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Use Reputation Marketing to Increase Sales

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Create a Reputation Strategy

So what is a business to do? How do you offset the negativity? Can you ethically create a good reputation that’s not phony?

The answer is, “Yes.”

Here’s what you do.

First, accept you cannot permanently get rid of bad reviews. If you take legal action against Google or Yelp, you better have deep pockets.

Yet, you can constantly gather good reviews and create a process to get good reviews coming in. This is far easier than it sounds. You simply need to create the process and assign an employee to do it. Once you start getting the good reviews, they will push down the bad reviews and make them harder to see and ultimately read. Plus, if you’re overwhelming the reader with good reviews, the bad reviews will lose their impact. In fact, done correctly the bad reviews will appear like the reviewer is a curmudgeon or that perhaps your office just had a bad day and it’s not normally a bad place to go to at all.

And that is the power of reputation marketing. Doing correctly can significantly increase business. Ignoring or mishandling it can be detrimental to your business.

Another thing you should do is submit reviews in key places. Create your own review and authority sites to host those reviews so your customers, patients, and clients can see them. Configure them online to where the reviews you’ve been collecting will permeate the Internet whenever people want to know if you’re worthy of them giving you their money or not.

Next, create a way to monitor whenever bad comments about you are made. When they’re made, you should be notified immediately so you can deal with it accordingly. Consider using services like Google Alerts for this.

Next, have patients or customers complete a survey that is designed to elicit a positive review. Then take that information and post it on your review sites. Remember, you can’t — and should not — post these reviews on Google and Yelp for the customers; only they can do that. But you can post on your own review sites and that is highly encouraged.

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SEO Tips for Local Contractors

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Local contractors have it difficult when it comes to online marketing. They are typically sole proprietorships or small, family-owned businesses, and cost-conscious. Owners and managers of these contracting companies typically don’t have a lot of time to devote to marketing activities, which they must do themselves while keeping their promotion budgets as low as possible. Local contractors are increasingly reliant upon a combination of word-of-mouth client referrals and search engine referrals. Word-of-mouth can grow naturally, but search engine rankings won’t always happen without intentionally feeding and watering a company’s online presence.

Tips for Local Search Rankings for Contractors

  • Have a website.
  • Include basic features in your website that consumers would look for.Tell who you are on your “About Us” page. Consider including a photo of you and your employees, and mention any official certifications you have. On a “Services” page, include lists of the main things that you do and what payment options you accept. On your home page, list the names of cities and neighborhoods where you provide services.
  • Have a blog on your site.
  • Make sure your business is listed in major online business directories and yellow pages sites.
    Check: GetListed.org and Universal Business Listing
  • Take photos of your work regularly and post the best ones on your website or blog.
  • Share the photos of your work on Pinterest and Flickr.
  • Include a trust seal badge on your website home page.
  • Add the author tag to your website and blog.
  • Get more reviews and ratings.
  • Get active in social media.
  • Get professional help

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7 Traits of a Great Business Blog

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I don’t think there’s a formula or recipe for business blogging success, but I do think there are some traits that are common to great company blogs. You don’t need to have all of these things, but I think your chances of having a successful business blog will be better if at least several of these things describe your blog.

1) Problem-Solving A great company blog solves people’s problems. It sells through helping and education. 2) Openness 3) Personality Think of it this way: Nobody likes a stuffy company blog. 4) A Plan

  • How often will you publish?
  • What types of articles will you publish?
  • Who all in your company will be charged with writing for the blog?
  • If you have multiple authors, who’s going to manage them?
  • What will your comment policy be?
5) Persistence

6) Passion If you don’t really love and believe in the products or services you offer, it’ll be difficult to convert blog readers into customers. 7) Variety Your blog posts shouldn’t all read like news releases. They shouldn’t all be designed to sell. They shouldn’t all be the same length. They shouldn’t stick to a company formula. Variety is a great way to keep readers’ interested.

2 Traits You Don’t Need for a Great Business Blog

1) Perfect Writing
2) Technical Skills and/or Money
 

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8 Ways to Recognize Fake Google Reviews

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Fake reviews are the plague of Google Places. The search company is reportedly working on improving their anti-spam algorithm, but the status quo (according to my small-scale research) is that over 50% of the reviews are either fake, or not left by the customers themselves (which is against the terms of service). This percentage may go to over 90% when talking about service-based businesses, and specifically locksmiths, garage door repair, towing, taxis, movers, plumbers, electricians, painters, HVAC engineers, to which we could add bail bonds, personal injury attorneys, escort services, and limousine services.

1) Reviewer’s other reviews

This is the strongest signal. Google Places allows everyone to check the profile of each reviewer. In the majority of the cases the fake reviews are being left by fraudulent “reputation management” or “SEO” companies, which frequently handle tens, or even hundreds of listings. They have the habit of posting the reviews via the same accounts.

2) Generic reviews

Very often the fake reviews are written using a template

3) Reviewer’s avatar

Many of the sock puppet profiles, created for the sole purpose of writing fake reviews, use as avatars either non-face/non-person images, or images of faces stolen from the Internet.

4) Best-ever badgeVery few users actually know about this feature or how to use it, because it is practically hidden deeply inside the profile. Even fewer would choose a plumber, or carpet cleaner, as their most favourite local business.

5) Same reviews

One can easily discover if a review has already been written somewhere else on the web by a simple search on Google.com.

6) A couple of 1-star reviews, and 20 5-star ones

7. All reviews posted along a short period of time

8. The overall appearance of the Google Places listing

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Your Social Media Marketing Plan in 5 Easy Steps

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Many marketers launch their social media programs because they feel they need to and then scramble to understand both how they will make these work and how they will be managed. Most of them do this with no goal in mind and worse, no understanding of how social media marketing (SMM) works.

Many believe that social is the answer to customer acquisition and are short-sided in defining realistic results. Unfortunately this all results in lost time, lost customers, lost market share, and lost profitability.

Stop chasing your tail in social. Start your SMM planning right by following these five easy steps.

SMM Step 1: Create Your Executive Overview Business Plan

Spell out your business in a one-pager to realize why you need social:

  • Your Business Mission and History
  • Your Business or Revenue Model
  • Descriptions of your Products & Services
  • Details of Your Target Audience
  • Review of Your Current Marketing Efforts

SMM Step 2: Define Your Specific Social Media Goals

Here are some specific SMM goals you might use after completing your business review:

  • Validate a new product or service using social as a research platform.
  • Develop buzz and interest around a new product.
  • Engage users in social to generate relevant and targeted traffic to your site.
  • Gain market share by leading customer/client service through social.
  • Generate registrations to branded events through social.

SMM Step 3: Find Your SMM Voice

Choosing your social tools appropriately is an essential piece of your online communications plan, so choose wisely.

SMM Step 5: Plan & Execute Content & Delivery

What you need to define:

  • Your frequency of content delivery & response to social engagement.
  • Your types and specific topics for content creation.
  • Ways to increase audience engagement.
  • Events that can drive social.
  • Your social success metrics (number of followers, number of fans, volume of traffic back to site, number of retweets, etc.).

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What’s So Special About Web Writing?

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Keep It Short
If there’s any content in your marketing materials that could be considered “fluff,” get rid of it. Keep it short, and more importantly, keep it simple.
email-newsletters

Comparison of the AWeber website and the MailChimp website.

Help Users Scan and Find Information

Consistent use of headers is essential on the web, and they need to be descriptive to give users a sense of what content is on the page and where they can find the information they need.

Use Your Audience’s Language

This issue comes up frequently when trying to optimize content for search. If you’re not using the words users are searching for, you won’t be showing up in their search results.

Test With Users

User feedback is the Holy Grail of web writing.

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SEO & Keywords: Think Conversions, Not Rankings

by Search engine optimization (SEO) has changed dramatically over the years and will continue to change. SEO firms of all sizes face challenges with selling, delivering, and ultimately demonstrating results of services to end clients. However, reporting on improvements in keyword position is pointless without applying keyword visits and conversion data. We know SEO is an ongoing, long-term process. More specifically, it’s the process of continually discovering highly converting, non-branded keywords that are driving organic search traffic and conversions. It’s about understanding search intent and how keywords used to describe your products and services evolve as a prospect progresses through the buying cycle. It is then about having insight into great data and taking action by including those optimized keywords in your content marketing plan. Read full article…

How to Find Prospects on LinkedIn

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linkedin-iconWhat Facebook is to personal connections, LinkedIn is to business. It can be a vital part of your strategy for obtaining new clients. In this article, I’ll detail how the site works and how you can use it to get in the door of businesses, both in the U.S. and elsewhere.

As of January 2013, LinkedIn.com has more than 200 million members, 64 percent of which are located outside the U.S. That means there are still 72 million members in the U.S. As of the end of December 2012, professionals were adding their profiles to the site at a rate of two per second, according to LinkedIn. Companies participate too, with more than 2.7 million organizations having LinkedIn company pages.

That’s a lot of opportunity for you. The key to harnessing it is in making connections.

How To Make Connections

In the world of LinkedIn, users are cautioned to only make connections with people they know, have worked with, and trust. The process of making those connections is easy.

How to Develop Those Connections

Speaking of cultivating your LinkedIn relationships, as your LinkedIn network grows, you will want to use the site to do just that — cultivate relationships. In some ways, it’s much like Facebook in that it behooves you to post regularly to the LinkedIn feed. Here’s how that interface appears, using my photo and account.

Quick Guide to Groups

The focus is on helping you find prospects. Once you have maximized your network through connections, your next task should be to join groups relevant to your market and interests. Visit LinkedIn’s Group Directory page for a comprehensive list of LinkedIn groups sorted by name or select “Groups You May Like” from the “Groups” drop-down menu.

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Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts for an Effective Business Referral Network!

Every business, particularly small, entrepreneurial or professional businesses, must have a powerful referral network. It is very unlikely (and terribly expensive) to “advertise your way to success.” Without substancial capital, it can’t be done. It is far more effective, and more fun, to create an effective network that increases your client base, supports your business, and makes you money.

Unfortunately, most professionals confuse effective networking with passing out business cards and schmoozing. They are NOT the same. Below are 10 tips for creating a network that will help you build your business.

1. DO: Be visible and well-liked! Know lots of people and be sure they know you.

2. DON’T: Inappropriately use acquaintances or membership lists to build your practice. People hate being put on the spot!

3. DO: Join and contribute to worthwhile groups and causes. You have to “put in” before you can “take out.” Be known as a generous person with a lot to give.

4. DON’T: Grab the spotlight or Chair every committee. Don’t turn down positions of leadership or responsibility, but don’t be pushy either. Let people discover you!

5. DO: Show up! Whatever your current circle of friends and relationships, this week go someplace else! Continue to add new circles of influence and expand the range of your interests and involvements. Keep growing the circle!

6. DON’T: Expect colleagues with similar expertise to be referral sources. They have their own businesses and are unlikely to share clients with you. Be realistic.

7. DO: Reach beyond your profession for business connections. Look to business owners, salespeople, educators, and managers. Anyone who connects with many people and who does not compete with you is a potential partner.

8. DON’T: Rush into business relationships. Have lunch, get acquainted, but never push a business card or brochure on anyone. Conveniently “forget” collateral at the office, and send a thoughtful follow-up note with the material a couple days later.

9. DO: Make sure your business connections run both ways. Referring clients must make business sense to both sides. Make sure your work provides increased income, more convenience, better outcomes, or other benefits for your referral sources. This is only fair.

10. DON’T: Panic or try to rush. Most successful practices only need 3-10 great referral sources. Select and cultivate them wisely and patiently. It pays huge dividends!

“Written by Dr. Philip E. Humbert, writer, speaker and success coach. Dr. Humbert has over 300 free articles, tools and resources for success, including a great newsletter! it’s all on his Web site at: http://www.philiphumbert.com.”

Education-Based Marketing: How to Make Business Come to You

By David Frey

There is a misconception in small businesses that your marketing’s most important function is to promote your products and services. In fact, the most important function of your marketing should be to establish that you are knowledgeable and can be trusted.

Most of us don’t do business with people we don’t trust. Even if you have the lowest prices, if your prospect doesn’t trust you, it will be difficult to close the sale. This is the basis for Education-Based Marketing.

Education-Based Marketing is a powerful marketing strategy that establishes trust and credibility using educational messages. It is the direct opposite of traditional marketing, which uses selling-based messages.

People are tired of hearing worn-out, old sales pitches. Barriers shoot up the moment you begin delivering a sales pitch. In contrast, people sit up and listen when you share important facts and expert information that help them make a good buying decision.

Determining Your Educational Message

Imagine stepping into the mind of your prospect and listening to their mental conversation at the very moment they decide to begin shopping for a spa or pool. What questions are they asking themselves? The secret to attracting qualified prospects early in the sales cycle is to find out the answers to those questions and use them as the basis for your educational marketing message.

For instance, if you were to offer your prospect the choice between two free special reports, one titled “Why brand A is the best widget on the market” and the other titled, “Six Little-Known Secrets to Purchasing the Right Widget for Your Family,” which do you think would be chosen?

From my experience, the second report will out pull the first report 10:1. Educational information that helps your prospects solve problems and make better decisions is the type of information that will attract prospects.

How To Package Your Educational Marketing Message to Generate Qualified Prospects

Once you have developed your educational message you need to package it and offer it for free in exchange for your prospect’s contact information. This is critical. Effective marketing is not just a matter of getting the word out but more importantly, getting a response back.

You can package your educational message in a format your prospect will respond to such as a written special report, an audiocassette, a video tape, an email course, a CD-ROM, a seminar, or even a toll-free phone message.

An important aspect to making your educational message enticing is to give it a great title. You’ll notice in the second title I just mentioned I used a number (six) and the word “secrets.” People like numbered lists and knowing things other people don’t know (i.e. secrets). Put those two together and you have an almost irresistible title. Give your educational messages exciting titles and they will attract qualified prospects.

How To Deliver Your Educational Marketing Message

Now that you have developed and packaged your education message, you should develop strategies and processes to give it away. To do this you must first identify all the “customer touch points” in your business and offer your educational message at each one of those touch points. Common customer touch points are your business phone, website, advertising, publicity, networking conversations, home shows, etc.

For instance, instead of ending your business phone conversations like this,

“Well Mrs. Jones, thanks so much for calling and I hope you come by and visit us.” End your phone conversation with an offer like this, “Well Mrs. Jones, thanks so much for calling. By the way, we’ve just developed a great special report that talks about the top 10 common mistakes that people make when buying a widget. If you’ll give me your address I’ll send it to you free of charge. Would that be okay?”

You’ve just accomplished three very important things with this telephone strategy, (1) you’ve generated goodwill by offering a valuable free gift, (2) you got your prospect’s contact information so that you can continue to market to her, and (3) you now have a reason for a follow up phone call after she receives and has read the special report.

Resist the Urge to Give a Sales Pitch

It’s easy to set your small business apart using Education-Based Marketing because most of your competitors are using selling-based marketing. The beauty of Education-Based Marketing is that you give prospective customers what they want, information and advice — and remove what they don’t want, a sales pitch.

By offering helpful advice, you establish yourself as an authority because prospects see you as a reliable source of information. Be careful not to give in to the urge to include a sales pitch with your educational message. This will only erode the trust you have established and make you the same as your competitors in the eyes of your prospect.

Instead, after you have provided some helpful information you should warmly invite your prospects to call you, visit your website, come to your store, or take advantage of your free offer to do an onsite visit.

Conclusion

Education-Based Marketing captures prospects earlier in the decision process and establishes a relationship of trust, resulting in dramatically higher sales and closing ratios. Those small businesses that seek to develop a relationship of trust by delivering a non-threatening educational message will position themselves as their prospect’s first choice from which to buy your product or service.