Brick and mortar businesses—we’re talking retail shops, restaurants, dental and medical practices, spas and salons, we’re talking any business that has a physical presence and offers actual, real-life face-to-face interaction with customers and clients. Brick and mortar businesses are facing a massive threat in today’s marketplace…and many of you are completely, blissfully unaware of the dangers this threat poses, but it’s putting you at risk on a daily basis.
So What’s The Big Threat with Online Reputation?
Across the internet, sites are pre-populating pages with your geolocation data. That’s right, whether you like it or not, Facebook, Yahoo! Local, Bing, and a ton of other sites have pages with your business information on them, creating an online reputation for you.
As a result of this permission-less data creation, there are sites—and well-trafficked sites—that have your business data everywhere. And there’s very little you can do about it. Your business information is public knowledge and you want that…but there are a host of problems that come with this pre-population of data.
Why Online Reputation Mis-Management (or No Management) Is a Threat to Your Brick and Mortar Business
Last year alone, searches by people looking for local businesses increased by 62%. And with more and more people using smartphones to look up information on local brick and mortar businesses on the fly, anything that happens with your business’s online reputation is serious.
Most importantly, the majority of brick and mortar businesses aren’t claiming their listings on sites like Google (+ and Places), Yahoo Local, Bing, CitySearch, and more, leaving others in charge of maintaining their listings, creating a laundry list of problems:
Inconsistent, Incorrect Information
First and foremost, your business suffers from inconsistent and inaccurate information being posted about it, rather than taking control and you posting correct information. That means lost business: if someone can’t find or call your business because either the address or phone number is wrong, they’re not going to become your customers or clients.
Additionally, when different sites have different information, it makes your business look bad, like you don’t have your act together. Your online reputation suffers tremendously.
Let’s say you’re a corporation that owns several dental practices. Every once in awhile, as businesses do, you might have a change in staffing. You might have a new dentist. But unless you claim these listings, the former dentist’s name may still appear in some of your listings. Your business looks both more professional and stronger if your listings are consistent and contain accurate, up-to-date information.
Reviews, Good and Bad
The second problem that creeps in is the abundance of reviews. We recently met with a client who thought he had about seven reviews online. When we conducted our analysis, we discovered over 74 reviews that he didn’t even know existed.
When bad reviews add up and online reputations are significantly impacted, businesses fail. Reviews serve an important function—they let you know about problems in your business (including consumer perceptions that need to be corrected), and for the consumer, they provide valuable insight into your business and how it’s run.
When you don’t know what reviews exist online, you can’t address them and protect your online reputation. And if you can’t address what’s going on, people will eventually stop coming through your doors.
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