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Local businesses turn to coupons & good reviews to succeed in this COVID-19 world

| October 28, 2020, 08:26 PM

Rams Head

I remember sitting in the backseat of my grandparent’s car and looking through these coupon books and being so excited to visit all of these amazing places in Ocean City. I remember seeing the discount deals at restaurants all over Baltimore and Annapolis. With the Entertainment.com coupon book you could get a discount or a buy one get one free almost anywhere and surprisingly this trend isn’t dead. To help local Annapolis businesses rebound during these tough and trying times with an expanded footprint reaching million of new “Couponers” the Greater Maryland Entertainment coupon book is still a thing.

It’s two-fold though if you advertise a coupon and market your services you better make sure that you have a stellar reputation to keep the clients coming back. Entertainment provides an effortless, risk-free solution to attain brand new consumers via printed discounts as well as online and mobile solutions. Don’t expect to come out of this pandemic with your phone ringing off the hook unless you’re giving away face masks, toilet paper, and sanitizer.

Content Continues Below

Rams Head

83% of members elect to visit a business because they have an Entertainment® coupon, 70% will return without a discount voucher if the service or product was good but if not, they won’t return, and they will even leave a negative review.

Discount and BOGO’s are an ideal way to draw in new clients, but this strategy must coincide with other holistic marketing efforts—from branding to great service and positive online reviews.

While businesses can offer outstanding products, customer experiences, and stellar service, the sobering truth is that one scathing online review can permanently—and irreversibly—damage a company’s otherwise flawless reputation. This is especially true if negative press ranks high on Yelp, Facebook, or Google.

Consumers used to turn to the yellow pages or word of mouth to research products or companies, but now they hit the internet, where a wealth of information is instantly available. Don’t become one of the unfortunate businesses that suffer from bad press. Follow the guide below to protect your brand and manage your company’s online reputation accordingly, which is defined as how others see your business when they Google or Yelp search you.

At first glance, it may seem a bit like traditional public relations, as the end goal is to make a business look as attractive to potential customers. But online reputation management (ORM) hinges on reacting to negativity or false claims and building online trust.

Understanding negativity is inevitable & How You React to It

It may be hard to hear, but you are never going to please every single customer. While you are likely to have a myriad of thrilled, satisfied customers, it is simply less likely that they will leave a detailed e-review.  Conversely, those who have even a minor hiccup often rush home to their computers to share the experience. Note that these consumers are probably just looking for your business to make it up to them, so be willing to address negative reviews immediately—with positive action. And own your problems. Everyone is human and mistakes happen, so if you’re in the wrong apologize, mitigate the problem, and move forward.

Address customers with empathy—and individually. Seemingly simple efforts, like starting conversations and responding to feedback over social media, can help create a trustworthy brand. Interacting this way feels personalized and unscripted, which many consumers greatly appreciate. Others who take criticism on Twitter resort to just blocking and that leads to greater animosity from potential users.

Keep in mind, this often means addressing both good and bad online chatter. Seek to be open, provide clear information, and answer questions as they pop up—not tomorrow, next week, or next month. This communicates to customers that you’re invested in their experience and want to solve any problems that arise.

Consistently Interact with Your Customers To Let Them Know You’re Listening

So much of reputation management work relies on consistency. Think about how you interact with your favorite brands online. Wouldn’t you be let down if you saw them regularly post and answer customer questions only to abruptly stop one afternoon and go radio silent for weeks? Inaction damages your online reputation, too. It also breeds negative press.

To avoid this trap, make it a habit to log in to various feedback platforms at least once a day to monitor your feedback, make comments, and respond to suggestions.

Nothing is more powerful than customers feeling as if you are tuned in to their wants and needs. Don’t miss a day.

This goes hand in hand with the previous point, but think missing a day or two of customer interaction won’t damage your reputation? Think again. Whether your run a small mom and pop shop or helm the online presence for a huge, fortune 500 company, answering questions every single day is a must in today’s world.

So many people rely on social media—whether it’s Yelp, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc.– to make  direct contact with a company, so if you’re going to be out for a few days or you’re jetting off on a much needed vacation tap someone who can log in for you and keep a pulse on what’s going on and respond to online queries in a timely fashion.

Watch your tone when answering online questions well. Building your brand, and boosting your reputation require finesse. Call it the gift of online gab. If there is an obvious mistake, show true concern and try to fix the problem. Terse, impersonal responses will turn customers off.

Canned responses are a no-go, too. Too many businesses spit out a bland, canned response or are using artificial intelligence to answer questions and provide customer support. That only make consumers more frustrated. Be genuine. Most important, be kind.

Rams Head

Category: Local News, NEWS

About the Author - Stephanie Fahie

Stefanie is a local blogger and social media content marketer from Maryland. She has an unhealthy obsession with puns, sarcasm and caffeinated beverages. She can usually be found on a baseball field!

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