Are your clients concerned about their online reviews—or lack of them? If not, they should be. Key statistics from the 2020 Local Consumer Review Survey reveal that online reviews continue to grow in importance.

  • 93% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year
  • 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses
  • Only 48% of consumers would consider using a business with fewer than 4 stars
  • 72% of US consumers have written a review for a local business
  • When writing a review, 20% expect to receive a response within one day

A business’s online reviews tell a story that we, as media sellers, must listen to, including what it’s like to do business with them—good and bad. The bad reviews give us a window into how the business responds in tough situations. If the negative reviews are left unanswered, it indicates how they’ll deal with you. Every business has screw-ups once in a while. What’s more important is how they respond and follow up with the person who gave the bad review.

Here’s an example of a response gone wrong:

Reviewer on Facebook:

The food portions were small and descriptions did not meet expectations. Grilled cheese Buffalo chicken sandwich, ummm cheese? With fruit salad, 6 grapes is not a salad…burger was the size of a slider. So glad did not order sliders might not have been able to find them. Ordered a Vodka with soda water, flat soda and vodka was barely detectable flavor wise and it was blackberry or something. Kind of a bummer since we love our downtown eateries. On the upside loved the heated toilet seats

Business owner’s comment:

Jamie, I’m sorry you were unhappy with the portion sizes and vodka flavors. We strive to meet our customers expectations. Please keep in mind that this is a business and as such we have a large amount of overhead expenses like rent, alcohol taxes, utilities to heat the toilet seats and wages to pay employees. Those employees have families and sometimes in order to keep the doors open and those employees working and supporting their families, we have to make cuts somewhere. Kind of like the government does with its budget.

Perhaps we should remove the heated toilet seats in exchange for larger portion sizes. I’m kidding. Actually there is a way you can help. Did you know that over half of the bottle price that you pay for liquor in the liquor store goes to the state? That leaves very little for the manufacturer to develop a business on. Most distilleries in the state do not have a tasting room because it is not cost effective. I pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars each month to the state for the privilege of selling and serving you alcohol like the blackberry vodka you drank. We have an opportunity right now, this week, to possibly change some of those payment structures so that we can keep more of the profits at our tasting room and not go to the government. That would mean more opportunity to grow and expand or more money to increase wages or hire more staff or increase portion sizes. The liquor industry has not been given the same allowances that the craft beer or wine industries have.

If you write a letter to any or all of the state representatives or senators below, there’s a chance that we could get a break from these debilitating taxes (he then lists all the representatives).

Please ask for support for SB1561.

And please the next time you are at my tasting room please let me know and I will personally buy your meal. Hopefully we can win you over on the second try.

Oh, one more thing. We were voted one of USAToday’s top 10 craft vodka distilleries in the country because of how clean I make my vodka. I filter it more times then my servers work hours in a month. That could be why you couldn’t taste it.

My name is Kevin by the way.

Note the line in the response where the business owner insults the customer’s taste buds, goes down a rabbit hole of how hard it is to own a business, and indirectly insults his employees:

“I filter it more times then my servers work hours in a month. That could be why you couldn’t taste it.”

Would you want to work for this guy? How about doing business with him? How nice do you think he’d be in dealing with you as a salesperson?

No thank you. Move on. Call on their competitor.

By the way, their bourbon is incredible—go figure.

Make sure you are doing two things when it comes to prospecting and online reviews:

  • Looking at them before each call.
  • If there are negative reviews, sellers should take that opportunity to have an in-depth conversation about reputation management, PRIOR to executing a marketing plan.

If reviews are nonexistent, or worse, have fewer than 4 stars, more than half won’t visit or purchase from that business. And if you secured a marketing plan from them, there’s a good chance your client will come back and tell you your ads didn’t work. So do some work with the client or prospect beforehand—cleaning up negative reviews, adding positive ones, creating a reputation plan along with a marketing one.

And my final piece of advice? Shy away from calling on a business that has a 3.8 score or lower because hiding in that number is the truth. I would spend my time with those 4.2+.

For more on the importance of reputation management to share with your clients, go to 2020 Online Review Statistics

Margie Chilson is a Senior Marketing Consultant for JDA.media.

Her vast experience includes nearly three decades in broadcast television and digital sales marketing, working in and with multiple markets and affiliations including Dallas-Fort Worth at WFAA, Denver at KUSA-KTVD, KMGH, KWGN, and as a team manager at Millennium Television Sales.

Margie’s years as a local seller were award-winning and inspiration for her jump to JDA.media. She exceeded new business and digital goals on a consistent basis at Belo Corp., Scripps, Tribune, and TEGNA Inc. stations. A true innovator, Margie pioneered job-sharing positions in Dallas and Denver, balancing hectic work schedules and family, paving the way for working parents with careers in media sales.

Margie is well known and respected for her diligence, drive, and new business results. Due to her years in the business as an account executive and sales leader, she knows the station environment well and can easily relate to local sellers as well as the most senior managers.

An alum of Oklahoma State University who graduated with Honors in Journalism Advertising, Margie boasts an outstanding track record of helping business owners strategically grow their revenue through broadcast, streaming and digital solutions.

Margie and her husband Tim have been married for 23 years. The couple and their two children live in Littleton, CO, a suburb of Denver. Their son, Ryan, attends the University of Colorado Boulder, and their daughter, Mary, is in high school.  In their spare time, the Chilsons enjoy travel, hiking in the picturesque Rocky Mountains, cooking, watching movies, and cheering on their kids in various sporting events.