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How Reviews Have Changed Marketing

I often wonder how I ate out or purchased a book before review websites came along. When did spending $30 without endorsements from ten complete strangers become analogous with gambling? Well like it or not, review websites have changed the game for every business and while it may be making us patrons dumber, it’s also added to your marketing plan.

It seems impossible to think that people used to just walk by a restaurant and decide to go eat there. In those days, having a beautifully designed shop or product package gave you all the credit you needed for a person to give you a try. But now people (like me) walk around with bar code scanners and Yelp apps in their cell phone looking for consensus that the book matches its cover.

So who has the power here – the book or the cover? Fortunately and unfortunately it’s both and then some. Let me explain. If you want someone to pickup your new food product, it needs to look yummy, or gourmet, or bargain (depending upon your audience). This is where design helps; it sets the tone of your product to attract your ideal audience.

If your customer doesn’t buy right away, they probably intend to check you out as more and more people are researching even the smallest purchase online. Yes, design plays a role here too because you need to have a website that looks worthy of their credit card, but this is also where reviews come in handy. A high rating on Amazon or Yelp or even some random Twitter shout outs and blog reviews can encourage the timid little shopper that your stuff is as good as it looks and they will not waste their $3.49.

The good and bad news is that your work does not stop there. You may get some amazing branding and you may have your thirty closest friends review your new store, but ultimately, your new store/product/book/service has to actually be awesome. Hell hath no furry like a customer who feels like they’ve been gypped by neat packages and fake reviews.

Conclusion: Review websites have not changed the way you market your product, they have added to it. You still need to have a solid product, effective branding, and good positioning, but now you also have to get your product noticed so that the skittish shoppers have a reason to part with their hard earned cash. So if you own a business and have been scared to encourage customers to broadcast their feedback to the world,  get over it. Being a successful business doesn’t mean that you’re perfect, it means being willing to find out why your not perfect and change.

Jennifer Stewart is the Office Manager and wanna-be organizational psychologist at Modern Species. For more posts from her, click here.

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All beautiful things belong
to the same age.- Oscar Wilde