When you think of opening day of baseball season – regardless of the team you cheer for – many things come to mind. The excitement of something new. Rooting for the home team. And the ball club/ballpark showing appreciation to fans with special items on tap to reward loyalty, too. It’s a beautiful, mutually wonderful relationship that teams and fans have.
When you think of the process of getting reviews for your small business, it’s a lot like the relationship between sports fans and their favorite baseball teams. The very enthusiastic will be inclined to become evangelists for their favorite teams. As it pertains to your business, honest reviews on social media and other sites can help expand your “fan following.” Positive feedback is always a boost for one’s ego, and often a bigger boost for one’s small business. That’s why “Feedback” sections on virtually every website are so important for future commerce.
Ask yourself this question: As a consumer, have I ever been swayed by customer feedback? All one needs to consider is the power of reviews on Amazon and EBay. Whether you are looking for quality products on the former, or merely trying to identify trusted sellers on the latter, perusing feedback and reviews is an integral part of the pre-screening process.
Developing and showcasing positive feedback is similar to building a sports team, one solid player at a time. The dominant World Series and Super Bowl teams consist exclusively of “positive review” rosters, each of which is a selling point to add more “positive review” players. Your goal is to gather enough positive reviews to establish excellence in your own business niche, but also to attract additional customers, who will in turn leave more positive reviews. So how do you effectively elicit positive input for your small business? Here are a few strategies to consider:
- Customer Encouragement and Valuation
There is no more obvious way to invite customer responses than to provide an easy method for providing feedback. Through hard copy response cards or dedicated online response options, choose a method that works best for you AND your clients. Encourage your customers to sing your praises if satisfied with your company’s goods/services, and express a sincere gratitude to them for taking the time to respond. Let your customers know that you value their individual and collective input, and use that feedback to better serve them.
- Media Recognition
If existing customers are the most obvious way to build a positive feedback base, the best way to get those customers is via media recognition. Since media is no longer relegated to hard copy print, TV, and radio, look for ways to garner recognition in social media outlets, as well. Any good promo is, well, great promo, and getting people talking about your business is key to success. Investigate ways to get name-checked for “Best of” lists in your geographic area, or on a wider scale with online magazine coverage. You don’t have to rate on the “Forbes’ 500” or “Greatest Guitarist Ever” lists to earn positive feedback … a simple mention in the local Chamber of Commerce “Best Local Businesses” can pay significant dividends.
- Earn It … Use It
Consider this the theory of self-pollination. If you work hard enough to generate positive customer feedback, make sure to use it to your benefit. Post the best reviews for all to see on your website or social media account, and in any hard-copy promotional materials, then let the good commentary work its magic. Word-of-mouth travels quickly, and the power of positive suggestion can be infectious. Your well-earned positive reviews should become the catalysts for attracting new customers and nurturing repeat business.
- What Not to Do
For every action there’s a reaction, thus for every DO there must be a DON’T. With three ways of attracting positive feedback already listed, it seems logical to address three things to avoid on your feedback quest.
1) DON’T BRAG: Be honest, be forthcoming, and be humble with your positive reviews. No one likes a braggart, and no one likes patronizing a business that boasts about its supposed greatness.
2) DON’T PANDER: Give customers an opportunity to contribute feedback, and provide a user-friendly delivery system. Then leave it in the customers’ court. If you get responses, good. If not, refrain from forcing the issue.
3) DON’T LIE: There’s no harm in cherry picking your best reviews to share with your clients, but play it straight and don’t fabricate. In the present tech age where every bit of communication is monitored and recorded for eternity, any fudging will be found out at some point.
Hopefully the above list of ideas will help get you started in building a solid collection of positive reviews. A few good words can go far in business, so encourage your customers to share their thoughts, and use the best feedback as a precision marketing tool for yourself and your start-up. Building a bench of positive reviews and a roster of folks eager to spread the word about your services and “team” are a recipe for a home run. Play ball!