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3 Steps to Double Inbound Leads in 60 Days

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Erik Luhrs – Enjoy!

3 Steps to Double Inbound Leads in 60 Days

photo credit: shutterstock

I love talking to new prospects! They are ALWAYS convinced that they’ve already tried “everything.” They are convinced that the only way to get more leads is to increase the amount of people who see their messages. They are convinced that rapidly multiplying leads and sales is just a fantasy.

And they are always wrong.

Now you’re probably thinking “Oh BS, Erik! What could you possibly know that is so much better than all the other experts we’ve asked for help?

The short answer is that it’s not about what I know. It’s about what your prospects know…that you ignore! We’ll get to that in a moment.

First, let’s sum up the problem of “not enough leads.”

The cause of this situation is 3 factors:

  1. You blend in with your competition because you are a “me too” business (“Oh they sell widgets? Me too!”) .
  2. You define yourself / your business the same as your competition (“We are the #1 Widget producer in North America”…same thing everybody else says).
  3. You think quality/service/price/experience/caring about our clients/etc means something to the prospect (“With our 50 years of experience we have created a quality team that can deliver the service you need at a price you can afford. And remember we really care about our customers”…SNORE!!!)

What happens with all of this type of communication is that you are trying to be logical and trying to communicate with the conscious mind of your prospect.

The problem is that humans live their lives 99% SUBCONSCIOUSLY, so the subconscious is in control. The 1% of conscious awareness humans have is not in control, but that is the part of the mind EVERYBODY tries to talk to. It makes no sense!!!

So the simple secret to rapidly increasing leads is to start talking to the 99% of the mind that is in control!

How? Well, there is a lot to it, but here are 3 steps to get you moving in the right direction (and if you actually use them you will be ahead of 95% of your market).

  1. RE-POSITION: Instead of trying to solve every problem your audience has ask your target what their real, immediate problems are. Go deeper than “we need more sales,” “we need more staff,” “we need faster processors.” Find a single problem BEHIND their general problem, and solve that. Hint: When you can hear someone’s voice change or you see them start to look uncomfortable you will know you have touched one of their subconscious issues.
  2. RE-PRESENT: Once you have chosen that one deep, real problem that you will solve become the go to experts for that aspect of that problem. Basically, focus and stay focused.
  3. RE-PACKAGE: Connect your offerings to that one aspect of that one problem you now solve and describe what you do in that context in all of your messages.
  4. (bonus step) RE-DISTRIBUTE: Use every channel (online and offline) that you can access and spread the word of your new “Position” to the world. Own this new space!

Once you are talking to the subconscious mind of your target audience they will have no choice but to pay attention. More attention means more people looking at your messages, which means more responses, which means more leads.

Or you can just go back to doing and saying what everybody else does and says. The choice is yours.

Choose wisely!

 

Erik LuhrsErik Luhrs is known as The Bruce Lee of Sales and Lead Generation. He is the creator of The GURUS Selling System and Front-Loaded Lead Generation. He is the author of the book BE DO SALE and the ONLY expert in the world on Subconscious Lead Generation!

 

 

4 Realities of Inbound Marketing You Can’t Afford to Neglect

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Rohan Ayyar – Enjoy!

Inbound marketing and social media participation for brands are one of the most effective promotion tactics today. The whole world of marketing is now skewed towards “earning customers” instead of “buy, beg, or buy your way in” that outbound marketers follow, if this Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing infographic on Mashable is to be believed.

The fundamental shift in consumer behavior is certain now: individuals are in control of what information they choose to receive. Not only do they have options when it comes to brands while buying, but they can also choose who they want to hear from.

According to Mashable’s infographic, more than 84% of 25-34 year olds have abandoned their favorite website because of intrusive or irrelevant advertising. More than a whopping 86% of people skip television ads. At least 200 million Americans have registered for FTC’s “Do Not Call” list. Over 91% of email subscribers have unsubscribed from an email list they previously opted into.

Clearly, outbound marketing is having a hard time. On the other hand, inbound marketing works, but only when you go at it the right way.

Here are a few inbound marketing realities you can’t afford to neglect:

1. No one gives two hoots about your brand, product, service or whatever

This one’s hard. In fact, it’s the hardest truism about being in business today. Contrary to whatever you might think about your business, your prospective customers don’t really give a damn about you. It’s a hard pill to swallow. Does it mean all that passion, sweat, blood, and tears you put into running your business are for naught?

Customers aren’t overly concerned about you, and won’t be either, for as long as you beat your big corporate chest with your “campaigns,” you are just carrying out interruption marketing.

What the world does care about is solutions to problems. Your prospective customers are looking for solutions that can make their life better somehow, in some way. Whatever fits the bill – with respect to products and services – takes the cake.

2. Competition has no face

Once upon a time, all that a company would have to worry about – apart from producing goods and delivering services – was competition from similar companies selling similar products. Today, competition comes in new garbs everyday.

First, there’s the information overload that customers are slowly getting immune to (which means that they mastered the art of ignoring what you have to say). Second, the competition comes from smarter and leaner companies that have learnt the art of keeping customers engaged (with inbound marketing practices, of course).

If you’ve ever wondered why all that money being spent on campaigns never managed to bring in a dollar, it’s because of this competition overload. You just have a lot more to do today.

Are you ready to deal with it?

3. Marketing is the new way of giving

Capitalism was almost a result of selfishness. Ayn Rand was a staunch advocate of “self-worth” and “self-preservation.” She wrote whole tomes like Atlas Shrugged to get that point across. That was then.

Capitalism is still about making a profit. It’s just the way profits are made has changed with inbound marketing. This new line of marketing calls for “selflessness.” It calls for giving away more than you ask for. It calls for altruism, generosity, and spreading buckets of value through content, information dissemination, and relationship-building on social media.

Take whatever route you like, just make sure you give.

4. Inbound is harder than outbound

Most rookie entrepreneurs believe that since inbound marketing is relatively cheaper than traditional marketing, it ought to be easier. As they say, “Talk is cheap.” However, it’s easy to forget that work comes at a premium.

Inbound marketing is harder than traditional marketing. As a matter of fact, marketing is always hard as Drew Williams of HubSpot candidly explained. There are a whole lot of things to get used to. Businesses have to produce an unimaginable amount of content. There’s social media, there’s content (which itself stretches into blog posts, videos, podcasts, slide decks, infographics, curated content, and a whole lot more), which companies have to produce at an alarming rate.

Then there are multiple channels to tap into. Marketing itself is now a hodge-podge of tasks, departments and functions. Teams need to put their heart into all of these. They need to learn and use sophisticated tools for manifold tasks ranging from project collaboration to publishing, from web analytics to video conferencing. What’s more, they need to be effective at that, produce results and justify ROI.

How do you go about inbound marketing? What are the biggest challenges you’re facing in getting inbound leads? How do you convert these to sales? Do you have any new tactics or strategies to share?

Rohan Ayyar bio photoRohan works at E2M solutions, a premium digital marketing firm specializing in creative content strategy, web analytics and conversion rate optimization for startups. He is an avid blogger, with posts on Search Engine Journal, Social Media Today and Moz, among other places. Rohan hangs out round the clock on Twitter @searchrook – hit him up any time for a quick Q&A.

Managing the Curve of Expectation

Expectations are almost everything. Meet them and people are mostly happy. Exceed them and they are mostly overjoyed. Fail to meet them and sometimes nothing else matters.

curveThe key of course lies in properly setting them in the first place.

I had a client years ago that wanted a project by Friday. I knew that would be no problem so I said, in fact, I think we can get it to you by Wednesday. Then one thing led to another and we didn’t deliver until Thursday. We were still ahead of their initial schedule, but they thought we had let them down.

A year or so later I remember being in the exact same situation. A client said, “we need it by Friday.” This time I simply said, we’ll see if we can make that happen. When we delivered it on Thursday, we were heroes.

Exact same results, very different outcome

The common thread was expectations set and met.

Marketers can go a very long way in pleasing and retaining customers when they focus on setting the proper expectations.

You can do this in a variety of ways. You can start by making sure you communicate very clearly and consistently what you are going to do. You can make sure all your policies are spelled out clearly. You can make sure that you have a system that allows you to meet your promises.

But, more than anything, you can tell the customer precisely what to expect – even when what to expect isn’t very fun.

The good and the bad

I had a remodeling contractor years ago that was very focused on their total customer experience. Instead of selling on price, they sold on the process.

They knew that their competitors were out selling how wonderful the project would be and how proud a customer would be to show off their new kitchen.

My client, on the other hand, knew that a remodeling job can be pretty awful at times. You come into someone’s home for months at a time and disrupt their routine, trash their living space and make all kinds of noise.

Sure, they knew the end product would be awesome, but they also knew that they needed to set the proper expectation for how you get there.

For this we created a visual tool we called “The Remodeling Curve.”

The document included all of the core stages of a remodeling process and followed an S shaped curve that implied how most customers felt during the phase.

So, while customers were ecstatic the day the plans arrived, they were ready to kill each other during the drywall sanding phase. The curve showed the highs and lows in the entire process and ended back on a very high note when the job was completed.

By communicating these stages and setting the proper expectations during the sales phase they were able to shine throughout and create a clear point of differentiation from those just talking price and project.

Saving at risk customers

I worked with a music and dance studio recently that noted they seemed to lose about 18% of their students each year. When they drilled down further they found that 76% of those that dropped, did so in the first year and over half of them did it in the month of December.

Practicing music and dance is a hard thing to keep at. They knew that and their teachers knew that but in the rush to get the enrollment they neglected to set the proper expectations for many of their new parents.

They decided to go to work on their own S curve expectation chart to use as a sales and education tool right up front. Their intention was to get parents to understand when it gets boring and the common sticking points that students end up pushing through.

They also created some fun events and motivational gifts that they intentionally sprinkled into the November and December months. By helping the parents understand what to expect, and that it was normal, they were able to significantly reduce their dropped students.

So, what does your expectation cycle look like? What do you need to create to help piece together your customer’s entire journey from high to low to high

Are You Building a Job or an Asset?

Many of the business owners I’ve worked with and spoken with over the years have deluded themselves into believing they actually have a business.

building an asset

photo credit: Ian Sane via photopin cc

True, their business card and tax return might say business owner, but far too often what they’ve created is a job – and is some cases, not a very attractive job.

A business will never truly serve until you view what you are building as an asset. Now, I’m no accountant, but an asset is something that has lasting value – the kind people will pay to acquire. An asset is something that can retain its value even if you move on and pursue other interests, like taking a month to trek across Australia.

A job on the other just stops being a job when you decide to quit doing it.

Building an asset is much harder than building a job. It’s actually not that hard to get people to pay you for doing something they don’t know how to or don’t want to do.

Building an asset takes investing in you, in others, in creating things that didn’t exist before, in following through on audacious ideas. Building an asset almost always means letting go of your current thinking, finding ways to think bigger and surrounding yourself with people that lift you rather than hold you back.

Community as Asset

Brian Clark of Copyblogger realized early on that his path to building an asset was to first build a rabid community of people eager to hear from him. As any Copyblogger reader knows he did this by creating and giving incredible value through educational content.

As the community grew he added more resources and writers to increase the content output. As the community continued to grow he responded to the needs and requests of the community and built product after product that matched the needs of his community.

Today, the Copyblogger community snaps up every new solid offering and has allowed Clark to create a rather profitable asset rather than a job.

Building as Asset

A client of mine, Sam Beckford, runs an incredibly successful group of music and dance studios in British Columbia. Sam was not from the industry so when he and his wife started the business he poured most of his efforts in to building a business that didn’t require him to be there to run it.

He’d also been a successful real estate investor over the years so it was quite natural for him include a building purchase in his plans. As his studio grew and expanded he started getting requests from other studios to teach them his approach.

He turned his method into a coaching program and began to encourage every studio client to buy or build their studio in an effort to guarantee that no matter what happened to the actual business, they would own an asset that allowed them to gain some return on their investment in the building of a business.

Now, of course, most of his coaching clients also happen to run terrifically successful studios, but they also own an asset that will multiply their ability to cash out rather than simply retire.

Work as Asset

I’ve been speaking with lots of sales groups lately due to the upcoming release of my sales oriented book Duct Tape Selling.

One of the things I’ve been imploring sales folks to do is to look at their work in building authority, a content platform and expertise as an asset vs. a chore.

Think about all the people you know that decide to get an MBA or some other type of training to advance their careers. Often they do this a night and around their family’s schedule.

Writing blog posts, learning how to navigate social media, deeply exploring a prospect’s community, providing value through content curation and volunteering to speak at industry events all take time.

Done correctly, however, each will allow you to build an asset that you can use to serve your customer and your company in deeper ways.

And, one of the greatest values of an asset of this nature is that it’s mostly portable. Your reputation, expertise and authority can move with you in the service of even greater opportunities.

Asset mindset is the only way to build a business or career that allows you to live the life you choose more fully.

Increase Rejection to Grow Your Business

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Andrea Waltz  - Enjoy!

YistheDestinationgraphic-webIt seems ridiculous.  After all, most business owners and salespeople alike operate from a place of fearing or, at best, avoiding opportunities to be rejected.  If the goal is to close sales and build the business, how would getting rejected more often possibly work?

The simple answer is it is in the avoiding rejection that the greatest opportunities are actually lost. The strategy works on the premise that when you increase opportunities to be rejected and hear more ‘no’s’, that your opportunities for yes’s, or whatever it is you are seeking, will also increase. You could say it is a numbers game.

For example, we’ve all heard the line, “Would you like fries with that?” A question so popular, the phrase itself encapsulates the entire philosophy of what it means to “upsell.” Of course, it is true: the mere act of increasing the amount of product you show and services you offer increases both the yes’s and no’s you will hear. It is not only a fool-proof formula, but one of the great undeniable laws of the universe.

What’s the issue?

Most people have grown up in a “Go for Yes” world. In that world, closing is good (the yes) and rejection (no) is bad. If you get a “no” you must be a failure and doing something wrong.   Unfortunately, it’s this emotional baggage and poor belief system that that holds us back from asking more questions, talking about additional products and services, or going after that big, scary client we’ve always wanted to land.

As kids, we had a natural sense of tenacity that has somehow been drummed out of us. So as adults, business owners find themselves doing everything within their power to avoid hearing “no”, sabotaging their growth and ensuring mediocre performance. As we go on, the entire world of opportunities starts to shrink because they only look for the yes’s – the low hanging fruit, the “easy” sales, leading to average results over time.

Try this:

Go out of your way to intentionally increase your failure rate. You read that right; intentionally increase the number of times you hear prospects and clients say “no” to you.  And, if the key to success is to increase our no’s, then it only makes sense to celebrate our setbacks as well. If someone turns you down, celebrate it! When was the last time you rewarded yourself for failing or hearing a no? Probably never!

How many total “no’s” did you personally obtain yesterday?  Last week?  Last month?  Now it’s time to start.  For this to work, you’ve got to get into action and step outside of your comfort zone.  When you start hearing no’s and start thinking differently about no, you will create the mind shift that is required to get back to that persistence you had as a kid. And, in the process opportunities will come into your business and life because you are finally willing to risk and wanting to ‘fail.’

To achieve significant success in today’s world, failure and hearing ‘no’ is not just a possibility…it is a requirement. We must see success and failure for what they truly are: not opposites, but opposite sides of the same coin. In other words: Yes is the Destination, No is how you get there.

AJWHeadShotFeb2013-WEBRichard Fenton & Andrea Waltz are the authors of “Go for No!” a short powerful story written specifically for business owners and sales professionals in every industry who must learn how to face failure and rejection to be successful. Visit http://www.goforno.com or get ongoing NOtivation at www.facebook.com/Goforno.

Copywriting Tips and Tricks in a Digital World

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Christopher McMurphy – Enjoy!

images-2As a marketing tactic, copywriting has been around since the days when the Mad Men of advertising were knocking back highballs in the afternoon. But times they do change, and the ad world has evolved dramatically since its heyday when television was the dominant technology. These days, the Internet reigns supreme. While we are living in a digital world where social media dominates, the core principals of creating good copy remain the same: attract the attention of the reader, arouse interest in the product or service, and convert that reader into a customer.

Of course, how best to accomplish this is tied directly to the World Wide Web and its shifts in landscape and changing trends. Those marketers who do wish to create compelling, effective copy that reaches the masses would do well to keep some modern tips and tricks in mind. Here are just a few. 

Relate to the reader

We may live in an ever more connected world, but people still yearn for that human interaction. Copywriters can create a direct line to their readership by producing not just quality copy, but personal and emotionally compelling content as well. Data show that copy with just such a personal touch – focusing on a company’s employees, for example – helps to develop a level of trust with the reader. Testimonials can be a useful weapon in the arsenal of the modern copywriter as well. All testimonials should tell a relevant, positive story and be 4-6 sentences in length.

Go visual

At least to a point. Images and advertising have always gone hand in hand, but most copywriters have always felt their job responsibilities began and ended with the written word. Not anymore. It’s no secret that social networking sites such as Pinterest, Slideshare and Tumblr are exploding in popularity, and it’s due to the public demand for images. Even YouTube came into its own as a full-fledged social networking clip site in 2013. For the foreseeable future, how “share-able” a piece of content is will in part be decided by how many images it contains. The key for the modern copywriter is to provide accompanying images that complement the content.

Vital stat: landing pages that include videos see an 86% increase in conversions (Social Media Today).

Be useful

This is the lynchpin on which all successful modern copy hangs. The hard sell is dead as far as modern copy is concerned, and readers aren’t likely to respond to content that isn’t of use to them. That means no sharing and no conversion. The way copywriters can be successful in grabbing the reader’s attention in today’s landscape is by being helpful. An appliance manufacturer, for example, will get much more mileage out of a how-to tutorial on a home improvement site than they will with an email blast campaign touting the merits of their product.

By adhering to the principals listed above, advertisers will stand the best chance of reaching that 61% of global Internet users who search for products online (Hubspot). Moreover, staying abreast of social patterns and the evolution of popular networking sites is not only a winning strategy for today’s copywriters, but a necessary one as well.

photo (83)Christopher McMurphy is a blogger operating in the sphere of tech and marketing. When he’s not pontificating, he’s offering blog writing services to eager clients.

The Missing Ingredient From Your Content Marketing Strategy

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Mark Middo – Enjoy!

content-marketing

photo credit: Craig Garner

“I’m writing blog posts almost on a daily basis, but I am getting zero traction from social media and my conversions are terrible,” said Adrian, the director of a large software company in Australia. “Looking at Google Analytics, it seems like people just get the information and go. No one is sharing – and worse yet, no one is converting. This content marketing thing just seems like a huge waste of time.”

When I got back to my computer a few hours later, I started reading through the content they had been posting on their website. I wanted an early night that night, but I didn’t think I would hitting the pillow that early. These blog posts nearly put me into a coma – they were that boring.

Here’s the problem: practical information isn’t typically the sort of content that can easily go viral (especially if you don’t have a large pre-existing social network). For content to even drive conversions, it needs to be interesting, have heaps of value and be truly unique for it to get even a few shares or influence people to connect further with the business. This is especially true if you are creating content with the goal of generating B2B leads.

One of the main reasons that most business content has minimal sharing potential is that it doesn’t create an emotional reaction for most people. You just read the information, then you take off and find another blog post to read. Content really only gets shared when people go ‘wow’ that was a really awesome article – I need to tell my friends about it.

So what was Adrian missing from his content marketing strategy? What was the vital missing ingredient?

Personality

Adrian’s website was delivering plenty of value; the content was high quality and it was getting traffic, but it was obviously boring people to death. There was no personality to engage readers or make them care about who was writing the content; it was just another faceless company blog, so the visitors took the information they needed and bounced. Nobody wanted to share it because it wouldn’t make them look cool if they did.

The posts were attributed to the company blog rather than to individual authors, and the language was just bone dry – even the most seasoned readers found it tough to get through.

I can imagine people reading it and thinking, “That’s nice, pretty dry but I got some good information,” and then skipping away into the abyss of the Internet – probably to go look at cat memes and never to return.

Seth Godin alludes to this fact in his book, The Icarus Deception, when he notes that connection is the key in this connected economy. And I believe a great way to create connection online is through personality.

So, what are some ways that you can add some personality to your content marketing strategy?

1. The author is the key

Make the blog post from a person, not a company. Bring the author to life. Create a profile for the author, write a good bio that gives the author a personality, use a good, friendly photo (not in a suit with a serious face on) and make sure people can connect with them on social media.

What makes them tick? Is there something quirky about them that you could share?

People emotionally connect with people who have a ‘real life,’ so don’t be scared to provide some information that isn’t just “Adrian is a stiff director from XYZ Company with 30 years of experience blah blah.”

“Adrian loves bungy jumping off 50 story buildings in his wife’s favourite bikini.”

(Maybe that’s not so real, but you get what I mean.)

2. Ease of reading is a must

Write the blog post in a conversational manner. Make it easy to read and don’t use technical jargon. You want people to be able to breeze through the post making it easy for the brain to absorb.

If they get through the blog, quick endorphins will be released in their brains and they’ll feel good about themselves because they have accomplished something.

3. Include personality in your writing

Don’t be scared to add some jokes and create some stories. Occasionally, I’ll even put words that people don’t expect to see in my writing.

Why would I do that? Well, did you know that William Shakespeare would use words in his writing that weren’t actually part of the English language at the time? An example is his use of the word “ungodded” in one of his writings. One theory suggests that he did this to get his readers attention – throw them off a bit.

When we read, our brains actually make predictions about which words are coming next. By using unexpected words or writing something the reader doesn’t expect to read it actually causes us to think, it unconsciously makes the content stick out in our minds because it increases brain activity.

If one of the greatest writers in history used this strategy successfully, there must be some merit to it. So why not give it a go? Just don’t overdo it, or you’ll negate efforts to achieve #2 – ease of reading.

4. Promote sharing and discussion

At the end of the blog post, content marketers will often include an offer, call to action or opt-in. And yes, you should use these tactics to enhance your conversions, but before that, you could weave something into your writing along the lines of: “Hey, if you liked this post, I would LOVE it if you let your friends know about it. If you agree or disagree with what I am saying, give me a yell in the comments box below.”

These are just a couple of little strategies that I like to employ to give my content marketing strategy a bit more personality. Hopefully, you can implement them and start seeing more sharing of your content, too.

And hey, if you liked this article and have some buddies who would benefit from it, I would love it if you could share it with them. If you have any other hot tips that make mine look like Willie Nelson at a Justin Bieber concert, let me know in the comments box below.

middo-150-150Mark Middo is the author of 5 Minute Business and founder of Social Empire, a brand dedicated to helping people brings ideas to life online. After fueling the growth of some of the worlds largest brands including Formula 1, Mizuno, Renault and McDonalds, Mark launched his own start up called Reminisce, an online voting system built for nightclubs. Amazed by it’s instant success, Mark formed Social Empire so he could help people do exactly what he did – turn an idea for a passion project into a lifestyle business in quick time, and for minimal cost.

5 Ways Your Offline Marketing Efforts Can Improve Your Online Reputation

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Andy Beal – Enjoy!

reputationAn ongoing theme in my new book, Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation, is that your offline actions greatly influence your online reputation. No matter how hard you work to improve your social media engagement, online reviews, or customer satisfaction, it can all be undone if you don’t follow these five important offline marketing strategies.

#1 – Offer a Congruent Experience

The brand experience you sell online should match up with the one which you offer customers in real life. A flashy web site, engaging Facebook Page, or a content-rich blog will only lead to disillusion and disappointment, if someone visits your business, or meets you in person, only to find that you don’t live up to the hype.

Take away – be congruent in the branding experience you provide your customers. Does your offline marketing campaign sync with your online one?

#2 – Sell the Expectation

On a visit to Seattle, I stayed in a boutique hotel for a couple of nights. Unlike a hotel chain, you never know what experience you’ll receive from independent lodging. The hotel took no chances, and upon reaching my room, I discovered a card that thanked its guests for making the hotel the number one ranked in the area. It also went on to explain, that if I felt the same way, how I could submit my vote.

Bam!

Before I’d even had the chance to make up my own mind, the hotel had used social proof to suggest that I would have nothing but an amazing stay.

Take away – you only get one chance to make a great first impression. Don’t leave that to chance.

#3 – Train Your Employees

Make sure you hire employees that really want the job. Hire those that are passionate about your industry. As part of their training, remind them that they are always representing your brand and its reputation.

I recently shopped at a Mattress Firm store, despite reading some negative online reviews. My sales associate was one of the nicest, honest, and trustworthy salesman I have ever worked with. Not only did he change my opinion of the mattress chain, but I share that experience often—including a chapter in Repped!

Take away – get your employees to buy in to the fact that they are an important part of your brand. If they let down the customer, they risk the future of the company—and in turn, their own job!

#4 – Capture Feedback Early

Most online complaints are the result of a customer being mistreated during their business dealings with you. All it takes is for the manager to be too busy to take a customer’s call, or a staff member too arrogant to apologize for a mistake. The next thing you know, you’re reading about their experience on Yelp—along with millions of others!

Instead put in place a feedback system that ensures a customer never finishes their transaction with you without being asked if they were completely satisfied.

Take away – even an automated email survey could help uncover a festering negative experience that might ignite a reputation attack.

#5 – Improve Your Marketing Messages

All customer feedback can be used to improve your marketing messages. When you see a common trend in positive reviews about you, start highlighting those traits in your TV, Radio, and print ads. Likewise, when you a see a competitor come under attack for a weakness that happens to be your strength, capitalize on the event by adding those strengths to your marketing and PR efforts.

Take away – let your customers—and your competitor’s customers—help you craft your marketing focus and product messaging.

Lastly, remember that your offline reputation is intertwined with your online one. A bricks and mortar business is often reviewed and rated online, while an internet business is still discussed in coffee shops and at water coolers. You can’t afford to ignore either reputation.

andy-bealAndy Beal is the CEO of Trackur and is considered one of the world’s leading authorities in reputation management. His new book, Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation is available now, and you can also catch his “Reputation Roadkill” keynote at ClickZ Live New York.