The Power of Your Employees

The secret to great reviews. And a great company.

By now, you already know your online reputation is your most valuable marketing asset.

And you know if you don’t have great reviews on sites like Google, Facebook, and BBB, you’re basically giving away money to your competitors.

But I have a secret to tell you.

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The Power of Love – The Power Circle of Benefits When an Owner Shares the Love

One of the best ways we’ve found to help our ReviewBuzz team Be Remarkable everyday is to have as much fun as possible together while still kicking butt for our clients. So when we were allowed to do a break-out session at the last Nexstar Super Meeting, held here in our hometown of San Diego, we were honored, and immediately got to work making it as much fun as we could for everyone involved.

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What is Social Proof and How Can It Make You Money?

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If no one ever eats in that restaurant on the corner, would you?

If you walk into the office and everyone is looking out the window, do you?

When everyone starts upgrading their phones, will you start to consider it?

The reason we answer yes to these kinds of questions is that we are, ultimately, social animals, and we regularly look to others when making decisions.

The way other people’s choices influence our own is called social proof. Social proof, also known as social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people take on other people’s actions because they assume it reflects the correct behavior for a given situation.

There are several types of social proof in the marketplace today. Understanding them means that as a business owner, you will not just make more money, but have greater ability to make money again and again.

Review Buzz Founder, Mike Montano has likened social proof as a collection of “popularity votes” with big stacks of dollar bills attached to them. But each “vote” doesn’t just equal one, a hundred, or even a thousand dollars, but rather the ability to reproduce dollar bills again and again. In his book, Stop Marketing, Be Remarkable! he writes,

“Building social proof is the closest thing to printing money there is.”

 

How does social proof translate into this goose that lays the golden egg? First, it helps to understand the various types of social proof.

Different Types of Social Proof

Social proof can give your company a compelling reputation in many forms, including the use of celebrity or expert endorsements. These are called “celebrity social proof” and “expert social proof,” and they usually play on what’s known as the halo effect.

The halo effect is a cognitive bias in which we judge what we think of someone’s opinion based on our general favorable impression of them. So we agree with someone more readily because we like or admire them.

The two types of social proof that you can harness especially well for real marketing ROI are known as “user social proof,” and the “wisdom of friends social proof.” Both of these types are most easily monetized online, in the form of posts and reviews.

First, user social proof is the approval of those who have used your product or service. User social proof is most effective when it comes in the form of storytelling, including customer testimonials, case studies, and online reviews.

Stories are a powerful tool in most marketing modalities because it’s much easier to see ourselves in another’s shoes, making the same choices, when we hear their story. Numbers and stats can be effective too, but a kind of trust and persuasiveness comes when you can relate to someone’s individual experience.

The kind of social proof that comes from what we consider to be the “wisdom of our friends,” stems from a phenomenon known as implicit egotism. The concept here is that we naturally gravitate towards people and things that resemble ourselves. For this reason, we value the opinions of people we perceive as most like us.

Social media provides a myriad of ways to show this kind of social proof. Likes, follows, re-tweets, etc., all trigger the social response to feel the same way as those you consider, at least to some degree, like you.

Why Social Proof is Such a Moneymaker

The highly relatable social proof we see online in the form of likes, referrals, reviews, and posts, is like gold for your company. Actually, to be more exact, it’s like a goose that lays golden eggs.

The reason social proof is the goose that lays the golden egg has to do with the difference between production and production capability. In his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey uses this parable to explain this difference.

In this story, the lucky farmer who owns the goose gets so focused on the gold, that his greed takes over a bit. Rather than wait for just one egg every day, he cuts open to goose to take them all. What does he end up with? You guessed it: nada, zilch.

In this way, the poor farmer has sacrificed production capability in favor of production. It’s something those in the service industry can readily relate to. We get so focused on producing those golden eggs that we neglect the very thing which can help us produce them over and over again–providing remarkable service.

But when we remember to focus on service and the way our customer’s feel about us, then implement a system to ensure their choices and opinions become visible online, we cultivate some serious production capability because this social proof brings your business the ability to be trusted and endorsed by people who are speaking directly to your potential customers.

As Montano writes, “Your capital production capability is directly related to your social proof, and whether you like it or not, that reputation is based 99% on what online information is available about your business…Social proof tells people your company has earned the trust of previous customers by getting the job well done.”

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Practical Ways to Start Using Social Proof For Your Business

Here are some practical steps you can take to harness the lucrative power of social proof as a marketing opportunity:

  • It starts with leadership. A culture of excellence needs to be cultivated from the top.
  • Make sure providing excellent service is prioritized and rewarded.
  • Also focus on and reward employees for asking for reviews from every customer.
  • Implement a process or system, like ReviewBuzz, that makes this all simple for you to run: both the rewarding of employees for excellence and getting good reviews, and also the publishing of these reviews on sites like Yelp and Google.

 

Now that you have an idea of what social proof is, how it functions, and how to use it for real marketing ROI, it’s time to put it into practice. Get excited about all the things that make your company and the goods and services you provide great, then get ready to tell the world in a way that will make them want to experience this greatness for themselves. Once they see how much other people believe in what you do, they’ll want to as well.

Images: Courtesy of sujanpatel.com and launchbit.com

 

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Online Reviews: The New Currency Under Your Control!

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Anyone who traveled through Europe before the introduction of the Euro may recall the days when each country had its own currency. Prior to this economic union, tourists had wads of foreign cash that didn’t always amount to much.

But the transition to the Euro led to greater international purchasing power for those who held it. Because of the common value of the new currency, more goods and services could be purchased.

Ultimately purchasing power impacts every aspect of economics, from interest rates and stock prices, to spending and prosperity.

What if your business could have financial prosperity regardless of what was happening to the economy? What if you could create your own “currency”?  And what if you could control the value within the four walls of your company?

With online reviews, you can.

Businesses with a frequent, high-volume of positive reviews on influential review sites gain greater value through consumer trust. Because 92% of consumers now read online reviews, positive online reviews will increase the amount of business you do and rates customers are willing to pay.

On the flip side, negative online reviews will decrease the amount of business you do – and will drive more of your customers to your competitors.  

In Stop Marketing, Be Remarkable, ReviewBuzz Founder Mike Montano writes,  “Reviews are the new currency. They will literally make you money . . . Your capital production capability is directly related to your social proof. Whether you like it or not, that reputation is based 99% on what online information is available about your company.”

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Research shows that online reviews can actually boost ROI for your business. In fact, according to Vision Critical, 80% of people will not buy from a business that has negative reviews, and it takes 10 to 12 positive reviews to offset a single bad one.

So, more than ever before, people are reading reviews and are making fast decisions based on a company’s online reputation.

Studies by social analytics firm, ShareThis, found that people were even willing to pay more for products with positive online reviews.

“Recommendations have more of an impact than brand or price,” says ShareThis CEO Kurt Abrahamson. “We found that highly positive online shares can generate an almost 10 percent increase in purchase intent, and negative reviews can also have a correspondingly negative impact, by 11 percent.”

For residential service providers, the impact is even more profound. A study by Software Advice found that 86% of consumers are willing to pay higher fees for a service provider with positive reviews.

Because positive online reviews have so much power to make you money, they are now considered a new form of currency. The more you have, the more you’ll be making.

If your company is not maximizing your online review potential, you are hurting your own economy.

You can control the amount of positive reviews you get far more than you may think.

 

Here are a few simple steps to build credibility:

  • First, ask your customer to write a review after the service is complete. This should be mandatory of all employees. The best way to get the most reviews is to either ask in person, or by email. 
  • Second, give your employees an incentive to ask for reviews, such as gift cards, etc. 
  • Third, make the review process as simple and easy as possible for your customers. 
  • Fourth, focus on the sites that your customers trust the most and therefore, visit the most, like Google, Facebook, Yelp, BBB, etc. 
  • Fifth, keep reviews current. According to a 2015 Brightlocal survey, 44% of consumers say a review must be written within 1 month to be relevant.

 

When a company looks good online, more people will call, more services will be sold, and more money will be earned. It’s a currency you can manage like any other.

As Montano states, “Great reviews do more than just improve your marketing efforts or your advertisement copy. They make your phone ring. They make you money because your customers want to make the right choice. They dial your number, not just looking for services, but looking for the experience your reviewers describe.”

It’s time to incorporate reviews into your daily operations. Your customers are looking for them. Your marketing ROI depends on them. And without them, you are just handing business off to your competitors.

Images: Courtesy of connectivity.com and toprankblog.com

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Noticing the Good Guys. The Rewards of Employee Reward and Recognition

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Imagine for a minute that you’ve been feeling the squeeze of recent turns in the economy and had to let a few employees go. The decision is gut-wrenching, but you know for sure, you have to keep your star worker, Shawn. Shawn is a quick learner, the customers love him, and he’s always there to take up others’ slack. Unfortunately, the recent cuts mean he has to take on even more than you usually ask of him, but true to form, Shawn steps up to the plate.

Then, the unimaginable happens and Shawn turns in his resignation to go work for one of your competitors. When you ask him why, he tells you that with all the hard work he’s taken on recently, he’s never once complained, but in truth, he has started to feel like it was all going unrecognized.

“Even just a plain old: Thank you, I see how hard you’re working, would have gone a long way,” he tells you. And with your help, a bad situation, has just gone from bad too much worse.

Killing Motivation

When hard work goes unrecognized, it’s difficult to imagine who would do it all again just to have the same results. Studies on employee recognition back this up time and again. Gallup, who has polled over four million people on the topic, reports that the benefits of employee recognition and reward programs are numerous, including: increased productivity, better employee retention, and higher customer loyalty and satisfaction scores.

One study shows that only one in three US employees would strongly agree that they’ve had their work recognized recently, and that workers who do not feel adequately engaged in this way are two times more likely to say they’ll quit in the next year. Another study even showed significant increases in blood pressure for healthcare workers who you don’t like their boss.

So the risks of under-appreciation are real. According to Business Journal, employee recognition programs, which often cost little in time and resources, may truly be, “One of the greatest missed opportunities for leaders and managers,” today.

Putting Praise Into Play

The research indicates that praise should be public, consistent, and without too much time in between. Here are some proven ways companies can integrate the “Notice the Good Guys” method into their business:

  • Recognize and reward for a job well done.
  • Make recognition public through emails, newsletters, events, bulletin boards, team meetings and social media, so coworkers and clients can see individual accomplishments.
  • Create an internal tracking system to validate efforts and monitor progress.
  • Reward employee performance though public events like company parties.
  • Be authentic and specific in your praise, and avoid any sort of form letter certificates or emails.BES-blog-Employee-Recognition-Gifts (1)


A Rewarding Trend

These days, after seeing proof of the tangible benefits, more and more businesses are heeding this call and adopting employee reward and recognition systems. Not only does this kind of engagement motivate employees to perform better, but also highlights which behaviors and outcomes the business really values.

We, at ReviewBuzz believe in helping good people and business get noticed. The program we’ve designed and shared with thousands of businesses so far helps them leverage the power of people through employee rewards, public recognition, and people-powered online reviews.

It only follows that our internal culture thrives on reward and recognition as well. For example, we give out a weekly honor tied to our core company values called “The Honey Badger Award” where one person is recognized for they way their work has reflected our core values.

With the Honey Badger, the previous week’s winner gets up at a Friday, company-wide lunch and speaks about the new recipient for a minute and a half. The new winner then gets up to receive a gift card, and a chance to spin a giant wheel with prizes. Wheel prizes can sometimes even benefit the whole company, like “Pick a Theme Day,” or “Happy Hour,” not to mention the now infamous “Dance Like Michael Jackson.” This one must be done in front of the whole company with MJ music playing in the background, while the team rightfully chants “Michael, Michael, Michael” as the wheel spins. Of course, the award wouldn’t be complete without the ultimate prize: a sassy stuffed honey badger brimming with the playfulness and camaraderie we hope to encourage in our workplace.

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Because the Review Buzz software is designed to help every business put recognition and reward to work for their bottom line, we love hearing stories of these kinds of successes from our clients. Clients like Blanton’s Heating, Air, and Electrical, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, whose innovative tier-based reward system offers employees unique experience-based prizes for their excellent work. These rewards include a paid day off day spent fishing with the boss, a plus-one Ruth’s Chris dinner with him and his wife, date nights and weekend getaways for two, and other imaginative lures.

Rachel Hyatt of Blanton’s says that the incentive program we helped them engineer has really paid off. She notes how the incentives really got the team excited and motivated them to ask for more customer reviews. She told us that Blanton’s earned more reviews last quarter than they did in all of 2015.

It’s human nature to criticize rather than compliment, and memorize mistakes rather than reward achievements. But let’s face it, the old adage that you catch more flies with honey was popularized for a reason. No one feels very motivated when hard work gets skipped over, and feedback is solely critical.

Noticing the good guys doesn’t need to cost a lot of money or time, pays off in real ROI, and can really be fun. But if you’re not already doing it in your company, don’t beat yourself up. Start focusing on the good, and the rest will follow.

Image: Courtesy of bhengagement.com

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