Recent News Stories Show the Importance of Online Reputation for Marketing a Local Business

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My Local Leads, a Maine marketing firm, brings forth important lessons based on recent news stories regarding online interactions between businesses and consumers.

After Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares aired on May 10th, bloggers, media analysts, and internet marketers were treated to what has been characterized as one of the most public and potentially devastating internet melt downs a business has experienced to date. Phoenix-based Amy’s Baking Company is not the first business to play victim of a highly connected, high speed world.

In 2012, CelebBoutique made the news for tweeting about the trending of Aurora. The problem was that the team had failed to realize that the reason Aurora was trending at the time was because of the mass shooting inside a movie theater. Chick-Fil-A learned that fast food and political views may not be quite the right mix. KitchenAid learned the same hard lesson. Numerous retailers tried to capitalize on tragedy, leveraging their online visibility by mentioning Superstorm Sandy in tweets and online promotions. At the beginning of 2013, a controversy spilled out regarding a pastor’s refusal to tip noted on a receipt, the subsequent firing of an employee who allowed a picture of the receipt to be taken and posted online, and the disastrous online fallout that followed. Earlier this month, Abercrombie & Fitch was in the news for being blatant about their ideal consumer marketing strategy.

While larger national brands are brought into the spotlight, it is somewhat to be expected. Those larger companies have well-known brands. They also have big time advertising budgets. While these online controversies might make for good reading and discussion for a few days or even weeks, the reality is that they typically subside. The news cycle is fast and furious and something new and shiny easily distracts consumers. Things are let go over time. Those larger organizations can absorb the blow from a little bit of negative publicity. Local businesses, however, rely on work of mouth and immediate public perception in order to keep the phones ringing.

My Local Leads is an online marketing firm based in Maine that specializes in local search marketing for small and medium sized businesses. Their specialists understand how things like an outdated company policy and a non-existent or ineffective social media policy can kill business for local companies.

Many local business owners do not fully comprehend the power of positive online reviews. A Harvard study showed that a one star increase or decrease on Yelp reviews for larger firms with bigger advertising budgets has very little effect. Many business owners are familiar with this and as such do not see the value in investing in more aggressive social media marketing campaigns. The other part of the Harvard study showed that small and local businesses could see a revenue jump of up to 9 percent with a single star increase based on user reviews.

With more than half of consumers today searching for local businesses and business having changed to the educated and empowered consumer model, being able to be found online is just half of the battle. For the local business, what people say makes a big difference in the success of the business. Building the brand and developing a relationship with existing and potential customers is paramount to a successful business strategy in today’s market.

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Chris Moreno

Cameron Corniuk
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