Positive Response to Negative Reviews Key to Online Success

April 1st, 2014

By Hal Conick

“Dirty. Ants. Burnt food. Extortionate prices.”

Seven simple words and a single star came from one customer on a Facebook review of an Australian café. The message did not receive much attention until the café’s owner happened upon it and responded with a rant that made us feel uncomfortable half way across the world.

Not only did the owner take the customer to task for not being more up-front while at the restaurant, according to an Australian news source, he insulted his own staff’s laziness. The owner hurriedly explained that their prices were expensive because they bought flour that is “six times more expensive than the regular crap” and ended by thanking the customer in a sarcastic manner.

“Thanks for throwing it on just to kick our business, even although the price is right and that what happened was out of my control,” the owner wrote.

In this case, a simple bad review turned into a superfluous, negative conversation. It also led to another blog post being created about the restaurant by the reviewer, thereby making their image that much harder to control.

Paying mind to online in a new age of service
Businesses used to be judged by the merit of their goods and services. Each company controlled its own marketing and customer word of mouth played a big role in attaining new business. Now, a vague rating or number of stars on a website may play a big role in your business’ success. It’s no small wonder why reviews can drive business owners nuts.

Online reviews, as frustrating as they can be, now must be considered. While getting a poor review may bring about feelings of panic and rage as it did at the Australian café, it does not have to harm a business. In fact, this could be seen as a great opportunity to show just how good a company’s customer service is. Paying attention to online reviews may not be how businesses want to spend their time, but monitoring websites such as Yelp, Google and Facebook could be what sets a company apart from its competition.

Statistics tell the story of why response is essential. Dimensional Research found that 90 percent have been affected positively by a customer review and 86 percent have been swayed by a negative review.

Additionally, Bazaarvoice’s Conversation Index said seven out of 10 respondents reported how a brand responded to a review changed their perception of that company. Forty-one percent said it made them feel as though the business actually cared what customers think, 35 percent said it made them believe there was a better customer service standard and 22 percent thought the brand was more trustworthy.

This same report also showed some ways negative reviews can be addressed:

  • Customers who saw guidance from the company or an explanation of misuse saw a 186 percent improvement in purchase intent and 157 percent higher sentiment
  • Responses offering an upgrade, refund or exchange saw a 92 percent higher purchase intent and 88 percent higher sentiment
  • Companies that gave reviewers additional steps of how they could make their situation better saw an 89 percent improvement in purchase intent and sentiment

Proper response is important
Staying on top of reviews does not have to be an arduous task. Businesses can enter their name into search engines and social media websites regularly to monitor whether any reviews, good or bad, have popped up.

If there is a negative review, it is a good idea to be sensible, friendly and quick in the response. Apologize and offer an alternative if that is what the situation calls for, but organizations should also be mindful of giving customers additional ways they can successfully use the product or offer guidance on why the customer had a negative experience. Always be sure to thank the reviewer for their business.

Don’t ignore positive reviews either. Responding to a nice review of your business with something as simple as a “thank you” could go a long way toward netting a return customer. These sunnier reviews can also be featured on a “customer testimonial” section of the business’ website. It never hurts to show potential customers that others have had positive experiences.

One example of how to handle social online reviews comes from restaurateur Karen Powell. She told Crain’s Chicago Business that when things go wrong, gift cards are offered to customers as an apology after first vetting that the customer has a legitimate beef. Powell also responds to positive reviews, something she calls a human impulse, to tell customers that they have made her day.

Each business will have to create a plan for how to respond to online reviews. However, in every case, it is important to remember that how you treat someone who has spent money on your business will resonate with customers. Treat them nicely and your reputation will precede you. Craft rude, vitriolic responses and this will likely breed more negativity. The choice is yours.

Transparent Communication in the Age of Technology

February 28th, 2014

By Hal Conick

An adage you were told as a child will serve you very well in marketing and advertising.

“Honesty is the best policy.”

Scott Monty, the head of digital communications for Ford Motor Company, wrote in The Guardian that the business world currently operates in an age when privacy is fleeting. A company secret can go from being known by a select few people to thousands within milliseconds. If the secret is insidious enough, thousands can turn to millions in the blink of an eye.

This is where being forthright as a best practice pays off. Many organizations have already taken transparency to heart. Openness with the public and most importantly its own base of customers has become a higher priority for companies of all sizes.

Openness with the public and its own base of customers has become a higher priority for companies of all sizes.

Openness with the public and its own base of customers has become a higher priority for companies of all sizes.

“It is one thing for a brand to tell someone what its position is; it is more convincing to use earned media tell the story on the brand’s behalf,” Monty wrote on The Guardian. “But the most powerful impact is when a company is confident enough in its process or operations to bring viewers in to see exactly how things are done. It is the ultimate in show and tell.”

Complete transparency doesn’t serve anyone well, as some things should be kept in-house. However, picking spots where honesty will pay off can be a huge benefit for businesses.

Monty gave the example of McDonalds fighting against the rumor that its famed (or perhaps infamous) Chicken McNuggets are made from so-called “pink slime.” No food business wants customers to believe it is serving them something unappetizing, so McDonald’s released a video showcasing its supply chain and manufacturing process. Thus far, it has 3 million views and gained praise for its transparency.

Telling customers about areas of business which need to be improved may also work well. Marketing Sherpa noted that while many take the “Wizard of Oz” approach (seemingly residing behind a curtain), Chipotle admitted to utilizing Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs. By saying they use these but are trying to cut them out on their own website, the company showed where it needs to improve. This gives them the option to show customers its development over the years.

Admitting a flaw, no matter how minimal, will likely lead to customers thinking the organization is being honorable across departments. As Psychology Today notes, apologies tend to be viewed as a sign of weakness but should actually be seen as a sign of strength. If done correctly, a genuine admission or apology can create good will and gain forgiveness, the website said.

Holding back the truth can hurt
Showcasing an obvious lack of transparency can make a brand look very bad. Target learned this late last year when as many as 110 million of its customers’ credit and debit cards were breached, far surpassing their original admission of 40 million. The New York Times stated that the “drip, drip” of disclosures seemed to harm sales, as the fourth quarter was down 2.5 percent from the same period of 2012. This is especially painful during the holiday season when retailers are expected to thrive.

While Target was eventually fully honest about the extent of this breach, customers certainly felt the pendulum over their heads as the number of those affected slowly increased. It will likely take some healing time before many people can fully trust Target again.

Trust is an extremely valuable commodity in marketing. Being open and honest pays off for businesses on multiple levels, especially as information technology continues to grow. Social media’s ascension means companies will need to have an improved grasp on their online presence to truly gain the faith of potential clients and customers.

There’s No I(dea) in Team

October 29th, 2013

By: Lucas Heinrich

My company - 3d business peopleYou see them on office walls around the country: framed posters of rowing crews heroically photographed in the early morning light, their oars in perfect unison, the word TEAMWORK emblazoned below in size 200 pt text. This is the aspiration of every office, every meeting, every brainstorming session: to work together to find the best ideas and solutions. Even if you roll your eyes at motivational posters, this message is indisputable, right?

Maybe not. Author Susan Cain sees an issue with what she has labeled the “New Groupthink.” Society, she says, has lost the respect it once had for working in solitude and replaced it with the idea that everything must be done in group settings. Cain writes in the New York Times:

“Decades of research show that individuals almost always perform better than groups in both quality and quantity, and group performance gets worse as group size increases…

The reasons brainstorming fails are instructive for other forms of group work, too. People in groups tend to sit back and let others do the work; they instinctively mimic others’ opinions and lose sight of their own; and, often succumb to peer pressure. The Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Berns found that when we take a stance different from the group’s, we activate the amygdala, a small organ in the brain associated with the fear of rejection. Professor Berns calls this “the pain of independence.”

She goes on to cite a study of programmers at 92 different companies that found the biggest difference between the programmers who were most and least productive was not experience or salary—it was who had the most uninterrupted privacy each day.

But how do we reconcile this call for less group interaction with the fact that ideas have always flourished best in areas with lots of people? After all, there is a reason that cities have always fostered the greatest number of creative projects and personalities. As Steven Johnson argues in his book “Where Good Ideas Come From,” the best ideas come from old ideas interacting with and building on other ideas. And those ideas can only collide if people are meeting other people.

The answer, Cain says, lies in finding a balance between the essential need for social interaction and the productivity of working individually.

“To harness the energy that fuels both these drives, we need to move beyond the New Groupthink and embrace a more nuanced approach to creativity and learning. Our offices should encourage casual, cafe-style interactions, but allow people to disappear into personalized, private spaces when they want to be alone.”

How should your company find this balance? The answer will vary greatly depending on the work you do and the needs of your employees. It’s not always easy to change how the workday is run or to separate areas of interaction from areas of privacy. It is becoming increasingly clear, though, that it is an issue worth looking into. You don’t have to throw out the TEAMWORK poster, but finding room in the office to encourage individual effort will make everyone’s work stronger.

Talking to Yourself

May 10th, 2013

about_lucas_smallBy: Lucas Heinrich

Hang with me here. When you first see what this post is about—but not what it’s really about—you are going to want to bail. There is a marketing lesson in here, I promise.

So, as I am wont to do, I was reading an article about a debate amongst 19th Century Russian Literature scholars—Just hang on! I told you, patience!—surrounding an essay published in 2002 that claimed that Fyodor Dostoevsky and Charles Dickens had once met. The idea of this encounter between two of the greatest writers of all-time captured the imagination of several historians, who included it in major biographies they published about Dickens, all citing that same, single essay that described the meeting.

As the story spread, though, questions arose from other scholars. The facts didn’t line up—Dostoevsky didn’t speak English and never got along with other writers of his time. And why would this historic conversation only be now coming into public knowledge in 2002?

Upon investigation the article’s author, Stephanie Harvey, had cited sources that appeared to mostly be non-existent. Except, oddly, one of her sources did seem to be real writer. But when scholars looked into the work of that writer they found an even stranger pattern: he was connected to a whole web of other writers who only ever wrote about or cited the works of each other.

The whole untangling of the plot is worth reading here (warning: it’s 10,000 words), but long story short — it was discovered that there was just one real man, A.D. Harvey, publishing work and writing reviews of his own work under various pseudonyms: Stephanie Harvey, Graham Headley, Trevor McGovern, John Schellenberger, Leo Bellingham, Michael Lindsay, Ludovico Parra, and many others. One man having a conversation with and about himself in numerous literary journals and opinion columns. Sometimes he wrote articles praising work he had written under another name. Other times he would actually criticize the writing of his alter egos.

If not for his Dostoevsky hoax, he may never have been discovered. It’s an entertaining story, but—and here’s the connection for those who have stuck with me—it actually had be thinking about how insular entire businesses can become. They may not make up a dozen fake names and write letters to themsleves, but how often do businesses in their marketing or social media efforts find themselves talking amongst the same group of people about the same things? Telling themselves the things the want to hear? For all the time and money they spend on it, their marketing adds up to talking to themselves.

Getting a fresh, outside perspective is the key to breaking out of this looping conversation. Knowing your industry is vital, but you will stagnate quickly if you don’t know how to reach into new areas—or bring new ideas into it. Take your marketing seriously by working with people that will bring more voices to the conversation surrounding your business.


Can Lemons Beat Cancer? Join Boost4 to Find Out.

March 27th, 2013

lemons-logo-1Oh, we’re not aiming to merely pass up childhood cancers. It’s our goal to leave it in the dust once and for all.

That’s why Boost 4, the fundraising arm of Boost Marketing, is participating in a race to benefit Aidan’s Army. The Aidan Manning Memorial Foundation is dedicated to advancing research and treatment of childhood cancers like Medulloblastoma – the kind of brain tumor 3-year-old Aidan Manning lost his battle with.

How will we get there?

We’re driving in “The 24 Hours of LeMons,” an endurance race for cars that cost no more than $500. All sponsorship money and donations will provide Aidan’s Army with the funds they so desperately need.


We need your help.

Because while our car is a piece of junk, the cause behind it is all golden: Your sponsorship and sonations will help support Aidan’s Army, the Aidan Manning Memorial Foundation dedicated to advancing research and treatment of deadly childhood cancers.

Visit boost4.org to learn more or to join the cause!

90 Seconds to Launch: Buyer Persona Part II

February 21st, 2013

In this episode of “90 Seconds to Launch”, we talk darts with Boost’s Dan Gershenson…

In Part II of this discussion on “Buyer Persona”, Dan addresses how you should identify your target audience: those people you want to plan on pursuing when creating your ad campaigns.

Check out the video below, and tell us what you think!:

90 Seconds to Launch: Tips For Your Timelapse

February 5th, 2013

When thinking about the variety of creative ways your company can market itself through video, consider time lapse photography. If your event is over ten minutes long (even weeks long!), time lapse can be a great way to capture it.

In this week’s installment of “90 Seconds to Launch”, Boost’s videographer Jake Mater provides tips and insights for creating your perfect time lapse video.

Watch it here, and tell us what you think!

90 Seconds to Launch – Help Us Help You

January 30th, 2013

Revealing the second installment in our new videos series, “90 Seconds to Launch”, we continue our mission to share important information with you about the growing and marketing of your brand.

In this installment, “Help Us Help You”, Elizabeth Oppriecht details ways that you, as a new or existing client, can help in the building and creation of your company’s marketing campaign. With tips on everything from what information to provide to how to best engage your team, the details provided in this video will provide an excellent foundation for the implementation and maintenance of your most optimal marketing efforts.

Check out “Help Us Help You” by clicking below; then, feel free to contact us with any additional questions or feedback. We thank you for watching!


90 Seconds to Launch – Buyer Persona

January 21st, 2013

Say hello to our new video series at Boost, “90 Seconds to Launch!” In 90 seconds, we’ll share a valuable piece of marketing info you need to grow your brand.

Like what, you ask? Take this great segment from Dan Gershenson on the Buyer Persona – the profile of that potential customer you need to to fully discover and create so you can customize your message, media selection and much more. Check out Part 1 and let us know what you think!