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How to Create a Positive ROI in Reputation Management

Reputation management is typically seen as a sunk cost. That means the money spent is done and gone. While that’s always true, what if that sunk cost could be converted to a marketing cost (or investment) and generate a positive return on investment (ROI)?

This is something that I give a lot of thought to. Reputation management is deductible in almost every business (I suggest you talk to your CPA) as a marketing expense, but what if it were a true marketing endeavor? The way that I accomplish this for my clients is through specific marketing approaches. For example, every good reputation management company will need to create content on behalf of the client. Why not focus content to be about a particular product or service too? Let’s look at a real world example:

GT Advanced is a company who has partnered with Apple Inc. to create sapphire glass for a future product Apple will develop, possibly including the Apple Watch or the next iPhone (iPhone 7?). That’s pretty great, but right now GT Advanced has two clear reputation management problems, in my opinion.

1. Bankruptcy filing. As seen in this screenshot, GT Advanced’s bankruptcy has completely changed the typical person’s focus on the company. Last week they were known for having a state of the art facility and creating one of the world’s most advanced display overlays. Today they’re known for filing bankruptcy.

2. Lack of plan B. According to industry experts, part of the agreement with Apple was that GT Advanced was restricted from doing certain types of business with certain companies. They had all their eggs in one basket.

Not having a backup plan is outside of my control, but the reputation management and bankruptcy filing is something I could definitely control and spin. Imagine that GT Advanced is losing $100,000 per month in business as a result of their negative publicity. Now imagine a full reputation management campaign would cost them $50,000. That $50,000 wouldn’t just be to clean up their online reputation but also to market their business, products and services. They likely spend more than $50,000 per year in marketing but that is not helping with their online reputation. Spending money on reputation management can not only clean up their online presence, but hopefully gain new clients who are looking for their products.

My clients get to choose their marketing angle and we can often include a few different marketing angles including new products and services. I have a dental client for whom we created an entire marketing campaign including logos and press materials. They’re combining reputation management with newspaper ads and direct mail and it’s looking to be a fantastic success.

For more information on how to make your reputation management campaign a positive marketing experience, give me a call at 559-871-1613.

By |October 9th, 2014|Reputation Management|0 Comments

Judge: Yelp Can Legally Extort Small Businesses, Wait What is Extortion?

In a somewhat shocking ruling, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Yelp can now legally extort small business owners, they just haven’t read the definition of “extort” recently. Here are a few quotes from the full court documents.

threatening economic harm to induce a person to pay for a legitimate service is not extortion.

This can open up all kinds of new business opportunities! Imagine someone going out and buying domains about your business and writing hundreds of scathing reviews about your business. They could then lease those websites back to you, as soon as you stop paying the extortion money, they put the scathing reviews back online.

the Seventh Circuit has likewise concluded that ‘[w]here the defendant has a claim of right to property and exerts economic pressure to obtain that property, that conduct is not extortion and no violation of the Hobbs Act has occurred.’

Economic pressure is not considered extortion. This implies that someone could stand outside of a bakery and pay people $5 NOT to go into the bakery. The individual could then tell the bakery that it will cost them $100 per day to stop paying people. Seems ludicrous, but entirely plausible.

To start, we note that there is no allegation that Yelp directly threatened economic harm if the business owners refused to purchase advertising packages from Yelp.

In essence the Ninth Circuit Court did not believe that a 1 star review will cause economic harm to a small business owner.

By withholding the benefit of these positive reviews, Yelp is withholding a benefit that Yelp makes possible and maintains.

One of my favorites, Yelp is not obligated to fairly show the good and bad reviews because Yelp is a thing they created and maintain. I agree that Yelp should not be obligated to show both good and bad, but I do believe it’s extortion to say, “If you pay, you get good reviews shown. If you don’t pay, you get bad reviews shown.”

Chan, who alleges that Yelp extorted her by removing positive reviews from her Yelp page. Chan asserts that she was deprived of the benefit of the positive reviews Yelp users posted to Yelp’s website, and that, had she received the benefits of the positive reviews, they would have counteracted the negative reviews other users posted.

Seems logical, Court says, “Nope.”

any implicit threat by Yelp to remove positive reviews absent payment for advertising was not wrongful within the meaning of the extortion statutes.

Seems “wrongful” to me.

Chan’s pleadings thus fail to allege that deflation of her business’s overall rating resulting from removing positive reviews constitutes “wrongful” conduct, and she therefore fails to state a claim of economic extortion.

Wow! Why doesn’t Yelp just put up a big banner saying, “This company is horrible!” and offer to take it down for $200 per month.

it is independently wrongful for Yelp to post and arrange actual user reviews on its website as it sees fit.

Yelp can legally move all of the 1 star reviews to the top. If you pay, they can move them to the bottom. Totally cool move, nothing “wrongful” about that.

The ruling states that a “pay for higher ratings” setup is fine and dandy. In most circles we call that extortion. Just in case you’re unaware of the definition, here you go.

ex·tor·tion – the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats.

Obtaining something (customers advertising dollars) through threats (pay or lose customers). Seems pretty simple to me.

I own and operate a reputation management company. If you’re dealing with Yelp I’m happy to help defeat them. If you couldn’t tell, this ruling hits home with me. I’m also a small business owner and I have the resources to suppress Yelp so they no longer negatively impact your business.

Contact me at 559-871-1613 or by email at brandonchopkins@gmail.com if you need help

I have made the full court document available on my website here.

By |October 8th, 2014|Reputation Management|0 Comments

What Metrics Matter in Reputation Management?

I talk to a lot of people about reputation management and many people and businesses have been tricked and misled by expensive reputation management companies. Find out how below:

1. We will place content on your behalf each month.

Content will obviously be created each month of your behalf. This is a given. Every reputation management company should provide this. It’s not a unique selling point. You don’t shop at Walmart because they offer to turn on the air conditioning in the summer, it’s just something they do and what everyone expects. Content is king and you should expect that content will be created!

Positive content creation is the backbone of every reputation management campaign. After all, something needs to be able to suppress the negatives and most people don’t have enough content naturally so content is created.

2. We will show you all of the links we build.

Unless you work for a SEO company, you probably don’t care about each specific link; you care more about the effects of those links. Continuing with the Walmart example, Walmart doesn’t show you which shipping container your dog food arrived in. You don’t care to meet the guy who unpacked the box. You just want to buy dog food to feed your dog.

All good reputation management companies are going to build links. Link building and reputation management go hand in hand. Link building pushes up positive content in the search engines. Beginning with high quality content makes some link building unnecessary for now. We build links because you never know what Google’s algorithm will look like next month. Are your high quality sites still going to be strong or will they need links to push them up. Speaking of formerly good sites, anyone log into MySpace lately?

3. We will post X articles every month.

Quantity is important, but more is not necessarily better. Would you rather have 2000 sq. ft. of living space or would you rather have 20 sheds totaling 2000 sq. ft.? The point is not all content is created equally and the most important thing is the end result. You could have a front page story on the New York Times, but if that story never gets to the NYTimes.com website, your online reputation is still going to be tarnished.

The total number of articles is not important, the metric that you should care about is where do those articles show up. Great articles on page 10 aren’t going to fix up your online reputation issues.

4. We will build example.com and maintain it for you.

Hey! A shiny new domain! That domain costs about $10 and can be set up almost completely automatically costing a grand total of about $20. Add some content and your total cost should be less than $50 total.

The problem with buying and setting up domains has never been the cost, the problem is how long they typically take to begin ranking. At this time (2014) a new domain can take anywhere from 6-18 months to begin ranking on the first page. There are exceptions, but in most cases you can expect to wait at least 12 months for that domain to begin showing up.

By that time, any good reputation management company would be so far done with your campaign that you’ll have forgotten my name.

5. We will add followers to your Twitter and Facebook accounts.

In 99% (rough estimate) of these cases, the followers, likes, and retweets are all from fake accounts. This isn’t always a bad thing, because it can lead people to believe that you’re more important than you are (wait, maybe that is a bad thing…). The real issue this causes is skewed percentage of interactions. If Facebook is tracking the percentage of interactions with your page (which they claim to do) fake likes could be harming your business. A pretty substantial analysis of Facebook likes and engagement can be found here.

Facebook has a baseline for expectations of interactions.  Facebook has enough data to know, for example, that 5% of people interact with a business they like on a monthly basis.

If a company has purchased about 9500 followers and has 500 real followers, they have a total of 10,000 followers on Facebook. With a 5% interaction rate, they should have 500 interactions per month, but in reality only 500 people are real meaning they actually get about 25 interactions per month. That leaves a wide and obvious margin telling everyone you bought fake visitors. Unless you’re a well known brand, fake followers aren’t fooling many people and could be hurting your business. Should your reputation management company be engaging in practices that could be furthering the reputation problem?

When considering each of the above issues you’re left wondering what’s the most important metric: numbers of links, total number of press releases or search engine results? If your reputation management company isn’t talking RESULTS, you’ve been tricked!

By |October 8th, 2014|Reputation Management|0 Comments

No Monthly Payments for Reputation Management? Flat Fee Reputation Management Services are here!

One of the first questions that I’m asked when talking with a client is “How much is this going to cost?” That’s a loaded question!

Monthly Fees

Every reputation management company that I know of charges in the same way, “setup/startup” fee and then monthly payments. Many companies will set a loose timeline of 6-12 months but others will stop billing when the work is complete.

Warning: This is very dangerous for a customer. When does the billing end? What happens if the negative is still on the first page? If they work isn’t finished in the timeframe, will you be billed indefinitely? Why would the company want the work done quickly if they’re getting paid monthly?

Flat Fee

When my company works with a reputation management client, we only charge a flat fee. When you get off the phone, you know exactly how much it will cost. There are NO MONTHLY FEES or any other tricks to get money out of you. You will pay the stated price and not a penny more.

It gets better! You will only pay half of the fee up front and the other half is due upon completion. This ensures that both the client and our company are on the same pagewe both want the work done as quickly as possible, and we put our money where our mouth is, you don’t pay until the work is complete!

Do any other reputation management companies have a financial incentive to get the work done as quickly as possible?

Contact us today for more information and to get a quote and straight advice, no tricks, gimmicks or hidden fees.

By |October 7th, 2014|Reputation Management|0 Comments