Not too long ago I needed to hire a lawyer. As I looked at different attorneys in the area I turned to Google Maps to find which ones had the most reviews and most positive reviews. Although I could have done a basic search in Google I find that when looking for local services a Maps search gives me a better list for consideration. I went to visit the lawyers in person that seemed credible from the reviews that I read. After visiting with the two different lawyers I found that the reviews online were a fair representation and decided to hire the lawyer that had more reviews than the other.
As we went through our business dealings with this lawyer (I am going to call him Chris from now on to simplify things) I noticed things he did to improve the amount of reviews he was getting online. Although Chris is a lawyer, I feel many of these same tips can be applied to any person or business that offers services locally.
1- Start Early and Look For Clues
During my first with Chris he wanted to know how I found out about him. This is a common practice for businesses because it helps identify what part of their marketing budget is working. I mentioned that I looked at online reviews during this discussion and Chris said he would greatly appreciate it if I would also provide a review when the services were provided.
While a sales person is trying to build rapport with a potential client it is easy to find out how technical an individual is. Once a sale is made to a tech savvy person you can plant the idea early on that it would be great if they would share their experience online through a review or social media.
2- Emphasize the Unique Value Proposition
When I was “sold” on going with Chris he emphasized his Unique Value Proposition (UVP). As I continued through the process with Chris I noticed him talking about his UVP, not in exact words usually but the same idea was expressed over and over. Chris was telling me what I could expect through the process and what he was doing to make sure that he delivered on what I was sold on. By doing this Chris was priming me to see the things that were unique to him and his practice.
3- Repeat it Often
Although my business with Chris was not a long and drawn out process I want to give some suggestions about how you can keep the review fresh in the minds of your clients even if your services stretch over a long period of time. Usually longer service contracts have bench marks or progress points where a client can assess the progress of the campaign. Every time you provide a win for the client, fulfill something you have promised them, or reach a goal be sure to inform them. With tact and preparation, the client-facing individuals in your company can get testimonials/reviews that can be used in sales material, website testimonials, or online reviews. When a client is happy with the progress on the project it is easy to ask them for permission to use what they say as a testimony. This can be as simple as: “Thanks. We try to provide great services here at XYZ. Although we are not done, I am seeing great success in this project. I like sharing successes stories with other clients in similar situations. Can I share part of what you have said to some of my other clients?” At this point you can identify what information can be shared and how many people it can be shared with.
4- Strike While the Iron is Hot
Chris was very helpful throughout the entire process. When we got done I was happy with the end results and so was Chris. Right as we were finishing up our business together Chris expressed his happiness with the results and he said something along the lines of: “I really would appreciate it if you would write a review about the great results we achieved. Can I send you an email with a link to a location where you can write a review?” There it was. He asked for a review right after we had experienced a win together.
5- Keep it Stupid Simple (That is right I switched Kiss to mean it needs to be stupidly simple)
When I got the email that he promised he would send I noticed several things.
- There was a live link to their Google Places page. I was already in my Gmail so I easily went and wrote a review.
- Chris re-emphasized the great results we had achieved together. None of this was new to me or something that had not been mentioned before, but it kept everything fresh in my mind so I did not need to search for things to say about the process.
- He included a brief set of directions on how to provide a review.
- I was thanked for my willingness to provide a review. This made me even happier to do so.
All of this was done in two short paragraphs because word economy is very important. If you have clients with a Yahoo email then send them a link to your Yahoo local listing. Likewise if you have someone with MSN or Hotmail accounts send them to your Bing local listing. If their email is some other type use your best guess. In any of these situations it would not hurt to provide the client with links to multiple locations where they could provide an online review or become a fan, follow, like, etc. These links could include Facebook Twitter or Yelp. Remember to make it as simple as absolutely possible.
Through this entire process I was able to learn how businesses can get better reviews for their sites. If you want more reviews or testimonials it is not always as simple as asking for these reviews. There are many things along the way that you can do as a business owner to encourage people to provide these reviews though the most important thing, of course, is to always provide a quality service.
Chris is an attorney not an online marketer yet he does things that really help out his online campaign. I am not sure that he even concisely did these things to encourage more interaction online. Once a company has a process for encouraging online interaction in place, implementing it could take just a few minutes each day yet have a huge impact in an online campaign.
To learn about how local search works in more detail, watch this webinar Learn the Secrets of Google’s Local Search