Be The Expert
Impressing millennials requires that you act as the person who both knows your business and can tell them how it relates to their lives.
They want to know that you hear them, you acknowledge their problems, and provide solutions for them.
Research what kinds of problems you can address, then create content about it. Open their eyes to problems they never knew they had and present your solution afterwards
#7. Don’t Stereotype Them
Many stereotypes exist about millennials, like they have no brand loyalty, they’re always glued to their phones, they feel entitled, etc. The fact is that they are a diverse group. It’s dangerous to look at Millennials as a homogeneous mass. While they belong to one generation, Millennials fall on a wide spectrum of tastes, behaviors and income levels.
If you’ve been struggling to connect with this generation, Kitchen Design Partner has the experience and know-how to get you on the right track. Contact them to learn more.
LinkedIn is a lot like Facebook, except it’s for business exclusively. There’s no Bejeweled Blitz on Linked, only people looking for jobs or businesses looking for new employees, people looking for answers to questions to help their business or people looking to connect with other people in their industry.
It’s a social networking site, yes, but one that allows your business to connect with more than 600 million professionals from around the world. It’s the perfect tool to help generate leads, build brand awareness and/or establish professional connections.
We’ve assembled a few tips for creating an active LinkedIn presence for your business.
Tip #1. Start with Your Own LinkedIn Profile
Just as on Facebook, your personal profile lets you present yourself as the individual behind the brand. When people search your name, you want them to discover something that makes you stand out from your competitors. Profiles form first impressions, where people decide, “Can I see myself working with this person?”
Tip #2. Create a LinkedIn Company Page
Treat your LinkedIn Company Page as your business’s LinkedIn profile. Unlike personal profiles, LinkedIn company pages are set up to represent your brand. Even small companies can benefit from using a company page and connecting it with to personal profiles.
LinkedIn has a set of questions to get you going with your Company Page.
Tip #3. Define Your Audience and Goals
Common LinkedIn marketing goals involve generating leads, raising brand awareness, and establishing professional networking connections. Or all three – why not? Before you can begin working on any of these, you must define your target audience.
Tip #4. Optimize Your Company Page for Search
A LinkedIn Company Page optimized for SEO can help you gain visibility among the people searching for what your company offers.
The content you post on LinkedIn should be the same as what you post on your company website or blog.
To optimize your LinkedIn Page for search:
Tip #5. Update Frequently
Updates can include recently completed projects, news coverage, creative tips, new features or products -- anything that shows your business as an active and serious operation.
Tip #6. Add Company Page Followers
When people follow your Company Page, your updates appear directly in their LinkedIn feed. The more Company Page followers you have, the higher the reach potential of each update you publish.
How to add followers?
Tip #7. Publish Interesting Content on Your Company Page
Your content has to be interesting to engage your target audience.
When you get clicks, shares, and comments, these all indicate your content is reaching readers.
Don’t to try to sell your products and services. “Salesy” content doesn’t perform well on LinkedIn.
You can also share content from others with your followers.
Tip #8. Use Rich Media to Increase Company Page Engagement
Posts with images get over six times more engagement than text-only content. Add images, YouTube videos, and SlideShare presentations to your updates.
Tip #9 Start a Group.
A great social feature on LinkedIn is the ability to start a group with a specific interest. If you can connect your business to a general topic that engages people, you can set up a group, start a discussion and make sure members know about your business.
Tip #10 Participate in Other Groups
It’s not enough to create your own group; you need to be active in existing communities and interact with other users. The idea is not to spam groups with posts about your business but to engage in an actual conversation that creates real connections.
LinkedIn helps you out with suggestions for discussion topics.
Take LinkedIn Seriously
Despite its professional focus, LinkedIn is still a social network. To succeed here, you need to be a social player, one who engages with people.
The good thing about LinkedIn is that it helps you interact with the right people by showing circles of connectivity; i.e., who your connections are connected to. Browse through profiles of your connections and see who they’re involved with. You might discover a valuable lead.
Like any other marketing channel, LinkedIn will work well for you if you take it seriously and put in the effort to understand how it can best work for you.
If you want to see results, LinkedIn should be included in your overall social media marketing strategy.
Creating and maintaining an active social media presence can be overwhelming for small businesses, who often lack the resources to devote to it. Kitchen Design Partner can get you started or they can manage your LinkedIn presence alone, or they can take on all of social media for your business, whatever you need. Contact them to find out about their programs.
So you Googled your company name and discovered some negative comments. What happens now?
Is it possible that you can quash negative internet content?
The only way to remove negative search results is to have the owner of the website do it. That’s probably not going to happen.
If you can’t get it removed, the next tactic for lessening the effect of negatives is to SUPPRESS the bad things.
When an embarrassing result appears on your search engine results page, you can try to suppress it by pulling up more positive search results for your pages, products and social media, using the steps outlined in Part Two of our ORM series.
The operative word here is “try.”
The tough part about improving web reputation by suppressing bad articles is that to push a negative mention off the first page of search results, there must be at least 10 better pieces of content
This requires a lot of work and is a job best left to professionals, like the pros at Kitchen Design Partner.
What’s to be done?
You know the saying: the best defense is a good offense. BE PROACTIVE and avoid negative comments in the first place or have so many positive mentions that the negative doesn’t appear so bad.
Here are some general tips to manage your reputation online PROACTIVELY:
At a minimum you should be on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn (if your business is B2B). If your products are visually-oriented, get busy on Pinterest and Instagram. Top business Instagrams appear high up in Google search results.
When your social media accounts are interlinked with each other and linked to / from your blog / website, they should rank really well in the search engines. Facebook and Twitter carry a lot of SEO power.
Link building can seem like hard work -- and it is -- but it’s worth it. Backlinks are still one of the top ranking factors for search.
You Can’t Opt Out Of Reputation Management
For many small businesses, the lack of proactive online reputation management makes them a sitting duck.
With only a website to show your business online, you’re in a bad position if anyone posts negative things about your business on social media, as those negative comments can show up in searches for your business.
For local businesses, people search for you by business name, so having negative reviews or comments rank in search results can directly impact your bottom line..
If a your business doesn’t invest in developing its online presence and reputation proactively, you will more than likely pay later in terms of lost sales and profits and having to pay to repair damage.
Don’t let this happen to you.
What do people who haven't contacted you yet see when they Google your business? Are the results: Positive? Negative? Non-existent?
Your business’s online reputation starts with Google (or in the case of voice search - Google Home or Echo). It’s where people go to learn more about your brand, or when they want to buy what you sell. If business success is your goal, you’ve got to invest in how your business is seen by people who might buy from you.
The first step to managing your business’s online reputation in this 2017 environment is to take Search Engine Optimization (SEO) seriously.
That’s because when a potential new customer first sees or hears your business name, what do they do? They Google you. What they find could be what decides them to buy from you or not.
Most people think SEO is a way to promote your website to get more business drawn to your site so you can make some profit. And that’s true… in part.
But that’s not all SEO can do for you. In fact, SEO is used to help manage your online reputation.
In the first part of our look at Online Reputation Management, we examined how Online Reputation Management (ORM) and SEO are similar, but not the same.
Now we’re going to dig a little deeper to see how those two principles can work to protect your online reputation, attract new customers and increase your sales.
As we said, the goal of SEO is to make your online content more visible to search engines, to get your business to page one of search results for relevant keywords. If your SEO campaign is successful, then competitors trying to rank for those same keywords will see their content fall down the results page, because you replaced their name with yours.
Numbers don’t lie: search engines get over 6.5 billion searches every day, making search engines one of the best places to connect with consumers, and businesses are missing out if they don’t focus on SEO. Since the majority of web users only look at the first couple of search results, SEO done well can boost traffic to your site, and ideally, convert those searchers into buying customers.
Google would have you believe that SEO is simple. Just post some great content and people will flock to your site!
Hold the phone and not so fast.
The Internet is a big place, competition for your keywords is fierce, and it’s filled with people who have a lot to say—not all of it good. What do your potential customers see when they search your business name? You can’t address problems if you don’t know what they are. Perform searches with "reviews" or "complaints" at the end of your name if you want to see the real dirt.
An efficient ORM plan involves constant monitoring for mentions of your name, business name, and products you sell.
When someone searches your business, every result on the first page should support a positive view of your company.
Consumers are easily influenced by negative mentions of businesses, and with so much competition out there, one negative review is often enough to send someone to your competitor.
If your online reputation is just not what you’d like, you can’t necessarily have negatives removed, but you can do some damage control. Lessening the harm of negative search results is a big part of ORM
The best method to lessen the impact of negatives is to use some or all of the most well-understood factors that affect search engine results.
YOU CAN'T OPT OUT OF REPUTATION MANAGEMENT.
In Part Three of our investigation of Online Reputation Management tactics, we'll look at proactive steps you can take to reduce the impact of any negatives that may pop up about you and your business.
You’ve probably heard of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). And possibly you’ve heard about Online Reputation Management (ORM). And maybe you have an idea that they are related. And that’s true, they are related, but they’re not the same.
SEO works so that people find your company when searching online, while ORM shapes what they think about you.
SEO makes sure your business gets noticed, while ORM influences what people think of you once they’ve searched for you on Google.
SEO’s job is to promote a specific website on search engines and increase traffic to that site using keywords, such as skateboards or skateboard decks.
ORM focuses on influencing searches for businesses, like Jim’s Skateboard Shop, in an effort to shape what potential customers think about that business.
SEO is used to increase the search engine ranking of your website.
ORM is the practice of attempting to shape public perception of your business by influencing online information about you.
Any company, no matter how small, has an online reputation.
OK, so we’ve established that SEO is not ORM. Yet ORM incorporates SEO principles. But SEO is not the whole story by far.
If you search online for a widget, you will find a lot of companies selling them. But you need to know which one is best before you make a purchase.
So your second search is about the companies that make the widget, so you can make an informed decision.
SEO works to get a brand into the search results in the first place, whereas ORM works to help a customer decide on one widget or the other.
As a small business owner, you have to care about how people see your business online. How do you start?
The first step is to find out what’s out there right now – so don’t be shy – Google yourself or your business. Is there negative information anywhere you can see?
If you see something negative, it is time for Online Reputation Management. When someone Googles your company, they will also come across that negative.
The funny thing is, most companies that look for Online Reputation Management only do so whenever there is damage already done. ORM is not about damage control, it’s about establishing a solid, positive foundation for your brand.
ORM is proactive. By being proactive, small businesses – like yours -- that actively work at their online reputation can enjoy a long term, positive presence online while also protecting against negative results that may pop up.
A company of any size benefits from having a basic understanding of the main concepts of ORM because there are a lot of misconceptions about it. Some think it’s just social media monitoring, while others think it has something to do with public relations, and still others have no idea how it can impact their business and sales.
ORM includes SEO, but SEO is just one tool in the ORM toolbox. In addition to SEO, here’s a list of other ORM tactics.
Many of these actions influence search engine results. For example, maintaining a positive presence on Yelp means that the Yelp search engine result will include a good star rating, which reflects well on your business in Google results.
No matter the size of your business, “they” -- prospects, customers, clients, anyone and everyone -- are talking about you. They are tweeting about your latest product, leaving a comment on your blog, posting a Facebook update about their experience with your products or services, leaving a review on Yelp or Google, and more
If you think your business doesn’t need ORM, or if you think you can make it without taking into account people’s voices, opinions, and reviews, you’re wrong. Your online reputation is your reputation. Period.
SOME ORM “RULES”
Following these simple “rules” will get you started with ORM and will benefit you and your business.
1. Become well respected.
Trust is difficult to gain and easy to lose. Making people respect you and your work is the most important ORM commandment
2. Be transparent.
What does being “transparent” even mean? It means asking for feedback and not hiding criticism, even addressing it publicly. Easier said than done. Most small and medium sized companies struggle with this concept.
If you and your company accept feedback, customer opinions and reviews, you also must be ready to face them promptly.
3. Monitor what is being said about you on social media.
What are people saying about you? Good ORM is not only about reacting in a positive way to what people are saying, about you, your business, your products and your services, but it’s also about whether to react at all and, if so, when.
Sometimes a reaction is not necessary, and sometimes a reaction that is too late can cost you money.
These days, lots of people ask questions via Twitter and Facebook because they are evaluating whether or not they should buy from you. If you’re paying attention, answering these questions can bring in business.
Social media monitoring is an easy D-I-Y. Google and Yahoo both have free alerts you can sign up for that monitor the web for mention of your business.
4. React quickly and politely
In the case of a customer complaint via Twitter, for example, a prompt and simple “We are aware of the problem. We are working on it and will get back to you as soon as possible.” is better than a late reply with more information
Whether you’re a Fortune 500 CEO or part of a growing mom and pop store, the way you handle social media complaints says a lot more about your company than any kind of advertisement.
5. Address criticism.
Should you even bother to step up to fix things that seem to be out of your control? After all, dissatisfied customers already have made up their minds to choose a competitor, right
Not exactly. According to a study, when customers received a response to their complaint, almost half of them were pleased by the company’s answer, and many of those customers went on to post a positive comment about the company after.
6. Understand your critics and learn from your mistakes.
Criticism can be the chance to learn more about your audience and produce a better message in the future.
7. Ask for help if necessary.
ORM is not for the faint hearted. If you’re busy busy busy, where will the time to work on ORM come from? Professionals who are expert in ORM -- like Kitchen Design Partner -- are available to either get you started or do it for you.
ORM is an ongoing process, it’s not once and done. It includes having a system in place to monitor up-to-date mentions of your business, ensuring that a clean results page today doesn’t turn into a nightmare tomorrow.
Just a few years ago, the internet was very different. Companies did not interact with customers but just sold to a passive audience; people could not express their opinions in any kind of meaningful way. The situation has profoundly changed.
Today, websites are no longer static brochures. User-generated content is a must. And regular interactions on social networks are vital to any business success.
In the second part of this look at Online Reputation Management, we’ll go deeper into the strategies and tactics used in a successful ORM campaign.
The experts at Kitchen Design Partner stand ready to help you with your proactive Online Reputation Management program.
CREATE THE PERFECT PIN
In our Part One look at Pinterest, we introduced you to Pins and Boards and some basic strategy for getting started on the visual search engine that is Pinterest.
We’ve scoured the internet, read the experts and studied the Pinterest Help section to bring you the best advice on how to create the perfect pin.
How To Create A Perfect Pin
A Pinterest pin can drive a lot of traffic to your site if you do everything right. You only have a few seconds to grab a viewer’s attention and motivate them to click through.
So how do you do it? What makes a perfect pin?
According to Pinterest experts, perfect pins have three things in common:
(1) they’re beautiful to look at,
(2) they’re interesting, and
(3) they are actionable.
Images need to be tall, not wide, so that they look good in the Pinterest layout.
Many people use their phones to view Pinterest, which makes the image size especially important.
The recommend size is 735 x 1,200 pixels. Since most kitchen photos tend to be horizontal, rather than vertical, you’re going to have to do some editing. Canva.com is free and has templates for Pinterest. All you have to do is upload your photo to the site and let the software do the rest.
It’s easy for your images to get lost in the number of boards and pins on Pinterest. Applying text to your photos helps give visitors context, so they understand the purpose of your pin.
If your board topic is Kitchen Islands, put a line of text on the photos to explain why you think the island in the picture has merit. “This Cherry island creates extra storage.” “A prep sink in this island helps out during large family gatherings.”
See how that would work?
Sometimes one picture isn’t enough. Another way of making your pin stand out is to use multiple images in the same pin. Again, Canva.com to the rescue. They have the tools to put together multiple photos in one pin.
Another high performing pin is the infographic. Assemble several related photos and let Canva guide you through creating an infographic. Before and After photos would create a nice infographic that tells your business story.
Add your logo to your photos so that when they get re-pinned, your company name goes with them.
Don’t overlook the pin description. Use keywords in a natural way; don’t just list them. Make the description a couple of sentences long. By optimizing your pins with keywords, you can get noticed by Google and increase your SEO.
In the photo below, notice that the description was cut off. Pinterest allows only so much space for your descriptive text. If your viewer is truly interested, she will click on the pin and read the entire description.
The ultimate motive of a presence on Pinterest is to get your audience to click on your Pin and visit your website. And for that, you need a strong call to action.
Strong Call to Action
People use Pinterest to discover and buy things. Make sure your description conveys the action you want your audience to take. “Visit our website.” “Stop in to our showroom.” “Contact us for a no-obligation quote.” Don’t let your photos just sit there - make them work for you.
From our inspection of Pinterest and research for this article, not many pinners take advantage of the Call to Action. This is an area where you could get an advantage.
To get your pins noticed and generate viewer re-pins and click-thrus, they need to be beautiful, interesting and have a strong call to action.
Your pin description should share enticing details about your image and content. You have to give pinners a reason to click through to your website, to call you or stop in your showroom.
Kitchen Design Partner can get you pinning!