Home delivery service Menulog has come under fire from customers on social media forum Reddit after one customer claimed he was offered a $15 food voucher to remove a negative review he posted about a pizza restaurant he ordered from using Menulog. While online home delivery platforms such as Menulog and EatNow are growing in popularity in Australia, the response from fellow Reddit users suggests this customer’s experience is not an isolated case. Reddit user “seanomccool” said on Wednesday they reviewed a restaurant on Menulog last month after receiving “an expensive, shitty pizza”. “I left a review saying the good and the bad,” said seanomccool. “It was an extremely fair review.” But seanomccool said they were contacted by Menulog this week, who asked, on behalf of the owner of the pizza restaurant, if the review could be removed in exchange for a $15 credit at the restaurant. “I said, quite simply, no. I will not,” says seanomccool, who followed up the phone call with an email to Menulog expressing their disappointment: “I used Menulog over services like Delivery Hero/UrbanSpoon because I trust and believe the reviews left by customers. I didn’t realise merchants could effectively buy an increased average rating.” “I don’t blame the girl from Menulog who called me, she was doing her job. But frankly, I find it a completely unethical business practice that Menulog would facilitate this kind of deception of its customers.” At the time of publication, more than 140 comments had been left on the Reddit post, with a number of others indicating they too had been offered free food in exchange for taking down negative reviews by restaurants on Menulog. Private Media contacted Menulog but did not receive a response prior to publication. Social media specialist Catriona Pollard told Private Media it is “unethical to pay for positive reviews or for people to remove negative reviews”. “It’s really murky water,” says Pollard, who says asking people who post negative online reviews is likely to encourage them to post their experience on social media sites such as Reddit, and so it is “defeating the purpose”. “What they are trying to do is eliminate negative reviews but there needs to be some strategy in place,” says Pollard. “Annoying people who are savvy online is not a clever thing to do.” Pollard says many businesses are struggling to deal with negative online reviews, with a US hotel also coming under social media fire this week when it attempted to fine guests $US500 ($A537) for posting negative reviews. Pollard says it is usually customers who have either had a very positive or very negative experience who will post reviews online, but it is important for businesses to “encourage those people in the middle spectrum to leave reviews as well”. She says it is about creating a “culture of reviews”, which will then create a true image of your company and products. “And reward people for taking the time to leave a review, give them incentives,” says Pollard. This article first appeared on SmartCompany.
Generating leads is an all-important task for businesses and especially so for solo traders, start-ups and smaller businesses. Too many businesses end up taking a haphazard approach to lead generation, so here are five simple strategies you can use to find quality leads for your business this year. 1. Start with a strategy So many people in business take a scattergun approach to lead generation, going for mass marketing to spread their message, without really knowing if the message is getting through to their target market. Start at the very beginning, and decide who you want to target, advises Peter Griffith, the Asia-Pacific director of training and consultancy firm for businesses, rogenSi. “Determine the look and feel of your ideal customer. Who are they, where do they live, work and play? Also, consider their habits and lifestyle, and think about what they buy and from which companies, how they shop, how they access information and how they make decisions. Also, think about their business and personal needs, and how you help fix these,” he says. The best lead generation technique depends on the company, their industry, the products/services they sell, who they want to sell them to, how they differentiate from competitors and the brand they want to promote, he says. Ask anyone even moderately tech savvy and they’ll tell you there are only two options – search engine optimisation and Google AdWords, he says. 2. Make your website work harder Your company website should be working hard to generate leads for your business, so make sure it’s up to date and has all the bells and whistles. This should be the central hub for all your marketing and lead generation, says Marnie Ashe, head of consulting for Reload Consulting. “Not only will this allow for greater tracking of where your leads come from, what makes them inquire and ultimately what makes them become a customer, but also provides a central point for inquiry, allowing your potential customers’ details to be fed into a marketing database for future use,” Ashe says. Increasing enquiries on your website can be easily achieved by making sure it’s easy to find your contact details, with a phone number on every page a good idea, and your contact page easily accessible from your navigation, she says. “Also, have an enquiry form on every page. The easier it is to enquire, the more chance you have of a prospect inquiring. But keep the enquiry form short and sweet, you can collect more information when you follow up.” Also, consider adding a live chat service to your website, which is like having a friendly sales consultant greet people and offer them live assistance about your service, and can cost around $10 a day. Check out Web Reception or Live Chat Monitoring, which both offer this service. 3. Get social One of the best things you can do for your personal brand and business is to take social media seriously. When done well, building and communicating with your network of followers will build loyalty and trust in your business, and ultimately build sales. A compelling and active LinkedIn profile can also work well to generate new leads, according to Joe Fox, marketing director of web development and digital marketing agency, Studio Culture. “There are so many opportunities that people are missing by simply not updating their LinkedIn profiles and networking with other business owners or potential customers on the platform,” he says. Catriona Pollard, director of Sydney’s CP Communications agrees, saying LinkedIn is without a doubt the best place for b2b lead generation. “A basic account on LinkedIn will allow you to build relationships and maintain contacts, as well as give you a lot of transparency into your extended professional network. You can generally contact your first degree and second degree connections using LinkedIn InMail, even if you don’t have their email address,” Pollard says. By upgrading to LinkedIn Premium, you can contact people outside of your network and gain further insights into who is viewing your profile, she says. “You can also directly target new leads using LinkedIn’s advanced search, which allows you to drill down and filter people by role type, company or industry, leading to high quality leads.” Facebook is another great tool. Melbourne business coach Maureen Pound suggests offering a free report on your Facebook business page to get people into your sales funnel. “Make sure that whatever you are offering is really useful and alleviates some sort of pain for your target market, such as ‘5 biggest mistakes people make when starting out in business’, or ‘how to get your baby sleeping through the night’, for example. There’s lots of software out there to help you do this, such as lead pages,” Pollard says. 4. Do the little things Understanding why and how you help people, and focusing on what problems you’re solving for them and how you solve them is paramount, says Frances Pratt, who explains sales to non-sales people. “Use this information to get your message out there. This should be the central thing you talk about in your advertising and promotions. Use this information to tell them about what you do and to ask questions when you’re meeting people,” Pratt, of Metisan says. Also, always ask for repeat business, she says. Once you’ve got something great for someone, ask if there’s something else you can help with. “It’s amazing once you have achieved something, how people will open up with more problems that they need help with.” Also, make sure you’re talking to the right people, who have the budget and power to spend with you. “So many business owners spent time on people who aren’t the decision maker, or aren’t willing to pay, which is a huge waste of time and energy,” she says. Businesses should shake their approach up a bit. Replicate what works 80% of the time using lead generation sources that have previously proven to lead sales. But 20% of the time, be inventive and try new lead sources, recommends Susanne Mather, executive director of Employment Office. “One example in the recruitment sales business is that 80% of the time, we source leads from recruitment advertising, calling businesses that are advertising for staff themselves. “But 20% of the time, we do things like take photos of the tent lists in the foyer of CBD high rise buildings and cold call them all. Or take photos of the logos on the sides of buildings and trucks when we’re out and about, and cold call these,” Mather says. 5. Get serious about content management It’s crucial to have a robust content management system as a place to conveniently store, manage and access both new leads and leads you’re revisiting, says Mather. Every team member at Employment Office starts the day with exactly 20 new leads entered in the CMS, which are sourced from a variety of channels, no excuses, she says. “It’s important for lead generation to be a carefully thought out part of the sales process, and it needs to be executed with consistency. “Investing in a program that really works for your business is something you will thank yourself for again and again, and has the capacity to repay the initial expense many times over.” Once you’ve got a great way to manage your leads, adopt the ‘find, wash, enter’ process, This refers to finding leads strategically and consistently, washing leads to make sure they’re not being approached by colleagues and entering those leads into a content management system so they are easily accessible and manageable, she says.
Ashley Brown is on a mission. The American, who leads digital communications and social media at the Coca-Cola Company, wants to kill the press release. “If there’s one thing I want to do at Coke, [it’s that],” he told a conference organised by corporate communications publisher Ragan. “We have a commitment to reduce the number of press releases by half this year, and I want them gone by 2015. That’s our goal.” Instead of press releases, Coke wants to tell stories directly. It wants to create shareable, popular content, informed by what its audience is interested in. The push is aided by its highly successful relaunch of its corporate website last year. The site now gets more visitors than many major newspapers. It’s essentially an online magazine – using data to publish the content Coke’s audience is interested in, from Coke recipes to interviews with celebrities to stories from Coke’s past. Trevor Young, a content marketing expert from public relations firm Expermedia, applauds Coke’s strategy. “Blogging and being your own media channel should be the first priority of a business when it comes to marketing,” he says. But he’s not sure all businesses should go about dumping the press release. The problem with press releases, he says, is that most of them are boring. “Press releases aren’t irrelevant; the way we write them is irrelevant,” he says. “They’re full of buzzwords and jargon, and most reporters would attest that what they receive in press releases often don’t make a lot of sense. It’s all about the company rather than the reader, and a lot of the time, it’s spin.” “But there’s still room for press releases if you have genuine news that’s relevant, and that you want to get out to everyone at once.” Marketing expert Catriona Pollard, from CP Communications, says there’s a future for press releases. But they’re not her favourite way to get in touch with journalists. “We very rarely do media releases,” she says. “There might be times when using a blog is a great way to tell the company’s stories and build reputation. And there are times when contacting a journalist directly and pitching a story uniquely to that publication makes more sense.” “The thing small businesses need to understand is what publications provide is a ready-made audience. If you’re telling your own stories, you need to build that audience. And it’s hard work. For Coke, it’s easy. They have this massive brand awareness and the resources to put into content marketing. That’s rarely the case in small businesses.” Public relations strategies have different layers and tactics, and different stories are best told in different ways. “Ultimately, you need a robust strategy to drive brand awareness,” she says. Content marketing may be the flavour of the month, but Pollard says she’s been doing it all her career. “It’s just been given a name now, and has become a hot topic. “But it’s just another tactic.” This story first appeared on SmartCompany.
A false Twitter account claiming to be that of a senior Bankwest executive has caused a headache for the bank and illustrated the importance of monitoring social media for business.
Changes to working patterns, the new paid parental leave scheme and a generation that’s well educated and business-savvy is set to propel ever-increasing numbers of women to start-up their own companies.