You’ve seen these signs on the back of company cars, government trucks and public safety vehicles, but what if every local business carried this same sign? “How Am I Driving?” is not an invitation for citizens to call and speak highly about how well a driver is doing on the road. These signs were created to report bad driving and give citizens a feeling that their opinions are “being heard.” This is how most online review websites operate and its the foundational problem with popular online review websites.
When you invite the community to report the bad they see, and let them do it anonymously, you invite all kinds of complaints and gripes. Is that really what the company wants? Do they want to spend resources fielding complaints and gripes from the community or do they want to train their drivers to drive safely, reward their good behavior and build a reputation of quality drivers and safety?
MamaAlwaysSays.com invites the community to find their favorite local places, tell the world how great they are and refer the business to their friends and family. This business model is vastly different from anything else out there. The reason other review sites deal with so many fake reviews and criticism is because the negative undertone of their service encourages businesses to fight back against the untrue, bias and anonymous reviews that are literally causing them to close their doors. MamaAlwaysSays.com gives users what they want, faster and more reliably than other review sites and performs similar to a Facebook “Like” button on steroids, and we’re just getting started…
As we continue to grow, we look forward to empowering local small businesses, giving users exactly what they want and making it easier to find, review and refer their favorite local places. We reward great businesses for doing a good job and in turn we deal with far less criticism or gimmicks to game the system. It takes a lot for a customer to come online and write a positive review, but when they do it carries so much more weight!
So if you want to know how other review sites work, slap a “How Am I Driving?” bumper sticker on the back of your car, then make the calls public so all your closest friends, family members, co-workers and supervisors can see… do this for a month and see if you’re not tempted to skew the results a little bit!
We all know that it has become increasingly difficult for small businesses over the last few years. The credit crunch, economic downturn and consumer demand have hit small businesses harder than large firms according to studies, but there are some ways that you can help your favorite businesses keep their doors open. Nobody likes when their favorite restaurant is closed for good or their favorite DJs phone number goes to a disconnected message, so check out these 3 ways you can help your favorite business:
There are many ways to help your favorite local businesses, the key is to keep them in the forefront of your mind so they can keep their doors open and you can enjoy their services for years to come. One caveat though… don’t expect everyone to love them as much as you love them. We all have our personal taste and style so don’t be offended when your best friend doesn’t like your favorite clothing store as much as you do.
Getting people to “Like” and “Follow” your social media profiles is not as easy as it used to be. Today you need to give something worthwhile to convince people to connect with your company. Are you giving them a reason to follow you?
When it comes to adding new friends, followers and fans here are three of the best social media currencies you can provide in return:
1. Valuable Information. For instance, if you run a construction company you can provide how-to guides to all of your fans and followers through your social updates and tweets or even provide online videos through your company’s YouTube channel.
2. Coupons and discounts. Everybody loves a great deal so if you provide coupons to your fans and followers they’re sure to spread the word and share their findings with their friends as well.
3. Exclusive deals and access. Give your friends and followers exclusive access to deals and discounts and If you own a retail store you can even set particular days or times where your social media friends can get an extra 10% off! This makes your followers feel special and they will be sure to take advantage of the exclusivity.
These are just a few examples of how you can provide your friends and followers with social media currency to keep them coming back for more. It won’t be long before they’re spreading the word about all the great deals and discounts they receive just for following you on Twitter or liking you on Facebook.
Stop. Take a deep breathe. Now let’s do this right…
Many businesses take a negative review personally because they’re breaking their necks, working 16 hour days and often times putting their livelihoods on the line for success. So if you find yourself in this predicament here are the steps to responding the right way to a negative review:
1. Apologize publicly. Even if you aren’t able to make it public through Yelp, address the review on your own social networks. Your clients/customers know you’re not perfect so openly talk about the review and your apology to the reviewer. When you post what the reviewer said, let your followers know that if they’ve had the same experience in the past you are addressing it and it won’t happen again. If you’ve been building brand equity, your customers will know the review is a rare incident and the countless positive experiences they’ve had with your company will far outweigh this negative one.
2. Make it right. Contact the reviewer letting them know that you are addressing their issue and that you value their feedback. If the situation calls for it, offer the reviewer a reason to come back and try your business again. Get creative with how you reward the reviewer for their feedback (i.e. gift cards, coupons, free meals and even offer to treat them and a friend). By offering to make it right you can not only win a customer back, but if they bring a friend you have a chance to capture a new customer in the process. Turning negative reviewers into lifelong customers is a win-win and a skill that can help you grow faster than your competition!
3. Change. This is sometimes the hardest thing for small businesses to do. They reason with themselves saying, “No one else has complained about this before, why should I change for one customer?” This is the wrong reaction! The same problem could have caused customers to stop coming to your business in the past, but those customers simply left without saying a word to you. Value the feedback, weigh it against everything you do right and then make the necessary changes to get better. Ultimately you should be taking any review you receive as an opportunity to get better.
So don’t take it personal, don’t lash out, and definitely don’t close shop because you got a negative review. Instead use it as a learning experience and use it as motivation to get more of your customers who have good experiences to write about them online so you can build and protect your company’s reputation. If you start trying to manage your company’s reputation after you get a negative review, it’s already too late. Start now, start managing and improving your reputation through resources like MamaAlwaysSays.com. It could be the most important thing you do for your company today.
Like it or not your business reputation is working, and working hard. In fact your reputation works harder than you do. 24 hours a day and 7 days a week anybody can access your reputation online, so is it working for you or against you?
In order to make sure you and your reputation are on the same team you must take an active role in managing and improving your reputation everyday. Even if its only for 30 minutes a day, be sure to find out what is being said about your company online and through social media outlets. You’ve worked too hard to build your reputation, so don’t just expect fate to take place, do what you can to protect, manage and improve your reputation.
Here are three keys to working with your reputation:
1. Find out what is being said about you by searching Google, Bing, Facebook and Twitter for your company name. Be sure to respond to all feedback, negative and positive. Remember, when you get negative feedback apologize publicly and remedy the issue privately.
2. Make it easy for your customers to give their testimonials on your social profiles and invite them to write a review about your company online. I know some review sites will tell you not to ask or incentivize customers for their reviews, but the truth is its no different them Bank of America giving someone $25 for a referral or DirecTV taking $10 off your bill every month when your friends sign up. The key is to get honest, positive feedback and referrals from your loyal customers, people who love the product or service you are providing. Mama always says… A closed mouth doesn’t get fed! So be sure to ask…
3. Use any and all social media platforms. You should be using YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to talk about your business and how your customers are benefiting from the product or service you provide. People love to hear success stories, especially when it comes from local small businesses.
So remember, your reputation is working 24/7. Do everything in your power to make sure it’s working for you and not against you!
It seems the only time we really hear about brand equity is when investment brokers are pitching an investment opportunity or we’re hearing stories about a Fortune 500 company, but the truth is every company - large or small - has brand equity and should constantly be looking to build upon it.
For small businesses, your brand equity is built through your reputation, both online and offline, and it’s vital to helping you get more customers. It’s important for small businesses to consistently work on building their brand equity on a daily basis, but also do whatever is necessary to protect that brand equity when issues arise. Issues like negative reviews, rumors, lies and mistakes can hurt your reputation, but if your brand equity is strong it will help combat these issues, helping you keep current customers and even gain some new ones. Having a strong brand equity will help put out the small fires and help you focus on what’s important - your customers. So here are some ways you can build and protect your brand equity:
1. Help Your Happy Customers Spread The Word. You have happy customers, the problem is you haven’t given them a platform to talk you and your business up. The easiest way to do this is to invite them to write positive business reviews online. Also you may want to see if some of your clients will give you a positive testimonial that you can use in your marketing materials and on your website. Give your loyal customers some cool promo materials for spreading the word about you. They’re not incentives, they’re customer loyalty giveaways!
2. Know What Is Being Said About You. It’s vital that you know what is being said about you and your company, when it was said and who said it. One thing about managing your reputation online, its easy to find this info through Google Alerts and other tools, but the key to managing your time and protecting your brand equity is choosing if the person saying the negative things about your company has any influence or any grounds for what they’re saying. When responding to negativity online be sure to always apologize publicly and handle the situation privately. Don’t get obsessed with what people are saying, just be in the know and respond promptly to let the public know you care.
3. Focus On Building More Than Protecting. The good news about brand equity is that once you have built a strong foundation of trust, loyalty and integrity in the mind of the public, often times the public will ignore negative news about you without you having to even respond. Take Apple Computers for instance. Every time they do a product launch there are typical issues, bugs and fixes, but that doesn’t matter to their customers because they know the company will correct the issues, provide honest responses and do what is reasonable to go above and beyond to make their customers happy. Does Apple have a loyal following? Absolutely! Are there people who dislike Apple products? Absolutely. The true lesson here is to focus on building brand equity more than you focus on protecting it, because at the end of the day you don’t need everyone to love you in order to be tremendously successful.
We hope these tips help you in building a lasting brand and brand equity that continues to grow in the future. Be sure to visit MamaAlwaysSays.com and claim your business profile so you can start receiving more positive reviews from your current loyal customers. (Tip #1)
We’re making a commitment to keep all of our members, listed businesses and vendors in the loop with the latest news regarding MamaAlwaysSays.com. This access will be called “In The Kitchen with Mama.”
In our first series we are happy to announce we have reached another milestone in our short existence… we now have 400 approved, live, positive business reviews! We are amazed and humbled by the support we’ve received since we launched our site on Mother’s Day and we are definitely excited about the near future, already looking forward to review #500.
Why is this important? This is important to celebrate because every review that is written supports local businesses, no matter their size, and in turn we are creating a community of positivity. Our goal has always been to provide the fastest and most accurate way for consumers to find the “best of the best” in any business category. We understand this will take time, we understand we need people who are positive themselves, but we know what we’re building will make a dent in the universe!
We will have another announcement soon as we near 300 registered members! We are bootstrapping our company and strategically adding new features to make it easier to find, review and share your reviews with your friends in your social networks. These new features are coming soon, so stay tuned…
Do you know a local business owner? Have a favorite local restaurant that you would hate to see go out of business? Well you can help them by using MamaAlwaysSays.com!
We all have our favorite local businesses and sometimes when they go out of business the whole community suffers. With MamaAlwaysSays.com, local small business owners have a great promotional tool to help highlight all the great things their customers are saying about them. There are two key ways that you can help support your favorite local businesses:
1. Write Positive Reviews: When you write about your positive experiences, it helps local businesses improve their online reputation. Your words have tremendous influence on a local business’ reputation, so open up, don’t be shy, and tell the world all about your favorite places! You’d be shocked to find out how many people will read your great reviews and try a business for themselves. This word-of-mouth marketing will help your favorite business succeed in any economy.
2. Tell Business Owners About MamaAlwaysSays.com: You may know some great business owners and have personal relationships with people who have their own small business, if so you can be the one to tell them about MamaAlwaysSays.com and how it can help them improve their online reputation. When small business owners go online and claim their profile, they can keep their business information up to date, they can respond directly to written reviews and they can promote their page online and offline to improve their reputation. A simple mention of MamaAlwaysSays.com can help your favorite local business improve their online reputation, continue to grow, thus leading to local jobs, and continue to connect with people in their local communities.
Don’t let your favorite business close their doors. Help them help themselves and Mama will take good care of them!
If you are managing a small business, it’s vital that you know who is talking about your company and what they are saying. One cool way to do this is using Google Alerts. Simply go to Google Alerts and enter your company name in the “Search Query.” You can choose to get the alerts as soon as they happen, once a day or once a week. This isn’t new but it should be used as part of your daily tasks when it comes to watching and protecting your online reputation.
If you find negative things being said about your company, be sure to respond quickly and make the negative situation positive by apologizing and offering discounts. You can transform negative feedback into positive interactions by being genuine and offering great customer service.
This is basic, but often times in the day-to-day grind of running a small business, you may forget about the foundational things that can impact your business long-term.
If you need help setting up a Google Alert for your company, contact Mama today!
We’ve had a couple people ask in recent interviews why MamaAlwaysSays.com only wants positive business reviews and not negative reviews, so I thought I would clarify. It seems that once I talk to someone and explain why we do what we do they have a much better understanding and say, “Wow, that’s great!” So for those who I may not get an opportunity to talk to, I figured I would just post it and refer people to our Blog. (Hey, might even get more subscribers, who knows…)
First, let me explain how MamaAlwaysSays.com works. We invite consumers to come on to our site, write positive reviews about their favorite places, give constructive feedback to businesses that didn’t measure up to their expectations and refer their favorite places to their friends and family. Our goal was to create a site where consumers could quickly find businesses that are truly the “best of the best” in their respective categories. So that leads to the next question… how do we determine who is the best of the best?
The algorithm that powers our site takes into consideration how many reviews a business has, the ratings they received (Gold, Silver or Bronze), the amount of constructive feedback they have received, and the number of referrals they receive from local consumers. To be listed first in any of our categories you would need a good mix of having the most reviews, the highest ratings, a minimal amount of constructive feedback and the most consumer referrals. With this system we are confident that we are listing the “best of the best” first in each category.
So next is the obvious question… why don’t we publicize negative reviews or the constructive feedback? The answer is the same as Facebook not having a “Hate” button. We surveyed hundreds of consumers before launching our site and the two things that stood out most to us were; 1) People didn’t want another social networking site, and 2) They cared more about what their friends liked, than they did about places they didn’t like. Facebook understands this and so do we. Unlike product reviews, small businesses are living, breathing, changing experiences that cannot be measured by one person’s opinion. We as humans were created to explore and seek out our own experiences, and we created MamaAlwaysSays.com to encourage this exploration.
We make no apologies for being “pro” small business, in fact we believe it’s our biggest competitive advantage. Consumer driven review websites have created such a mixed bag of reviews that even consumers are complaining about them. We don’t believe the answer for “What’s a great place to eat tonight?” should involve hours of research and lowering your standards. You know some great places in your community, tell them they’re great and if you know some local places that could use some constructive feedback, please tell them as well, they’re looking forward to it! With a community of consumers expressing where to find the best places to eat, drink and shop, it will become easier and easier to quickly find the “Best of the Best” on MamaAlwaysSays.com! Anyone who comes to our site is not only getting a great tool to help themselves, but they are helping small businesses succeed by giving positive encouragement and feedback that makes businesses want to listen and change.
We understand MamaAlwaysSays.com is not for everyone. We know that there are people who enjoy the fact that they can publicly bash a company, extort a small business or get even with a company for personal reasons. We’re just crazy enough to believe that people generally want to help small businesses succeed. It’s great small businesses that help our community, our country and our economy thrive. Our theory is being tested today. As small businesses and consumers learn about our win-win solution, we are sure to make an impact in the way consumers find, review and refer their favorite local businesses.
Hopefully you understand our vision and our goal to create a solution that not only helps local consumers, but also empowers small business owners to manage and improve their online reputation. As always I am always open to hearing your questions, opinions and views, so don’t be shy…