Building a reputation online with reputation marketing is a crucial piece to any local businesses marketing strategy. Ryan Paul Adams and Ron Rodi, Jr. discuss the key reasons why your local business can no longer afford NOT to have a reputation online. With key strategies and direction you can implement into your business today and help you become the clear market leader in your local market.
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Building a Reputation Online With Reputation Marketing
Ron: Good morning! This is Ron Rodi Jr. of PME360: Powering Marketing Excellence. Also with me this morning, I have Ryan Paul Adams, also from PME360.
Ryan, good morning!
Ryan: Good morning!
Ron: How are you doing today? Happy Friday!
Ryan: Great. You as well.
Ron: Thank you.
So interesting topic today, one that I enjoy discussing and I’ve been reading a lot about lately and it has come to a forefront to many of the things that we do together.
Today, we’re going to be talking about Reputation Management.
Reputation management and why it is important for small businesses. The term reputation management is relatively new. It goes back about to 2007 when it started becoming a more of a common term.
And we want to talk about reputation management – how it applies to small businesses today.
I’m sure many of you are familiar with the concept for individuals. But as I’d like to do, I’m going to go ahead and quote our great resource, Wikipedia. And take us through that a little bit.
So according to Wikipedia, reputation management is the practice of understanding or influencing an individual’s or a business’ reputation. And it also goes into saying that it is the practice of monitoring the reputation of an individual or a brand.
Addressing contents which are damaging to it, using customer feedback to get positive influence or gain warning signals to reputation problems. So it’s a lot right there. I think we’re going to talk about a few of them. But what are your thoughts on that?
Ryan: Having been in the marketing industry for a while now, reputation management is a big buzz word Social media, obviously, SEO, pay per click (PPC), all these terms are floating out there for business owners. And personally, I don’t really like the term reputation management because it implies that you already have the reputation online to manage.
And most of the businesses I ran into really don’t even have a reputation online yet. They really can’t be found. They have no reviews. They have no marketing funnel.
So I really like the term reputation marketing. I think it gets to the core of really what local business owners should be focusing on.
Marketing your reputation, to me, that’s more of the practice of actively marketing, managing and promoting of a brand consistently online and offline. It should use a variety of strategies to control their entire internet presence including reviews, social media, local listings, vertical directories, forums, blogs and branded websites. All of these things come into play when you’re talking about reputation marketing versus management.
Again, management implies you have all this stuff already going and you just need to manage the conversation that’s going on online. And with small businesses, they just don’t have any of that.
Ron: The term reputation management, like what you said, implies that someone already has some reputation to manage.
Ryan: To me, it does.
Ron: Most small businesses don’t have a reputation. And you still need to cultivate that reputation, as what you’re saying. And they just start to and nurture it, is that what you’re getting at?
Ryan: Exactly. A lot of people have shied away from it. They’re probably heard the term reputation management and they’ve been bombarded by companies trying to sell them software of some kind, servers or whatever services out there.
And they don’t really get it. Like they think that reputation management is just for big companies, Fortune 500 companies like Coca Cola, etc. to manage this big brand or this big reputation online.
But they’re completely missing the reputation marketing portion of it which encompasses all the things we talk about at PME360. And actively getting customers you had in the past to leave or say nice things about you online.
You have to cultivate that process. A lot of people will do that themselves but it’s just a small minority in the market. There are a very few number of people who will leave a review on Yelp or Google+ local. You have to be in the center of asking people to do this for you.
And that’s reputation marketing and not just management which is sitting back and waiting for things to happen and then responding. I just think there’s a big difference between the two.
Ron: So you touched on a number of points here, actually. And maybe we can go back to a couple of them.
So one of the things I wanted to point out. Business owners think reputation management and they automatically think reviews and they say, oh well, I have an account on Yelp. I have some reviews and maybe there’s some negative and some positive, but, I’m all set.
What is your response to that when you hear a business owner say that I have a Yelp account and I’ve received a handful of reviews? What’s good and bad about that?
Ryan: I think you need to take a look at your market. If your local market have competitors that have a hundred reviews and you have five, who’s going to look like a power player in that market?
So it’s all about competition. It’s all competition related.
And you want to be the person in your market that has way more nice things being said about online as compared to a direct competitor.
The reviews don’t all have to be positive reviews. It wouldn’t look that natural if every review you have is positive. Say you have hundreds of reviews, a few negative reviews out there will actually look more realistic for the potential buyer or customer.
You made a couple of mistakes, it’s fine. But what did you do when you made those mistakes. We can go on into responding to negative reviews and negative reputation issues. But that’s the idea.
You’re looking into your competition. Even your competition has no reviews in your local market, it doesn’t mean you should stay where you are and say that this is not important to my marketing strategy. We don’t need reviews because no one else has.
Be the person. Be the leader.
Ron: I like that you’re fired up this morning.
Ryan: Too much coffee.
Ron: So I want to paint a scenario here that I like to use in the sales process to kind of give the business owner an understanding of how people find their business online.
Let me take you through that real quick. So oftentimes, I talk to business owners and we talk about their websites. We talk about their foundation and everyone is concerned about SEO, PPC but no one knows what to do with it.
Foundationally, for your business, 9 times out of 10, if you are a local home improvement contractor, you have a truck that’s parked outside of your neighbor’s. Lt’s say you’re doing a job and you’ve been on a job for 3 weeks. Well, that’s advertising already.
You’ve probably done some print mailing, some print pieces or you benefit from word of mouth. Well, people need to know what your business really is in order to start the search process for you. So this isn’t necessarily about getting into reviews for search results.
This is really fundamental at its core going back to the core principles of marketing, when someone knows your business name and your neighbor that sees your truck parked outside for the last 3 weeks. And they’re going to go and Google your company’s name because they probably are curious.
They probably got some home improvement project coming up. They’ve been thinking about what they want to do. They are probably thinking, they’re going to Google and put in your name.
Of course, they will see your website. We’ve always talked about having rivers of information. So again people want to see a validation. They want to validate you. They just don’t want to see your website. They want to see what others are saying.
And really, it can be argued that reviews are the most credible form of advertising. Because really, if you think about it, 84% of people will trust reviews from customers over reviews or professional opinions from an expert.
It goes back to the fact that you don’t want to have just the website or the foundational information. But people will inevitably come across your business name. They are going to want to check out what other people are saying about you. I think that’s key before you start talking about anything else online.
This could really be the core foundational principle of any sort of online marketing. Not only that, it would strengthen the other campaigns you’re doing.
Ryan: And I think, if I was meeting with somebody tomorrow and they haven’t done any online marketing yet, they don’t even have a website. I would tell them, “You need to start. You need to get a reputation online.
You need to get a simple site. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated. But it has to look pretty good. It has to have a web form there with your phone number and information about your company so you can get some lead.
And off of that website, we need to control your business name, your address and phone number: the “NAP”. And we need to have that information on a lot of different sites so that when people are searching for your business name in Google, Yahoo or Bing, lots of different sites are coming up with consistent information. And it makes you appear that you have your stuff together.
Psychologically, what you’re doing to somebody who’s Googling your name? When you have all this information is firstly, pushing out competitors that are squatting on your name. That is huge. That alone would be worth doing this.
But you are controlling information. You are looking like a company that knows what it’s doing. You are the company that cares, that gets this whole thing. This gets the person to maybe do the next step.
And if those other information is reviews, social media content or blog content – all those other stuff that you can grow into. Now you have a reputation online that’s worth managing, protecting and continuing to market.
Ron: So reputation management is not necessarily just reviews. A lot of business owners are scared to talk about reviews because they’re exposing themselves to customers. Let’s face it, anyone can go online and write a review.
What’s positive about reputation marketing is controlling that review and having a third party company come in, actively seek positive reviews and positive customer feedback from satisfied clients. I know a lot of business owners are probably saying I don’t have time to do this although it sounds great.
There are of course providers namely PME360 that could do this for you.
But the point being is it’s just not reviews. I did want to talk about one thing you’ve brought up there. In my sales dealings, you talk about this name, address and phone number. I believe you called it NAP. And there are so many different directories out there. As you mentioned, when somebody Googles your name.
For example, you are business owner XYZ. I’m going to Google XYZ Company in Boston. And that domain is of course going to come up.
But underneath that on the search results, what will follow after?
And those that don’t have reviews, for one, you won’t see any of those reviews.
But what you run the risk of you having these directory sites pop up. And not to knock these directory sites as they still are very important. But oftentimes, they are preloaded.
They might be preloaded with information about your business that might not be accurate. So it is your responsibility to claim these listings. That’s a lot of work in itself, isn’t it not?
And having up to date, accurate information, how many times have you gone to Merchant Circle for example or some sort of a local directory and there’s incomplete information about your business, right?
So you’re inviting that prospect to start questioning you. Again as we talked about quite often, we don’t want that to happen.
And it’s very important that you have that information filled up correctly. So again, as you mentioned, reputation management or marketing is not just reviews. It’s also about having directory cleaned up.
Ryan: A lot of this local directory sites are where people have learned to go to find business they want to work with. For some reason, they like local.com or they like Yelp. There are hundreds of them out there.
So they’ve been conditioned now, like “You know what, the last time I found a plumber or my bankruptcy attorney, I went to this directory. And I did my search and found some great information. I called them, they were great.
Now they go back to the same source and they do it. So whether they start out with Google or not, there is built-in traffic within these directories.
So if your information is incorrect or your listing aren’t fully filled up with pictures, videos, good descriptions, etc. You’re missing business. There’s no doubt about that.
Ron: People may stumble and just pass you by because you don’t have that presence within. So you’re telling me as a business owner that I have to have a presence established within these directories.
Ryan: You do. You absolutely do. Because you look at the way which buying has changed. It starts with a Google search. And you don’t know who you really are looking got yet. You’re starting out with like, I need a plumber in Chicago.
You start there and you get a bunch of different plumbers that you can potentially work with. Hopefully, you’re on page 1 to stand out. And then they start doing their research. They start looking at these companies. Then they will go back and they will search for those companies’ names to see what comes up.
The guys who have power listings with tons of good information, lots of good reviews – it’s just clear you are the winner.
If there are good things being said about you, you’ve got this stuff out – there is no competition. There isn’t. You’ve just completely crushed your competitors who are not doing this.
Then they take that next step: I’ve got to go back. Look at the site again or take a look at their social media profile. Oh, they’ve got great information. I’m going to reach out to them.
Ron: It is having that 100% profile created. You hear that about a social media site. Having your web presence 100% filled out. And having just your website is probably 50%. Everything else makes up the rest of it.
And the more completeness you have, the less holes or the less leaks you’re going to have. And the less leaks in your funnel, the more likely that prospects are going to enter that funnel. Find your company or the information about your company. Follow it all the way down because you’re going to be validated. You’re going to have a presence wherever they will go and look. You’re going to have positive reviews. You’re going to have complete directory listings filled out.
Make it easy for your prospects. Again, like what you said, there will be no other competition. Because people aren’t doing it. People aren’t doing this at all.
I talk to business owners all the time. As a matter of fact, I was just talking to one yesterday. And they’re slammed. They’re slammed with leads. They got a lot of work going on. And that’s great.
But can you imagine how much, how many deals they would close by having presence online?
And not only that, taking a step further, customers are willing to pay more to go with the company that has positive reviews.
So now, you’re chasing these leads. You don’t know what to do with it. Great. You’re running around as a business owner. You’re doing quotes. You’re doing all this. But the point being is getting better results from what you have. It’s not always about spending more money. It’s about improving your process – what you have now.
And again, people are willing to pay more. Studies have shown that people will pay a premium of 30% to go with the company that is well-reviewed. Think about that.
Ryan: Be a clear market leader. That’s what you have to be. You got to be head and shoulders above your competitors. You can’t just be in the mix with your competitors. You got to be the clear market leader.
When you are the clear market leader, you can pretty much charge what you want within reason. We’re not saying, apples to apples, you can charge $10,000 more for a siding job. Unless you have this crazy guarantee, I just don’t see that happening. But you can charge a few thousand dollars more like Ron said, up to 30% more. That sounds about right to me.
Let’s take a step back, I hear a lot of people say, my business is 100% built on referrals. And that’s awesome. You’ve gotten this far in your business while not really having to market at all. And you’re relying on referrals, that means you are doing a lot of great things. But outside of this circle of referrals and people you’ve done business with, you don’t really exist.
I think you are even missing business because you don’t have a reputation online. From referrals, take that step and go to Google and say, you know what, I’ve been referred to this guy to do this work. I’m going to see what they say about him online. I want to call him. They don’t probably have your phone number, they might not have your email.
They’re going to search for that siding contractor, that bankruptcy attorney or whoever they’re looking for, and this other company came up and they have a great website. And they have lots of other people talking about them. I think I’m just going to go with them.
You can’t let hot prospects off the hook and have doubts enter their minds as to whether or not they should call you.
You don’t have a choice anymore. You have to find somebody or a process to build this reputation and internet presence. If you don’t do this, you just won’t be able to grow in your local market. Growth isn’t going to happen. I don’t see how.
Ron: That’s a pretty strong referral to get through all of those traps, right? For someone to go online and not find any information. They’re going to start questioning that referral source. And like what you talked about multiple times, why not tap into that referral source?
And put them online. Go to that referral source or have a third party company or you could automate this stuff. It could be to a point where you have a company and once a month they reach out. They garner these reviews.
Use that referral source. Bring them online and breathe a whole new life to that referral source.
So now these referral sources are giving you positive reviews – that’s what they’re doing for you. They’re doing it anyway. Now you’re just asking them to do it. And you are putting it online. Boom! You are turning on that light switch. You’re really brightening up your reputation.
Ryan: When I built a house last year, I dealt with a lot of contractors in the process. And considering that there was a lot of money changing hands here (as in me paying them), not one of them reached out to me and said through an email or a handwritten thank you note:
“Hey! We really appreciate your business. You trusted me to do this. It means a lot to me. I would really appreciate that, if my work was really up to par, could you please leave a review online?”
I could have done that for every single one of them who sent me that.
Take it a step further,
If you know other people, if you wouldn’t mind referring me. Here’s my process for referral.
And then, it doesn’t end there. That’s one touch. Do it a couple of times. Call them on the phone. Use it as an opportunity to say “Thank you.”
You hit them with a phone call. You hit them with an email, with a thank you note. If that’s too much work for you, then I’m sorry but your competitors are going to start doing this if they are not already.
And they will continue gobbling up market share. And you will be left scratching your head wondering, “Where did all the customers go in my market?”
Well, they went to the guy doing all this.
Ron: Exactly. And it’s difficult enough to keep everything all straight. But having a process in which you can reach out and do these touches, it’s ultimately – it’s a very regular story out there.
Ryan: It didn’t sit well with me that I had spent all this money and I didn’t feel appreciated by any of the guys.
And I’m probably going to build another house in a few years. It is most likely, I am not going to use any of the guys. I’m just not.
Again, I paid a lot of money. But I felt I wasn’t appreciated as a customer. You can’t assume that your customers feel appreciated.
You just cannot assume that you did the work and that’s the end of the story. You got to have to take it to the next step. Make sure that they are happy and that they understand that you appreciated their business. That’s all they’re looking for. And they will spread the word at the end of the day.
Ron: True. So what do you have to say to the business owner that says, “Well, I’ve tried to reach out to people in the past and it’s hard enough to get them to respond. I’ll just sign up to a service like Yelp or something like that. I’ll let them take care of it.”
So what do you have to say to those people who say, if this doesn’t work, I don’t have time for it.
Ryan: I talked with Josh Long yesterday on our podcast about Building a Marketing Funnel and what came up is that, most people in marketing, especially small to medium sized companies, try something but they don’t give it long enough to work.
So they’ll sign up for internet marketing services. Or they’ll sign up for a review service and maybe money’s tight or whatever, and they just give it 2 to 3 months then they start panicking. This doesn’t work and they stop. Meanwhile, all this momentum was building and you were just about to reap the rewards of that momentum.
But you don’t give it enough time. The same thing happens in the review process. You’ve sent 5 postcards out and nobody responded.
Well, that sample set is so small. It’s not even a sample set. You can’t even call it that. Even sending out a hundred mailings.
You’ve got to keep at it. You’ve got to build a marketing budget to do this stuff. You’ve got to keep testing. You’ve got to keep doing. Keep moving forward. It doesn’t mean just throwing good money after bad. But you’ve got to give this stuff long enough to evolve. And that’s one of the big reasons why at PME360, we require a 12 month agreement.
And if that doesn’t work for you, then we’re not the right fit because we know that this works. We know it does. The customer or the prospect has to know that when you sign up with us, you have to give this enough time for it to work.
I don’t want to hear that in 3 months, you are coming back to me and be like, “I didn’t get 40 phone calls yet.”
Ron: Well, like what we’re talking about, it’s not just about the 40 new phone calls. It’s about the existing calls you are getting. And that validation.
This can have direct and indirect benefits. To me, it’s just like any marketing – it takes time.
I think having an established web presence, that’s hard to take away from you. You run an ad in the newspaper or the yellow pages and it’s gone.
But having that web presence, you can’t take that away at the end of the day. And the more you build it, the better it is.
Ryan: And you’ve got to look at what’s your strategy – your long term exit strategy. Every local business, every small business should be building something that eventually they could sell.
Think about how much more your business is worth if you have an awesome online presence, a great website, tons of reviews and a great reputation.
Think about the buyer who comes in and wants to buy the company. You have all this stuff on. You have invested on it for the last 10 years.
You’re the clear market leader. You can charge more to sell this company. It’s not anymore about getting leads. It is a part of what it would accomplish that. But it’s also about the long term exit strategy, too.
You really have to be thinking about that.
Ron: Absolutely. And thank you for reminding me about that. To incorporate that within a sales process is something that I always talk about.
What is it you are doing? You have this asset. Your website is your asset. Your online presence is an asset. And you’re building that up.
Again, I go back to Yellow Pages and other old forms of advertising – while these could still be effective at the end of the day they’re gone. So you can’t show a prospective buyer your business’ outdated yellowbook where you had an ad from. That’s not probably tracked anyway.
Not to beat a dead horse here but having that presence established is huge.
Ryan: Think about how much better all of your advertising would do. Your postcard mailings, your yellowpages, your radio, TV or newspaper ads.
Think about putting all that marketing on steroids. Because what people are going to do after they look at your ad.
You probably going to have your website link in there. If you don’t have one, I would go and look. I would do a Google search and find out. I want to contact this company. I want to see what they have to say.
If you have that stuff in place, all of your advertising should do much better. And there’s one last thing that I want to touch on here.
The small businesses and local companies that go and they set up all these social sites like Facebook. They got their fan page up, they got their Twitter page up. Those are probably the core that most people start with, maybe Pinterest as well.
But they’ve set all those up and they don’t do anything. Or they set up a blog on their site and it’s empty. Or they have one post and it was 3 years ago.
Ron: Or they have old reviews.
Ryan: They have old reviews. Nobody has reviewed them in 3 years or 2 years, whatever.
What is that? A prospect goes into your site and sees a blog that’s not been updated for a long time.
They go to your Facebook page, same deal. They start asking questions as to whether or not your company is still in business.
“It’s a ghost town. Why can’t they update this? Why don’t they have any information? They have this here. I don’t get it.”
And even if they don’t understand internet marketing, they understand that much that they think it’s weird.
If the other company that they look it has all this great information, then they might just go and deal with them. All because they were not so sure about your company.
So again, you can’t put any doubts.
Ron: I’m sure the business owner who’s listening to this is saying, “Well, I don’t have the time to do it.”
Well, the answer to that is either to find the time. You can do it on your own. I know we have a service offering. And it’s really an affordable stage of your marketing. It’s something you need to dedicate time and resources to. Because in the long run, it’s the only thing to do.
Ryan: If you are looking for some help, we’ve got a couple of things we are offering as far as helping you lay out a strategy and get accustomed to the things you should be doing. And to help you address the mistakes you are making right now.
Ron and I both offer a 30 minute strategy session. Go on our website and request one. We’ll talk to you for 30 minutes. And help you figure out what you should be doing and what you should be focusing on. The reason we’re doing that is we love helping small businesses.
This is what we are passionate about. This is what we do.
So we can just do that for you and help you get going in the right direction. We just really like doing that. Being a part of helping small business grow, it makes us happy.
Ron: And we’re not going to spin your head with technical information, jargons or stuff that you don’t understand. We’re going to talk to you in a way that you are going to understand.
We are not going to intimidate you. We are not forceful pushy sales people. That’s the last thing you want to deal with. As a business owner, you will be bombarded constantly. We know how you feel. You get calls. People are chasing you to the point they are forcing you to do something. That’s not how it is in PME360.
We want to make sure we are fit for each other. If we are not, we’ll acknowledge that we are not a fit on that 30-minute phone call.
And there’s no obligation from there. If you’re interested in that, I know Ryan is working very hard. And, I’m putting together a local marketing blueprint.
You are not quite sure what to do, we’ll layout a strategy for you. This is after the 30-minute strategy session. If you want to take that next step, we have a local marketing blueprint that we can help you with.
And if you are ready for the monthly type of commitment, we have various plans that start with the foundation.
We encourage you to take us up on that offer. It is something we take a pride in. And really, frankly, we find a lot of joy doing.
We want to change people’s lives. We want to help turn your business around. We want to help you succeed.
And it is really about listening to one trusted source. Stop listening to all the other noise that’s out there. Let us help you cut through the noise. Figure out what to do and really, let’s get going.
Ryan: Money loves speed. The faster you can implement, the faster your business will start to ramp up. You’ll grow, you’ll build higher, you’ll get these things going in the right direction.
If nothing else, just use the free resources we are providing – on our blog, on our podcast, in our news section and social media. We have a ton of information now that if you use the things we are teaching and talking about, you can grow really fast.
It’s just a matter of who’s going to do it. You got to figure that out. And unfortunately, unless you hire a company, it’s probably going end up to be you or an assistant or someone in your office.
But there are lots of options out there.
So don’t delay. Get going. You don’t have a choice anymore. Get your reputation going.
Ron: We know how it is as business owner, there’s a lot to do. Whether it’s PME 360 or anyone else, find a partner that you can trust. That has an interest in your business. That’s going to follow up. That really has an interest in seeing your business succeeding.
We’d love to hear from you.
Go to www.pme360.com. That’s PME as in Powering Marketing Excellence 360.com.
We got a couple of different offers on our website. I’m sure you can poke around and check out our news. Check out our blog feed. Check out some of our offers and we look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you for your time this morning Ryan. Anything you wanted to add?
Ryan: No that will do it. Thank you.
Ron: Fantastic! Talk to you soon.
Ryan: Yeah, bye!