Small business owners may not assume that an online rating can affect the bottom line, but a newly-published book helps explain ways that a company’s reputation on the Internet can be a significant influence to success or failure. Online reputation management is an important thing in the business community, as it can bring in more customers or drive them to the competition.
“We’ve all heard how online reputations can affect someone applying for a job, but the same thing occurs with small businesses, even sole proprietors,” explains Justen DeForrest, author of 5-Star Reputation Secrets: How to Produce, Protect & Promote a Preeminent Online Reputation for Your Business. “Unlike those people who think their Facebook profile doesn’t affects a job search, small business owners need to know how to monitor and take control of their online reputation.”
According to a 2010 study, only 7 percent of Americans believe their image online affects their job search, but nearly 70 percent of companies have rejected candidates on this basis. Small businesses and sole proprietors are at a larger risk, especially when nearly everyone uses the Internet to search for new places to shop, eat or buy services.
“Almost 90 percent – yes, 9 out of 10 people – of consumers trust online reviews, while 80 percent of them research a company online before taking out their wallets,” said DeForrest, citing a research study by Cone, INC. “But if your small business has a poor online reputation, then good luck – four out of five people change their minds solely on negative information online.”
DeForrest’s book describes how some of the ways to gain, strengthen and maintain a five-star reputation are actually quite simple, even for the busy small business owner. One key point in the book is about creating the opportunity to gain those positive reviews and encouraging feedback. And what’s the best way to do that? Ask.
“How many small business owners have purchased two or three items at the store, but ended up with a receipt as long as your arm?” he asks. “These receipts include information for consumers to give positive feedback – and win prizes – but very few cashiers are trained to point this out. A missed opportunity like this can dent a giant corporation’s reputation, but could crush a small business.”
5-Star Reputation Secrets: How to Produce, Protect & Promote a Preeminent Online Reputation for Your Business is available for the Kindle on Amazon.com. Worksheets that complement the book are available at 5StarReputationSecretsBook.com.