edmiston

Reputation Management

Online-Business-Reputation

How often do you check on your online business reputation? If you are looking for a particular service, how many times do you see a question posted on social media, “Do You Know a Good….?” Whether a potential customer knows the third-party referral or not, they check out a referral for online reviews. When using apps such as Yelp, Groupon or Travelocity – do you read reviews before making a purchase? Many potential customers do.

All businesses no matter what size or industry must be concerned about what their customers are saying about them. Whether you are a business consultant or have a restaurant, spa, dental office, pet supply store or any other kind of business to consumer business, you need to diligently monitor reviews, comments on social media, and other content that affects your reputation.

When posting on social media, do you stand on the fencepost of neutral, particularly when it comes to politics and religion? Are you careful that ads are not insensitive? A thoughtless tweet or post can put your reputation in a downward spiral.

Google Alerts are a great way to manage your online reputation. By using this tool, you are able to monitor your online reputation. I have alerts set up for my name and business name. By claiming your business on Google My Business and Yelp, it allows people to both review and find you.

What recourse do you have when someone posts a negative review? The key is to not ignore it. A negative review can be a result of a bad customer experience or in some cases, unscrupulous competitors can target your online reputation. Always respond with an apology for the experience and don’t get into an online argument. Take the conversation offline in a private message format or better yet, if you have a phone number, pick up and phone (yes it still does exist) and call the customer and apologize. In some cases, you can dispute the online review with the provider and point out that you have no record of a customer’s order – especially if you suspect unfair ratings from competition or a former employee.

When people take the time to write a review, thank them for their review. Acknowledgement for positive feedback shows your fans that you appreciate their feedback. Building an online reputation is work. A business can be proactive in asking for reviews, engaging on social media and focusing on good customer service.

Building an online reputation is a marathon endeavor – not a sprint. It’s a partnership between the business, their employees and ultimately the customer. Your customers will ultimately determine your online reputation, but as a business owner, you can do your part to train your staff and deliver stellar customer service. Be realistic, mistakes happen, but acknowledge them and take steps to satisfy the customer. Adjust operational procedures to ensure that mistake doesn’t happen again.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

What Does “Business is Business” Mean?

business-is-business

When you hear the term “Business is Business” what do you think of? According to the Macmillan Dictionary “business is business” spoken used to say that profit is the most important thing to consider and “we can’t afford to employ someone who isn’t good at the job.” Webster dictionary states, “Business is Business” means that in order for a business to be successful it is necessary to do things that may hurt or upset people, such as “I’m sorry I have to let you go, but understand that business is business.”

As a business owner, I agree it’s necessary to make a profit, but are you always taking into account those that have helped you along the way – for instance vendors. There’s a fine line between being complacent and forgetting the service you received from a vendor during lean times as things turn around and business is booming.

Let me give you two examples of ‘Business is Business’ a salesman recently shared with me.

  • A Bible Camp brought in a young Director of Operations in 2018. For many years, during the history of working with the camp, this food vendor and salesman helped keep the camp open during lean times by extending credit, donating food, providing guidance in menu selection and by working with his food suppliers to offer sales on various products. In other words, the salesman serviced the Bible Camp. When items were missed by the Bible Camp when placing a food order, the salesman took calls after work. He also delivered product himself that was missed being loaded on the delivery truck order so the camp didn’t run short on food. The chef he worked with for years was heartbroken, because he knew from prior experience other salespeople from another food company wouldn’t service him as he had been served. The Director of Operations could only see the bottom line and didn’t take into account the affect this would have on the quality of food they served the campers nor the service he received from the salesman. It didn’t matter the company had stood by this camp during difficult times. The only important thing was to buy cheaper and serve a lesser quality of food and his statement to the salesperson was, “Business is Business.” After all…he wasn’t the chef preparing the food – his only thought was making a profit.
  • A second occurrence this salesman encountered was with a new restaurant owner. This particular person had never owned a restaurant and the salesman sat with him for hours reviewing menus, helping with operations guidance and suggestions for food specials. After a number of months, business was going great and long forgotten was the time spent teaching this restaurant owner how to run a restaurant. I would say this goes above and beyond customer service. The owner then decided to shop around for a low-quality product and began switching some of his order to another food vendor. Again, long forgotten were the hours of time spent teaching him how to run the restaurant. The restaurant manager who placed weekly food orders was so upset, he refused to give the salesperson their food order and told the restaurant owner he would have to look the salesperson in the eye to tell him he was using other vendors. The owner’s response to the salesperson was “Business is Business.” When the owner was asked by the salesperson what the phrase meant, the owner couldn’t answer him. The following week when the salesperson went in for the order – it was left on the owner’s desk as he chose not to tell the salesperson what his meaning of “Business is Business” was. In the weeks that followed, the competitor has begun raising prices on numerous items and the business is coming back to the salesperson.

As a business owner, we want to create “LOYAL” customers. The cheapest way is not always the best way and you find out all too late, the service you took for granted isn’t always there. As you switch to something with lesser quality, you may find out your clientele will know the difference and decide “Business is Business” as well and take their dollars elsewhere. So my question is… “Are you “Loyal” to those who have helped you along the way, or doesn’t that mean anything in today’s business market?”

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

Nailed It!

Product-LaunchHave you ever had someone tell you that you “Nailed It”? You had such a wonderful feeling of satisfaction for a job well done. Perhaps you spent months planning a product launch, large grand opening or corporate event. Everyone involved celebrated the victory, but the planning process wasn’t without its hiccups. After all… is nothing that goes perfectly 100% of the time. There are numerous vendors, responsible staff that were assigned certain tasks and logistical issues to take into account. They all have to work together toward the common goal – the product launch, corporate party or grand opening – otherwise referred to as the main event!

But what happens when someone doesn’t hold their weight or a vendor lets you down? You begin to scramble to correct the situation, or in worst case scenario, find another vendor. As a business owner or vendor bringing a piece of the puzzle to the party, you don’t want to fail.

We often talk in marketing about putting together a plan. Without a plan everything can come to a dead stop. Case in point… I planned on taking a recent vacation. Weeks prior, I asked a colleague if they would like to submit a blog for our newsletter. We discussed the topic so there was continuity in the newsletter and identified a target day.

Lisa had the article prepared prior to my leaving for vacation, and I was able to go away knowing that part of the plan was handled. This was a trust we had between us that a task would happen. But what if she would have let me down? My reaction would have been quite different.

When you get a nail in the tire of your car – think about how something as small as a one-inch nail can stop a 4,000 machine. Things you had hoped to accomplish are suddenly dead in the water. So, what does all this have to do with business? Identify your nail. Is your nail something that will build and grow your business, or will it stop you in your tracks.

We are well into the 2nd quarter of business and I would ask these questions:

  • Have you set a plan for growth during summer months and upcoming vacation season? That includes planning for summer sales, meeting new referral resources, staff vacations and your own down time.
  • Are there new concepts or skills you need to set aside time to learn? If so, put learning time on your calendar and stick to it. You may need to hire a consultant to work with you and your team.
  • When you rely on others to help you grow, do you give them the proper tools to succeed, or are you a micromanager that everything bottlenecks at your desk.

As you continue to grow your business this year are you going to key the phrase “Nailed It” or will the “Nail in the Coffin” result in stagnant growth for you both personally as well as in your business? To your business success… Nail It!

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

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