Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How to Write Reviews That Help You Make Profitable Connections

by Tammy de Leeuw
"The Grouchy Marketing Lady"

If you or someone you know is running a small business or working as a self-employed professional, you might be aware of how difficult it has become to rise above the clutter and get yourself FOUND without spending a fortune on marketing.

That under-used method of lead generation is simple: learn how to write and post useful and informative reviews on YELP, directories, and other consumer websites.

Even though YELP is somewhat controversial among business owners, it is still a powerful tool to drive traffic to your website and get you found in local searches, especially mobile searches.

Not only can you create loads of good will by accurately evaluating local businesses, especially those with whom you already do business, you can also subtly promote your own business within the review... 

For example: a typical sales person or business-to-business marketer might have 200 or more business clients.  It's always a good idea to keep business in the family, so it makes sense to (1) patronize your business clients whenever possible (2) write reviews about your experiences.

The same goes for establishments with whom you WANT to business.

Say you sell widgets to restaurants and you really, really want to add Steve's Fried Chicken and Biscuits to your list of clients.  

Doesn't it make sense to become a regular, HAPPY customer of Steve's and get yourself known by the management and employees, etc?

Once you've done that, and found a couple of Steve's menu items that you really like, then you need to write a useful, informative review on YELP or  a directory such as SmartGuy or both.  

You can also add reviews to Google Local and other directories.

Here are a few Tips for Writing Reviews

1.Be SPECIFICThe more accurate details you include, the more helpful the reviews.


   "The highlight of my experience at Steve's is the golden, fluffy-as-clouds biscuits,
  emhanced by a dollop of creamy butter and a little local honey."

NOT THIS: "Steve's biscuits are very good."

2. Offer "insider" information.   Let people in on the special information you know about this business. 


"Steve's has many "secret items" not found on the regular menuI like the SPECIAL NUMBER THREE- which is broiled chicken legs with spicy peanut sauce.

NOT THIS: "You can order many off-the-menu items at Steve's."

3. Discuss best times to go, parking, long lines, etc.


"Steve's is located right next to the SuperPlex Movie Theatre so parking can be a challenge, particularly on the weekends.  I have learned the best time to go without parking being an issue is Wednesdays from 11AM-9PM.

NOT: "Parking bites big time, be prepared."

4.Avoid giving too many stars. 

If your reviewed business or service really, really merits it (and ONLY IF) give the business the highest rating.  Otherwise, it is best to give 3's or 4's. 

Why? Because when a ratings site (Yelp in particular) notices that every business you review is 5-stars, your credibility as a reviewer is undermined.

If the client or prospect questions you as to why you didn't give 5 stars, tell them the truth: "The more honest I am with reviews, the fewer HIGHEST ratings I give, the more powerful and effective my ratings are (and the less I look like your schill!)"

5.Be honest...but fair. 

If you have a bad experience at one of your clients' businesses, be sure to:

1. Accurately evaluate the cause of the incident (ex: not enough employees working, equipment malfunction, weather, etc.) 

2. Give them a chance to fix the problem before you write a review. Mention the issue casually to the owner without sounding accusatory or critical.  "Steve, I noticed you were really shorthanded Saturday night when I came in.  If you are looking for reliable help, I know a couple of college students who are looking for work." 

3. Give the business a second try before reviewing.

Never, ever write a review unless you have tried the establishment at least twice with identical bad results.   While you do want to be honest, don't review any of your clients' businesses unless you are sure you can honestly give at least 3 stars.  

If you publish a bad review you are apt to lose a customer and make an enemy, which is the opposite of what you are trying to do.

6. Do include YOUR BUSINESS website URL and phone #.  

This will help the business easily identify the fact that it was you who gave them the glowing review.  Also, if people who read the review wonder who you are... you might get a lead from them as well.

A little-used technique which I have found that WORKS is to include the URLS for video reviews you have done, videos you have taken of the business in action, or their own informational videos. 

Lots of people don't realize you can put hyperlinks (http:) inside your review.  So, if you have, let's say, a food blog and you have more info on Steve's or some videos or photos, whatever.  You can say something in your review to that effect.  Be sure to include the full URL

7.Be humorous and entertaining whenever possible. 

If your client is a funeral home or a crime scene cleanup company, this may not be do-able. 

For all other businesses, however, you should aim for maximum information, entertainment, and a chuckle or two.  Check out my own YELP review for my new dentist.

Even a negative review can be softened by the use of irony and humor.

I had a horrible customer service experience at a local food place. (third poor experience and it wasn't a charm!) so I wrote a little review to vent my frustration. 

Remember; don't do this for clients’ and prospects’ businesses.  They WILL see it and they probably won't be too pleased.

8. NAME Names.(first name only, however) 

Was your waiter excellent?  Cashier more helpful than usual?  Staff able to answer your every question?  

WRITE THIS: "Steve's cashier, Mindy, was polite, smiling, and extremely efficient.  

DON’T WRITE THIS: “The staff was friendly.”

9: Be a regular contributor and invite your clients to follow you on YELP

It’s easy to see why this is a great idea for everyone!

10. Give your reviews "legs." 

Make a copy of every review you do and place into a file folder.  When you find other local review sites, you can then copy and paste your review into that site as well.  Saves you time!

Taking a little bit of time to master online reviewing and incorporate it into your daily marketing efforts will pay off in unexpected and profitable ways.

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