Monthly Archives: December 2013

Online Reputation Management: 5 Ways to Protect Your Personal Brand and Manage Your Reputation

The idea of customers posting reviews for the world to see makes a lot of business owners nervous.  While they believe in the quality of their product and service, they fear that competitors or mean-spirited people may post unfair or inaccurate information online that could damage their business.  It’s certainly possible that, despite sterling quality, a disgruntled person might post a negative review.  However, according to Yelp’s own analytics, the vast majority of reviews posted are very positive.  Most people posting reviews want to alert readers to their favorites, not trash companies.

What if someone does post a negative review?  If you find a negative post online, take a deep breath and let yourself calm down, then read it again to see if there is any truth to the customer’s disappointment.  Business owners can post replies to reviews, but you should do so carefully and strategically to avoid making a bad situation worse.  If the customer had a bad experience, you can make a public apology, offer them a replacement, and try to make it right.  You may not sway the unhappy person’s opinion, but you’ve publicly demonstrated that you heard, you listened, and that you attempted to correct the situation.            Most consumers realize that mistakes happen; they just want to know that you care enough to fix it.  You may not win back the disgruntled consumer, but you’ll go a long way toward preventing one comment from souring the opinions of others.

If the comment is minor, saying nothing may be the best way to handle it.  If the customer didn’t like the seasoning in your soup, for example, you probably can’t change their opinion without changing your recipe.  People are entitled to their opinions, so if it’s a matter of taste and not quality, readers will probably take it for what it’s worth and make their own judgement.  By replying or trying to argue with the consumer, you just draw attention to the post, turning a minor comment into a major argument and making yourself look argumentative.

What if someone posts a really bad comment?  If the comment is abusive, uses vulgarities, racist language or profanity, it’s likely that you can appeal to the site owners to have the comment removed.  Many sites include internal filters to remove over-the-top comments or to push them far down in the results, making it less likely that an outrageous comment is seen.  It is also possible to contact the user who posted the comment and politely ask them to remove it.  If that doesn’t work, and the comment is truly both malicious and defamatory, it is possible to bring legal action for slander.  How far you take it depends on just how much damage you believe the comment can cause.  Another way to deal with negative comments is to ask your loyal customers to help you out by posting their own positive comments, which will push an unreasonable review so far down the queue that it will be seen by fewer people.  And, you can ask your friends to also request that a truly objectionable review be removed (sites may pay more attention to multiple user requests).

In my experience, companies worry far too much about the possibility of negative comments.  Does your company operate in an ethical manner?  Do you offer a quality product that lives up to your claims?  Do you strive for good customer service and follow through on  your promises?  If so, there should few reasons for your customers to say anything bad, and lots of cause for them to sing your praises.  Here’s something else to consider:  consumers have talked about businesses to their friends and neighbors since the beginning of commerce.  With today’s online directories, you now have a chance to hear what they’re saying, and if the comments to reveal areas for improvement, you can make the changes necessary to avoid future problems.  View comments as feedback, and recognize that it’s impossible to make everyone happy.  The positives of visibility and good user comments far outweigh the negatives.

Excerpted from 30 Days to Virtual Productivity Success by Gail Z. Martin

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Online Review Sites: The Power of Word Of Mouth with Yelp and Citysearch

Productivity is all about getting more results from the time or money invested.  Promotion is one of the areas where businesses look to increase their productivity; in other words, to get more bang for their buck.  Online reviews and directories are yet another tool businesses can use to get their name out in front of more potential consumers and reach them during their decision process, when prospects are actively planning a purchase.

Many people remember when there was only one directory: the phone book.  As a growing number of consumers migrate to cell phones instead of land lines, phone books have become less valuable, both to businesses looking to be found in their pages, and to telemarketers using them as a way to cold call.  But with the rise of the Internet, a new breed of directory has taken hold, a hybrid of the old phone book category listing crossed with a dynamic, interactive social media tool where consumers can provide feedback to merchants and communicate among themselves.

Yelp, Yahoo! Local, and Citysearch are three of the most popular online directories.  They include a wide variety of business types, ranging from products to services to hospitality/entertainment, combining basic information such as company name, address and phone number with the option for customers to add comments.  The company information may have been added by a consumer, or by the company itself.  Categories are rarely an exhaustive listing of every business in that service type (but then again, the old phone directories only included companies willing to pay for an ad).

Most directory sites create their basic content in two ways: collecting publicly available information from other published sources, and allowing users to add sites live online.  This means that your business may already be out there, so it’s a good reason to Google your company on a regular basis to see where you’re showing up and to make sure that your basic information (address, contact information, category) is correct.  You may have also been added by a recent customer, or by a helpful bystander who knew about your firm and wanted to make the listing more complete.  You can also add your own company, and there are some strong reasons why you should consider doing so, if you’re not already out there.

The first reason for making sure you’re represented in online directories has to do with consumers’ preferences.  Today’s consumers turn to online sources for information gathering far more often than they pick up a printed directory of any kind.  Online information is believed to be more accurate because it can be frequently updated than a printed document.  Obviously, this isn’t always the case (incorrect information can be posted just as easily as accurate information, and sites don’t always get updated as frequently as they should be).  In general, though, consumers have had good luck finding the information they’re looking for online, so they come back again when they need to search for something else. Most directories for the general public (i.e. not a membership directory for an organization) list companies for free, because they want users to add content.  If your company isn’t in the directory, consumers in a hurry may not bother to look further, and you lose out.

The second reason for being in online directories is word of mouth.  Consumers have always trusted what other “real” people say about a business more than they trust paid advertising.  Before the Internet, those conversations took place over the back yard fence, in the line at the grocery store, or at social events.  Now, consumers like to read reviews posted by other customers before making a choice to buy.  They’re not only interested in the quality of the product; they also want to know about the quality of the customer service provided by the merchant.

The third reason for being in online directories is search-ability.  Every time your company appears online, it helps to boost your search engine results.  The more people are talking about your company and the more places it appears online, the higher the search engines place it in their results pages.  Being present online pays off, not just in being visible on an individual directory site, but also through the secondary boost every online mention gives to your Google results.

Excerpted from 30 Days to Virtual Productivity Success by Gail Z. Martin


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Filed under Balance, Business Planning, Gail Z. Martin

Q&A with Terri Levine

1.  What led you to write your book/create your product/create your webinar?

I realized that many types of businesses needed the information of low and no cost Guerrilla Marketing strategies and as a Master Guerilla Marketing Trainer and Coach I picked many niches to write for. The concepts work for any business. I selected beauty salons because I had some clients in this niche and they were seriously struggling.

2.  Who is the ideal type of person to benefit from your book/product/webinar?

Anyone who owns any type of a small business will learn 200 low and no cost strategies that they can apply to their business just by substituting their business type name in place of beauty salon.

3.  How did your background, training or personal journey contribute to your perspective?

I have owned 6 million dollar plus businesses of my own plus for the past almost two decades mentored almost 5,000 business owners in almost 250 different industries to create 6 and 7 figure incomes. My passion is helping other business owners be successful by teaching them to stop spending money on ineffective on-line and off-line marketing and to use proven marketing that works. I get my “wows” from their successes.

4. What one piece of encouragement would you offer to people struggling with (your topic)?

If your marketing isn’t working go find a mentor coach who resonates with you and who is running leaps and bounds ahead of you and who is willing to share what works with you.

5. What tends to be the most common obstacle people encounter in dealing with (your topic)?

People are doing all the wrong things in marketing. They have no idea how to use social media so that it makes them money or how to relate to their audience so that they can build a loyal raving fan base. They are turning people off vs. turning people on and not converting prospects into customers or even worse they don’t even have even hot leads in their pipelines.

6. Do you have any other new books, products or events coming up in the next few months?  Tell us a little about them and where to find out more information.

Yes, I just released a brand new program to make my coaching and mentoring affordable to the average or start-up business owner and am very excited about this. They can get started with no money down and no interest. It is my VIP Coaching and Mastermind Program found at

7.  Do you have a downloadable resource listeners can access for free on your site?  Please provide the link and a description/benefit.

Yes they get a full e-course called The 7 Secrets to Lasting Business Success and it’s on the right side of

8.  How is your book/product/event different from other materials on your topic?

This book has practical solutions and I updated the original but old Guerrilla Marketing book so that I have 200 tactics and include Internet strategies. Everything in it I personally use and have taught my clients. It all works and there is no theory. It’s short and to the point.

9.  Can you share a short example of the kind of success people have experienced with your book/product/event?

One of my favorites is Jemilla Williams who said after learning one simple idea (that I teach in the book) she made an extra $15,000 in just a couple of hours. (Her testimonial video is on

10. What first step would you recommend for someone who is interested in your topic but afraid to take action?

Go get the Kindle edition of the book. It’s a few bucks. Try ONE idea for a month. That’s it. Very simple.

Listen to Terri read an excerpt from her book on our sister site by clicking here.

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