Real Reputation Management – Part 1
TRANSCRIPT: Today’s session is on Real Reputation Management. In other words, how can you, as a business owner, general manager, or sales manager, manage your online reputation in a way that you can do it yourself without spending thousands of dollars a month? Now, your online reputation has become, for most businesses, especially any retail business out there, your most important attribute. See, it doesn’t matter if your name is on the building or if you’re just drawing a paycheck; your online reputation should be the most important attribute of your long and short term marketing strategies.
Now, even if you’re not located in a big city and currently have no online reviews, your future could literally depend on what we call “user-generated content”. That makes up your online reputation. See, what others are writing about you is what becomes your online reputation. We call this your online reputation. Now, more than anything, the best way to manage your online reputation is to do three things; one, treat your people right. Treat your employees right. Two, care about your employees. And, three, make sure they care about your customers.
If you’ll do these three things you’ll go a long way towards creating a great online persona. Now, quick note, even if your online reputation takes into account the way your dealership is perceived across many social sites like Facebook, Twitter, other social media sites, this is not social media marketing. This is not social media management. Reputation management is a completely different and more important animal than social media marketing.
Now, there are no shortcuts. Stop trying to find them; stop gaming. See, gaming the system is not possible over the long term. All of these companies out there wanting you to spend thousands of dollars a month with them so they can game the system on your behalf are, potentially, putting your long term business health at risk. There are simply too many sites that have information about you written by consumers. There are too many tools that companies have to “sniff” out the cheaters. In fact, Google has patents on how to tell who is posting good reviews and who is posting phony reviews. How would you like your business to be on the local news identified as someone who’s tried to cheat their online reviews? It’s happened. Many businesses have been featured on their local news because they tried to cheat the system. Consumers are not going to like that and, so, stop trying to game. Also, some of what’s going on out there is likely against the law. There are FTC regulations, for example that require you to disclose in the review if you’ve paid anything to the consumer to place that review. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of the law and you don’t have to be. I have what I call “8 Steps from Bad to Great”. These are eight steps that hundreds of businesses have used. These, my eight steps, have helped them cultivate and create exceptional online reputations. I’m going to warn you right now, it’s not quick and it’s not easy. It takes work, but, more importantly, just like everything in your business, it takes leadership.
So, what are the eight steps?
#1 – Gage the online buzz about your business. What do I mean by that? I mean, what are people saying about you today? Start with Google and “google” your name. Now, Google also aggregates user reviews on Google Plus and on their Google Places or Google Maps; whatever it happens to be called today. So there are lots of reviews on there. But, you also want to drill down into the Google organic results – the free results on Google when you put your name in their site. You will start to see sites like Yelp, Kudzu, Angie’s List and others that have reviews about you written online. You also want to google yourself and use some modifiers like “rip-off” or “sucks”, right? So you type in your business name such as Steve’s Toyota and the word ‘sucks’ and, guess what, you might find some stuff. You also want to go to sites like “rip-off reporting others” and, finally, go to sites like “Bing” and google your name again (although at this point, you’ll be “binging” your name), or Yahoo and type in your name again and see what surf results come up there. Remember, those two sites also have reviews and then, especially, look at a site called “Yelp”. Yelp is important. If you’ve never heard of a site called yelp.com you should know it is especially important for restaurants and other retail businesses because there are lots of reviews on there and consumers are using their mobile phones to create those reviews about you while they are in your place of business.
Finally you are going to want to look at some industry specific sites. So, the sites I’ve given you already (Google, Yelp, Bing and Angie’s List) are generic sites. There are some industry specific sites or there may be for your industry. For example, on the automotive side of the business there are industry specific review sites like “Edmunds”, “Dealer Rater” and “Cars.com” that aggregate reviews for car dealers and the same thing may exist in your business.