Plumbing emergencies don't wait until it's convenient for you. Neither does searing toothache at 3am. When you've locked yourself out of your home, it's always the middle of the night. As much as we'd like to have a handy list of emergency service people on speed-dial, the truth is, we often turn to the internet to get hold of someone in a hurry.
You may be asking what emergency plumbers, locksmiths and dentists have to do with online reputation management?
When you've got a deluge of water pouring through your ceiling and need to find a plumber in a hurry, you're going to type "emergency plumber Clapham" into your search engine browser and click enter. Being the savvy consumer, you're not just going to want the first name you find; you need to know that the one that you choose is reliable, effective, cost efficient and going to attend to your problem immediately.
No one is going to choose a plumber with negative reviews on the first page of Google. Not a chance you're going to visit a dentist who has a bad reputation and dozens of disgruntled client testimonials. Local businesses can no longer rely on word-of-mouth advertising when they've got the competition trashing their good name online. And yes, it happens more often than you'd think.
Local, and geo-modified SEO is becoming increasingly popular, and more importantly, increasingly competitive.
We deal with many small business owners, entrepreneurs and micro-businesses thathave experiencedbad reviews, negative comments and anti-advertising from competitors that have nearly driven them out of business. In my last blog post, we discussed the importance of big financial institutions listening to what their clients have to say, but I feel that it's just as important to address the issues and concerns of local businesses in the race to be found online.
Guard Your Business Reputation Online
You don't have to have a massive marketing budget to be able to perform well as a local business on the internet. Many small businesses have been able to successfully target their catchment area and increase their brand name and their sales simply by employing some simple SEO (Google Maps is a great way to get your business listed on the first page, by the way) and making sure that they have a presence in their community online. You do need to make sure that you safeguard your reputation online by continually monitoring what people say about you and where they place their comments. At Veribo, we always tell our clients that reputation management has two facets: protection and promotion. You cannot promote your brand online and not spend an equal amount of time protecting it.
Consider the following scenario: You're the owner of a small business and although your resources are limited, generating new business is essential to your survival. You understand that very well and allocate whatever you can afford to increase the number of visitors to your website by using Google Adwords, SEO, local newspapers and advertising etc. As a result, potential new customers are now making inquiries about your business before making a purchase decision and the best way to do that is to look you up online.
Your potential customers will find one or more of the following:
1. Your online presence is limited or even nonexistent- most people will turn to someone else thinking that you're "living on a shoe-string" and cannot even afford to have the standard tools of the trade.
2. They find your website when searching for your business name online, but they find negative or irrelevant information about you and your business on the same search results page - you have just lost a potential customer.
3. They find relevant, compelling and well organized results set that lead to great information about you and your business online - they will pick up the phone / email and call.
The bottom line is that it makes no sense to spend hard earned money on advertising and promoting your business before sorting out your online image as your lead to customer conversion rate will be very low.
Far too often, small business owners don't think they have the resources to manage their online image and reputation. The problem is, if you do have such issues, spending a lot of money of driving traffic to your website will not get you the best results and increase your sales.Keeping your small business competitive and making sure that you have the best reputation will ensure that you get the best results from your marketing spend and should be sorted prior to making any traffic generation investment.
When you think global and act local, you are able to ensure that your business is the first port of choice for consumers to call in your neighbourhood; even at 3am.
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