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Most business owners are familiar with the basics of their Google My Business (GMB) profile, but they are overlooking one of its dark secrets.

A GMB profile is a mini-website Google gives us to cultivate relationships with prospective clients. Most of us are already doing that with our websites and social media channels.

However, Google controls two-thirds of all organic search results, so we certainly do not want to ignore it. We set it up and forget about it, hoping it will quietly attract a few unexpected leads.

This leads to occasional surprises, the most notable being the dreaded negative review. Some respond to set the record straight and some try to get abusive comments removed because that’s a violation of Google’s terms of services.

This is all standard stuff that misses the opportunity.

In general, people do not trust businesses or their marketing. Decades of research prove it. This is why they pay more attention to negative than positive reviews. They understand that this is where the truth is often revealed.

You have to show the marketplace what you are made of, or they will believe the reviewer.

It’s a chance to prove you have systems that you follow to the letter, especially when it comes to customer service. There’s more than a little work involved but it will more than pay itself back.

One of my design-build clients recently received a negative review. They immediately forwarded photos, activity timelines and conversation scripts to us.

I drafted a response designed to communicate and clarify for the target audience, and that’s not the reviewer. That should be handled offline.

The audience is the hundreds and potentially thousands of people that will be influenced by your response for years to come. We wanted to show them what it’s like to work with our client when things go wrong, regardless of how or why it happened.

We did more than empathize with the situation. We crafted a response that expanded on the reviewer’s comments to tell the whole story. This wasn’t an exercise in assigning blame. The objective is to fill in the blanks so that people can make their own conclusions.

In this situation, the reviewer hired another contractor to do some work that seriously compromised our client’s design-build project that performed well for over a decade. As you may have imagined, they were pointing the finger at the wrong contractor.

In addition to the reply, our team created a 1500-word blog post of best practices associated with similar projects and referenced it in our response. That accomplished a couple of things:

1. Our client now feels better
2. They have a permanent character reference

All things being equal, people choose to work with companies they know, like and trust. You can market all day long and not achieve that. It has to come from real-life situations that reveal character. This is why a perfect 5-star rating is suspect.

It may be years until you get a negative review, but you want to be ready when it happens. It will take a day or so to do this right, but I think it’s worth it.

Buyers dig deep for data that reveals the character of the people behind the brand, so don’t miss these opportunities to give it to them.

This article is tagged with , , and posted in Blog, Expert Insights
Jeff Korhan

About the Author:

Jeff Korhan is the owner of True Nature Marketing, a Naples, Fla.-based company helping entrepreneurs grow. Reach him at Jeff works with service companies that want to drive growth and enhance their brand experience with digital platforms.

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