Author Archives: brian

Good Clients and Bad Clients: How to Identify the Bad

There’s a pretty accurate idea that 20% of your clients are responsible for 80% of your problems. I’ve also heard that 20% of your clients are responsible for 80% of your profits. We’ve found both—plus or minus 10%–to be true. Some days it feels like 1% of our clients are responsible for 99% of our problems.

As a rational business owner, it makes sense to identify the top performers regarding problems and the bottom performers regarding profits. Interestingly, we find a handful of companies that tend to be on both lists: a pain to deal with not very profitable.

Here are the ways to end up on both lists: troublesome and unprofitableWatch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Ask for prices on projects that don’t allow us to make a profit

The old “I can get this on the internet for $25” is a sure-fire way to make us say, “go ahead viagra france acheter.” We know, and the customer knows that buying something online requires shipping costs, costs to set up an account, shipping time and uncertainty about the quality of the product. So, when a customer tries this ill-advised bargaining strategy, he is really just trying to get a low price, a price much lower than we can reasonably offer. Simply put: if we can’t make a fair profit on projects, we don’t want them.

Most of the time we are very accommodating to clients who have a few no margin or very low margin projects, but when we have a client who only does very small projects (like $10 print jobs), we know that the costs of administering the account exceed what we make from the client.

In very blunt terms: if we can’t make any money from you, you are, by necessity, a low priority for us.

Excessive account maintenance cost / Billing issues

There is nothing more exasperating than dealing with clients who view paying invoices as “when we get around to it” instead of “the work is done; here is your money”. In the end, everyone pays, but how much hassle we have to go through to send multiple notices and the stress we have to maintain adequately cash flow certainly influences how much we want to work with a client in the future.

When we have two projects to work on, we always give priority to the client with a good payment history. This makes sense, of course, because we’d rather finish projects with a certainty of quick payment than a project where we have uncertainty.

If you own a business that buys from local suppliers, the best thing you can do is settle invoices quickly. Your suppliers, believe me, keep track of these things. If it comes time to ask for a favor or a project done quickly, the goodwill you establish through paying your suppliers promptly will ensure some reciprocity.

A good rule is never to ask for a project or product for which you are unable to make immediate payment when completed. If you need financing, go to a bank.

everything has a cost

Excessive Price Quotes

Our time is part of what we sell. It’s also always in very short supply. Every email or call you make takes some of our time. Of course, we don’t mind answering questions about projects and discussing options. That said, “estimate fishing,” where a business sends a low-level employee through the Internet to find the lowest price on a small project, can be great time waste for businesses.

A good rule of thumb is that if your project is under $100, get one, possibly two, price quotes and pick one. If you are asking for more than three price quotes for small projects, you are fishing and being disrespectful of the time of the people you are asking. If you are trying to save a few dollars, consider the time you are wasting calling around: to spend $50 in employee time to save $10 doesn’t make much sense.

Always try to look at what you are asking of a business from the businesses’ point of view. Are you spending more than you could be saving, considering your time and the time of the people that need to respond to your inquiries?

In the end, our goal as a business is to stay in business and to be here to serve our clients in the future. We also have a goal of having resources available to support good in the community. To do this, we have to make a fair profit on what we do.

 Kona Impact | 329-6077

Can a Client Expect an Editable or Working File for Design Projects?

Every year or so we get a client who requests the Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop file of a project. At times, we say, “yes, here it is” and most of the time we say, “no.” The always “yes” answer is with logo design projects. The “no” is with almost everything else.

The metaphor I like to use with clients is that when you go to a restaurant you are purchasing the meal and not the recipe from which it was made.

Another metaphor might be buying a ticket for a magic show and expecting an explanation how each trip was performed.

The editable files, which are usually in an Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop file contain a lot of information; that is, with those files a person can see exactly how something is put together. For a novice designer, seeing a layered Illustrator or Photoshop file is a goldmine, a detailed roadmap of how a product was made.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

So, in a very honest and direct reason we don’t give editable files to clients is that we don’t want to give away the recipe with the meal. We know the reason a client wants an edible file is to make derivative works and reduce costs by using our work as a template.

Another reason is that it is illegal for us to give fonts to our clients. We purchase licenses for a lot of fonts every year, and we license many more through our software licenses. The license we have for fonts does not include having them installed on multiple devices at multiple locations. We simply cannot give a client all the tools he would need to edit the files. Likewise, our license for stock art precludes us from giving away editable forms of what we have purchased. Yes, this all does matter a lot for companies and individuals that make their living from selling created goods. We need to respect that.

A third reason is the way many design companies make money. Yes, we all are in this to make money. When Kona Impact makes a sign, for example, we do not charge a separate design fee, and we recoup a portion of those costs on every sign we sell. Likewise, we often charge a loss leader cost for setting up business cards, and then we make some of that back when the cards are printed and reprinted.

This brings us to the crux of the issue:

What is the client buying when he or she starts a design project?

Let’s take a brochure as an example.

In most cases at Kona Impact, the client pays a design fee and a printing fee and expects a box of brochures as the product. In fact, when we begin a brochure project, we discuss printing with the client and give him or her price quotes. There are conceivably three prices:

  1. Supply client with an editable file template. This is often a very high price quote because the client will require a license for the font and a license for any stock art. Likewise, we will not make any money on the printing or future revisions, so our all of our costs and profits need to be recouped and made at a one-time sales point. Finally, we would in effect be teaching our craft and techniques, so the cost has to be very high.
  2. Supply client with a non-editable print-ready file. This is often a PDF that is ready for a specific printer. Note that each printer will have different sizes and file specs, so the client needs to decide this before beginning a project where it will be printed. This is certainly less expensive to the client than supply an editable template, but the design cost would be higher than a design plus print project.
  3. Design and print a brochure. This is probably 95% of our print projects. We provide a quote for the design and printing of a brochure. The client saves money overall because of a reduced design fee, and our access to trade printers allows us to get exceptional printing rates.

We don’t like telling clients that we will not give them a working or editable file, as they inevitable reply that they have “paid for the work.” The truth is they have paid for a product, which is a brochure, website or sign, and not for the instruction manual and tools to replicate the product. There is a huge difference.

We recommend that clients ask for what they want when they begin discussions with a design company. Make it clear that you want to pay for an editable or working file upon completion. You might also want to specify that no stock art or non-system fonts are used to avoid licensing issues. Expect to pay a lot more if you are working with a professional design company, and expect that the provider might not want the job at the price you’re willing to pay.

Get these issues out in the open at the onset if they are important to you; to wait until a project is done might results is a flat out “no, we don’t give editable files away ever” or an issue with revisions or licensing.

Kona Impact | 329-6077

Three New Kona Business: Find Something Special and Do It!

At Kona Impact we work with four hundred or so businesses a year. This includes off-island companies, some of the largest employers on Hawaii Island and a lot of small, single person businesses. At times I learn a lot from all my clients.  I also get to share a lot of what I have learned from running a business on this big rock in the middle of the ocean.

Many of the small businesses we work with are in start-up mode. They have an idea, sometimes not much more than some back-of-an-envelope notes. Many times they’ll have a full business plan.

One of the first questions we ask is, “how are you different from everyone else?” That is, if you are selling burgers, how are you different from Splashers, Island Ono Grill, Annie’s and the other burger shops in town? If an entrepreneur can’t answer that question in a good 30-second elevator speech, the business needs to be re-thought.

Here are three businesses we’ve worked with lately that have the idea of differentiation mastered. They have all thought about how they could be the go-to business for what they do.

Pacific Grill Services – 808-987-0128

If you make a list of what every household in Hawaii has, you’re likely to a propane grill on it. If you make a list of the things we like the clean the least, our grills have to be in the top five.

Mike and his wife started Pacific Grill Services last summer with the goal of providing non-toxic deep cleaning and repair services for grills. He went all in and has been hitting the pavement with his services and pitching them to all the right people in the right places.

This is a great example of creating a category or fulfilling an unmet need. I love the idea, and more important, I love how Mike has started to establish a reputation as the grill cleaning and repair guru in Kona.

Ehu and Kai – 808-328-8775

This is not a new business, but, instead, it’s a business in the transition from one generation to another. Ehu and Kai rents kayaks at Kealakekua Bay. They also offer guided catamaran tours.

Ok, you think, there are plenty of kayak rental places between Kailua-Kona and Kealakekua Bay. Yes, but you have to stop at these places, strap a kayak to your vehicle, drive 10 miles to the bay and then take the kayak off your vehicle, launch it into the water and then do the same thing when you’re done.

With Ehu and Kai, you can drive to their location at the bay, get into your kayak, enjoy some time on the water and then return your kayak to their location on the bay. No driving with a kayak on your vehicle or dealing with the hassles of loading or unloading.

This is another example of a highly differentiated business.

Island Holistic Healing – 808-209-8002

Dr. Tancheff, a chiropractor in Waikoloa, has two important points of differentiation: services and location.

One of the inexorable trends in healing these days is looking both East and West for answers. Pain, as we know, can have many causes and it makes sense to look at non-surgical and non-drug approaches first. Dr. Tancheff is uniquely qualified to help people explore these options through his understanding of physiotherapy and holistic therapies.

Island Holistic Healing is located in Waikoloa Village, home to a growing population of island residents, and his office is just a ten-minute drive from the Waikoloa resort areas. He is the only person offering this type of service within twenty miles.

If you are thinking of a new business idea, consider first how you can have a product or service in a location that offers you some advantages over the competition. Pacific Grill Service created a category; Ehu and Kai has a much better poduct/location, and Island Holistic Healing has unique services and a great location.

If you can’t find at least one meaningful thing that make you different, you might want to rethink your business plan. Note: working harder, longer and more efficiently are not points of differentiation; they are a recipe for burnout and failure in my opinion. Find some things that create a nearly insurmountable barrier to completion and you’ll find success faster and be able to maintain it longer.

Kona Impact | 329-6077

2015 IRONMAN World Championships: Kona Business Owner’s Perspective

We hear the same old tired complaining every year about the IRONMAN in Kona. Here are the complaints I hear every year:

  1. “The athletes don’t spend any money here.”
  2. “Many businesses have to close on IRONMAN day.”
  3. “IRONMAN is a huge business, and it takes advantage of the goodness of the people of Kona.”
  4. “The athletes are rude, arrogant and a safety hazard.”

“The IRONMAN athletes don’t spend any money here”
This is the biggest and most easily refuted claim of the naysayers. There are a few thousand athletes and probably a few thousand of their family, friends and supporters in Kona for one to two weeks. Where are they staying? Condos, hotels, B&Bs. What are they eating? Food and beverages from restaurants and locally-owned grocery stores like KTA and Sack ‘N Save. What are they driving? Cars rented from the airport. Now go deeper. Every cleaner, waiter, shop attendant and car lot worker had two (or more) solid weeks of work.

Kona Impact was busy for two weeks making signs and installing graphics for IRONMAN sponsors. Every restaurant owner I have talked to (some of the most well-known restaurants in town) said that IRONMAN is a huge boost for business. Even businesses like the music shop that rents audio gear for the event and the tour companies that see a big IRONMAN boost benefit.

So, the idea that IRONMAN has only a small impact on our economy is complete and utter baloney. It makes no sense and is just plain out false. If the average participant and family member just spent $2000 (which is highly conservative), you’re looking at many millions of dollars a year in direct spending.

“Many businesses have to close on IRONMAN day.”
This is true. Yes, Kona Impact was closed. The locally-owned office supply store we use in the Old Industrial was closed, and several other places were inaccessible as well. The real question concerns impact. If I couldn’t buy a ream of paper at my preferred office supply store on a Saturday (traditionally their slowest day), did they lose a sale? No, I would just wait until Monday or plan ahead and buy on the Friday. This office supply store, by the way, saw several hundred dollars of business from Kona Impact in the weeks leading up to IRONMAN as we completed projects for sponsors—a definite plus.

Sure, if you wanted to go to Target on Ironman day, it was difficult. My response: get over it. IRONMAN is one day, and you’ll do just fine without shopping at Target one day of the year.

“IRONMAN is a huge business and it takes advantage of the goodness of the people of Kona.”
Yes, IRONMAN is a HUGE business, worth several hundred millions of dollars. And, yes, the people of Kona are good people. Are they being taken advantage of? Most certainly not. Thousands of people from Kona volunteer, cheer on the athletes and take part in IRONMAN in different ways. Nobody is forced to volunteer; they do so because they want to help out and be part of the event. We do so because we like it.

Everyone in the Kona community benefits from the additional taxes paid on food, lodging and purchases. Most benefit from the exposure Kona gets from the IRONMAN, which helps attract tourists and helps our economy year-round.

I’d also add the IRONMAN Foundation has been responsible for many tens of thousands (perhaps hundreds?) of dollars to the Kona community. I have worked on park build projects that have been partially funded by the Foundation and I know they helped fund a van for PATH and have made several other community contributions a year.

“The athletes are rude, arrogant and a safety hazard.”
Agreed! So are some of the residents of Kona! And so are some of the tourists that come here! I can drive a bit slower or more cautiously around the time of IRONMAN and still be happy. I also do the same around the holidays and in February when the snowbirds come. When I see an elderly person driving slowly or erratically, I give him extra space. I can certainly do the same for the few weeks when the athletes are training and racing here.

My feelings as a business owner and a resident are the same: IRONMAN is great for Kona’s image and economy. I am certainly willing to accept that I may be inconvenienced for a day or two if it means my neighbor can buy a few extra bags of groceries, and if my fellow business owners can make some extra money.

To all of those who complain year-after-year, stay home. Go to Hilo for the weekend. Read a good book. Work in your garden. Let your friends, neighbors and community enjoy the fun, volunteer and run their businesses.

Kona Impact | 329-6077

What Would Make Your Business Exceptional?

I came across an interview with Lee Paterson of Hula Daddy Coffee on YouTube a few days ago. The gist of the interview is how Hula Daddy went from inception to one of the world’s top-rated coffees in just ten years. What’s even more striking to me is how he wants to improve the level of Kona coffee through sharing what he’s learned with others in the coffee industry.

He mentions (around the 4:00 mark on the video) that Hula Daddy was not satisfied with their quality and sales after a few years, so they made a list of 25 things that would make for exceptional, gourmet coffee. After a year of working the items on their list, their product improved, and since then they have sold out of their coffee every year.

I have started to make a list of three things that would be on my list for several industries. I’ll start with Kona Impact

Kona Impact

  1. Complete all banner, real estate and basic signage orders within 24 hours.
  2. Return all email and calls within 1 hour.
  3. Offer rush service, when possible, at no additional cost to the client.

My Bank

  1. A walk-in-the-door to being face-to-face with a teller time of fewer than 8 minutes.
  2. Open until 6 pm on weekdays.
  3. Better use of technology including better phone apps and website.

Realtors

  1. Exceptional knowledge of the Kona real estate market.
  2. Willingness to tell clients if a bad deal is a bad deal.
  3. Return calls and email within an hour.

Property Manager

  1. Weekly inspection and walk around of property.
  2. Holds providers-rubbish removal, building cleaning, landscaper, etc.—accountable for the quality of work.
  3. Responsive to emergencies—electrical, plumbing, ect.—within an hour.

Take Out Lunch Place Down the Street

  1. Phone in/pick up ordering
  2. “Fast” menu of items that take less than 8 minutes from order to prepare.
  3. Daily specials and new items to keep me coming back.

It’s fairly easy to make this kind of list for many businesses, as they come from experience. For example, we’ve had three property managers, two exceptional, and one horrible. We have a lot learned from all three.

I have been working on Kona Impact’s Top 25 list, and I have about 15 things right now. Most of the things we already do, some are ways I think we can do things better or more consistently.

I encourage you to watch the Hula Daddy video and see how Lee set some goals, identified how to accomplish them and then shared what he had learned with others.

Kona Impact | 329-6077

 

Developing a Content Strategy for Your Business

Ok, here is how deep, dark secret of Google, Bing and Yahoo work:

They index content on the internet. They analyze that content. When someone searches for something, the search engines match the search with content. The better the match, the more likely it will be shown high on the search engine results pages. An abundance of high-quality content will result in a higher number of website visitors. No content will equate to very few visitors from search engines.

Yes, it is that simple! Content!

What is content?

Content is essentially words on your website, photos, and video. The biggest contributor to your search engine visibility is, by far, words on your page. Sure, there are other factors, but if you can do one thing right, it should be to have ample, useful content on your website.

content marketing strategy

How to win

If you can produce good, high-quality content that is better than anyone else, you will have good search engine visibility. If your competitors do a better job, they win!

Note: there are hundreds of factors that go into search engine visibility, but if you can have a winning content strategy, you will have essentially covered the most important ones.

What is a content strategy?

A content strategy is a plan to produce and disseminate content on your website and other online locations, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others.

How can a business develop and effective content strategy?

At Kona Impact, we look at it as a repetitive four-step process.

  1. Analyze strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. If you are a snorkeling business in Hawaii, for example, you’ll want to look at creating content around snorkeling, Hawaii travel and ocean ecology. You’ll then want to develop a set of key topics or ideas related to your business. Research what competitors are producing and what you find online. It often helps to work with a professional search engine marketing company like Kona Impact, as we have years of experience doing this. We also have some tools and access to databases that most novices don’t.
  2. Look closely at your resources. If you hate writing, find someone in your businesses that doesn’t. Make sure he or she can write well, is aligned with the goals of your business and has the time and focus on creating great content. In our experience, the young, just-out-of-college employee will lack the maturity and business savvy to be a good content creator. Likewise, someone who says “Facebook” and “Instagram” often in your planning is NOT who you want. These are not content creation tools; they are content dispersion tools and should only be a very small part of your planning.
  3. Make a plan. We recommend weekly or twice weekly posts to your website. For most this is two to five paragraphs of blogging. If done consistently, this will add between 50 and 100 pages a year to your website! Be sure to give your content creators clear, focused goals and the time to create good content. Again, working with a company that helps businesses on their content strategy can save you a lot of stress and money. You’ll get better results, too. A few hours of working with a consultant is a very wise investment.
  4.  Monitor. Be sure to review the quantity and quality of visitors you get to your website. Ask every new client how they found you. Keep track of employee and your time as you implement your plan. Also, be sure to take a long-term perspective; change and growing a business take time and persistence.

A content strategy is not for everyone.

I liken a content strategy to getting in shape. It is far easier to keep the status quo than to change. Change takes effort and, to be honest; the results are often slow in coming. If you hate writing, and everyone in your organization does, find a Plan B to grow your business. If you are developing a content strategy but you’re not sure what one is or why it’s important, learn, or find a Plan B.  If want results with no effort, don’t start, as you’ll be doomed to failure.

Developing and implementing a strategy is a process, and it is best suited to businesses that see the value and realize what they are doing now is not optimal.  They must also be willing to invest resources to achieve optimal success.

Kona Impact | 329-6077

Some of the Worst Online Marketing Advice You Will Hear

The modern internet is now about twenty years old. The internet certain goes back longer than that, but the web, the graphical HTML-based internet of which we are all familiar is about twenty years old.

I have been building websites and doing online market for about 17 of those years. Like everyone, the one consistent thing has been change. What we used to do to get a website noticed will now get your website relegated to obscurity. Every few months brings incremental changes in best practices.

Here are some old ideas that are just plain bad practices now. If you are doing them, stop. If someone suggests them as viable online marketing strategies run, don’t walk away.

“It’s all about tags” Tags are basically hidden website code, visible only at the code level of your website. Some tags, like alt tags for graphics are essential. Other tags like the Meta Keyword tags are useless these days. As things considered, however, and you’re efforts are better spent working on your content.

“Link farms or automated linking software” Links to your website are still very important. That said, buying them, trading them or creating them using automated software are sure to get you noticed—in a bad way. I always tell my clients that Google has 60,000 or so very smart people working to make sure that website searches and online content is relevant, appropriate and safe. Don’t for an instance imagine than a small software company or agency can outsmart Google for very long.

“I have some secret software / information.” Mhmm. So, if I had some awesome software or information that was only available to me, why would I share it. I’d go ahead and make mountains of money for myself. It just doesn’t make any sense. Sure, there are great online marketing software packages, many costing several hundred dollars. That said, there is a huge amount of garbage of very suspicious value. If you start to hear words like “exclusive”, “secret”, “revolutionary” or “limited” put on your thinking cap as there is likely to be a scam for you to discover!Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

online marketing secrets

“There is nothing you can do.” This is perhaps the worst advice you will ever receive. Almost without exception a lack of effort equals failure. At Kona Impact we have taken neglected websites with almost no visibility and made them top five for many important key words. It can be done. It’s not magic. Effort is essential.

Online marketing takes effort and perseverance. If you don’t have time to learn, then plan on hiring some help. Gone are the days when you could ignore your online presence or rely on an old, outdated website. It’s much more complex than that. For those who do well, their business will grow.

Kona Impact | 329-6077

“We are focused on customers.” Avoiding the Obvious Jargon in Your Messaging

At Kona Impact, we ask a lot of new businesses to describe what they do, who they are and how they are different from other businesses. The conversation often goes like this:

Client: We will excel at customer service.
Us: How?
Client: We will listen to our customers and will communicate with them often.
Us: So, can you imagine any businesses saying they don’t do those things?
Client: Well, no.

Many businesses will define themselves in vague and meaningless terms. Here are a few:

  • Customer-focused (Duh, name one business that isn’t!)
  • Place customers first (Really?)
  • Professional (Would you do business with a company that wasn’t professional?)
  • Local (Most of the non-big box stores in Kona are “local”)
  • Hard Working (Can you name any business that survives without hard work?)
  • Future Focused (Every business is….or should be acheter viagra pfizer pas cher.)
  • Efficient / Speedy (Would any business admit to not being?)

The problem with these slogans or sayings is that every customer expects them of every business they use. They are not remarkable, and they have been used so much that they have lost any value.

The Japanese have a great saying, “atarimae”, which loosely translates “it is natural” or “it goes without saying.” To deviate from the standard is remarkable. To follow the standard is not. If the way you describe your business to clients “goes without saying” maybe you are saying a lot that has no meaning.

I like to encourage Kona Impact clients to be more focused. Instead of saying, “we are hard-working” say “we strive to get all orders placed before noon delivered the same day.” Or instead of saying, “we are professional” say, “we are all ABC certified and have 20 years of experience in the business.” Instead of “we are customer-focused” say “here is my business card. If you ever feel you are not getting the service you like from my staff, call me.”Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

look beyond the obvious

In short, the lesson is to say what you do, not how you want others to perceive you.

 Kona Impact | 329-6077

Five Rainy Day Tasks for Business Owners

We had a state holiday last Friday and the weather over the weekend made hiking and going to the beach inadvisable. So, we had what I would call three “rainy days,” days that are perfect for working on organization and long-range projects that seldom get done on normal business days.

Here are five things I like to do for my business on “rainy days.”

  1. Unsubscribe. Unsubscribe. Unsubscribe. If you’re like me, you get tons of email a day, much of it junk mail and newsletters. My spam filter does a great job on the junk mail, but I do get a lot of newsletters and product announcements and other unwanted mail. I like to go through my inbox at least once every two months and aggressively unsubscribe to all the email that is not core to running my business. I also turn off all Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter notifications. My goal is to reduce my daily Inbox volume to just what is important.
  2. Computer maintenance. I delete programs I no longer use. I check for updates and run the “complete scan” on my security software. I check for updates. I clear off the desktop. I should do these things weekly (which I do for security software), but it’s good to do them all at once.
  3. Review accounts. I sort my accounts based on the sales amount. I go through the top five and see if there is anything we are not doing that we should. This might include following up with Thank You notes, a “how’s it going?” chat or recommending new products we have. For a nice three-day weekend, I’ll often go through the top twenty.
  4. Idea seek. Rainy days are a great time to see what’s new in our industry. I check the websites of our suppliers to see if there are new tools or products that would expand our offerings or make our jobs easier. I enjoy watching shows like “The Profit” to see how others succeed and fail.
  5. Seek leads. This is a task we do every day, but on rainy days I can dig deeper. I’ll have a look through the newspaper to see if there are any new businesses. I also enjoy taking a stroll around town to see if there is anything new. I also mine our online sources for new businesses. Part of this is also cleaning up our database to remove businesses that have closed, which in Kona is about 15% every year.
  6. Clean. Not much to say about this!

“Rainy days” are, of course, a metaphor for days when you can’t go out and do what you want. These down days, however, can be some of the most productive days for those running a business. Imagine if you can cut down your email by half, or if you can speed up your computer? Imagine identifying a client that needs some special attention? Imagine finding ten new leads and landing two of them as new clients? These are the things we can neglect when we’re in the hustle and bustle of answering the phone, talking with clients and making products.

 Kona Impact | 329-6077

 

rainy day at kona impact

What to Do When Your Competitor Plays Dirty

Most of Kona Impact’s clients have a love-hate relationship with social media and review websites. When they get a lot of positive reviews, they are, of course, happy. When a customer or client writes a bad review, they are not happy. When a competitor plays dirty, they are furious.

How do competitors play dirty online?

  1. Writing fake negative reviews about your business.
  2. Writing fake positive reviews about their business
  3. Engaging “black hat” marketing firms to spread incorrect information online.

How many online reviews are fake?

There is a lot of evidence that 15-20% percent on Yelp! and TripAdvisor reviews are fake. That is a huge number, because most business do not write or pay for fake reviews. That means, there is a relatively small number of businesses that are responsible for a huge amount of dishonest content.

What can an honest business do?

The first thing is never to write fake reviews or pay a company to write fake reviews for you or a competitor. It’s dishonest, and it violates the Terms of Service of every review site. You might get away with it for a short of long time, but trickery and dishonesty are no way to build a reputable business. Most of the review sites are very good at detecting large-scale fraud, so if you go from zero reviews to ten five-star reviews, written on the same computer, in a few days, it will be detected.

The review sites have one fatal flaw: they have no way to connect the review/reviewer to business.

That is, anyone can write a review about any business, whether he or she was a customer or not. Until that happens, all online review should not be imagined to be from actual customers. We saw this with the Minnesota dentist who killed the lion in Africa. His business got thousands of negative reviews on Yelp! by enraged people, and almost none of these was from his patients.

How can you deal with fake reviews about your business?

Unfortunately, Yelp! and TripAdvisor will seldom remove reviews, even if you claim the review is not from a customer or client. In practice, it seems to be an exercise in futility to contact the websites. You will also find it to be a long, expensive uphill struggle to bring legal action against the site. Don’t waste your time.

You could hire a lawyer and try to identify the person posting the review. This, again, seems like a waste of time and money; that is, by following the steps below you should be able to mitigate the damage of a fake review.Watch Sugarbabies (2015) Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

The first step should be to reply to the review. Here is a fake review posted by Manon Holroyd, who works for our competitor. We have never met her. She posted it on our Google+ profile.

fake review from Manon Holroyd

Fake review from Manon Holroyd

If you are certain the person has never been your client, say so. Most readers of reviews understand that fake reviews are common. Keep it factual and short.

The next step is to work on diluting the value of the negative review by asking customers to write reviews. You might want to have a sign at the counter or on the door, or you might print out some cards with your profiles on the review sites. Note: it’s against the Terms of Service of all the review sites to offer any incentives like money or free merchandise. Another strategy is to send an email thank you to clients and request reviews.

If you have one fake, planted review, ten positive ones will make that one look like an aberration.

Unfortunately, there is little you can do about competitors that fake reviews for their website. I know of one vacation service provider in Kona that has tens of excellent reviews, yet all the “reviewers” only seem to have written one review—for that company. Clearly this is someone trying to game the system. Volume is not the issue–we have one client with 170+ genuine five star reviews–it’s reviews that seem overly vague and laudatory coming from “reviewers” who have not written many reviews.

My advice is to focus on your business. Eventually the scammers and unprofessional businesses all get their just desserts.

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