The Ratings are Coming
Small businesses have always known the importance of word of mouth. Many successful businesses have been built on word of mouth referrals, and many have been killed by bad word of mouth.
But now the landscape is changing, making word of mouth more important than ever - only now, that word of mouth is being communicated on the Internet.
People - your customers - are turning to the Internet as their primary source of information on products and services. Instead of opening the yellow pages of their phone book, they turn to Yahoo or Google. And in addition to websites and listings for local businesses, they are finding ratings and reviews!
Sites like Amazon.com and ePinions pioneered product rating systems. In some categories, these ratings have become essential to a product's success: more than 60% of consumer electronics purchasers report that they consult online ratings before making a purchase decision!
Ratings have also become common is a few other business categories, such as restaurants and hotels.
But the online ratings explosion is just starting; Internet entrepreneurs are demonstrating that virtually anything can be rated online.
RateMyProfessors.com, launched in 1999, allows college students to rate - well, professors. The site has accumulated over 3 million ratings, and has spun off another site, RateMyTeachers.com, aimed at high school and elementary students.
ApartmentRatings.com has the most comprehensive database of apartment ratings, with almost 250,000 reviews. RateMDs.com was formed to allow patients to rate their doctors. A new site, ClubRatingz.com, allows patrons to rate nightclubs and bars (perhaps while recovering from hangovers?)
Rating sites are even risking the wrath of the legal profession: LawyerRatingz.com provides attorney ratings and reviews.
All of these sites feature a fair share of rants and raves. Many of the comments are semi-coherent ramblings, often typed with Caps Lock down. But surprisingly, over time and with enough ratings, a fairly accurate picture emerges. Some reviewers provide well-thought reviews and useful information. And the sites are being visited and read!
The ratings phenomena may not have reached your industry or your community, but it probably will. So what can you do about it?
First, be aware of ratings sites. Use a search engine to look for rating sites in your area and business. (Search for things like landscaper ratings in Pittsburgh or hair salon reviews in Sacramento.) You may find that your business is already listed on a rating site. If it is, make sure that the basic listing information (business name, location, website) is correct, and if not, contact the site operator. If your business is not listed, see if there is a way to add your listing. Do not pay for this service! Legitimate rating sites are not supported by the businesses being rated! (However, a few sites offer enhanced "listings" for a small fee. Consider paying for this is the site seems to be well run and have a lot of traffic.)
Check the rating sites regularly. You might actually get some good information on how customers see your business, and where you need to make improvements.
Encourage your patrons to rate your business. Satisfied customers will give you good ratings. (Don't try to "flood" a rating site with bogus reviews; many of these sites use algorithms to detect the source of ratings, and may even remove businesses that try to cheat.)
If you get a bad review, there's probably not much you can do about it. The rating and review sites are on pretty solid legal ground, and most will not remove bad reviews. However, some sites have a mechanism for responding to a review, so be sure to ask about this. If nothing else, you can submit your own review and calmly refute the complaints of other reviewers. Be careful to stay calm and professional, and not get into online debates that can damage your credibility.
In the end, business success is still based on word of mouth - but now more people are listening.
Bob Nicholson / WYGK Consulting provides business, technology and strategic consulting for small businesses, internet start-ups and entrepreneurs.
Advertising by textad.biz
Go Ahead, click an ad, you know you want to.
Media Contact Lists and How to Build a Fantastic One
I got the latest issue of Internet Works in the post yesterday and was disappointed to find out that it's going to be the last. As well as having the good taste to run a feature on me last year (!) Internet Works has been a great source of information and ideas for me for the last couple of years and it's demise will leave a gap.
Sound Like Your Situation?
What a shame! Potentially productive public relations people resting on their oars in a large organization. Just kind of tinkering with tactics and leaving target audience perceptions (and behaviors) to pretty much do their own thing.
Youve Done PR the Hard Way Long Enough
As a business, non-profit or association manager, let the tacticians handle the special events, brochures and press releases from now on.You have better things to do.
Get Write To It
The toughest thing about writing a news release is getting started. But writing doesn't have to be hard.
What to Do When the Reporter Calls: Five Tips for New (and not-so-new) Business Owners
New business owners often miss out on publicity opportunities because they think it's a nuisance to talk to reporters. In fact, publicity can be far more valuable than advertising.
The Feeding Tube for Your Business
There are a lot of things that make a business full of clients and running smoothly.We all know you need a constant stream of clients.
PR: Your 500 Pound Gorilla
What else, for goodness sake, could you as a business, non-profit or association manager, call a heavy-duty helper who does something REALLY positive about the behaviors of those outside audiences of yours that most affect your organization?And that uses the fundamental premise of public relations to deliver the kind of external stakeholder behavior change that leads directly to achieving your managerial objectives?And does it all by persuading those important outside folks to your way of thinking, moving them to take actions that help your department, division or subsidiary succeed?Man, that's one heavy workload for a very large monkey!And here's the core message he brings to you. Your public relations effort must involve more than news releases, special events and brochures if you really want to get your money's worth.
Why Not PR That Gets Real Results?
And not results you can measure only in terms of magazine circulation, TV audience numbers, or news release pickups.But rather, results that come from a public relations effort that creates the kind of key stakeholder behavior change that leads directly to achieving your managerial objectives.
Financial Planners, Follow These Guidelines to Get Free Publicity
Be a ResourceThe media people that are likely to want to speak to financial planners are usually working on stories that will help people: help them get out of debt, make smarter investment decisions, or save for retirement.They look to financial planners to be a resource for these people.
Another way to really become known in your area is to speak up. Make yourself available to talk to every civic,business and educational group that will have you.
Marketing-Minded Financial Planners, Join Your Professional Organization to Get Free Publicity
Unlike some professionals like lawyers and doctors, financial planners aren't required to be members of a professional association.However, if you want to take advantage of a great way to get free publicity, you marketing-minding financial professionals will join an association like the Financial Planning Association or the Society of Financial Service Professionals.
Public Relations 8 Fix Factors
I say to business, non-profit and association managers, a key part of your job description is - or should be - do everything you can to help your organization's public relations effort as it strives to persuade important outside stakeholders to your way of thinking. Especially when it's YOUR PR program that is tasked to move those stakeholders to behaviors that lead to the success of YOUR department or division.
Marketing-Minded Financial Planners Piggyback on Topic A to Get Free Publicity
That big story the media pursue each day is what I call Topic A. And even if it doesn't seem to have anything to do with financial planning, it often lead to huge media visibility for you.
4th Quarter 2003 Publicity = 1st Quarter 2004 Prosperity
As the year starts to wind down, many businesses and entrepreneurs are making plans and budgets for the year 2004. Those plans could include anything from setting up goals for new products to preparing marketing, sales and PR/publicity campaigns.
Achieve Media Attention for Your Business
Do you want to be quoted by the national press on a daily basis? (How much would that be worth to your business?)In the past six months, I've been quoted in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The International Herald Tribune, Entrepreneur, The Associated Press, PBS, Voice of America, Family Circle, Glamour, Redbook, Self, Health, Prevention, Parents, Parenting, Women's World, First for Women, Newsday, Newsweek, Salon, In Touch Weekly--and even The National Enquirer.In fact, I've been quoted in over 100 prestigious U.
Is PR All About Image? NO!!
That's like asking if advertising is all about type faces and photography. The answer to both questions is a teeth-clenched "of course not!"What public relations IS all about, rather than hollow images, is the very real business of dealing effectively with target audience perceptions and behaviors that have a major effect on an organization.
The MOST Powerful Marketing and Advertising on the Planet!
It sounds too simple to be true, but it really is..
Nows The Time To Get Christmas Media Coverage
Publicity seekers know that Christmas can provide a bonanza of media coverage. Every media outlet, it seems is cranking out a special edition on gifts for the winter holidays.
How To Get Radio-Active PR For Your Non-Profit Cause: Part Two of Three
FIVE WAYS TO GET ON THE RADIOHere are five basic methods of fitting your group into the programming at radio stations:1) Spot messages2) Feature stories3) News4) Interviews5) And becoming a reporter.Here are details on each method.
PR Going According to Plan?
Think carefully! You're a department, division or subsidiary manager for a business, non-profit or association and you really need to achieve your operating objectives.But even a yes response to the headline above leaves the really big question unanswered - does your current public relations plan help persuade your most important outside audiences to your way of thinking, then move them to take actions that lead to your success?If the answer to that question is uncertain or even no, change is in order.
|home | site map|