The Reviews Are in! An Easy Way to Reach the Right People

By Jeff Beals

“Remarkable staff, beautiful hotel and very good management! Thank you for a wonderful experience and for being so accommodating of us. We loved it and will be back.”

That’s an excerpt from an online review a family member of mine wrote about his stay last year at a Geneva, Switzerland resort.

I was thinking about that family member recently and how much he reminded me of this other guy I know, a good friend. I decided to Google both of them.

When I Googled the family member, I noticed he had written the review above plus a couple others.

Among my friend’s search returns were some reviews of books and other products he had purchased on Amazon.com.

Upon deeper examination, I discovered both men had written several reviews on various websites, using their real names, and another identifying factor, usually their home town. These guys are incredibly successful, and have many impressive things going on in their lives, yet these online reviews appeared near the top of their Google research results.

The fact that reviews show prominently on Internet searches is proof that writing reviews can be a powerful marketing force for individuals trying to build personal brands and the companies for which they work. Now is a great time to think about the products, services and people you respect and start contemplating what you can say about them online.

Review writing is worthwhile, because I guarantee your friends, colleagues, potential clients and prospective employers are Googling you on a regular basis. That’s what we do these days – when we are thinking about doing business with a person or getting involved with a company, we conduct a quick search.

If someone Googles you and little or nothing shows up, they are going to be unimpressed. It might not be fair, or even accurate, but if the Google returns on your name are meager, the person searching will assume you don’t have much going on. You can’t afford that.

Being widely represented on the Internet is crucial, and online reviews are a great way to get your name and your company’s name out in the marketplace. The key is to make sure the reviews work for you instead of against you.

The first step is to use your real name and an identifying factor. Your reviews are useless if you use a pseudonym. For the identifying factor, most reviewers use their city of residence or what they do for a living, i.e. “architect,” “pharmaceutical sales” or “insurance industry.” Only use your company name if you are comfortable doing so, keeping in mind that some large companies frown on employees publicly using the company name without permission from the public relations department. As long as the website doesn’t have a policy against it, you might want to include your website URL or email address after your name.

When writing your name, go by the name everyone calls you. For instance, if everyone knows you as “Jeff,” don’t sign your name as “Jeffrey.”

In the vast majority of the cases, you should write positive comments. Negative reviews generally hurt your brand, making you come across as an unpleasant, unhappy person. When you feel you must write a scathing review, that’s when you pull out the pseudonym.

Write reviews about products, services and companies that relate to your expertise. For example, there’s power in writing an Amazon review about a new leadership book if you are a senior executive.

Make sure your writing uses real grammar and avoids too much slang or vernacular language. While you don’t need to write like a British poet, professional-sounding language is a must.

As far as length is concerned, you need to put some “meat” into it without turning it into a novel. One sentence is way too short, but if you write more than two standard-sized paragraphs it is unlikely many people will read your entire text.

Include a short reference as to who you are professionally or what your company does in your review. That gives you credibility and encourages potential clients to learn more about you, but limit this part to just one sentence, so you don’t come across as a conceited braggart.

Put some thought into the review and make it interesting. Some websites allow readers of reviews to “star” them or mark how helpful they are. The more “helpful” your review is, the more likely it will show up first.

But don’t stop with just the review. Once it is approved and posted, send it to all your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and GooglePlus followers. This will expand the circle of people who could potentially see it and “like” it, “agree” with it or “star” it.

Once you become adept at writing reviews, you could also comment on blog articles. Follow blogs that relate to your area of expertise and/or your company’s industry. The rules of review writing apply to blog comments.

Indeed writing reviews and responding to blog articles are powerful ways for you and your company to stand out in this crazy, cluttered marketplace in which we all work, but you have to be disciplined and committed. One review or one blog comment really won’t do much for you. In addition to writing the right stuff in the right way, you need to be a regular contributor. The frequency of your writing is almost as important as the quality.

You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to anyone else who might benefit from it.

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or call (402) 637-9300.

You Need Champions in Life but Not the Kind that Win Trophies

By Jeff Beals

After arriving at their vacation destination city, a family enters the lobby of an upscale hotel. Because it’s late at night, and they’re tired from delayed flights and long layovers, they just want to check in and go to sleep. As soon as they walk in, the concierge brings over champagne for the parents and a treat for the kids.

That makes a good impression.

Then comes the bad news. The woman at the registration desk says the hotel overbooked.

Not a good impression.

But, in order to make things right, the hotel upgrades the family to the top-floor suite at no additional charge.

Extraordinary impression!

The family ends up enjoying a great vacation and tells their friends about the wonderful hotel and the great service they received. They are now big fans of that property and the entire hotel chain.

Have you ever had a raving fan? Does your company have raving fans?

In 2004, Random House released a book called Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles. The book was intended to help companies improve their customer service. The authors’ central message was that you need to go above and beyond, because “satisfied customers just aren’t good enough.”

That book is part of a breadth of publications designed to help companies and individual professionals do a better job of pleasing customers. In fact, we often hear executives spurring their employees to focus on providing “customer delight” as opposed to the mere standard of “customer service.”

This all makes sense to me. Certainly, companies benefit when they go all-out to please the customer, but having people who love you and are willing to tell everyone about it, goes beyond just customer service. You can also create raving fans during the marketing and selling processes.

Instead of “fans,” I call them “champions.”

Champions are people who champion you and your cause. They love (professionally, of course) you and your company. They are your fans, the people who would run through a brick wall for you. They could be personal friends, distant admirers, current or former clients, current or former referrers. They could also be influencers of past clients who you converted in champions.

Even if you have a lot of champions, you could still use more. Those organizations that have engaged champions and sent them out into the world do more business. A large group of champions on your side is like having a huge marketing and sales staff without having to pay the salaries and benefits.

But champions don’t just appear out of thin air. They are developed. They must be created and then maintained. That means an organization should have a part of its marketing plan focused on how to deliberately develop and maintain champions. Part of that plan would be an on-going communication plan for champions that would include mailings, electronic communications, phone calls, and most importantly, personal visits.

To convert someone into a champion, you need to make him or her feel very special. When you are in front of a person, make him or her feel that nobody else in the world matters more. Spend time with key people socially, congratulate them on their successes, and help them celebrate their victories. Don’t let a moment of truth – an opportunity to strengthen a relationship – be wasted. Jump on that opportunity and grow that relationship.

It also helps when you surprise champions with valuable information when they’re not expecting it. Send them referrals whenever you get the chance. Go out of your way to introduce or connect them to interesting people. Treat them with respect and demonstrate integrity consistently.

If you do these things, you will develop a network of champions who will protect you and your company. As the old saying goes, “you can never have too many friends.” The same thing applies to champions.

Since we are approaching late summer and therefore nearing football season, allow me to illustrate the importance of champions with a short passage from my book, Selling Saturdays: Blue Chip Sales Tips from College Football.

In 1980, the University of Nebraska recruited the future Heisman Trophy-winning, All-American running back Mike Rozier out of Camden, New Jersey. Rozier was not immediately eligible to enter the university, so Nebraska’s coaches “placed” him at Coffeyville Community College in southeast Kansas.

Nebraska made an agreement with Coffeyville’s coach that no other major college football team would talk to Rozier while he was there fulfilling his academic requirements before transferring to NU. Knowing that Rozier was a phenomenal prospect, the coach at one of Nebraska’s chief rivals tried to force his way into Rozier’s dorm. The Coffeyville coach literally stood in the door and physically blocked the opposing coach from entering.

Now THAT is a loyal champion. I’d love to have that guy on my side.

You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to anyone else who might benefit from it.

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or call (402) 637-9300.