5 Ways You May Be Helping Your

Unless you invent something that does not currently exist, or that’s become the freak newest fad (remember Pet Rocks?) it’s competitive out there. In the U.S. alone there are 16,545 new car dealers according to 2015 NADA survey, and that doesn’t even account for used car dealers.  So the LAST thing you want to do is to inadvertently be working for your competition, with regards to your online marketing. How does this occur? By not being cognizant of certain “Do’s” and “Don’t’s” or by not being proactive in handling these areas.

To help, here’s a list of 5 primary issues that exist with many brands’ online marketing strategies that — either done or not done, as the case may be — cause them to actually be working for the competition rather than for themselves. These 5 areas seem very straightforward when you look at them, but can be critical to a company’s immediate success as well as its ability to persist into the future.


1. Reviews: If you can’t beat em’, Join ’em.

“I don’t like that review— I’ll just delete it or delete my page” does not work in a space where of freedom of speech (that’s a good thing, remember?) is upheld.  If speech is said to be free, you can’t have it both ways, and in the Internet world, on public pages controlled by review services such as Yelp and Google Plus, as you can’t just remove what you don’t like or don’t agree with.

There have been numerous court cases to remove reviews, but time and again they have been found to be protected by the First Amendment and the rules of public domain; just like death and taxes, reviews persist. According to Forbes, 88% of consumers trust an online review as much as they trust a personal recommendation, and they might very well go to a competitor if you show too many bad reviews. That said, you do need to find a way to become proactive regarding the subject.

Negative reviews only become a problem if you aren’t encouraging positive ones, and unfortunately, people are more apt to take their own initiative in speaking about negative experiences rather than positive ones. Assuming you actually do have a good product or service, the solution becomes a numbers game. Put attention on collecting reviews continuously from all of your happy customers and with enough of these, even when a negative one appears, however true or untrue it may be, its effect is minimized. With scores of positive reviews showing, the few negative ones actually have the effect of making the person who wrote them look like the bad guy, not you.

Remain on top in the eyes of your customers by delivering stellar products or services and be proactive in getting the positive reviews to prove it.


2. Your customers ARE online — whether you are or not.

Your company may be B2B or only deal in referrals, but in today’s world it’s still a must to maintain an online presence. Whether or not you think people will deal with your business online, they ARE online socially, for news, in seeking information, for ease of communication — and maybe even when in communication with your competitors. In fact, taking too passive a role in reaching out via the internet to establish communication is a dangerous game to play.

The world today is a volatile playing ground — crises can happen; the economy can shift. What then? All the customers or projects you had lined up could be gone over night. It’s safe to say that the world or community you serve will not stay the same forever; thus, its prudent to think of the bigger picture and be prepared for changes that might occur. If you’re prepared with an online program which is establishing you as a brand to an ever-widening audience, you’re in a much better position to withstand anything those changes might bring.

Make sure you are at least as visible as your competitors are online, and work diligently on increasing that presence.


3. What Goes Around, Stays Around.

Did you know that your tweets are in the Library of Congress? Politico is reporting the project is currently is jeopardy due to its shear cost, but for the time being, they are still being archived. Regardless of whether this project stops or not, the point is that online data doesn’t disappear — its on a server somewhere. That’s what the Internet is, one big combination of servers. This means a reputation, once created, is forever existent (unless of course Armageddon occurs; in that case you can start over, providing the internet still exists!)

Barring the occurrence of a technological end-of-the-world situation, you need to be cognizant of what goes out in the online sphere. Think of it as a virtual archive—what would you want someone in 10, 20 or 50 years to know about your company and/or it’s employees?

Strive to build up a build up a reputation that will stand the test of time, ideally one that is better than your competitors.


4. Perception 101: Bad Website = Bad Company 

Ask yourself this: Try to find a person or company online and can’t find their site, what is your gut reaction? A site you are looking for is poorly done or outdated, what impression do you get about that company itself?  The truth is, if a site doesn’t exist, to that degree the company itself does not exist. But almost as deadly in business: If a site leaves you with a serious question of authenticity or is so sub-par you cannot get the information you need, you will immediately write the company off; a bad website hurts. And do you stop searching at that point?  Noooooo.  Most likely, you continue searching and find their competitors. Why? Because “everything can be found on the Internet.” 

Let’s face it, we all share that mentality these days.  Bottom line, you must have a site, and while it doesn’t need to be an exhibition worthy of the Louvre, but it should be well designed, contain all the information a customer or prospect may need and position your company professionally. 

Research your competitors’ sites, and make sure yours is as good, or better, in terms of value to your audience.


5. Your Wasted Leads are Your Competitors’ Opportunities

Forbes Magazine recently cited a study that upwards of 71% of all leads gathered online are wasted. The main problem — it took an average of almost 46.5 hours to respond to leads. Those that were contacted in 1 hour were 10 times more likely to close, but after 20 hours of waiting there was a severe drop-off in closing ability or even in actually contacting them, for that matter. With that much wait time leads were no longer interested in picking up the phone, and by then they were looking for someone else to solve their problem. The main point? Marketing is vital for gathering leads and creating want, but if Sales isn’t on top of their game viability will be a real challenge.

Make sure Sales and Marketing are both strong and are working together in a coordinated fashion, so captured leads remain YOUR leads. 

In conclusion, the key questions to ask yourself are  “How many leads can your bottom line afford to give away?” along with “How long can you afford to give them away?” Review your digital presence, operate with full knowledge of what your business is doing, develop and implement programs to improve the weak areas. Then even in the toughest of times, you are positioned to have a longer lasting and much more profitable business.

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