Category Archives: Marketing Case Studies

How Negative Online Reviews Can Kill Your Business

In marketing, part of a good social media strategy would include getting your business listed in local search and actively asking customers for reviews.  I recently posted an article on why your local business benefits from online reviews. Think about the times you have had poor service or great service.  You may have complained or shared accolades directly to the business but in addition you probably picked up your mobile device and wrote a review on Google, Yelp, Bing, Yahoo,  Facebook or travel sites such as Trip Advisor.

Angry commenters have inundated the Yelp and Google Review pages for Palmer’s dental practice, and he has been vilified across social media, as #CecilTheLion became a top worldwide trending topic on Twitter.Washington Post

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Google Reviews

As consumers we now have the power to influence a business positively or negatively. The majority of reviews are positive, but if you receive many negative reviews it can have a damaging affect on any business.

This week in my home town of Minneapolis, MN there was a big story of a local practicing dentist whose hobby is big game hunting.  He killed a favorite lion on a game reserve in Africa.  The story has made the news globally as people became angered at the kill which has been reported by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune Newspaper that the “lion was illegally lured out of Hwange National Park, where it had protected status.”

Here in Minneapolis people showed their anger by showing up at the dental office and protesting in addition,  thousands of people have left comments on the dentists Google page, Facebook page and Yelp Page.

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Reviews on YELP

This is an extreme example of how quickly the public can affect your online reputation, but the point is simply that the public does react and often takes swift action.  How you manage your online reputation including reviews is critical to your success.

An opposite example is the Oprah affect.  Remember when Oprah endorsed products by claiming them as her favorite things every year?  By her huge public endorsement many businesses reaped the profits which were compounded by great customer reviews.

Here are 4 tips for managing your online reputation:

1.  Monitor your reviews frequently (services such as restaurants should monitor daily)

2.  Always respond to all comments.  Thank people for positive comments and always address negative reviews & resolve issues immediately.

3.  Respond to any general comments people leave on your social media sites letting them know you care and engage in conversation with them. Building rapport and good will ensures customers will come back and refer others.

4.  Actively encourage your customers to leave a review. Positive reviews build your credibility and that social proof is gold when it comes to potential customers making a decision to buy from you.

I don’t know how the dentist in Minnesota will regain trust with his patients after such disastrous press, and this is an extreme example but the point is that people have the power to make and break businesses by writing reviews and publicly declaring their favor or disdain. In this case, people have spoken loudly.

Marketing: What Customer Experience Do You Deliver?

Your marketing efforts should include the customer experience you provide.  The better experience you provide a customer the more likely they will be a repeat customer as well as a customer who refers.  Let me share a recent experience I had to illustrate what I consider a really great customer experience.

Marketing customer experienceI was out for dinner with a group of eight people.  By most restaurant standards that is considered a large party.  As soon as our party was situated we were immediately greeted by s smiling waitress who inquired if we were celebrating a special occasion due to the size of our group.  We explained that we were, in fact one of the women was completing her masters degree and we had just come from the nearby college where we attended an event.

The waitress took our drink order and was back within just minutes with all eight drinks in hand. She immediately advised us of the evenings specials and offered to take out order.  The ordering process and food delivery was flawless and quick.  I observed that this waitress had many other tables but at no point did we ever feel neglected.

At the end of the meal she cleared out plates promptly and only one person proceeded to order dessert.  The waitress came back with the dessert meant for one but was obviously much larger in size and said after everyone got a look at the dessert she was sure everyone would want a taste so she said “I made it a little larger and brought spoons for everyone to give it a try.”  WOW, what a lovely gesture and yes she charged us for only one dessert.

To top off the experience when our waitress brought the check she said to my friend for whom we were celebrating,  “we would like to provide your meal complimentary in support of your academic achievement!”

Needless to say, this waitress and the restaurant went out of their way to provide such an amazing customer experience that I have told many people, I’m sure the other people in our party have done the same and here I am writing about it.

When you provide an exemplary customer experience it can be shared quickly and is so valuable.  In today’s world where there are so many online review sites I encourage you to leave  reviews when you receive great service.  I also encourage you to ask your customers to write reviews for you.  Make it simple by providing them a link to the site where you want them to place the review and when they do, be sure to respond and thank them.

If you receive a negative review you have the opportunity to respond and make it right. Oh and if you are in Minneapolis or St. Paul, be sure to check out Highland Grill where I had such a great customer experience.

Want another example of a great customer experience? Read my article about Whole Foods.



Online Marketing Case Studies To Learn From

If you are like many small businesses that are trying to stay current in today’s digital world you have a website, write a blog and are trying to be active on your social media sites – right? 

Do you wonder how to tie it all together so you have a congruent as well as consistent brand message and image?  I think this is a challenge for many small business owners and so I want to share a couple of examples of businesses that are doing a great job so you can model what’s working.

LaTavolaMarcheLa Tavola Marche is an organic farm, inn and cooking school in Italy.  I am very familiar with this example because I have been following this site for several years because of my personal cooking interests.  This farm is run by a couple from the United States who decided to buy an old farm house and turn it into a cooking school.  Jason Bartner is an experienced Chef and brings his own style of cooking and teaching to visitors from all over the world.  His wife Ashley documents everything they are doing via a blog, social media sites, a podcast and most recently live online cooking classes.

What I really love about what they have done is that they are totally authentic, sometimes their podcasts are quite quirky as they ramble on about the latest happenings in Italy and their experiences with the community they have entrenched themselves in.  They never act pretentious and in fact are quite the opposite.  After reading the blog, listening to the podcasts and partaking in the live webinar cooking classes you feel a part of the life they have created in Italy whether you ever get there or not.

La Tavola Marche Pizza Night
La Tavola Marche Pizza Night

Their website is colorful and filled with such great images that share in telling the story of a recipe or nearby town.  They share recipes of foods they cook right there and encourage you to try them and give them feedback.  I find the cooking classes via webinar was a brilliant marketing strategy which they chose to offer in the off season. This keeps them top of mind with the audience, creates new content for their site and keeps people connected to their brand.

Ashely is very consistent on social media, she engages with followers and always has something fun and interesting to share.   She is using social media to create brand awareness and stay top of mind with followers asking advocates to share the experience.

I encourage you to check out the website:
You can also find links to all of their social sites on the bottom of the website.

The Girlfriend Life is certainly worth taking a look at.  Joann Darby started her business by sharing a book of tips for women and then sharing those practical tips with women on social media and via her website.  Her Facebook page now has 294,000 fans and she posts many, many times a day which her audience has come to expect from her. Her page is considered more of a passion page as she uses it to engage fans vs a selling platform. Although it does appear some of her product suggestions are probably linked to affiliate programs.

Her audience has grown to such large numbers in the past three years and it looks like it won’t stop anytime soon.  Joann has hit big with busy women who resonate with all the basic struggles most women who have busy hectic lives have. She offers solutions for those busy women and a lot of fun  with cooking, craft ideas and life tips that apparently women can’t get enough of evidenced by the engagement rate on her Facebook page. Joann knows her audience very well and along with that knows how to communicate with them. 

She has great images, very little text and inviting messages.  Check out and the Facebook page:

I like to share examples of companies that are successful in creating, building and engaging an audience as I believe we can learn and model after successful businesses.  Do you have some other businesses that are doing a great job marketing?  Please do let me know in the comments below.