When I was younger, my family would take occasional trips to New York City, and often end up in Little Italy for dinner. There were dozens of quality-looking restaurants, but we kept walking.
The problem was, they had space. And my mom wanted to find the best. We didn’t have any friends in the area to recommend something and Yelp was still about a decade away, so we’d walk until we found one with tons of people waiting for a table and my mom would put us on the end of that list. As hungry, uncultured pre-teens, (we just wanted some frickin’ pasta) my sister and I thought this was the worst.
People tend to like things other people like. This is called social proof. We look to others to help us know what’s good and what isn’t.
So where is this going? If you’re a business owner, the most powerful marketing asset is social proof. So clients referring their friends are obviously pure gold. But what about the countless others who aren’t connected to your existing happy clients? They go online and find reviews.
Online reviews are pure gold for businesses
Online reviews are how you make your business look like the high-demand, overflowing Italian restaurant in the digital space, rather than the half-empty one.
Most businesses, especially in professional services, do not just get reviews by accident, however, no matter how much your clients love you.
So how do you get reviews? You ask.
A client says something nice to you, ask them to write a review. Ask it as a humble favor, tell them how much it means for your business, and people that like you will respond.
Make it as easy as possible. Tell them exactly where you’d like the review and provide the link. Any added steps may prevent them from following through.
My good friend Giovanni owns The Fitness Ethic, a fitness brand that offers personal training and group classes. Lots of people like him but he didn’t have many reviews. In one afternoon he texted a dozen of his most loyal clients and humbly asked for reviews. Now his Google profile shows up with that beautiful 5 stars.
Last tip, make sure you claim your business, on Google, Yelp, and anywhere else people might write reviews. Respond to every one, good or bad.
If people like you but nobody else can tell, it doesn’t do you much good. Be the overflowing Italian restaurant in your virtual space.