By Jeff Haden | August 2, 2011
That’s why getting customers to provide great reviews is important — but also problematic and rarely within your control.
Looking for a customer review strategy you can control? One way is to promote your business by reviewing and promoting other businesses.
Sound impossible? It’s not. Here are the basic steps:
- Think relative. Sure, reviewing your favorite restaurant is fine, but if you develop software applications the relevance is less than obvious. Reviews should directly reflect on what you do as well. If you sell consumer products, reviewing a fulfillment center makes sense. Architects can naturally review CAD tools and construction companies. Just make sure the products or services you recommend reflect well on your business: A restaurant that provides a glowing review of an organic meat producer implicitly shows it cares about the dishes it serves.
- Think location. It’s tempting to place reviews on a site that gets lots of traffic or to place a review for a business that gets lots of exposure. (After all, you do want you review to be noticed.) Lots of visibility is great, but visibility that creates poor associations does more harm than good. Always factor visibility against the reputation and quality of the association.
- Be specific. Fluffy, hype-filled reviews make no impact. Say exactly why you were delighted. Be short and to the point. And as you do…
- Make self references seamless. Here’s an example of a self-serving review: “Our own customers have come to expect outstanding service, amazing attention to detail, and world-class implementation… and that’s exactly what Acme Products provided us.” Ugh. Take off your Captain Obvious costume. If a supplier came through in a pinch, just say, “Acme Products made six separate deliveries in three days and met a complex just-in-time manufacturing plan.” Specific, to the point, and readers can tell your business does complicated stuff. You don’t have to say it.
- Don’t go crazy. Pick your spots. Don’t play the “saturate blog comment sections with links to my website” game simply to create inbound links. Never provide a review unless you truly believe what you say; only then think of ways the review can reflect well on your business, too. Your primary agenda is to give credit where credit is due. Then consider going one step farther…
- Ask how you can help. Make a call. Say, “We really like what you did… if we can ever help by providing testimonials or references, all you have to do is ask…” Not only will you build a stronger professional relationship with another business, but you may find yourself in front of potential customers you would otherwise never have met.