Today we have a guest post by the wonderful Shona Chambers! Shona is a freelance marketing consultant with a career spanning over 20 years, working with both large and small companies. She’s also created her own businesses, including a networking group for the self-employed and freelance community, Self Employed Club.
We’re very excited for you to read Shona’s fantastic words of wisdom. In today’s post, she explains why customer reviews are crucial to your business and how to go about getting them.
What was the last thing you bought? Can you remember why you bought it? It’s highly likely that if it was something you wear, watch, or eat, a friend had an influence on your decision making. If not a friend that you know, it could be an online contact talking about it that helped you make your choice.
We are conditioned as humans to pay attention to what is good and what isn’t. Back when we were hunter-gatherers, eating the wrong plant could kill you, so we evolved to listen to feedback from others.
Most of us buy our food in supermarkets nowadays, so death by plant is less likely, but booking a bad hotel, wasting money in poor restaurant, or booking the service of a professional are all things we have an interest in.
Leave Me A 5 Star Rating
If you listen to podcasts, travel by Uber, or buy from Ebay, you will be familiar with the request for a good rating. You may well have left reviews on these platforms.
As small business owners, reviews are vital currency. In marketing, we often call them social proof. This simply means that a customer leaving a review gives you as the business owner something to use to show your quality & experience for new customers.
My recommendation for you is, build in a mechanism for capturing reviews as a vital part of your business.
If you are a consultant/service provider, why not include the fact you’ll ask for a review after the work is done, in your pitch. It puts on the table the fact you’d like a review. It also gives you a chance to highlight the other reviews you’ve received which might sway a customer who is still on the fence. Including links to your LinkedIn bio, or Google Business page can be very helpful.
If you are a business with a physical location then having signage up in your premises with all of your social media links, and a clearly signed place you’d like people to leave reviews is very helpful. You could even incentivise people to leave reviews with a customer draw or regular give away.
Context is very important for where to leave a review. For some people Linkedin will be the holy grail but for others Google My Business is the most important.
Let me explain the key differences.
Anyone who is bound by a geographical dimension to their sales process will want to be known in that local area.
There are lots of ways to stand out in a local market place, one of the most important is having a strong Google profile, that means being visible on maps as well. If you want people to visit your premises then they need to know where they are.
If you don’t already have a Google My Business listing then I’d highly recommend one. You can download the App so it works off your phone. Once you register to take control of your business listing, a code will be sent through the post which arrives in days, and then you are in control of that profile.
You can then begin posting pictures of your business, special offers, blog links, and listing any products that can be bought direct from your website. Another important dimension is the ability for your customers to leave reviews. These are vital for helping you compete with other businesses, appear at the top of searches (because of your rating) & be seen on maps of your local area.
Local Service Providers
If you are an accountant who works from home, you may not wish to list your home address on Google, that is fine, you are allowed to hide it. It still allows you the choice to collect vital reviews and be seen as a local service.
If you are for example a dancing instructor and have links to a local school hall, or a gym, you may be allowed by these locations to have a Google listing, with their address as the main location. Do have that conversation before trying to register with Google though.
If you are a professional, you may well find that your marketing works very well on Linkedin. So consider that as a platform to prioritize when asking for reviews.
If you are trading in a non geographical way, for example you have an Etsy shop and ship internationally then reviews on a local platform aren’t necessary. You would want to focus on whichever the main platform you are trading on is. It’s a great idea to have reviews in several locations, for example Ebay & Etsy, because if you have any trouble with your profile on one site, then you can just switch to another.
Encouraging the leaving of reviews, within your listings, and in the emails you send to people confirming their sale, and in any post sale follow ups is good practise.
I have a review what should I do with it?
It is vitally important to answer reviews, good or bad. I have heard of people only answering bad ones. All online communication should be treated the same as someone actually speaking to you. If a customer verbally told you they loved your work,you would reply. So apply this logic to reviews. Google notes unanswered reviews, & customers can see for themselves whether a company is professional by the way reviews are treated.
We all need content to keep our small business marketing fresh and continuous. You could decide that every 5th post by your company will be a testimonial. It provides free content for one, taking the sting out of thinking up new ideas all the time.
I would recommend taking your reviews from wherever they are and creating some attractive Canva posts that clearly state ‘testimonial’ and include the full quote if it’s possible, or snippets if not, and includes the customer name if they left it visibly on a public platform.
Thanks for reading
A massive thank you to Shona for such a wonderful post. Last year Shona published her first book 100 Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners which can be purchased on Amazon or from her website. Make sure you go and check it out as well as follow her on socials below.
Read more about how PR and Marketing interact here.