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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   September 2017

Review Your Reviews

Marketing a bad reputation wastes money and hurts your business

r_2017-09_spector_spot.jpgWhen someone asks, “What type of work do you do?” you probably say something like: “I’m a loan originator,” or “I’m a branch manager,” or “I own a mortgage company.” While these are factually true statements, behind the scenes, the only business you should really be in is the marketing business.

If you’re not out there marketing yourself and your business daily in order to get new clients to fill your pipeline, the reality is you won’t be in business very long, and you won’t make any money because you won’t have any clients.

As technology gets better and ever-more innovative marketing options become avail-able, it seems like it should get easier to attract new clients. But with so many choices, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, paid directories, search-engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click marketing, video marketing, content marketing and referral marketing all available — to name just a handful — how do you know where to spend your marketing money?

Regardless of what marketing methods you choose, you generally will see better results if they are part of an overall marketing strategy that includes reputation marketing. If you choose to invest money in SEO and Facebook ads to attract new clients, for example, your marketing results will suffer if you haven’t spent any money marketing your reputation for when those new prospective clients find your company online.

Reputation marketing

So, what is reputation marketing? Wikipedia defines it as “the marriage of the fields of reputation management and brand marketing.” In other words, reputation marketing takes great reviews that consumers leave online about your business (reputation management) then markets and showcases those reviews as part of your overall marketing strategy (brand marketing).

Here is an illustration of how this works: Let’s say there are three mortgage companies with identical services. Company A has one three-star review online, Company B has no reviews at all, and Company C has seven five-star reviews. As a consumer, which business are you most likely to contact? If you said Company C, you are like most consumers today.

What are clients saying about your business? Do you know? Are you minimizing your bad reviews and marketing your good reviews? If you have no reviews posted online, or worse, negative reviews that you have not followed up on to mitigate their impact, plus you’re not marketing the good reviews you do receive, then you are already starting to lose the competitive race and are at a big disadvantage.

What we are talking about here is reputation marketing, which is different than reputation management. You can’t make any money managing your reputation, but you can make gobs of money marketing it. Managing your reputation is important, to be sure. You want to make sure you don’t have a bad reputation. But when you begin marketing your good reputation, your other marketing efforts will pay off and your business will increase.

Modern consumers

To understand the power of reputation marketing, you have to understand how modern consumers make decisions. You see, consumers are no longer interested in who is listed first in Google, Yahoo, Bing or the Yellow Pages (although being listed on the first page of results is still important). What they are interested in is which of those companies seems to be the most reputable. Even if you don’t know it, your company’s reputation is out there for the entire world to see.

To illustrate this point, simply perform an online search for your company name followed by your city. What will come up is a results page littered with nothing but reviews and review stars from sites around the internet. You might be surprised at what you see. If you see nothing at all about your company, that’s not good either, because that’s what consumers will find out about you — nothing. You’re Company B and you just lost a new client to Company C.

Even with a warm referral, people still want to validate the decision to work with a company. 

If you think consumers don’t do exactly what is described here, think again. Ninety percent of consumer-purchasing choices are influenced to some degree by online reviews, according to a 2013 marketing survey.

Even potential clients who are given warm referrals to your company will check out your online reputation.

Here is how that works: Let’s say two friends meet for lunch, and one friend asks the other to recommend a mortgage company because she wants to refinance. The referring friend mentions your company by name, but doesn’t remember your phone number or e-mail address. So, this prospective new client goes online and searches for your company name and city — exactly as described earlier — and sees what everyone is saying about you. She then forms an opinion on whether or not she wants to work with you from that search, even though she had a warm referral.

Even with a warm referral, people still want to validate the decision to work with a company, so if you have negative reviews or no reviews at all, you will be at a big disadvantage in getting new clients. The same holds true for any online or offline marketing you do as well.

When someone sees or hears your ad, there is a high likelihood they will remember your company name, but not your phone number or contact information. So, what do they do? They search online, once again revealing your company’s reviews and reputation, which influences whether or not they will contact you.

Straight to video

So, what is the best way to market your reputation? One of the most cost-effective and powerful methods to market your reputation is through video. Creating a new video each month that showcases a great review from a new client is a great strategy. Share the video on your social media, e-mail it to prospective clients and add it to a testimonial section on your website.

The video can be something as simple as putting the review in a PowerPoint slide, recording it and adding some music to it. If your marketing budget allows, get a professional spokesperson to showcase the review for you with your office in the background. Generally, 30 seconds to one minute is a good length for the video.

According to a 2016 consumer survey, 84 percent of consumers trust online reviews as highly as recommendations from friends and family. In addition, 74 percent of those surveyed said they trust local businesses more if they have positive reviews. And remember, even with a recommendation from a friend, people will check out your reputation and form their own opinions based on your online reviews.

•  •  •

If you currently have negative reviews and are spending money to market your business, you really are only marketing your bad reputation. If you have no reviews, people can’t form any opinion about you and won’t know what to think.

Before you spend money on any form of marketing, allocate money to building and marketing a positive, dominating reputation for your company. You will be shocked at the results that reputation marketing alone will bring, and equally shocked by how all of your other marketing efforts will start to pay off.


 


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