Positive Reviews and BuzzEverybody and every business lives on the good will of others to help promote your products and services. If your customers aren’t leaving happy then their influence can be devastating.  And once the word is out, it can be very hard to right the  bad PR ship. There are industries built around that very concept, think spin control in politics.

But it’s not enough to just assume that customers who leave happy will do their jobs. They’ve got stuff on their minds and that’s only understandable. We need to be pro-active about ensuring that our business receives positive recommendations, reviews and buzz.

How? Ask for them. Happy customers love returning the favor, and if you aren’t taking advantage of the good will and word of mouth marketing, in today’s Internet driven society, you’re leaving money (and new customers) on the table.

If you’re a recruiter, LinkedIn might be best place to highlight reviews. If your business revolves around local clientele, Yelp is probably the place to focus. Social Proof (proof that other people like working with you) is one of the biggest factors consumers consider when making buying decisions. Even more so when it comes from someone they know.

Don’t be shy – people like helping.

Here are some common opportunities to remind customers to spread the love:

  • Yelp - People Love UsMake sure you have a Yelp sticker (if you’re the kind of business that has one) on the way OUT of your establishment. It’s great to have outward facing so people know you’ve got fans, but making it visible on the way out helps remind others to write a quick review.
  • Follow up with recent customers via Twitter, Facebook, etc. and provide a link to your Yelp page
  • Provide an incentive for customers to ‘check-in’ with foursquare. As powerful as a review, these check-in’s alert all of their friends where they are. Incentives might include secret menu items, a ‘mayor’ discount. My recommendation is that you offer something to everyone who checks-in. It’s new, but it’s catching on fast and it’s an amazing buzz generator.
  • Connect with new customers on LinkedIn early in the relationship. After you’ve completed your work for them, or worked with them for some time, ask them for a recommendation.

There’s a reason why LinkedIn gives you the ability to ask a friend for a recommendation, people will do it. In fact, I once took an entire weekend and wrote as many as I could. I didn’t lie, I only embellished slightly but more than that I gave everyone in my social circle a live recommendation. Effectively I gave them a vote, a trainer in the corner, someone that re-affirms the world’s faith in what they can do.

Don’t be afraid to ask people for reviews. If they’re in your social circle, if you’ve done business with them, if you’re both hoping to move forward in your careers, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t both be able to muster up half an hour to think of another person’s selling points.

Reward employees who receive positive reviews

I have 3 employees. I have received dozens of reviews on their performance. One sticks out in my mind quite clearly though. It may have been because it was delivered by a pretty French girl in a sun dress and hat on a particularly incredible summer afternoon OR it may have been because her recommendation was so direct.

Her exact words…”He could do this without you.”

Now, he happens to be one of my very best friends and as such, we both knew this already. But that doesn’t mean that this particular review isn’t incredibly accurate and therefore probably applicable to you and your employees as well.

An employee who regularly generates positive Yelp reviews for example, is not only making repeat customers, they are responsible for bringing in new customers who read about that experience and decide on one place to go vs. another. What is that worth to your business? A lot. Reward employees accordingly.

In today’s world, your business must always “act-as-if”. Act is if this very customer is going home to write about their experience to anyone who will listen. Act as if 1,000 people will read what they say (they probably will). Know it, make sure your employees know it, and reward them for positive press. You’ll be surprised how many more mentions and reviews your company will get when all employees are tuned in to the value.

Encourage foursquare users to leave ‘Check In’

foursquarefoursquare is a great way to spread the word about a product or service. It takes almost no time at all for a foursquare user to promote the location they’re currently at. How long does it realistically take to type up a text message? Less than 30 seconds?

Think about it in these terms, if you were to pay a marketing manager $20 an hour to market your brand, how long would it take them to get a message like that out to 500 unique potential customers? A day? A week? Longer?

That foursquare user you have in your store already has access to that network. They have it right now. It’s in their pocket! Give them 50c off a coffee. Give them 10% off a T-Shirt. Don’t give away the farm obviously, but give them something that will make them whip out their mobile device and give you a shout out.

Shouts might cost you 50c. But hey, get 20 in an hour and you’ve just spent $10 to be THE daily trend in your city. You’ll be the first result when people log in from anywhere in a 50 block radius. You’ll be more popular than most nightclubs on a Friday at 11pm. If that’s not worth $10, I’m not here right now. In fact,  I’m probably at O’Malleys with 20 other people having a beer for $3.50. And we likely won’t stop at one. I’m almost certain that the second beer for $4.00 tastes just as good as the $3.50 first one.