As a contractor in the twenty-first century, your reputation is more accessible than ever. With a couple clicks of the mouse and a Google search for your business, potential clients form instant first impressions based on your available online presence.
These first impressions are invaluable. An obvious positive reputation based on customer reviews and your place in search rankings will increase your likelihood of building a new client relationship. A negative review or lack of any online presence at all may foster distrust or develop disinterest.
Most likely, your established customers know you are reputable and to trust your services, but what about online? Without personal experience, potential clients don’t know your reputation when they research your company online. You need to help them get to know you by providing them with a clear picture of your services and character. Positive reviews from satisfied customers are the most effective way to develop a good reputation
A solid online reputation is your most valuable company asset. Take control of your online presence to achieve your marketing goals.
Step 1. Create a Plan
Develop a plan to gather reviews from your clients. Don’t make the mistake of “winging it.” A bulletproof reputation doesn’t grow overnight; neither does it come by taking a weak stab at marketing, blindly hoping something good comes of it. Think it through.
Here are five questions to help you work out a plan.
- Who am I going to ask for reviews? Past customers or new customers?
- How will I ask them for reviews? Will I send them an email? Will I call them on the phone?
- How many times will I ask them? Just once … or three times?
- What will I ask them? Will I write a script to send to everyone when asking for reviews?
- How often will I rest between campaigns? Will this be only one time? Or will I do this every six months? etc.
After asking yourself these questions, plan your marketing strategy based on your answers.
Step 2. Choose Your Platform
Once you have established a plan, choose where you will publish your reviews. There are many available platforms for this purpose; here is just a short list:
- Your Own Review Site
- Insider Pages
- City Search
Each of these platforms offers you a place to post your online reviews so that prospective customers can research your company. For even better results, publish the reviews on multiple platforms.
It’s best to start with Google Reviews. This ties your business reputation directly into the world’s most powerful search engine. As you get reviews your company rises in the search engine’s system. Your ranking in Google’s search engines is important to your accessibility by prospective customers and the success of your company. If you proceed and develop your own branded review site, you can still take your Google Reviews and add them to your site manually.
Step 3. Create a Simple Tutorial
Many of your customers will not know how to leave a review, so make this process as easy for them as possible by giving them clear instructions to follow.
There are three different types of tutorials:
Perhaps this option is pretty “old school,” but written tutorials are very effective. On your website, blog post, or in an email, type up step-by-step instructions for leaving you a review.
Take screenshots of each of the previous Written Tutorial steps and place them in the text. That way your client can see exactly where they are supposed to click and what they are supposed to do. Create this yourself and send it to your clients.
Use screen-recording software such as SnagIt, Screenflow, or Camtasia to go through all the steps of leaving a review. You can show your mouse clicks and record your own voice giving instructions.
If you don’t want to create your own screencast, find one pre-made on Youtube showing the exact steps you want your customer to take. Then just send them the video!
Step 4. Respond to Your Reviewers
Once a client has left you a review, take the time to respond with gratitude. Continued communication with the customers kind enough to help build your reputation is vital to your growth and influence. Of course, your clients can choose to leave either a positive review or a negative review; you should know how to respond both.
Upon receiving a negative review, your first instinct will likely be to lash back. Even if you feel misunderstood and unjustly criticized, please don’t do it.
You have the choice to ignore the negative review and hope it gets buried by positive reviews, or, you can try to make it right. Most problems or misunderstandings can be remedied, so make amends with your dissatisfied customer as much you are able. Mending broken trust with disappointed reviewers will help you take back your reputation and ultimately profit your business.
When you receive a positive review, remember that your satisfied client did this as a favor for you. Personally tell them you are thankful for the time they spent in doing this. Be grateful and appreciative. To save time, you may want to write a script that you can use repeatedly to thank your affirmative reviewers.
Note that it is against the law to tell your clients what to leave in their review, or even to tell them to leave you a ‘positive review.’ All you are able to do is ask them to consider leaving you a review online.
Schedule Your First Campaign
I hope you’re beginning to see the necessity of online marketing in your company’s success and the simplicity (albeit hard work) of building your online reputation.
If you are ready, go ahead and begin your campaign. Offer excellent services, choose a review platform, design your own review tutorial, then just do it: send that first email. You won’t regret it, and your business will thank you later.
Most clients are very receptive to helping you in this way, and after your first campaign is a success, you will want to think about an ongoing plan to regularly enhance your online reputation.
Create a solid online presence based on positive reviews, and you are well on your way to effectively managing your most valuable company asset: your reputation.
Thank you for joining me today. If you have any further questions or comments, please join the conversation in the comments below.
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