Everyone’s got an opinion, and regrettably as a business owner some of those opinions could cause your business a great deal of trouble. Managing your online reputation has become a must-do item on your daily checklist. Fail to do it, and you might find people deserting you in droves. Bad reviews are a reality of online life. They are so easy to post, and can sway large segments of the target audience in your favor or not. The secret is having much more of the favorable to outweigh the inescapable negative.

How to handle a negative review

Follow these 3 steps and develop your own system for handling a negative review whenever it does appear.

  1. Make customer service a number one priority - A big part of the reason companies wind up in the position of needing to handle a negative online review is that frequently there is a failure within their customer service or support. Many times customers are reaching out through various channels, including email, Facebook, Twitter or in blog comments. Frequently these are unnoticed for far way too long, resulting in one mad customer, who feels as though they have no solution other than to vent their frustrations on an online review site. In most cases, usually the entire scenario may have been avoided by paying a little more attention to your social and internal channels.
  2. Be professional at all times - The very last thing for you to do is get in to an online shouting match with a customer. This won’t turn out well for you, ever! Even if you are right, you’re wrong to engage in this manner, as it will scale this matter to heights you wouldn’t think possible. Strive to remain professional, generous, and endeavor to keep that customer, or at a minimum make sure you don’t lose more of them! Since this type of customer typically represents about 1% of your customer base, it’s just not worth it.
  3. Encourage good reviews - One of the better ways you can actively really make a difference is by supporting and even rewarding positive reviews of your services or products. Get an adequate amount of these on a regular basis, and the infrequent negative review will not stand a very good chance of remaining high in the search results. To the contrary, they’ll in all likelihood bring you even more customers!

Handling negative reviews isn’t nuclear physics, but it does call for persistence and professionalism. These days with the speed of communication online, you haven’t any other options!

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The great 19th Century Irish playwright and humorist Oscar Wilde uttered these last words: “Either this wallpaper goes, or I do.” Why some enterprising wallpaper company hasn’t used this is beyond me, but it does go to underscore the point that humor sells. Humor effectively disarms people, often by getting them to see your point in a way they hadn’t thought of before, and initiates rapport where you might have had a difficult time creating some with your latest PowerPoint filed with facts. Art Linkletter told us that laughter is the best medicine, and he was spot on. It could be the cure for what ails your business too! Let’s take a look at 4 ways to use humor in your small business marketing.

4 great ways to use humor in your marketing!

Take advantage of pop culture - This is a generation that has typically left the evening news favoring the likes of Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert and the other late night mavens who have built careers around the daily misfortunes of celebrities, sports stars and politicians. It’s all fair game, so don’t hesitate to use your share if you’re able to find ways to make it humorous. Getting the audience smiling and in a good spirits right off the bat can go quite some distance toward helping build rapport with them.

Make a funny video - Portraying your products or services in a humorous light will get people eager for your videos wondering what you will do next. Making these doesn’t need to be a major production either, quite a few shoot them on their smartphones, that is by far enough camera. Another good tactic here is to use animated videos with services like GoAnimate or Xtranormal easy to use apps to make your videos quickly.

Create a visual mashup - A good way to make the most of both humor and the wicked hot photo-sharing world is to make a humorous meme. These are almost required on Facebook, and can be a great ice breaker and are also able to be shared far and wide though Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and other sites.

Connect with humor in your content - Don’t be afraid to be a bit unusual or scandalous in your content. People connect with humor as it is a shared experience. We’ve all been there, and humor is an excellent way to engage on a level deeper than your average marketing message!

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When you’re looking at judging how well our marketing methods are doing, it’s wise to study how well they convert into sales, opt-ins or other actions, and base our decisions on future marketing based on these facts. Email marketing has been a champ at this in the past, but during the last few years, many would have you feel as if it’s lost its effectiveness, and has largely become forgotten insofar as popular marketing goes. With all the focus on the latest and greatest social media platforms breaking records for users, you could be forgiven if you were of the opinion that email marketing is ineffective.

Nothing could be more wrong!

While unquestionably not as new and exciting as the latest social media darling may be, email continues to perform at what can only be deemed outstanding levels! A major new study by Custora shines a lot of light on exactly how rewarding email can still be in the hands of smart marketers. Rather than in decline, customer acquisition using email has quadrupled in the last four years, and that these customers were at least 10 times as valuable as those received from either Facebook or twitter. This is due in no small part to the fact that we are a lot more used to seeing marketing arrive in email, while it’s still fairly new to social media. Over time the social media platforms may indeed prove useful in this regard. It’s just not happening at this point, so you would be smart to allocate your marketing activities accordingly.

How to parse your marketing efforts

Given that email boasts an ROI of $40 for every $1 spent, and social media far south of $1, efforts really should be made to use your social media to funnel to your email lists. Getting your brand in front of people and showing what you can do is a great use of social media at this point. Despite all of the buzz surrounding using social media to replace email, the data shows different. Don’t commit the mistake of sending email to the dustbin just yet!

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Who could’ve thought that Instagram would have become the web authority it is now in such a small amount of time? With over 100 Million users, and having been recently acquired by Facebook, things are indeed rocking at this widely used photo sharing site. What’s catching notice lately though is the revolutionary ways people are using Instagram, and nowhere is that more evident than in, of all places, Kuwait.

The Award for Ingenuity goes to Kuwait!

According to Kottke.org, Kuwaitis have taken to using Instagram as a visually oriented mobile store, selling just about anything they want. A few of the offerings you can find are Manga, clothing and fashion accessories, makeup services, and surprisingly, sheep! While selling sheep on Instagram is probably not your thing, you can appreciate the ingenuity of these people adapting Instagram for their own marketing purposes in uniquely innovative way. They’ve got products they wish to sell, they take a picture, upload it to their Instagram account, add a price and ask them to contact for more information or to purchase. Marketing at its simplest, on a world-wide scale!

What are the takeaways here for us?

The clearest reminder here is that to take advantage of a popular platform’s traffic, you need to apply a bit of ingenuity and lateral thinking to the mix. While Instagram was not designed to be a sales platform, it has the ability for this, if even only on a rudimentary level. What ideas can you develop that might advance your business? Some marketers are employing Instagram to promote CPA (cost per action) offers. Because of the social sharing aspect, and the huge traffic on Instagram, it was inescapable. Other people are using it to direct to squeeze pages for list building purposes.

There are a lot of ways to use this, and the thinking is that now is the best time to go for it, as with Facebook, change is a constant, and things won’t remain so Wild West-like.

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If you haven’t considered employing Vine videos for your small business, you may want to consider it. It is likely you have what you need to get this done in your pocket. By using the Vine app on your smartphone, you can create and upload these short, sharable videos to Twitter as fast as you create them.

So what is Vine?

Well, in case you missed the video, Vine is an innovative video sharing platform on Twitter that lets you create and upload 6-second videos to Twitter. So you might be thinking, just how can a 6-second video help my business? Well, look at some of the ways these companies RedVines, Urban Outfitters and Nintendo managed to make it work for them!

These companies found a way for videos to help further their brand, advertise their products and services, and promote their businesses in different ways. They already know this service, that is trending very hot right now, can do for them. One of the main attractions of a service like Vine is that getting your content in front of people is getting more and more difficult as people are less willing to take the time to read. Consumers are less willing to read, so a 6-second video is just what the doctor ordered, and you’d be surprised at some of the ways people are using Vine. As reported by Biznology.com, businesses are making use of them to introduce new employees, announce events, give an insider’s look into the business, and in some cases creating short commercials to display their latest product or service.

Publiseek.com offers even more innovative ways to use Vine. Some of these include:

  • Recording customer testimonials
  • Recording short introductions from your company principals
  • Real estate professionals have found Vine useful to present virtual tours of new listings
  • Restaurants are broadcasting daily specials. Picture a scrumptious plate overlaid with the link, “Click to Smell”, which takes them to the reservation desk. Lots of possibilities here!
  • Businesses are using Vine to show stunning after and before pictures

The only limit here is your imagination! You can do something positive for your business today if you take action. Get started with Vine today!

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Mashable is confirming that location based social networking company Foursquare is currently testing a new advertising platform aimed at small business, by letting large advertisers like Burger King, Gap and Starwood Hotels to test promote themselves with the platform. These listings show up in Foursquare when a customer gets close to a business’ physical location. Small businesses already had the capability to offer discounts when a user checked in to a location, but now Foursquare is providing them with a way to attract geographically close customers by showing an image ad and/or review by a previous Foursquare user.

What’s in it for Foursquare?

Foursquare is a location-based social networking site for mobile devices, such as smartphones. Typically its users “check in” at various venues using a mobile website, text messaging or a device-specific app. Their specific location is found through the GPS in their mobile device. Foursquare has until now been a means for consumers to promote their favorite bars, hangouts and restaurants. Now, those places will have a way to promote themselves directly to consumers. While Foursquare has gathered some 25 million registered users, they earned just $2 million dollars last year, according to The Wall Street Journal. They are clearly searching for ways to pump up the revenue.

How the ads work

The way this works is the ad platform targets Foursquare users based on their locations and check-in histories. Merchants will and do have the capability to target nearby consumers with particular tastes – a predilection for fine dining, for example, or customers who had previously checked-in to their store. Merchants in this program are able to turn on and off their Foursquare promotions any time they want, and are charged similar to a pay per click model, that is, they are going to be charged only on a “per action” basis (when a user actually taps on a promoted listing as opposed to merely viewing it). So far, Foursquare is charging $0.50 to $3 per action, but that’s likely to change when it is rolled out to the masses. Foursquare CRO Steven Rosenblatt said, “Small businesses are willing to pay for local advertising if it makes sense.”

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