Digital isn’t a department

October 9, 2019

Many companies are trying to “manage” the onslaught of changes brought about by today’s digital trends by creating a department to deal with all of the new technologies, social networks, web trends, marketing automation and other aspects of this quickly changing landscape.

I get it. It’s a lot to wrap your arms around. It’s comforting to know you don’t have to keep up. But the truth is – you do. I’m not suggesting that everyone in your organization needs to have the same level of knowledge – but everyone has to understand digital isn’t a department. It’s a mindset.

The question is about the shift in thinking when it comes to the word and the idea of digital. As social media and content marketing emerged – organizations scrambled to either hire people with skills in all things digital to create digital departments or in the case of some of the larger companies – hired agencies and just outsourced the whole thing.

Fortunately, we’re winding down the “shiny object” of the digital invasion and now saner heads are prevailing. When it comes to marketing, digital is a medium, just like print and broadcast. Like all mediums, it comes with its own set of etiquettes and rules but at the end of the day – a good marketing strategy should be driving companies to/through all media options and executions.

But digital isn’t just about marketing. Digital has become this overlay – that literally touches every aspect of daily life for most people.

Because digital is so ubiquitous – there isn’t a person or position in your company today that shouldn’t be taking it into account with every business decision they make. Even if you are using traditional media to drive a message, there is a digital play or connection.

It’s really those two moments in time colliding – companies getting a little maturity under their belts in terms of their digital chops and consumers weaving digital technology into every aspect of their life that is forcing all of us to re-think how we position our digital skills.

Assuming you buy this logic – how do you help your entire team stay current and fired up?

Assign expert roles/areas of expertise: Things in the digital space are moving too quickly for any one person to stay on top of it all. So you’ll need to assign different team members to different aspects and hold them accountable for staying current.

Lunch and learns: To spread that expertise throughout the entire organization, there should be a regular schedule of lunch and learns, where the internal experts can share the latest updates and agency successes.

Hire the right partners: Be wary of any agency that offers to simply handle all of your digital needs, without involving you and your team. While it’s tempting to just hand it all off, you need to weave your company’s culture and vision into how you present yourself digitally. Look for a partner who will do the heavy lifting but keep you in the mix.

Be choosy: Part of what makes digital so overwhelming is there’s so much to learn and everything changes in a blink. The good news is – most of it is irrelevant to your business. Having a digital strategy that actually contributes to your bottom line is about understanding your customers, their digital footprint and how you can interact with them there. You figure that out and you can eliminate a lot of the noise and distractions that can derail your marketing efforts.

The digital landscape is now woven into every aspect of your company from sales to customer service to accounting. That means that everyone, not just the marketing team, needs to be committed to embracing these trends and leveraging them to serve your customers how/where they’re spending so much of their time.


What is marketing automation?

October 2, 2019

Marketing automation is one of those buzz words that is being bandied around quite a bit lately so I thought it was time to define it and help you determine if it makes sense for your business.

Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed to help businesses market/communicate more effectively on multiple channels online (like email, social networks, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks. The goal is to nurture prospects with very personalized, useful content that helps convert prospects to customers and turn customers into repeat customers and avid fans.

When done well, this can result in a significant uptick in revenue, both from your existing customers and prospects.

Marketing automation goes far beyond sending out enewsletters or updating Facebook pages. Where it really gets incredible is in its ability to “map out” a communications path that allows your prospects to cherry pick exactly what they want to know.

That’s where the very personalized, useful content comes in. Think of marketing automation as a huge if X, then Y equation. If the prospect downloads an ebook on annuities, they get loaded into a list that sends annuity tips every month but never sends them IRA or 529 account tips. But at the bottom of the tips email is a link to a podcast series that they can listen to on what other kinds of investments round out a portfolio with annuities in it or invites them to an educational workshop you’re offering next month.

As the prospect navigates through your content, they can self-direct the content they receive, based on their interests or needs. Using behavioral inputs from multiple channels like social clicks, when the prospect views a specific page like your pricing page or when they take a specific quiz or download content gives you some context so you can better understand what’s going on with the prospect and what problem they’re trying to solve. You can then offer them solutions to that specific problem.

The name itself is deceptive. There’s a lot that goes into marketing automation that is anything but automatic. Marketing automation isn’t a substitute for other marketing tactics and it’s not a silver bullet.

It actually requires a sophisticated strategy, lots of helpful content and constant monitoring so you can make adjustments as you learn more about the people you’re interacting with. It does help you with your lead generation efforts and can be effective in moving a lead through your sales funnel.

Many marketers still view marketing automation as a simple way to bombard purchased lists with email. That’s not going to go well for you. When you get reported for spamming the list – your email domain can actually get black listed and your account shut down. Besides – it doesn’t work. Blindly emailing strangers to try to get them to buy something they’ve never heard of from someone they don’t know hasn’t worked for 20 years and it’s not going to work now.

But when you use the tool to actually get to know your prospects better and actively offer them helpful content and support – it can really create a connection that will help you move a lead through your sales funnel. On top of that, with every interaction, you get smarter about how you can become indispensable to your audience.

The secret to marketing automation is to go out of your way to not automate the wrong aspects of the tool. It’s actually an opportunity for you and your organization to be even more human and more real than ever before. By genuinely serving your audience, you’ll build your sales funnel and fill it with raving fans, long before they’ve even bought from you. It’s hard to beat that.



You’re not going crazy

June 5, 2019

crazyHave you ever been watching TV while simultaneously playing a game or surfing the web on your phone and suddenly it feels like everywhere you look there’s an ad for the same product? For example, you just heard (because you were looking down at your phone) a TV spot for the latest Toyota vehicle and then the next mobile ad that is served up on your phone or tablet is also for the same Toyota vehicle? You’re not going crazy. But you are living in 2019 – the era of automated content recognition.

Automatic content recognition (ACR) is an identification technology that allows our devices to recognize content being played on our TVs. In English what that means is that every TV spot and every TV show is chipped with a pixel that allows our smart TV and our smart devices to know exactly what we watched and when. This chip is sometimes called a watermark, and we can’t see or hear it as viewers. But our phones can.

This technology has been around since 2010 or so, but today, it’s pervasive and being used in some really interesting ways. As your smartphone “hears” what you are watching, it can serve up ads, opportunities to interact with content, provide extra content, lotteries, real-time polls or add the viewer to a database of people exposed to that particular ad or show.

This technology becomes increasingly valuable as our population continues to cut the cord from traditional TV suppliers like cable and satellite, making them more difficult to reach. Streaming services like Hulu or apps like HBO Go also have these watermarks and are collecting data so advertisers can better target their digital ads.

How can we as marketers take advantage of this technology?

Align screens: We know that in 2017, over 74% of adults watched TV while surfing the web or using an app on their phone. One valuable offering from this technology is that it allows advertisers to reinforce their message by pushing complimentary content to the viewer’s phone while they’re receiving the same message on their TV.

Conquesting: This is a technique of intercepting a buyer when they’re considering your competitor. You can now create a digital media buy that “cuts in” when someone in your target audience is watching TV and is served up one of your competitor’s ads. You can then, within seconds, serve up your ad to their phone or tablet.

Study the audience to build better strategy: With ACR, we can determine some key facts: 1) What shows and commercials are individuals watching on a second-by-second basis 2) What the viewer’s IP address is, which will then allow us to know their physical address and which websites and apps they visit 3) How the viewer is watching – is it Netflix on an AppleTV, CBS using a rooftop antenna, an on-demand show from Mediacom via a set-top box or a show they’re watching via DISH TV Now on their Xbox.

Retargeting: Mobile usage peaks during TV commercial breaks. As a result, brand recall from TV ads can suffer. With this technology, you can connect with your TV audience across all screens and reconnect your audience to your campaign. Advertisers can use the database created to target those individuals and serve up anything from postcards in their mailbox to video ads on their phone, based on their viewing habits and ad exposures.

ACR is a way to maximize your ad spend, dramatically increase your frequency and connect with your audience in a multi-media campaign that is very efficient from a budget point of view. It also gives you incredible insight into your competitor’s ad spend and placements and when done well, it can escalate product trials and purchases and knock your competitor off their game.


Use your marketing voice

March 20, 2019

voiceVoice is one of the most significant trends we marketers have had to face in a while. Remember when the proliferation of mobile devices changed the way we designed and built websites? Voice is going cause the same upheaval and it’s going to come even faster and be more wide-sweeping than mobile ever was.

If the last decade was our mobile marketing revolution, then the upcoming decade is the era of voice.

The mobile revolution made it possible for brands to reach their audiences wherever they were, gather all kinds of data and then use that data to create near or real-time interactive experiences that felt personalized and intuitive.

That’s nothing compared to what voice is going to do to our daily lives. We talk about the proliferation of smart speakers like Amazon Echo, Google Hoe, and Apple’s HomePod but we forget we’ve been carrying a voice assistant in our pocket for years.

Almost 80 percent of Americans own a smartphone, where virtual assistants are included by default. Combine that with the fact that over 55% of American homes have a smart speaker and it’s easy to see how voice is going to influence marketing channels and choices.

Voice is expected to drive half of all searches on mobile, and it’s already having a huge impact on retail. Research done by NPD Group, Inc., found that online spending by consumers rose overall after the purchase of an Echo in every category except for travel. We haven’t seen the results of the relatively new partnership between Google and Walmart that will allow customers to “voice shop” via Google Assistant but you know it isn’t going to be minuscule.

We aren’t and won’t be limited to smart speakers or our phones. Soon we’ll all be chatting with our fridges, washers and dryers, our cars, and even our toilets.

Voice assistants of all shapes and sizes are going to have us thinking differently as marketers. Here are some of the more significant ways we’re going to need to re-think marketing:

The featured snippet: When we type our search query, the search engines serve up a list, and we choose the specific link we want to click on. But with voice search, it’s what is called a direct answer. The device answers your voice search with a voice response of one answer. If you’re asking Google, it’s going to serve up the featured snippet. The growth of voice search means that being on page one is no longer the holy grail that it was. The new goal is to be the featured snippet.

A whole new channel – Alexa skills and flash briefings: Brands are creating Alexa skills (because right now the Echo is the dominant leader) to interact with their consumers. Take a look at Purina’s Ask Purina Alexa skill that lets dog owners ask Alexa questions about their pets. This sets Purina up to be the authority in a very profitable and popular space on a broad spectrum of dog-related information. Not only are they helpful but the interaction builds trust and mindshare.

The biggest one? Writing for conversational search as opposed to keyword search. It shifts our focus to natural language and the intended meaning behind the searcher’s specific query. When we’re speaking out loud, we tend to use more words and longer sentences than we do when we type a query. Marketers need to think about how someone would ask the question that should serve up your answer. Those full sentences need to be added to your keyword list.

This is a fast-moving trend so find some sources to keep you informed. While you’re doing that, you should start experimenting with a refreshed search strategy, some Alexa skills and trying to become a featured snippet.


Today’s version of word of mouth marketing

March 13, 2019

word of mouthPreviously, we talked about influencer marketing, which is a combination of old-school PR and word of mouth, with a technology twist. Today, anyone can create a position of authority, build a community around them and as a result, be an influencer.

There are the influencers we’ve always known, like athletes and actors, but more interesting and more potentially valuable to the average brand are the micro-influencers. These subject matter experts may have relatively small followings (could be as few as 500 or as many as half a million) compared to The Rock or Kourtney Kardashian. But to the people who follow them, their advice, point of view and recommendations carry significant weight.

Most of them are not “celebrities” in the traditional sense. They’re a 14-year old boy who reviews technology for teens, they’re a fitness coach who works with busy moms, or they’re an accountant who helps other accountants build their practice. That’s part of their charm – they feel accessible and ordinary enough that we can relate to them, their choices and their life.

The value of the influencers is not really their follower count. It’s the depth of credibility and connection they have with their audience. It’s very much like when your best friend recommends a movie or restaurant. Because it came from them (word of mouth) – you want to check it out. Today’s channels (podcasting, blogs, Instagram, YouTube, etc.) create that sense of intimacy and confidence between themselves and their audience. So whether they have 500 followers or 500,000 – the key is that their followers actually pay attention and take action, based on their content.

If you’re ready to dip your toe into this marketing tactic, there are some things you should keep in mind to maximize your investment and avoid trouble.

Follow the FTC rules: The FTC views having a celebrity or influencer endorse your product or service as an advertisement, even if no money exchanged hands. Whether you give them a free sample, or you pay them for using your product in a photo – the influencer must disclose that they are being compensated. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy disclaimer. It can be as simple as a hashtag (like #sponsored), or it can be a sentence or two that explains the relationship.

The trick to this is – you’re responsible even though you are not creating the content. You need to make sure the influencer is following the rules by monitoring what they are publishing. If they’re producing a series of blog posts, the disclosure must be on every post, not just the first one.

Be creative with your content: While the FTC views influencer marketing as advertising, it really shouldn’t be constructed to look like an ad. Work with the influencer to make the content interesting and useful, rather than use them posing with your product or endorsing your service. Have them tell a story and have your brand be a character in that story.

Reviews, demonstrations, an on-going series showing your product through some sort of evolution or a giveaway contest are all ways you can increase engagement with the influencer’s audience and encourage them to go from reading about you to wanting to learn more or even sample what you sell.

We are just at the beginning of this trend, and there’s nothing to suggest this is a short-term opportunity. No matter what you sell – this is a new twist on a tried and true tactic that is even better than it was initially. In the old days, a celebrity endorsed a product to everyone. Today, an influencer talks directly to the people you want to connect with and makes that introduction.



Should your brand be on Instagram?

January 30, 2019

instagramA while back, I wrote about some of the trends that I thought would be shaping marketing in 2019. Visuals and video were among the tactics I said we would all be wise to explore in the coming year. I still know that’s the case and I thought we should take a more detailed look at how some brands are using Instagram to connect with their community and introduce themselves to potential new customers.

According to the Instagram Marketing 2019 Trends and Benchmarks report, there are over 1 billion users on Instagram, and about 80% of those accounts are personal accounts. 51% of Instagram users access the platform at least once a day and the average user has over 600 followers and follows over 350 accounts.

Users can post photos, and videos on Instagram and photos still earn more engagement than the video content. There’s a huge opportunity for brands to create business accounts and interact with a highly engaged audience.

But what kind of content makes sense for the channel?

Behind the scenes peeks: One of the most popular uses of Instagram is to create a sense of intimacy and connection by giving your audience a sneak peek at the inner workings of your company. Factory tours, photo shoots, upcoming launches or on the go videos are all good uses of the medium.

Testimonials or customer spotlights: Instagram is an ideal vehicle for turning the camera towards your best customers. Help your audience envision what it looks like to be a part of your tribe by introducing them to other customers who are delighted by your work. Because you can use text in the photos or have sound with your video, it’s also a smart place to share testimonials.

Get a read: Think of Instagram as your informal focus group room. Ask your audience for their opinion on new options, helping you celebrate a local charity or deciding which product to feature in your new ad campaign. You can use Instagram stories to invite your audience to a landing page or poll as well.

Teach: Why not educate your audience while you entertain them? Adobe uses work that their clients have created to highlight some of the capabilities of their software. By inviting their best customers to share their work, they are guaranteed a stream of fresh content and fans who are willing to share that content.

Sell: You can craft special offers, create coupons, buy ads or highlight new products and services within your stream. Instagram is owned by Facebook so you can advertise on both channels at the same time.

Inspire: Visuals can create a deep emotional connection. You can use photos to form a bond with your audience and inspire them to make a difference. Many non-profits leverage the channel for this reason. Interestingly, one of the most inspiring accounts is Playdoh. They use stop animation content to draw in their audience and get them to re-connect with their inner child.

Make them laugh: There’s power in being entertaining and making people smile or laugh. It creates an endorphin rush that creates a sense of affection that the audience associates with your brand. Why not share a bit of your personality and invite your followers to do the same?

Instagram’s audience is growing every day. If you haven’t considered giving it some time and attention, so you can explore how you might use it to bring your brand to life – you may want to make the investment before your competitors do. Odds are, it’s not going to drive a ton of immediate sales, but when it comes to creating a relationship with your audience, it’s a smart option.



Are you in good voice?

January 16, 2019

voiceWhen I think about the trends that are facing marketers and business owners in 2019, the one that I believe is going to be most significant is the influence of voice on search and content. Not only do I think it’s critical, but I think it is growing faster and stronger than anyone could have imagined.

Let’s define the term, so we’re all on the same wavelength. When we talk about voice what we mean is all voice-activated or operated devices, apps, and the Internet of Things accessories that you may have in your home, vehicle or office. What’s so fascinating about this trend is that even though it’s just beginning to truly emerge, it’s already so woven into our daily habits that we’re taking it for granted.

Think about how often you give voice commands. While you’re making breakfast are you asking Alexa to play your favorite podcast? Are you telling Nest to lower the temperature in the basement or asking Siri to give you an update on how the Cubs did last night? These devices aren’t just in our homes. How often do you talk to your car, asking it to call someone or give you a traffic update?

According to, the number of U.S. households with smart speakers grew by 49 percent from June to November 2017. Today, smart speakers are predominately the Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod, and a few other emerging brands. Because they were the first to launch, Amazon Echo dominated and had 88% of the market share in 2016, but Google Home is gaining ground quickly since its introduction in October of 2017. It’s already trimmed Amazon’s control of the market to 52%.

Controlling our home, car or office is interesting but how does all of this technology intersect with marketing? The most obvious place is search. According to Branded3 and data collected from IBM, 25 percent of searches on Windows 10 taskbar are by voice. A report from Search Engine People cited that 20 percent of mobile searches on Google are made via voice command now. 55 percent of teens and 41 percent of adults already execute voice searches multiple times per day, and the forecast is that by 2020, 50 percent of all searches will be via voice.

This is where Google can quickly become the defacto market leader. When you ask Alexa to search for something online, she is only able to search the topic using Wikipedia, which is not as comprehensive as using Google, which comes native as part of Google Home.

This provides Google with a huge advantage to penetrate more and more areas of our home. A recent Google survey estimated that 72 percent of people who own a voice-activated speaker say that their devices are often used as part of their daily routine. And it’s just an emerging trend.

So from a practical point of view, what does this mean for us as marketers? Let me answer that by leaving you with this question.

Today we fight for a page one ranking in Google because we know the user will review a few of the listings before they click on one. But with voice, you ask a question, and the device serves up a single answer. How might that change our strategies around PPC, search and organic SEO? How do you become the one answer?

And that new wrinkle is just the tip of the iceberg. As this technology weaves itself into our culture, it’s going to have lasting impact on how we go through our daily lives and how, as marketers, we intersect with people in new ways.


The mechanics of a successful webinar

October 17, 2018

webinarA while back, we focused a series on the channels too critical for you to ignore in 2019 and one of those channels was webinars.   We covered the basics then but now I want to get into the mechanics of executing a webinar well, so when you’ve got your content ready, you get the biggest bang for the buck.

When I’m talking about a webinar, I am not talking about a one-on-one web-based demonstration or sales meeting. I’m talking about an event you would promote to a larger audience, and the event itself is intended to be a group experience.

Webinars are a smart tactic if you want to:

  • Educate prospects or customers
  • Field objections and questions in a live environment
  • Demonstrate aspects of your product or service in an interactive way
  • Establish your thought leadership or authority on a topic
  • Capture sales leads

Note that drive sales is not on that list. A webinar is not a hard-driving sales tool. It’s higher up in the funnel and serves more of a marketing function. That doesn’t mean you won’t garner sales from the webinar. But it shouldn’t be your focus. Webinars are successful if they’re helpful, if people connect to the presenter and feel like they walked away with knowledge or insights that are valuable.

Here are some mechanics to consider as you think through your webinar strategy:

Tools: There are many good webinar tools out there, and the right one for you will depend on price, number of attendees possible, the ability to record and other factors. This guide may help you decide.

Promotion: Webinars are not a “build it and they will come” sort of thing. You need to get the word out and issue multiple invitations. Give yourself at least a 30-day window for promotion. If you already have a list of prospects, that’s a smart place to start. You’ll get your biggest flurry of sign-ups about ten days before the event. If you make a big deal out of the fact that they’ll get access to a recording of the webinar whether they attend or not – you’ll get more takers.

Leave behind: I think of my PPT deck as a leave behind when I am working on a webinar. I’m always going to offer it to the attendees at the end, so I build it with that in mind. Unlike a deck for a speech, where I might have a single image and no words, I use a lot of bullets and text for my webinar decks. I know I am in essence taking notes for the attendees, so my slides are a little denser in content.

Format: As you think about constructing your webinar, explore easy to grasp “packages” for the information you want to share. Like:

  • Five mistakes to avoid
  • Ten questions to ask before…
  • Four unexpected benefits of…

This style of formatting will help you tease and promote the content. It will also help you avoid trying to pack too much information into the webinar. It lends itself to a strong wrap up for you as a presenter and gives your attendees something to grab hold of and remember.

No matter how or when you deliver your webinar, be sure you know what you want to happen once you sign off. Do they get a “thanks for attending” email? Do they get a link to deeper content on one of your key points? Don’t lose the momentum. When the webinar wraps, it’s not the end, it’s the beginning.



Your website is your workhorse

September 26, 2018

websiteI am hoping that you’re still giving some thought as to how to head into 2019 with smart marketing that gives you the edge. To that point, we’re continuing with the ongoing series I’ve been writing on the most important marketing channels to consider for 2019. The focus of this post may seem like a “duh” but honestly – most businesses still get this wrong. Your website is THE workhorse of your marketing toolbox. I don’t care who you are, what you sell or how big your business is, without an effective website, you are losing sales.

At some point in your buyer’s journey, they are going to visit your website. It’s pretty much that cut and dried today. If you remember the statistic, I quoted earlier in the series, 92% of consumers visit a retailers website before making a purchase. 94% of business-to-business buyers check out your site before committing.

Here’s what they are looking for when they visit. Do an audit of your site to make sure you are providing exactly what they need to see before they say yes to your offer. Not only do all of these elements need to be there, but they also need to be easy to find.

Proof that you get them: Everyone believes that their circumstance is unique and they want to work with someone who understands their situation. If you serve families, make sure that your copy explains why you have insight into that world. If your business works with IT departments, then your copy and visuals need to demonstrate that you live in that world too.

This is not your first rodeo: This is not about making the site all about your 25th anniversary, which for the most part is only a big deal to you and your team. But it is about demonstrating that you’ve been successful in your field for a while now and that you’re not going anywhere. You can talk about your company’s history, the tenure of your employees or customers or how the industry has changed. Be interesting in documenting your depth of expertise.

That other clients like and trust you: Earlier in the series, we discussed the power of ratings and reviews. Whether you go the ratings/review route or you go old school and use testimonials – you need the social proof that other people count on you and you don’t disappoint. Ask your current customers to tell a story about what you sold them. Don’t make these so brief that they don’t capture both the before and after.

How to contact you: This blows me away, but many businesses make it difficult for a potential customer to actually reach them. Make sure that your email address and phone number (not just a form) are visible and available on not only your contact us page but also in your footer or header on every page.

If people actually come to you to make a purchase, be sure you include your hours of operation, physical address and a map. Don’t forget your social media links as well.

The details of what you sell: By the time they visit your site, the potential buyer wants to know the specifics of your products or services. This may be the right place for strong visuals, be it photos of your products or a visual outlining a service process or outcome. This is a really smart spot for some additional testimonials as well, that tie into your descriptions.

Make sure you follow this list to the letter.  You and your business can’t afford not to.



You like us, you really like us! – Reviews

September 19, 2018

reviewsAs we approach 2019, we’re delving into the channels that you really need to consider as you map out your marketing and sales efforts for the coming year. Previously we’ve covered:

  • Video
  • Podcasting
  • Infographics and visual representation
  • Webinar and webcasts
  • Building your email list
  • Multichannel Marketing

Now, I want to call your attention to the incredible opportunities that lie within online reviews and ratings. Consider a few of these 2017 statistics before you decide whether or not this should matter to your business.

  • 92% of consumers now read online reviews vs. 88% in 2014
  • 40% of consumers form an opinion by reading just one to three reviews vs. 29% in 2014
  • 88% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations, vs. 83% in 2014
  • Star rating is the number one factor used by consumers to judge a business
  • Only 14% of consumers would consider using a business with a one or two-star rating
  • 57% of consumers would use a business with a three-star rating
  • 94% of consumers would use a business with a four-star rating

Let’s assume that those facts have convinced you that reviews matter. The next question is going to be which review site? Your industry may have its critical sites, like Healthgrades and and naturally, those are going to need to be part of your plan. But for all of us, Google matters and those reviews have the most influence on your search engine results and page rankings.

Regardless of where you’d like the review to appear, there are some best practices for asking and encouraging your customers to take the time to review your business.

Know it’s not top of mind: For most of us, it doesn’t even occur to us to leave a review for most of our vendors, especially on the B-to-B side. If it does, it’s because we had a bad experience, which is why many reliable, good businesses have more bad reviews than good. This is not a passive, “I sure hope people leave us a review” sort of strategy. You’re going to have to ask.

Timing matters: For every business, there’s a honeymoon phase when your client is happiest. Think of it as the new car smell period. For a couple of weeks after you buy a new car, you are reminded that you have a cool new car every time you slide into your seat. You need to know when your customers are in that stage and ask them for the review at that moment.

In person is always best: For many of us, we have face time with our customers. As you wrap up the transaction, hand your customer a card with all the details they will need and ask them to take a few minutes to leave you a review. If you don’t interact with your clients directly, there’s nothing wrong with email. You’ll have better results if it’s a personal email rather than a mass mailing, but you can use marketing automation software to create that personal touch.

Make it easy: Don’t just ask me for a review. Tell me where (which site) and give me a link directly to the right page. You can also put links on your social channels and website, inviting people to provide a review.

Systemize it: This isn’t something you should do this week and then call it done after you get a few reviews. You need to have a process that makes asking for a review a regular part of your sales process.

Your work isn’t done once you garner some reviews. Monitoring your reviews and responding to them is an equally important strategy. Look for that discussion to come.