You said that all the time when you were growing up, right? Who wants to be a fireman or a doctor when you can do Online Reputation Management! Yes, I thought so.

All joking aside, you may or may not be doing what you envisioned when you were a kid. But hopefully you are doing something you love, something you know a lot about. You are building a rewarding and profitable business. Unless you’re under 30, you probably didn’t think about internet marketing or online reputation when you were growing up. You know now that it’s important for the success of your business, but do you really need an ORM firm or service? Is it worth the investment?

An effective Online Reputation Management strategy is critical to protect your business’s good image in the online marketplace. ORM can positively affect areas like review sites (Yelp, Glassdoor), social media, Amazon reviews, and top search results. In fact, ORM and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) go hand­in­hand. ORM without good SEO will be much less beneficial and will not drive customers to your company’s website. Neither of these marketing strategies is a one­time process, they require ongoing monitoring to be effective.

User-­generated reviews and information online are rapidly increasing. More and more, consumers want to read customer­written reviews before buying a product or engaging a service company. One bad review, especially when ignored by your company, can result in a lot of lost sales. Marketing research has shown that if a company affirmatively responds to a negative review by publicly replying to the customer with an apology and a promise to make it right, then the negative consequences of the review are neutralized. This strategy is more effective and transparent than trying to silence negative reviewers.

The CBS Morning Show recently ran a story about how some companies are including a gag clause in their fine­print “Terms of Service” that threatens to punish customers who post negative reviews online, even if the claims are true. (November 5, 2015 *) They cited the example of a couple who never received an order from an online retailer, so they posted a negative review. The retailer, citing a gag clause, filed a debt in the amount of $3,500 against the couple. When the couple refused to pay it, their credit was ruined. They fought back in court and ultimately won a $300,000 judgement against the online retailer. Now Congress is considering bipartisan legislation which prevents this type of gag clause and the bullying of customers.

This example illustrates that not all ORM practices are good and helpful. Done incorrectly, ORM strategies can backfire and even lead to bad publicity. When choosing a marketing firm to manage your online reputation, it pays to do your homework. Does the firm avoid “black hat” practices, such as building fake websites for the purposes of posting false reviews, overpopulating content with keywords, and using spam­bots or hacking methods? Does the firm have a bio and photo of the CEO and high­level executives? Beware if only a phone number is given on the firm’s website.

Morris Marketing promises to offer a customized Online Reputation Management strategy for your business that fits your budget. We always operate with the highest level of integrity in our business practices. Let us provide monitoring to protect your good image online and recommend proven reputation protection measures.

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