6 Proactive Responses to Negative Reviews

Consumer reviews concepts with bubble people review comments and smartphone. rating or feedback for evaluate.

2018 was a strong year for tourism in Vienna.

International arrivals totaled around 7.5 million, hotel revenues rose 12 percent in 11 months, and 94 percent of Viennese reported a positive attitude toward visitors.

But in this season, the Vienna Tourist Board tackled a new difficulty: negative reviews. While many firms are split on whether to confront or ignore public complaints, Vienna chose a lighthearted tactic, turning so-called “flaws” into strengths by highlighting them in gorgeous photo-based advertising campaigns.

In a series of ads mounted in the London underground and in digital bus stops, the Vienna Tourist Board portrayed five fun and beautiful Viennese moments overlaid with mean comments and poor ratings. In one ad, a romantic picture of a couple cuddled in a boat on the serene Danube was captioned “Boooring!” and given zero stars.

To highlight how polarizing comments can drag an experience down, the “See Vienna, not #Vienna” ads challenged readers: “Who decides what you like? Discover your own Vienna.”

Simple Strategies for Responding to Your Critics

Responding to negative reviews is difficult.

Bad reviews hurt, and sometimes they are dishonest and downright cruel. But Vienna was right to address them. Stats show that 95% percent of holidaymakers read at least seven reviews before booking a trip. And consumers share perspective. Ninety-four percent say that a bad review has convinced them to avoid a business, and 88% of people read reviews to determine the quality of a business.

Want to turn the tide of negativity? Here are a few simple strategies:

1. Personalize the Response

Reviews come from real people, so whenever possible, use the name of the individual you’re addressing.

2. Say Thanks

Critics occasionally bring to light something you’ve missed.

Even if you disagree with their opinion, show positivity, like “I appreciate you bringing this to our attention,” or “Thank you for taking the time to let us know.”

3. Sympathize

Apologizing may not right a wrong, but it is a powerful demonstration of your humility and care for customers.

Express regret that your service did not satisfy, that an experience did not match expectations, or for rude behavior or botched communication.

4. Take Responsibility or Offer Alternatives

Whenever possible, own your mistakes and avoid excuses.

Phrases like “we are so sorry for missing the mark,” “that’s on us,” “that never should have happened,” or “this is certainly not the standard our clients deserve” can go a long way toward defusing resentment.

If you’re able to offer compensation, go the extra mile to satisfy a disgruntled customer. If not, publicly pledge to do better next time.

5. Embrace Your Critics

Like the Vienna Tourist Board, you may choose to make light of bad reviews or welcome them in some way.

This may be as simple as letting them exist alongside other (positive or average) reviews, which exemplifies transparency and demonstrates a spectrum of customer experiences.

And some reviews can be leveraged with humor or irony, like the Snowbird Ski Resort, which highlighted negative skier reviews to boost its elite, high-caliber appeal (“What’s ‘Too Advanced’ for Greg might be just right for you”). With humor, you can harness the empathy and understanding of customers who roll their eyes at the more absurd comments.

6. Make Peace with Criticism

Fault-finders come and go, but they don’t have to be the downfall of your reputation.

Reviews are a great way to build personal connections, to engage the general public, or to learn from blind spots.

By embracing negative reviews, your company can even benefit from the empathy of others, boosting a positive response from readers at large.

Generate Leads with a Winning Sales Letter

After a review of the sales contract Businessman finished deal

Are you looking to entice a new lead or land a big client?

Today’s marketers know direct mail is an especially persuasive medium. According to 2018 direct mail response statistics, direct mail offered a 9% response rate to house lists and a 4.9% response to prospect lists. And one of the most potent tools of the trade is the good old-fashioned sales letter.

Want to grab attention with a persuasive, relevant, engaging letter? Here are a few tips:

Start with a powerful hook

If you want readers to make it past the first sentence, your first paragraph must arouse curiosity, evoke emotion, or resonate with a problem or pain point of a specific individual.

People can’t finish what they don’t start, so the opening sentences must be rock solid.

Make your sales letter look like a regular letter

The most relatable letters are those that feel personal.

For a more casual effect, use script font or type-writer styles like New Courier or Prestige Elite.

Write with a conversational tone

Use personal pronouns and write for one: I, the letter writer, am talking directly to you, the reader.

Avoid the pompous business-memo style or fluffy ad-speak. Be friendly, natural, and specific.

Use skim layers for easy reading

Underline phrases and indent paragraphs for emphasis, or use asterisks, bullets, dashes, or arrows to make reading more efficient.

People are turned off by long blocks of text, so keep your page design lively and your language succinct.

Use benefit loaded subheadings

Improve reader response by including precise user benefits that match your target audience.

Hikers have little interest in buying boots. What they want is dry, blister-free feet. Remember, people don’t buy products, they buy better versions of themselves.

Make it about them

Focus on readers and their needs rather than your product and its features.

For example, instead of highlighting “our high-caliber bookkeeping software,” try something like this: “Account for EVERY CENT with smart, secure book-keeping.”

Add colors or borders

The most important information in your letter should leap off the page.

Can you highlight a paragraph in yellow? Add blue “handwriting” font in the margin? Put a box around copy that absolutely cannot be missed?

Use a specific call to action

Explain what you’re selling, what it can do, and how they can get in on it.

Add discount offers, expiration dates, or “magic” marketing words like irresistible, no-obligation, flash sale, hassle-free, guaranteed results, buy one get one, free trial, or last chance offer.

Tell and Sell with This Winning Combination

There is an old saying in direct mail: the letter sells, and the brochure tells.

In any direct-mail package, combining a letter and brochure can be an especially powerful combination.

Ready to get started? Save time and trouble by partnering with our experienced team! When you’re ready to move ahead, we’ll help you create stunning pieces that make your message shine. From initial formatting to direct mail packaging and delivery, we’ll do the heavy lifting and streamline the entire process.

Visit us online or give us a call today to talk options!

Coordinate Every Brand Touchpoint to Optimize Customer Journeys

Customer journey mapping. Stack of papers with report.

What turns you away from a website, advertisement, or a company?

Perhaps it’s the message itself or the way a brand is presented. Sometimes the information is just too scattered, time-consuming, or confusing! Today’s consumers face a barrage of competing messages, so each intersection between a customer and your business is critical.

These points of contact, or touchpoints, represent points of interaction with a customer or a prospect at any stage of their customer journey. Touchpoints provide you critical opportunities to engage leads, build brand awareness, address concerns, market products or services, or to tell your story.

Building an End-to-End Customer Experience

Grouping touchpoints chronologically can be helpful as it allows you to see things from an outside perspective.

Here are just a handful of touchpoints:

  • Social Media Campaigns
  • Print Advertisements
  • Company Events
  • Product Catalogs
  • Conversations with Company Representatives
  • Landing Pages
  • Professional Website
  • Point of Sale Displays
  • Cross-Sales Promotions
  • Thank You Letters or Post-Purchase Surveys
  • Customer Support Services
  • Newsletter Subscriptions
  • Loyalty Programs

Are you looking for creative options for your customer touchpoints? This is where things can get really fun! Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

  • One bicycle shop printed metal business cards that doubled as a pedal wrench.
  • One cosmetics company found that engaging online shoppers with a chat box boosted sales by 20 percent.
  • One home builder sent direct-mail testimonials from satisfied clients to leads who had inquired through digital channels.
  • For one promotion, Nike packaged its Nike Air Max shoes in clear plastic wrapping that made it appear as if the shoes were floating inside a bubble.
  • To highlight the space-saving benefits of home organization, one Ikea store painted its main staircase as a chest of drawers, with objects inside each “step” perfectly organized.

Evaluating and Improving Your Touchpoints

Many businesses overlook the power of coordinated touchpoints.

But put yourself in a client’s shoes. When you are engaging with a business, you enter each interaction with the assumption you can ask questions, receive support, or weigh costs and benefits for a potential purchase. As you take progressive steps, you are met with intentional, friendly, and helpful responses. Does this increase your chance of making a commitment? Absolutely!

Simply having a touchpoint in place is no longer an option. Rather, each touchpoint must perfectly represent your brand, offering a cohesive, captivating message. How can you be sure each point optimizes, satisfies, or invites? Here are three steps to consider:

1. LIST

List all your current touchpoints, including websites, e-mails, customer service, direct mail, etc.

2. EVALUATE

Use objective observers to give an unbiased review of each touchpoint.

This process of discovery enables you to find “weak links” and make necessary corrections.

3. TAKE ACTION

Overcome deficits by viewing weak touchpoints as opportunities for growth.

After listing and evaluating touchpoints, now take a customer-centered understanding of what’s working and what’s not. Excellent touchpoints should be relevant to customer needs, endearing in a way that builds emotional connection or increases interest, and appropriate to the greater context of the interaction.

Evaluating and enhancing your touchpoints will sharpen communication and help move people seamlessly toward a point of purchase. Build an end-to-end customer experience that unifies your brand message and optimizes every customer experience!

Cut Through the Clutter with Beautiful Print Promotions

Girl with megaphone jumping and shouting

With the glut of digital marketing, average media consumers are staggering under the weight of spam e-mail and annoying pop-up ads.

The “digital deluge” has also prompted a volume decrease in snail mail, allowing direct mail and print promotions to take center stage. Print pleases the eye and demands an emotional response, and people today are craving something real!

Today is a perfect time to feature beautiful print promotions. Need inspiration? There are several proven winners.

Rules of the Road

Your print promotion doesn’t need to be complicated to be effective.

Consider the McDonald’s “loving it” brand promotion. In a recent “Wi-Fries” ad, the fast-food giant hoped to entice customers to come, eat, and to stick around a bit. Using the McDonald’s signature “clown red” hue as a backdrop, the ad positioned curved, freshly cooked French fries in the shape of the wireless internet symbol as the focal point. The fries said it all, but a set of small McDonald’s arches in the bottom corner accompanied three words that solidified the hook: “love free wi-fi.”

Stand-alone print pieces are powerful, but repetition is even better. McDonald’s uses several ads in their “loving it” promotions – breakfast sandwiches touted as “deliciousness by the handful,” or Big Mac alternatives, like an “I’m veggin’ it,” ad, for example. McDonald’s combines a series of staggered, targeted pieces for extra impact, featuring precise promotions and clear next steps.

6 Ways You Can Toot Your Own Horn

Want to elevate your image with a cohesive set of print promotions? Here are six common strategies to consider:

1. Self-Promotion

Detail exclusive offerings or illuminate company strengths. Everybody loves a good deal, so the easiest self-promotion technique is to offer irresistible sales or momentum-generating seasonal specials.

2. Brag Promotion

Let the audience know about an impressive award, ranking, or community contribution. One florist used direct mail postcards to remind prospects that it had been voted “Bay Area’s Best” for three straight years.

3. Capabilities Promotions

Remind clients of the breadth, depth, or proficiency of your services. Do you have a subscription service with double the value of your competitors? Make your unique advantage known!

4. Invitations

Highlight an open house, business gala, or a community fundraiser. Or consider a bonus offer to go with your invitations. One deli offered the first 100 people to visit its new location free flatbread wraps for a year.

5. Cause-Related Promotions

Everyone has a niche, and yours will sometimes align with the values of your customers. Think fair-trade products, charitable or matching contributions made for every product sale, or simple labeling like, “Made in the USA.” People enjoy businesses whose values align with their own, so if something is important to you, don’t be afraid to share it with customers.

6. “Just Because” Pieces

There is never a bad time to say “thanks” or celebrate a special occasion. Company milestones or community celebration days are a wonderful chance to spread some love.

Print, Promote, and Persuade

Ready to toot your own horn?

Inspire your customers with tactile, memorable campaigns. From timebound sales to feel-good joy marketing, your print promotions can have a profound effect on the way people view your brand.