Business owners know no type of advertising is more powerful than word-of-mouth. A satisfied customer is one that will encourage others to retain your goods and services too.
Word-of-mouth advertising in B2C context used to mean colleagues discussing trustworthy plumbers around the water cooler, or neighbors suggesting roofing contractors to each other. In B2B realms, referrals have arguably always been even more powerful. A company leader willing to vouch for a vendor usually meant a high level of trust and satisfaction over an extended period of time.
As more companies are turning to the Internet for direction on B2B relationships, word-of-mouth advertising has taken on a new, global context. Prospective clients can vet which companies to hire for any service or product needs through some simple online research. While you may have a website built for optimal inbound success, have you ever considered some built-in damage control?
Sure, every small business and sole proprietor would like to believe that bad reviews and unsatisfied customers are simply a non-issue, but even the most client-friendly companies can fall victim to negativity online. While site visitors are a measurable statistic, there is no way to determine how many people never come to a business site because of reading a bad review first. Don’t wait to formulate a response; implement inbound marketing strategies meant to combat online negativity upfront. Here are a few ways to do it:
Look Beyond One Site
A company website is a good start, but think even bigger. Consider this: if a company decides to look you up by name in a search engine like Google, what comes up? If you have strong inbound marketing principles in place, your official website should be at the top of the list. Pay attention to what comes above it and below it, however. If your website is surrounded by review sites – even ones with good reviews – you should consider boosting your page one presence. Secondary blogs, social media accounts and even inclusion in business directories are a good way to bolster online reputation in your favor.
Ask For Reviews
If you have happy clients, ask them to spread that satisfaction in the form of reviews. It is great to have referrals right on your site, but remember that unsolicited traffic may come from consumer or industry-specific review sites and directories. Most clients are happy to endorse you, but may not know exactly how to do it. Give them a little direction and encourage positivity in your direction. When a negative review does arise, make sure to address the criticism. It may have been a simple misunderstanding that can be easily fixed. If not, at least customers can see that you tried to remedy the situation.
Reclaim the Word “Review”
Consider incorporating the name of your business followed by the word “reviews” throughout your website. If a business wants to read up on you before an official hiring, it may look specifically for what other companies have said about you. You cannot stop these prospective clients from looking for outside sources, but you can bring the attention back to the sites that are within your control.
The wise Benjamin Franklin declared that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Little did he know that the term would be applicable to the Internet marketing culture of the 21st century. Find ways to build a damage control foundation for your business through proactive inbound marketing strategies and any negative, cyber word-of-mouth reviews will have less of an impact.
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web.