For the past few years consultants from all over the world have been pushing inbound marketing (online marketing) down business owners' and executives' throats, preaching the Gospel of Google as written in the Sacred Scrolls of Valuable Content. And rightfully so, it's effective. BUT, many businesses completely waste their money – not only on inbound marketing, but the consultant recommending it too.
Here's a quick way to find out if you're wasting your money on inbound marketing, or any marketing for that matter.
Do you have a positive or negative reputation online?
It's a simple question, but most businesses either don't know or don't care. BIG mistake!
A polished, shiny turd is still a TURD.
It's like getting a present for Christmas, it's wrapped in a creative and beautiful gift wrap with a bow on top (your marketing). You open it and what do you see? It's a turd.
Let's demystify the word turd:
- Bad customer service
- Broken, faulty or defective product
- Bad service
- Bad business culture
- Employees don't care
Your online business reputation relies on positive reviews left by your customers. But if you're a turd, let's face it. You won't be getting any positive reviews and testimonials. Hopefully you won't piss off your customer to the point of them leaving a Ripoff Report, which is a business suicide as it NEVER goes away.
There are 2 ways of looking at online reputation:
- Online reviews (Google+, Yelp, CitySearch, TripAdvisor, etc.)
- Online mentions (articles, blog posts, videos, reports, etc.)
For the most part, online reviews apply to businesses that have physical locations. Local businesses cover the bulk of this segment.
The second one, covers everything – including online businesses.
Side note: I've been working on setting up Business Reputation Grader for local businesses to get a better understanding of their online reputation. All it takes is a business phone number to see what customers are saying about their business, and it's free.
The Real Problem
The biggest problem many business owners make is focusing too much on attracting new customers, while completely neglecting their online reputation. Bad, bad idea.
Let me show you why it's a bad idea.
- 70% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (source)
- 50% of consumers say they will only deal with local businesses with positive reputation (source)
When your business smells and looks like a turd, it doesn't matter what marketing you do – you will lose customers, sales and profits.
Managing online reputation is often overlooked by most marketing consultants and agencies. Negative reputation will drive customers away, even with great marketing campaigns. Why?
Because what's the first thing people do when they begin shopping for products and services? They begin looking at reviews and testimonials about various businesses, which helps them determine what business they will choose to do business with.
You better pray to the gods of the Internet that this is not what they will see when they Google your business name:
If you don't fix negative reviews like this, you'll never be able to grow your business and profits. It's like a python, with every bad review your business exhales the python tightens its grip suffocating you to death.
The same concept applies to negative articles and blog posts, you need to deal with them and work to remove them off of the 1st page of Google. Most consumers are lazy and will rarely look past 2nd or 3rd search results page.
Don't get me wrong, if there's a real problem with your customer service and products that warrant negative reviews you have to fix these problems, otherwise negative reviews will keep showing up. But the key is, you need to know what's been said about your business online to know what needs fixing.
Once you fix your online reputation all marketing you do, including inbound marketing, will return higher ROI because customers will not be turned off by your 1 star reviews. They will see positive 4 and 5 star reviews and decide to do business with you, instead of your competitor who's still ignorant about online reputation.
Please, stop wasting your money on marketing and invest some of that budget into your online reputation. I guarantee it will payoff more than any marketing you'll ever do.
Photo by Images_of_Money