Some businesses work on a “numbers game” philosophy. A discount shoe store, for example, can operate under the following correct assumption: everyone buys shoes; we have cheap shoes; therefore, as long as we put a sign up that says “we sell cheap shoes” we’ll do decent business even if we do have some dissatisfied customers. As every plastic surgeon knows, that is not an assumption that applies to their profession. A cosmetic surgery practice thrives on its reputation built often on the foundation of solid referrals from pleased clients. As a result, surgeons who employ web marketing strategies like Google Places understand one of the keys to optimizing Google Places is to have a consistent stream of reviews. But, how to get them?
A Word of Caution – Stay Away from the Astroturf!
The term “astroturfing” was first used to describe political campaign managers who secretly worked to create what appeared to be a spontaneous grassroots movement. One of the dead giveaways this is going on is when you see 100,000 identical “spontaneous” signs show up at rallies across the country in a day.
Lifestyle Lift, a plastic surgery clinic in New York, recently learned the hard way how a manufactured positive review scheme can be the worst idea possible. Along with a $300,000 fine the clinic now has the unsavory label of being the first such practice to be cited for astroturfing. By using employees (not identified as such) to post glowing online reviews, the clinic was charged with using “deceptive commercial practices, false advertising, and fraudulent and illegal conduct.” The moral to the story: there really is a better way.
Three Ways to Develop a Consistent Stream of Positive Reviews
1. Ask – It sounds too simple but it works. Don’t short circuit the process by asking clients to give you a good review. Instead, wait until a relationship has built up with a client over time and then ask if they would consider writing a brief review. Let them know you value them as a client and take their opinion seriously.
2. Make it Known – Have a moderated review page on your web site or have a link that points to your Google Places page where clients can leave a review. Younger clients are the most likely to be turned off by asking for a review. This is where a Facebook business page and Twitter come into play. The social media generation is already acclimated to expressing itself online.
3. Respond to Every Review – This means having a regular process of reading every review you can find. In a future article we will talk about how to find these reviews but it does no good finding them if you aren’t going to reply. When it’s a good review, thank the client. When it’s bad, thank the client. Most professionals find the best way to deal with a negative review is NOT online. Instead, contact the reviewer personally and see what can be done to repair the relationship. Many clients dealt with this way often will go back and leave a positive review as a result.
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