B2B marketing has changed. Companies no longer have universal control over their reputations, thanks in part to online review sites where users race to review the products and services they love (and hate).
A local construction contractor who I've gotten to know over the years recently got slammed on Yelp, the online review service where users post compliments or criticisms of the services they received. He had purposely avoided asking his happy, good customers to post positive reviews of his work on Yelp, because he was afraid that having anything to do with Yelp would open the door for negative postings. He also thought Yelp is only for consumer products and services—pizza shops, dry cleaners, and shoe stores. Foolishly, his head-in-the-sand attitude got him bit.
B2B marketing has changed. Companies no longer have universal control over their reputations, thanks in part to online review sites where users race to review the products and services they love (and hate). And a site like Yelp, can do more harm than good unless you manage it.
My contractor buddy is probably on target in his beliefs that Yelp is probably better suited to the business-to-consumer markets, but that was also the sense not too long ago about Facebook.
Here's the thing…. You may want to inoculate your contracting firm against any negative reviews. You don't want a bad comment developing a life greater than it deserves. So, go ahead and ask happy customers to write a brief review and rank you high on Yelp. You might ask customers what they thought about your work at the end of a project and write it up for them. Email it to the customer and say, “This is what I heard you say about our workmanship, would you mind posting it on Yelp for others to know – here's the link to Yelp.”
Why not? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
The experts talk about…
• Trust Through Transparency – being able to turn to real user first-hand experiences and recommendations on review sites means that customers no longer have to rely on the word of sales pitches alone.
• Creating Company Advocates – a happy customer who leaves a positive review on a public forum like Yelp empowers them to be your advocate. They are connected and act as pseudo-marketers, spreading their positive experiences through social networks, word of mouth, and now, via online reviews.
• Negative Reviews Can Be Good – they can be an opportunity to resolve a problem with a customer. Also, having one or two negative reviews among a greater number of positive reviews can bring a sense of credibility to your company.
Savvy construction contractors are implementing online review strategies and encouraging all customers to provide feedback on their experiences, both positive and negative.